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Catching Ron Johnson, Eric Decker and Omar Douglas #TBT

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How does the season Tyler Johnson is having stack up compared to other Gopher greats?

Miami (OH) Redhawks v Minnesota Golden Gophers Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Earlier in the year I wrote about Rodney Smith’s chances at taking over some all time rushing records. Since then Tyler Johnson has been tearing it up at wide out and could be closing in on some records. Unlike running back the Gophers don’t have nearly as rich of a history of WRs. So basically Gopher greats that Tyler is chasing are Eric Decker and Ron Johnson, and Omar Douglas.

Michigan State v Minnesota

With 4 games left Tyler has 807 yards, 8 touchdowns on 52 catches. Through 8 games that’s an average of 100.88 yards, 1 touchdown, and 6.5 receptions per game. So if we’re projecting the rest of his season (knocks on wood that his hamstring is fine) Tyler could end up with 1,210 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 78 catches. So how does that stack up vs program single season records?

Receptions

Rank Player Rec Year
Rank Player Rec Year
1 Eric Decker 84 2008
2 K.J. Maye 73 2015
3 Eric Decker 67 2007
4 Ernie Wheelwright 66 2007
Drew Wolitarsky 66 2016
6 Tutu Atwell 62 1996
7 Omar Douglas 61 1992
Ron Johnson 61 2000
9 Omar Douglas 60 1993
Luke Leverson 60 1998
Single Season Receptions

Yards

Rank Player Yards Year
Rank Player Yards Year
1 Ron Johnson 1125 2000
2 Eric Decker 1074 2008
3 Ryan Thelwell 1051 1996
4 Chester Cooper 1012 1981
5 Tutu Atwell 924 1997
6 Jared Ellerson 909 2003
Eric Decker 909 2007
8 Ron Johnson 895 2001
9 Omar Douglas 880 1993
10 Drew Wolitarsky 860 2016
Single Season Receiving Yards

Touchdowns

Rank Player TDs Year
Rank Player TDs Year
1 Omar Douglas 11 1993
Ron Johnson 11 2000
3 Da'Jon McKnight 10 2010
4 Luke Leverson 9 1998
Ron Johnson 9 2001
Logan Payne 9 2006
Eric Decker 9 2007
Ernie Wheelwright 9 2007
9 Aaron Hosack 8 2003
Maxx Williams 8 2014
Single Season Receiving Touchdowns

What strikes me is the leaders in all three show up in the other categories as well. Omar Douglas had a dominant 1993, Ron Johnson owned 2000, and Eric Decker crushed 2008. In a strange coincidence 1993 and 2008 represent the second year for Gopher coaches Wacker and Brewster, and 2000 and 2008 Minnesota went bowling. I’m not sure how much of that history is relevant to 2018, but maybe it means the Gophers qualify for a bowl game?

If Tyler keeps up with his current pace his season would be record breaking in yards and touchdowns on 6 few catches than Eric Deckers 2008 campaign. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to question if Tyler can keep up with his current production. Averaging a touchdown per game seems particularity difficult. However it seems clear Tyler is having a dominant season that could be on his way to having the best overall season for any Gopher wide out ever.