Next week represents the start of a new decade and, as is often the case, we’re taking the opportunity to look back on the past decade of Minnesota Golden Gophers football. I’ve polled members of our contributing staff here at The Daily Gopher and assembled a Minnesota Football All-Decade Team based on their selections.
In making our selections, we focused on what the players contributed within the decade. So for example Adam Weber may have the superior overall body of work at quarterback, but only his senior season was part of the 2010-19 decade.
Here is how we’ll be rolling out our All-Decade Team:
Offensive Skill Positions: Friday, Dec. 27
Offensive and Defensive Linemen: Tuesday, Dec. 31
Linebackers, Secondary, and Special Teams: Friday, Jan. 3
Notable Names: Adam Weber (2010), MarQueis Gray (2011-12), Philip Nelson (2012-13), Mitch Leidner (2013-16), Tanner Morgan (2018-Present)
TDG Staff Selection: Tanner Morgan
Morgan benefits from a decade that has seen a revolving door of signal callers under center for the Gophers, but make no mistake, he earned his place on this team. As a redshirt sophomore this season, Morgan was a unanimous second-team All-Big Ten selection and broke the school’s single-season records for passing yards (2,975) and passing touchdowns (28).
“I would go with Adam Weber but really he was only a part of the 2010 season. Then it was a bunch of guys, some with a single season that was very good but none had an elite career. 2010 Weber, 2011 Gray, and 2015 Leidner were all good individual seasons. But 2019 Tanner Morgan was better. And if you throw in his 4-2 record in the second half of 2018, it is a small sample size but Morgan is the guy for me.” - GopherNation
“Tanner Morgan on the years technicality. This year was as efficient a passing season as we have seen in maroon and gold.” - mowe0018
Others Receiving Votes: Adam Weber
“Adam Weber. Even though he has less time in this decade than Tanner, he’s such a coulda, woulda, shoulda guy.” - Hipster Gopher
Notable Names: Duane Bennett (2010-11), Donnell Kirkwood (2010-14), David Cobb (2013-14), Rodney Smith (2015-19), Shannon Brooks (2015-19), Mohamed Ibrahim (2018-Present)
TDG Staff Selections (Unanimous): David Cobb and Rodney Smith
Cobb seized the starting running back role in 2013, setting the stage for a 2014 season that saw him set the single-season school record for rushing yards (1,626). Even with only two seasons as a starter, Cobb sits at eighth all-time for career rushing yards at Minnesota.
Smith will finish his career as the school’s second all-time leading rusher after five seasons with the Gophers. He has seen action in 51 games this decade, rushed for more than 1,000 yards in two seasons, and holds the record for most all-purpose yards in school history.
“David Cobb. Imagine what he could have done if a certain running backs coach had not buried him in the depth chart. Rodney Smith. Imagine what he could have done had a certain ACL not torn.” - Ustreet
“Smith and Cobb seem like the automatic picks here. Though if Brooks had stayed healthy, imagine the guy who played Purdue getting 15+ carries a game for an entire season (or two).” - mowe0018
Notable Names: Da’Jon McKnight (2010-11), MarQueis Gray (2010-11), Derrick Engel (2012-14), Isaac Fruechte (2012), K.J. Maye (2012-15), Drew Wolitarsky (2013-16), Tyler Johnson (2016-2019), Rashod Bateman (2018-Present), Chris Autman-Bell (2018-Present)
TDG Staff Selections (Unanimous): Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman
I don’t think anyone needs an explanation as to why these two were unanimous selections. Johnson and Bateman were the program’s first pair of 1,000-yard receivers in the same season and the first wide receivers from the same team to both be named first-team All-Big Ten in the same season. If you need any more of a refresher than that, you haven’t been watching.
“This is a rather easy choice. First ever 1,000 yard receivers in the same season and both of these guys will be running routes on Sundays. Perhaps we have the start of WR U?” - GopherNation
Notable Names: Eric Lair (2010-11), Maxx Williams (2013-14), Brandon Lingen (2014-17), Nate Wozniak (2014-17)
TDG Staff Selection (Unanimous): Maxx Williams
Who else? This is a no-brainer. Maxx was unreal. He declared for the NFL Draft as a redshirt sophomore because he had literally nothing left to prove at the college level. The eight touchdowns he scored in 2014 are a single-season record for a tight end at Minnesota. Williams was a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection, the conference’s Kwalick-Clark Big Ten Tight End of the Year, and an All-American according to several outlets.
Gopher fans (and Hawkeye fans) will certainly remember his three-touchdown performance in the 2014 Floyd of Rosedale game as Minnesota rolled Iowa to the tune of 51-14.
“The biggest duh in this entire team.” - Ustreet
“He legitimately may have had more receptions, yards, and touchdowns than the rest of the Gopher tight ends in this decade combined.” - gopherguy05