Minnesota Football Gopher Power Rankings

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

We are through 2 weeks and I think it is time to publish my completely arbitrary and subjective player power rankings.  We did this a few times last year where the TDG staff voted and we had a consensus power ranking.  Today I'm going solo with it.  Why?  Because Jeffrick would try to include hockey players and I'd just have to edit Matt's selections anyway.  So here goes...

1 - Marcus Jones (KR/PR)

Maybe a bit of surprise that I have Jones this high, but I am always controversial and edgy.  This guy has been a game-changer...twice.  In the UNLV game he opened the 2nd half with a kickoff return for a touchdown right when the Gophers needed a spark to begin separating themselves from the Rebs.  The punt return in New Mexico was another example of the initial spark turning a relatively close game into a comfortable margin.  He currently leads the Big Ten in punt return yardage and is third in kick-off returns.  Not bad for a kid coming off two ACL injuries.

2 - Ra'Shede Hageman (DT)

The heart, soul and beef of the Gopher defense has made his prescence known in the early season.  His blocked FG and subsequent decision to knock the loose ball out into more open field stands out.  But he also has 2.5 tackles for loss and a pass break-up.  It should also be pointed out that UNLV's touchdown on their first drive came on an inside draw while Hageman was on the bench.

3 - Eric Murray (CB)

Murray has been a solid corner through two games and while he hasn't made the big interception for a touchdown but his lack of being involved in opponent's big plays should also tell you something.  He does happen to have four pass break-ups, leading the team and now with Briean Boddy-Calhoun out for the rest of the year he will be counted upon more.  Murray has been a bit quieter than some of the other names on this list but he has been outstanding in pass coverage through the first two games.

4 - Roderick Williams Jr (RB)

Game one wasn't terribly impressive but his 148 yards on 16 carries at New Mexico State was.  Nugget didn't get very many carries in the UNLV game, partly because he was late for a meeting, but was thrust into the starting role with Donnell Kirkwood's injury.  He took advantage of this chance with a 9.2 average, a 54 yard run and monster hit as he run over an Aggie defender.  We were looking for an improved rushing attack in game 2 and we got it.

5 - Josh Campion (RT)

It is hard to quantify just how valuable and dominating an offensive lineman, but Campion has been consistently doing his job well at the Gopher's RT position.  Matt pointed out in his first Charts and Chalk that in the UNLV game the Gophers had maybe their most success running the ball behind Campion.  Even without Matt's advanced analytics it is obvious that Campion is doing his job and doing it very well both in the running and in the passing games.  The kid is just a sophomore who has been healthy and dominant.

6 - Brock Vereen (S)

One of just two seniors who are starting on the Gopher defense and the leader of the Gopher secondary.  Vereen is leading the team in tackles with one pass break-up.

7 - Maxx Williams (TE)

A touchdown in the first game and a really nice catch in game two was good enough to get Maxx on the list.  The freshman missed much of the NMSU game due to dehydration.  Williams has been productive, leading the team in receiving and catching the team's only passing touchdown.  This list has nothing to do with career projection, but he is going to have a brilliant career.

9 - Damien Wilson (MLB)

After battling with Jack Lynn for the Gopher's starting MLB job, Wilson has embraced the role.  He is tied for the lead in tackles, has 2 TFLs and a sack.

10 - Chris Hawthorn (K)

4/5 on field goals this year with his only miss coming from beyond 50 yards.  And has six touchback kicks in 18 attempts.  He has been solid in both areas.

Who am I missing?

The obvious player not on the list if Philip Nelson.  Sure he is leading the Gophers in rushing with three rushing touchdowns and one more through the air.  But I'm holding the Gopher quarterback to a higher standard.  His sub-50% completion percentage and 113 yards per game average are not acceptable.  UNLV and New Mexico State are not very good pass defenses and after Western Illinois those defenses are only going to get better.  Against those defenses Nelson should have better passing numbers.  I'm not looking for 300 yard games, I recognize that we are a run-based team.  But completing 60% of his passes and getting to 150 yards, even in limited attempts, against the opponents we have faced are not unreasonable expectations.  I like Nelson and I see no reason to think he won't be a solid Big Ten quarterback, I'm just not going to put him in my top 10 yet.

Who else would you put in your top 10?

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