Last season the Gophers played an inordinate amount of freshmen throughout the season. Depending on how you decide to categorize a player’s contributions, there were 7 true freshmen and 6 or 7 redshirt freshmen who contributed last season beyond just special teams and minimal snaps.
With so many freshman being a factor on last year’s squad, lets run down this year’s freshmen and see who may be counted upon to have an impact.
This group is a little easier to project. Due to the new redshirt rules last season, the staff was able to get the then true freshmen into 4 games. Giving the players a taste of Big Ten level football while keeping them eligible for four more years. And as fans we were able to see them on the field, giving us a sense of who is going to play in their redshirt freshman season,
So many of 2018’s true freshmen played more than the minimum 4 games and are not major contributors as true sophomores. But here are a few guys who were able to maintain their redshirt and will be important to this year’s success.
OG - Curtis Dunlap Jr
Dunlap played the minimum 4 games last year but he played a lot in the Wisconsin game and started at guard in the bowl game. He is expected to start at RG and really the expectation is that he is going to be very good in 2019.
TE - Brevyn Spann-Ford
Athletic player who may really break out this year as a weapon in the passing game. He may start, but even if he doesn’t he will be a major factor in the 2019 offense.
OLB - Braelen Oliver
Mostly will be a backup linebacker so his level of contribution will be limited. But you’ll see Oliver on the field, getting valuable reps to be ready for when the current senior linebackers graduate.
Here is where I get to guess a little bit, but I’m certain there will be some true freshmen who will contribute this season. Last year there were 11 guys who played enough to lose their redshirt. I don’t expect we’ll see that many in 2019, but here are the guys who just may force their way on to the field.
CB - Tyler Nubin
Barring injuries, it’s very doubtful that Nubin will earn starts. But the highest rated player in last year’s class may be needed for defensive backfield depth.
DT - DeAngelo Carter
Defensive tackle is the thinnest position for the Gophers, Carter comes into the program already at 305 lbs and really could earn his way into the rotation, which is wide open.
WR - Nnamdi Adim-Madumere
I know that we are pretty well set at WR with Tyler Johnson, Rashod Bateman, Chris Autman-Bell, Demetrius Douglas and others but Nnamdi is a physical specimen who may command playing time immediately.
DE - MJ Anderson or D’Vion Harris
One of these guys stepping up and earning a spot in the rotation would help a little bit now, but would be HUGE for the future. With Carter Coughlin playing rush DE often and Winston DeLattiboudere as a reliable senior there is going to be a bigger depth (and production) problem next season. Anderson has better size initially, but one of them earning playing time would alleviate concerns for next year while giving a boost to production this one.
Really, the biggest freshman contributors will probably come out of nowhere to surprise us all. But the 2019 squad has a lot returning, getting a little extra production out of some new faces would be a really nice bonus.
Is it football season yet?