Today marks the 86-day mark until the 2017 Minnesota Golden Gopher Football Season. We continue our countdown of the Gopher roster as is correlates to the number of days left until kickoff. With 86 days left as of today, we will profile the Gophers #86—tight end Brandon Lingen.
Lingen will come into his senior season this fall as one of the most snakebitten Gopher players in recent memory. His skill set reminded Gopher fans of another Gopher tight end in Maxx Williams, and in his sophomore season after Williams left for the NFL, it appeared that the transition. might be seamless.
Lingen was named the Gophers Outstanding Freshman of the Year in 2014 after playing in 11 games. He caught only two passes for 18 yards, but had that Maxx guy in front of him so pass catching was not exactly a need.
After Williams left for the NFL, Lingen emerged as one of Mitch Leidner’s most trusted passing targets. Lingen played in 12 games his sophomore season and caught 33 passes for 428 yards and three touchdowns. He wan named Big Ten Honorable Mention for his efforts. He broke out at Purdue where he caught three balls for 22 yards, but two went for touchdowns. He went for three catches for 54 yards the week after against Nebraska, and then set a career high against Michigan with five catches for 111 yards. The 111 yards were the fourth-most by a Gopher tight end since 1950 and were the most by a tight end since Ben Utecht had 104 against Wisconsin in 2001. He would add another great performance with six catches for 105 yards and a touchdown at Iowa.
The Gophers were expecting big things out of Lingen in 2016. And then injuries hit. Lingen missed the Thursday night opener against Oregon State while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, he returned for the Gophers second game against Indiana State . He made one catch for 17 yards before suffering a broken clavicle that would keep him out of the next two games. Lingen returned against Maryland and caught one pass for 8 yards, and then in the next game against Rutgers Lingen caught one pass for three yards before breaking a bone in his foot and missing the remainder of the season.
Minnesota could use a downfield passing threat for a tight end for whomever ends up being the Gophers quarterback this season, and if Lingen is healthy he can hopefully regain his spot in the lineup. At least that’s what Gopher fans are hoping for.