Gopher football received some monstrously good news late yesterday, as the Big Ten has granted corner/kick returner Troy Stoudermire a medical hardship waiver, meaning the senior will return for the 2012 season. Stoudermire broke his forearm in the third game of the year against Miami of Ohio, and tried to play a week later against the NATIONAL CHAMPION NDSU Bison (sorry I thought I'd feel better about the Gophs losing to NDSU if I wrote in really big letters that the Bison won the national championship, but it didn't help), but barely made it through one quarter. He missed the rest of the year, and while in his career he never used a redshirt season, there was still concern that Troy had played in too many games in 2011 to be eligible for the medical hardship. Thankfully the Big Ten made the right call, and the Gopher's top corner will be back next season.
The impact of his return simply cannot be overstated. No really, go ahead and try- you simply cannot make a big enough deal of how good this is for the team and the secondary in 2012. It was easily the weakest area of the team last season, and with the loss of leading tackler Kim Royston, could have potentially been even worse in 2012. Stoudermire is the team's best corner, and with Royston moving on, now their best defensive back, and it's not even close. It's not to put down the team's other corners, but yeah, Stoudermire's injury left a pretty gaping hole in the secondary and opposing quarterbacks filled it with completions all season long.
#11's return won't suddenly make the team's secondary a strength, but having him at the #1 corner spot means there's one less position to worry about. The Gophers bring back some experience to compete for the other starting spot and nickel corner, but we'll see how much talent is truly there. The coaching staff has been working hard to bring in some JUCO-transfer DB's that can play right away.
Still, this is great news for the 2012 team. Anytime you get your top defensive back, who oh by the way is also the Big Ten's all-time leader in kick return yardage, it's nothing but a good thing.