It is New Year’s Eve and a new decade is almost upon us. 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.
This is the second installment of a three-part series. Today, we are rolling out our selections for the offensive and defensive lines. Last week, we covered the offensive skill positions, and later this week we’ll close out with the linebackers, secondary, and special teams.
Notable Names: Ed Olson (2010-13), Josh Campion (2012-15), Jonah Pirsig (2013-16), Donnell Greene (2016-18), Sam Schlueter (2017-Present), Daniel Faalele (2018-Present)
TDG Staff Selections: Jonah Pirsig and Donnell Greene
Jonah Pirsig first saw action in the final six games of his freshman season, but really started to emerge as a sophomore, when he took over at right tackle midway through the year and became part of the dominant offensive line in front of running back David Cobb. He ended up playing in 42 games throughout his career and starting 30 of them.
Donnell Greene was an impact player from the moment he stepped on campus as a junior college recruit. The starting left tackle position belong almost exclusively to him for three consecutive years, as he played in 36 games over that span and started 29 of them.
Also Receiving Votes: Josh Campion
Notable Names: Chris Bunders (2010-11), Zac Epping (2011-14), Jon Christenson (2012-15), Joe Bjorklund (2012-15), Connor Mayes (2014-16), Vincent Calhoun (2016-17), Garrison Wright (2016-17), Blaise Andries (2018-Present), Curtis Dunlap Jr. (2019-Present)
TDG Staff Selections: Zac Epping and Blaise Andries
As a senior, Zac Epping was a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the media and a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches. He helped pave the way for David Cobb to break the school’s single-season rushing yards record. Epping was a four-year starter for Minnesota who finished his college career by starting in 47 consecutive games.
Blaise Andries has barely scratched the surface of his potential as a redshirt sophomore this season, his second year as a starter. He has been solid, but I feel the best is yet to come. Andries was named third-team All-Big Ten earlier this month.
“Andries, who will be on at least an NFL practice squad after next year. Epping, who is the only All-Big Ten First teamer on this list.” - Ustreet
“Epping was an absolute beast as a senior, and Andries has the highest ceiling in just two seasons.” - gopherguy05
Also Receiving Votes: Chris Bunders and Curtis Dunlap Jr.
Notable Names: Ryan Wynn (2011), Tommy Olson (2011-14), Tyler Moore (2015-16), Jared Weyler (2016-18), Conner Olson (2017-Present)
TDG Staff Selection: Jared Weyler
Jared Weyler first emerged as a starter on the offensive line in 2016, alternating between guard and center positions as needed. He played in 10 games that season and started eight of them. Weyler opened the 2017 season as starting center, but missed six games that year due to injury. But he finished his career strong, starting all 13 games of his senior season at center.
“Jared Weyler is the pick here. Tommy Olson had a fantastic single season and Conner Olson is on his way to deserving a spot here, but Weyler was a good center for the better part of three seasons.” - GopherNation
“Did you know that Jared Weyler is a tax associate now?” - Hipster Gopher
Also Receiving Votes: Tommy Olson
Notable Names: Brandon Kirksey (2010-11), Ra’Shede Hageman (2010-13), Cameron Botticelli (2011-14), Scott Ekpe (2012-2016), Steven Richardson (2014-17), Andrew Stelter (2014-17), Gary Moore (2014-18), O.J. Smith (2018), Sam Renner (2018-19)
TDG Staff Selections (Unanimous): Ra’Shede Hageman and Steven Richardson
Hageman played both defensive tackle and defensive end in his career with the Gophers, but for the purposes of this series, we have grouped him in with the defensive tackles. He actually came to Minnesota as a tight end before transitioning to defensive line, where he struggled to find his footing under then head coach Tim Brewster. Hageman seemed to respond well once Jerry Kill took the helm, and was named All-Big Ten Honorable Mention as a junior before a monster senior season that saw him earn a unanimous place on the first-team All-Big Ten.
Richardson was a bowling ball who anchored the Gophers’ defensive line for four years. He played in 48 games and started 44 of them, often making his presence known in ways that aren’t reflected in the box score. Richardson was not highly recruited because programs tagged him as undersized, but the underdog tag served him well at Minnesota.
“Ra’Shede Hageman and Steven Richardson were both guys who improved each year to have outstanding senior seasons. These guys were very good.” - GopherNation
“It has to be ‘Shede and Stove. Hageman ate a lot of guys for the Gophers early in the decade, and Richardson had a spectacular senior season that was kind of underrated.” - gopherguy05
Notable Names: Anthony Jacobs (2010-11), D.L. Wilhite (2010-12), Alex Keith (2012-15), Theiren Cockran (2013-15), Hendrick Ekpe (2013-16), Gaelin Elmore (2014-16), Carter Coughlin (2016-19), Winston DeLattiboudere (2016-19)
TDG Staff Selections: Carter Coughlin and Winston DeLattiboudere
I’m going to tread lightly here and say that this has not been the best decade for defensive ends at Minnesota. It could have been better, to say the least. Nothing against Carter Coughlin, but when your best defensive end is a converted linebacker, you may have a problem.
That’s not to say Coughlin isn’t deserving. I’ve written at length about what he has meant to this program, and he made the most of his hybrid role on defense. He has played in 48 games over the course of his career, starting 38 of them, and was All-Big Ten Honorable Mention as a sophomore and second-team All-Big Ten as a junior and senior. Coughlin tied for the Big Ten lead in sacks (9.5) as a junior and led the conference in forced fumbles (4).
DeLattiboudere has been a mainstay on the defensive line for as long as Coughlin. Over the last four years, he has played in 50 games and started 35 of them. More than anything, DeLattiboudere has been a good ambassador for the program off the field.
“The talent at this position is staggering. The best of them is a linebacker (Coughlin) and Delattiboudere because he’s a great representative of the University.” - Ustreet
“Winston has always struck me as a high quality player and individual. Coughlin had a great junior year and an excellent career.”
Also Receiving Votes: Theiren Cockran and D.L. Wilhite
“Wilhite cuz he interned at the Minnesota Historical Society and that was cool.” - Hipster Gopher