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Minnesota Football: Spring Position Preview - Tight End

The Gophers are solid at the tight end position, but a redshirt freshman could take them to the next level

NCAA Football: Purdue at Minnesota Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

I say, “SPRING,” you say, “POSITION PREVIEWS!”

I say, “SPRING,” you say, “POSITION PREVIEWS!”

That’s right. The hiatus is over. Football is back! Well, the spring version of football, at least. And in the weeks leading up to the Minnesota Golden Gophers’ spring game at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 13, at TCF Bank Stadium, we’ll be breaking down each position group.

Key Departure(s): Colton Beebe
Key Returner(s): Jake Paulson, Brevyn Spann-Ford, Ko Kieft, Bryce Witham, and Nate Umlor
Early Enrollee(s): None

The tight end position has been under-utilized thus far in the P.J. Fleck era at Minnesota, at least in terms of the passing game and especially compared to years past. Jake Paulson quietly carved out a place for himself on offense last season as a redshirt freshman, starting six games and playing in all 13 games. But his contributions were less as a pass-catching tight end and more as an excellent blocker. Paulson finished with two receptions for 17 yards and a touchdown.

Redshirt freshman Brevyn Spann-Ford may shake things up though. Fleck and co. were keen on having Spann-Ford see the field in four games last year to maintain his redshirt, but enough to help him get acclimated to the college level. They reportedly love the size and athleticism that he brings to the table at his position, and he is expected to add a new wrinkle to the passing game as a pass-catching threat if he can tap into his potential.

Redshirt junior Ko Kieft, more of a road grader than either Paulson or Spann-Ford, rounds out the trio of tight ends that will be the top contributors this fall. Bryce Witham and Nate Umlor, who is making the transition from defensive tackle this offseason, provide depth.

Next: Offensive Line