It has been long speculated in the Gopher fan base that Gopher rising junior linebacker Blake Cashman deserved a scholarship after the way he ended the 2016 season, and Wednesday night Gopher Coach PJ Fleck made it official that the former walk-on from Eden Prairie would now be on scholarship.
Cashman had a great 2016 season and ended the year on fire. He played in all 13 games starting the year on special teams, and ended the season starting at linebacker. He recorded 45 tackles with a team leading 7.5 sacks and one forced fumble. Cashman made three tackles in the non-conference portion of the schedule before beginning to pick up steam. He set a then career high with three tackles in the game against Iowa and earned his first career sack at Maryland. Purdue was Cashman’s break out game where he recorded with five tackles, three tackles for a loss of 11 yards and two sacks. He added four tackles and a sack at Nebraska before leading the Gophers in tackles with ten including two sacks and a forced fumble against Northwestern and earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week Honors. He finished the regular season with four tackles including 1.5 for a loss of nine yards and a half of a sack against Wisconsin. Cashman would finish his season on a high note earning the Holiday Bowl Defensive Most Valuable Player after recording a career high 12 tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack. After the season ended, Cashman was honored with team's Gary Tinsley Award, as the player who best embodied the underdog spirit of the late former Gopher linebacker.
Gopher fans were wondering what else Cashman had to do to earn a scholarship when he was not awarded one immediately after the end of the season. This was due to NCAA rules that requite any walk-on player to complete two seasons of play before being awarded a scholarship, unless the team wants that scholarship to count towards that season’s limit. After two seasons, the scholarship will count against the team total of 85, but will not count as one given to the class of 2018.
Several of Cashman’s teammates and coaches went to twitter to celebrate their popular teammate being awarded his scholarship.
Cashman himself replied to Coach Fleck on Twitter thanking him for the honor, and making it sound like the way the scholarship was awarded is something we will see on video real soon. Jaylen Waters mentioned an easter egg hunt....hmmm
Congrats to Blake, and we hope he will have the same impact on the field next season as he did the last five games of the 2016 season!