The Gophers football team is on the verge of losing at least seven players in their redshirt season against Purdue on Saturday.
The four-game redshirt rule, which the NCAA implemented in 2018, is back this season after waiving all eligibility during last year’s pandemic. The rule change created a surplus of players – a backlog of first- to third-year newcomers and a retention of fifth- to seventh-year veterans. On Minnesota’s 119-man roster, Minnesota has about 80 players from the 2019-21 recruit classes and about 20 players from the 2015-17 classes.
The Gophers have been allowed to go over the 85-scholarship limit this season. They are currently at 95, but will have to go back to 85 next season. With transfers at once the freedom to move to other schools without sitting out, as well as players being eligible to go to the NFL after three seasons, Gophers head coach PJ Fleck said it made for a more complex roster management position. formed, and he estimated that some programs could lose up to 60 players in a year.
“We want these guys to play four games”, Fleck said of the limits for players to have a redshirt season. “But the roster management part of that – who’s leaving, who’s staying and the liquidity of that – is very different this year in general. I think it’s harder than ever to do that. But if we have players like that Those who can play, we will play them.”
The younger members of the group are on the verge of dropping their redshirts, first-year cornerback Justin Volley, and six second-year freshmen – receiver Daniel Jackson, safety Michael Dixon, cornerback Jalen Glaze, defensive end Danny Strigo, linebacker Lucas Finney and Punter Mark Crawford.
First-year freshman Mar’Keise “Bucko” Irving and receiver Brady Boyd have both played three games. No one else in the 2021 class has played in one of the first four matches of this season.
Second-year freshman linebacker Cody Lindenberg and cornerback Miles Fleming also played three games, but both suffered lower leg injuries. If those shocks are weather-changing, timing could help Lindenberg and Fleming with more entitlement in future years.
Volley was named Mr. Mississippi for that state’s big-school (Class 6A) division last year, and his older brother, Jaden, is a second-year receiver at Ole Miss, which made the 2020 All-SEC freshmen team. . Justin has put in big hits, hustle drama and broken passes in his opening action.
“It takes a lot of adaptation for a true new player to play,” Fleck said. “I think Justin Wally hit it on the head and did a really good job of improving himself, but also making other people around him better. You talk about leaders: if people Vote for one of the best leaders in that class, Justin will top the list.
Irving quickly climbed the depth charts this season. It was a combination of All-Big Ten running back Mo Ibrahim’s loss of the season and Irving’s impressive performance at the U of U’s Sunday Night Football Scrimmage for Young Players.
“Bucko ran for about 80 yards and missed about seven guys and got over it,” Fleck recalled on the KFAN show last week. “At the time, we were like, ‘Bucko is done with it.’ ”
Cornerback Connie Durer recalled, “I haven’t seen anything like this in my five years since we’ve been doing it. … That kid is going to be exciting.”
Irving made a 41-yard kickoff return in a win over Miami (Ohio) in Week 2 and then ran the ball 15 times for 89 yards in a Week 3 win over Colorado. He’s number 2, running behind Trey Potts, and it’s only a matter of time to give up his red shirt.
Boyd is a receiver who played high-level high school football in Texas, and due to injuries from other players and his impressive start, he was targeted in the season opener against Ohio State but dropped the pass. He has returned to play in two other games.
But Yu’s need to use a brand new player like Boyd is part of the reason why the passing game has struggled, which came to a head in an upset defeat to Bowling Green last week.
Other young gophers have been introduced in different ways. Defensive coordinator Joe Rossi is high on second-year safety Michael Dixon. He missed one game due to an injury to Jordan Howden, and rotated to other games to prepare if he is asked to contribute more. It also means that first-year defensive back Darius Green has to wait.
“Darius Green is going to be a really good player here,” Fleck said. “He is a true freshman; I would love to repaint him, depending on how well it works and what happens next year. ”
The Gophers’ support and recruiting staff is trying to figure out who’s coming back for next season, who can transfer to the transfer portal, and how many players they’ll allow in future classes above the NCAA limit of 25 recruits. can add. Right now, it’s a dynamic target, and it will include game action on Saturday in West Lafayette, Ind.
“Sometimes you have to react and see how things go during the season,” Rossi said. “I think it’s unique, but everyone goes through it.”