Last week I asked you, the loyal and astute readers of The Daily Gopher, to vote on who you thought were the 10 most important players to the success of the 2018 Gopher football team. You responded and gave us far more responses than I would have guessed. The total responses counted here were somewhere in the neighborhood of 350. So I took all of the responses, assigned points for each vote (10 points for a 1st place vote, 9 pts for 2nd, etc) and added them all up to get a total. The total was sorted to give the Gopher Football Top 10 Most Important Players list.
Looking over the final results there were some interesting groupings. I’ll get to the groupings within the top 5 when I type up that post, but within the bottom five there were a few observations worth noting. First is that #6 was a solid #6. This player was a couple hundred points from 5th place and a few hundred points from 7th. And the battle for the 10th spot was quite fierce.
The three guys who barely missed out on earning the 10th spots earned honorable mention.
- OJ Smith
- Conner Olson
- Demetrius Douglas
As I mentioned, the number of votes that separated the 10th through 13th players was slim. OJ Smith finished 11th by only 4 points. In fact, he had more votes fall his way, but Bateman was ranked higher more frequently and garnered more points. I personally had Olson in my top 10 and believe he’ll be pretty important. But he missed the cut.
#10 - Rashod Bateman
We kick off the list with a true freshman and the only true freshman to make the list. Rashod Bateman was a kid who saw his recruiting pick up in a major way throughout his senior season. The Georgia native was statistically the most productive receiver in the state and saw his offer list blow up. But he was excited to Row the Boat (and even recently got it tattooed on his body). Bateman has fan excited as an immediate impact player opposite Tyler Johnson. We shall see!
GN Take: I’m very excited about Bateman and his Gopher career. But I still believe guys like Douglas and Chris Autman-Bell will be more impactful this coming fall as redshirt freshmen.
#9 - Blaise Andries
Likely your starter at right guard, Andries is going to be critical to the improvement of the offensive line. The big recruit from Marshall, MN sat out last fall to redshirt and is expected to be starting in the interior of the line. If his talent comes through early, he will really help this offense and give the line some consistency and depth.
GN Take: If he’s as good as advertised, he will really make a difference along the line, giving the Gophers a solid 4-year starter.
#8 - Donnell Greene
Finally not a freshman, but Greene will be your starting left tackle for the Gopher OL. Greene was a JUCO transfer who came to the program with three years of eligibility. He has started in 19 games as a sophomore and junior, and he’ll be anchoring the line as a senior. Absolutely worthy of being on the list and is going to be very important.
GN Take: Should probably be higher on the list.
#7 - Vic Viramontes
Now this slot is interesting as Viramontes may very well be the team’s back-up quarterback. Or he could earn the starting job. Or he could be the back-up who becomes the starter. Regardless, he will likely be a factor at some point this season. Word out of spring practices is that he had a good spring but had probably his worst day during the Spring Game.
GN Take: He was brought in contribute. He’ll have to earn it, but I wouldn’t count him out yet.
#6 - Thomas Barber
Last year’s leading tackler, 3rd leading tackler in the Big Ten and your starting MLB. Linebacker is arguably the most talented position group on the team and Barber is a force in the middle of the Gopher defense. His production and his leadership are certainly going to be important to the success of the 2018 Gophers.
GN Take: If he improves, he could be in the conversation for first or second team All Big Ten.
There you have the 6th through 10th most important players as nominated by you TDG readers. Stay tuned for 5 through 1.