Our Golden Gophers have obviously not produced any championship caliber teams over the last few decades. But that doesn't mean they haven't produced some outstanding individuals who have been a joy to watch. I thought this post might be a bit easier, but the list of favorites is long.
In my lifetime I've witnessed several great runningbacks and all of them were a lot of fun to watch. Certainly "favorite" worthy. In fact most of us have been fortunate enough to watch the top five all-time Gopher rushers and seven of the top eight. Darrell Thompson is the Gopher's all-time leading rusher and it was fun to watch his combo of speed and punishment. The recent greats, Marion Barber III and Laurence Maroney led the nation's most dangerous rushing attack for back-to-back seasons in 2003 and 2004. While excellent choices, my favorite isn't a running back.
Under center has seen some Gopher record breakers. Adam Weber and Bryan Cupito have been or were great team leaders and ended up throwing for more yards than any others. Asad Abdul-Kaliq was a dangerous dual-threat who lead us to a lot of wins. But a quarterback is not my favorite.
Defensively we haven't had a ton of Gopher greats. At the top of the list would probably be Tyrone Carter. He is a record setting tackler and was the best we have seen defensively in years. But my favorite Gopher didn't play defense.
My all-time favorite Golden Gopher is Eric Decker (maybe the picture gave it away).
It could just be about the numbers. 3,119 yards, 227 receptions are Gopher records and sixth and eighth respectively in Big Ten history. His 24 touchdowns is also rather impressive, especially considering he missed several games over his Gopher career due to injury.
But his stats are not what do it for me. It was his toughness, his leadership and his savvy. In spite of the entire stadium knowing where each pass was heading and each defender knowing the one guy they needed to guard; he always found a way to get to that opening and snatch whatever ball was thrown his way.
I'm not going to go on and on with this man-crush. If you are reading this, you are well aware of Eric Decker and his talents.
This catch against Cal last season was one of the best catches I have ever seen.
More Decker video...
Great athlete, great Golden Gopher.
Decker is my favorite, who is yours?