We ran a weekly power rankings for a few weeks earlier this season. While we have a football (and basketball and hockey) lull, I thought this might be a good time to post an end of season Gopher Football Power Rankings. This time we have a fifth member of our esteemed panel to get to an even greater consensus. I know by now you have stopped reading this paragraph as your eyes have wandered to the numbers and list below.
1. Michael Carter (3)
The senior had an outstanding final season after very nearly not making it out of spring ball in Jerry Kill's first season. Carter made the necessary life changes and bought into the system, the result was earning honorable mention All-Big Ten (he was robbed, really he was). Carter was 3rd in the conference with 16 passes defensed and had two picks. A great season in a spot that was going to be a question mark heading into the season, now we have to wonder who will replace him?
2. D.L. Wilhite (2)
The senior defensive end was a media selection for the 2nd All-Big Ten team. Wilhite was 2nd in the Big Ten with 8.5 sacks was 11th in the league with 11 tackles for loss. He more than doubled his career sack total in his 4th season and is another player who I was not expecting to have such an impact on the season.
The junior who apparently was flirting with heading to the NFL a year early, but the big D-tackle will be back for one more year. Hageman was 2nd on the team with 5 sacks and earned honorable mention All-Big Ten from the media as well. The rest of the league began to take notice of Hageman and his combination of size and athleticism, he should be poised for a very big year in 2013 leading the Gopher defense.
4. Zac Epping
I have to admit that my ranking was based largely on Epping being referred to as our best offensive lineman from the coaching staff. The redshirt sophomore showed his versatility this year playing guard and center when called upon. Looking forward to two more years with Epping along the line.
After a great start to the season where Wells earned National defensive player of the week honors, Wells didn't light up the box score in the following weeks. That does not mean he was ineffective and he really solidified the safety position this year. Safety was a huge question mark this year and it has quickly become a relative strength.
849 yards rushing isn't going to win you any awards but it was an improvement from Duane Bennet's 659 from a year ago and Kirkwood led what was a much better overall ground game for the Gophers. As a sophomore, Kirkwood displayed more quickness and speed than he did a year ago while still maintaining his bruising style.
7. Brock Vereen
Unlike Wells, Vereen started more slowly but really became a key playmaker as we got to the end of the season. Vereen ended up with two picks and finished 6th on the team in tackling. He is a physical safety who should start opposite Wells next year.
8. Aaron Hill
Another slow starter who ended the year as one of our more reliable defensive players. Would you believe that Hill finished 2nd on the team in tackles? The former walk-on is the only likely (certain?) starter at LB next year and
9. Cedric Thompson
The third safety to make this list. This might seem odd, considering there are usually two safeties on the field at any given time, but all three saw significant playing time as part of the rotation. Thompson, like the other two, had two picks this year one being a great athletic play in the Michigan game. Thompson and Vereen were typically listed as co-starters on the weekly depth chart and both had fine seasons.
10. A.J. Barker
WHAT? Truth is we invited AJ's Mom's friend to take part in our power poll, and we all know what she thinks of AJ. Just kidding, it was Jeffrick. Jeffrick is the one who voted for Barker. Apparently he missed the whole debacle.
Others Receiving Votes
Troy Stoudermire - Didn't have the year many were expecting but was the team's leading tackler and primary kick returner. I'm surprised he didn't crack the top 10.
Josh Campion - the only offensive lineman to start all 12 games at the same position. RT appears to be locked down for the foreseeable future.
Michael Amaefula - 5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks and 2 recovered fumbles for the sophomore.
Jon Christenson - back up lineman who was forced into active duty the latter part of the season and played well. Received 10th place votes from two panel members.
MarQueis Gray - WOW, at one point Gray was the consensus #1. His contributions as receiver haven't really played out but that is probably largely due to the ankle that slowed him down. Would be fun to see him featured in the bowl game.
Isaac Fruechte - received one vote. Finished second on the team in receptions, third in yards and third in receiving touchdowns.
What do you guys think? This is where you get to let your voice be heard in the comments?