For those of you who might’ve missed the memo, The Daily Gopher is counting down the Top 10 players on the current football roster. TDG staff members were asked to submit their rankings based on on-field performance and those selections were used to create a composite set of rankings. We’ll be unveiling our Top 10 every couple days over the next few weeks.
Our countdown continues with linebacker Jonathan Celestin at No. 5.
Celestin emerged last season as a leader at linebacker, especially with Cody Poock sidelined, but he has been contributing since his freshman season at Minnesota. In three years as a Gopher, Celestin has played in 37 games and started 13 of them.
As a freshman, he recorded 16 tackles, three tackles for loss, and forced one fumble. Celestin took on a more significant role as a sophomore, finishing the season with 43 tackles, four tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and one pass breakup.
Last year, Celestin came into his own as a starter at linebacker, finishing second on the team in tackles with 80 to go along with seven tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and four pass breakups. He had a career performance against Iowa, leading the rest of the defense with 13 tackles, 12 of which were solo tackles. Celestin followed that up with sacks against Illinois and Rutgers in back-to-back weeks, while also racking up double digit tackles against Rutgers with 12.
To me, what stands out about Celestin is his ability to play from sideline to sideline. He is all over the field, and has the speed to cover a lot of ground. There was a play against Maryland last season where the quarterback had escaped the pocket with open field in front of him, but Celestin was able to close the gap and force a throw that was then intercepted. He also has the strength to match his speed. I remember him meeting Iowa running back LeShun Daniels at the line of scrimmage on second and goal early in the game last year to help force a field goal.
Celestin also understands the appropriate response after dropping an interception.
TDG’s Top 10 Gopher Football Players:
No. 5 - Jonathan Celestin
No. 6 - Emmit Carpenter
No. 7 - Cody Poock
No. 8 - Rashad Still
No. 9 - Blake Cashman
No. 10 - Ryan Santoso
Be sure to check back on Monday as we reveal No. 4!