3 potential personnel changes for Minnesota football in 2021
This early in an unprecedented offseason, college football roster complexion for next season is more murky than normal.
Who’s coming back? Who’s choosing to move on and not leverage the NCAA’s forgiven year of eligibility? What will the transfer portal look like, especially with one-time transfer rules expected to go into effect next year?
But it’s never too early to start prognosticating. Here are three positions that are likely to see a shakeup for the Minnesota Golden Gophers in 2021.
You can’t pit the defensive struggles of Minnesota — which spent most of the season ranked dead last in opponent yards per play — on one man or one position group. But when it comes to stopping the run, the Gophers’ linebackers simply weren’t up to the task. Junior middle linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin bore the brunt of negativity, but he was often trying to compensate for his younger teammates being out of position.
So what happens next? Sori-Marin will probably be back. But the outside spots are likely up for grabs. Look for a big leap from freshman James Gordon IV, one of several rookies who played more than expected this fall and gained valuable experience. Donald Willis and Cody Lindenberg both fall into that category, too. And don’t count out incoming freshman Devon Williams, either.
Even before COVID-19 turned every single boot of the ball into an adventure, it had been years since Minnesota had a notably consistent kicker. Its backups cost it in overtime losses to Maryland and Wisconsin, and the Gophers’ inability to kick off reliably gave opponents good field position all year. If there’s a big leg in the transfer portal this offseason, Minnesota would be wise to take a hard look.
This one’s still up in the air. 2020 Big Ten running back of the year Mohamed Ibrahim says he wants to come back and finish his degree. But even if he does, someone needs to step up and spell him during what’s hopefully a 12-game 2021 season. Ibrahim was an iron man in seven games, but it’s hard to hold up in a true B1G season carrying almost 30 times per game. Cam Wiley, Treyson Potts and Bryce Williams could be the next three-headed monster at running back in the Twin Cities. Next season is time for at least one of them to start making a name for himself.