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Minnesota Football: All-Time Gopher Football Fantasy Draft

Four of us selected...and it got a bit weird

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Minnesota vs Penn St. Getty

Because we all are trying to find some kind of #quarancontent around here to keep you interested in coming back, we decided to “borrow” an idea that The Athletic has last week where several of their writers picked all-time fantasy teams for their respective beats. Here is an example from the Minnesota Twins, and the Minnesota Vikings respectively. Those are fun and all, so we stole a lot of their ideas and added a few of ours to make this unique to The Daily Gopher. We had four of our writers who decided to give this a shot for Minnesota Football: GopherGuy05, GoAUpher, WhiteSpeedReceiver, and UStreet. These selections were made via zoom during the holiday weekend and yes more than a few alcoholic beverages were consumed during our “draft”. As you will see some of us took this a bit more seriously than the others.

Our original concept began by drafting a 25-man roster—one player each from a standard offensive and defensive set with an added offensive flex spot and a punter and a kicker. Then we decided to add some bench spots. Then the bench grew—in shall we say creative ways. In any case each person ended up selecting a 36-man roster compiled of various positional spots. The draft went in your standard snake format. Things got weird pretty much right off the top.

This is where your participation is needed. Below you will find the rosters for each of the four of us along with whatever commentary the draftee decided to add. (Trust me this will be fairly important in at least one person’s case). Then we will have a poll at the bottom where you our loyal readers can select which roster is the best. Best in this case being a very subjective term. You can pick who you think has the most talent. You can pick the selections you like the best. You can vote for absurdity if you wish. It’s all up to you.

Without further delay, here are the four rosters selected:

GoAUpher—Overall #1 Pick

GoAUpher’s Selections

Position Player Round Selected
Position Player Round Selected
QB Benji Kamrath 8
RB1 Mike Henry 12
RB2 Rodney Smith 13
WR2 Hayo Carpenter 23
TE Maxx Williams 6
LT Sam Schlueter 31
LG Shannon Brooks 32
C Greg Eslinger 3
RG Curtis Dunlap 25
RT Daniel Faalele 19
Flex Goldy Gopher 14
DE Willie Vandesteeg 24
DT Bronko Nagurski 2
DT O.J. Smith 28
DE Winston Delattiboudere 27
LB Casey O'Brien 29
LB Mitch Leidner 30
CB Jalen Myrick 22
CB Benjamin St. Juste 21
S Antoine Winfield Jr 4
S Jordan Howden 20
P Peter Mortel 1
K Dan Nystrom 7
QB Bryan Cupito 11
RB Marion Barber III 5
OL Tim Brewster's Mustache 35
LB Petulant Press Conference Glen Mason 34
P Rhys Lloyd 15
Flex P.J. Fleck 10
Coach Bernie Bierman 9


My plan for this draft was simple but brilliant:

  • Step 1: Draft Peter Mortell in the first round.
  • Step 2: Watch gg05 groan and bemoan my lack of seriousness.
  • Step 3: Continue to draft based on whatever felt right in the moment, knowing that I wasn’t worried about creating a death star team in any way.

Generally speaking my draft strategy was to pick players I liked. The reasons could be minute or obvious. The more outlandish, the better. Frankly, I’m not sure why everyone made such a fuss. My choices left them plenty of quality players to pick.

I also felt our draft board was a little light on important positions, so I started drafting coaches and made everyone follow me. I also felt it was important not to neglect the skill positions on our benches, which is why I drafted a backup punter and dared anyone to challenge my correctness.

Here is a round by round explanation of my picks. You’re welcome.

Rd 1 - Peter Mortell - Punter: If you have to ask why, you don’t deserve to know the answer. This is the B1G. We punt. We win.


Rd 2 - Bronko Nagurski - DT: I mean, IT’S BRONKO NAGURSKI. The man has the best name in Gopher Football history and is a freaking legend, literally. I had to have him on Team GoAUpher.

Rd 3 - Greg Eslinger - C: Greg is an all time favorite Gopher for me. Dude led a beast of an o-line, won a Rimington Trophy, and played a position that is far to unheralded in a draft like this. I decided to rectify that.

Rd 4 - Antoine Winfield Jr. - S: So many game sealing interceptions. So many fond memories. So much recency bias.

Rd 5 - Marion Barber III - RB (Bench, formerly RB1): Half of my favorite running back duo. He was originally RB1 for me but had to be moved to make room for another dynamic duo. I’ll explain in Rounds 12/13.

Rd 6 - Maxx Williams - TE: TOE. DRAG. CATCH. That is all.

Rd 7 - Dan Nystrom - K: Two specialists in my Top 10? Damn straight. You go beat Penn State in their house when they’re #2 ranked by kicking a clutch field goal and then we’ll talk about whether my picks make sense or not.

Rd 8 - Benji Kamrath - QB1: I know what you’re did I not pick Mitch Leidner in this spot. He was right there! Sorry Moose, but The Pride of Mayville, WI got the nod because of one specific reason. One of my best friends is a Badger fan, he played with Benji, and he had to watch Benji come on for Asad Abdul-Khaliq and take the Axe away from UW. Delicious schadenfreude gets you drafted.

Rd 9 - Bernie Bierman - Head Coach: This is where I went off script. Teams need to be coached, so I made an executive decision and drafted one. Bernie was the obvious choice.

Rd 10 - P.J. Fleck - Flex (Bench): There was no bench Flex roster spot when we started. I couldn’t waste my starting Flex on P.J. for reasons to be explained, so a bench version was also created. Why a second coach? Because reanimating Bernie is likely to come with complications and when his body disintegrated (possibly before the 3rd quarter was over) I needed a quality replacement. Also, because it kept everyone else from drafting Fleck. I am nothing if not petulant.

Rd 11 - Bryan Cupito - QB (Bench): I didn’t want to lose the most underrated Gopher QB of this century (no GopherNation, that’s not Adam Weber) so I acted.

Rd 12 - Mike Henry - RB1: Mike was actually a fullback, but no one gave me a fullback and I got the feeling creating one would result in too many loud sighs. So I moved MBIII to the bench and added Mike. Why? Because I got my photo with him on the field after the win over Nebraska in 2013.

Rd 13 - Rodney Smith - RB2: Rodney was a worthy pick in round 12, in fact, he was a steal this late. Most would have jumped on him because of his value (in fact, this was the first pick I made to be complimented by the group). I however, chose him because I got my photo with him on the field after the PSU game last year.

Rd 14 - Goldy Gopher - Flex: Goldy can do it all. Mug for the camera. Truck little kids in halftime football games. Pose with me for photos at every road venue I’ve been to. What’s that? You say he doesn’t play football? I’d like to direct your attention to the following:

1) There was no definition of Flex given before the draft, so he counts.


Rd 15 - Rhys Lloyd - P (Bench): I realized that my early selections of Mortell and Nystrom left me unable to select Winston, Glen Mason’s favorite kicker ever. Thankfully, our rosters needed a backup punter (because B1G) and Rhys was an accomplished drop kicker. Also, as I might have hollered at gg05 every time he protested, anyone who calls their own fake punt TWICE in a game against Toledo in 2004 belongs on my team.

Rd 16 - Chris Autman-Bell - WR1: It was about this time that I realized I needed wide receivers still. CRAB was an obvious pick. Again I was praised for my value selection, but I had another reason:

Rd 17 - De’Vondre Campbell - LB: I actually made this one for football reasons, as I was shocked he was still on the board. Gotta keep the other guys guessing, and there’s no better way to do that then to take the draft seriously.

Rd 18 - Nate Wozniak - TE: Honestly I’m embarrassed I didn’t grab Nate sooner. He’s my 6’9” brother. My apologies to The Woz for the slight.

Rd 19 - Daniel Faalele - RT: I mean, it had been 16 rounds since my last offensive lineman. And I love how tiny he makes everyone else look. Also, he’s getting drafted so I thought I was getting in on the ground floor since this is an All-Time draft.

Rd 20 - Jordan Howden - S: Penn. State. Game. Winning. Interception. All the reason anyone needs.

Rd 21 - Benjamin St. Juste - CB: My defense was looking thin, BSJ has a killer pass breakup celebration. Obvious choice.

Rd 22 - Jalen Myrick - CB: Another pick I was praised for. Yet again, I didn’t care about the value for round. I cared about this play.

Rd 23 - Hayo Carpenter - WR2: Gotta be honest, this was a troll pick to piss off gg05 and WSR. I’m a petty man sometimes, but it worked like a charm.

Rd 24 - Willie Vandesteeg - DE: Not because of the value (you should see the theme), not because of the sacks (of which there were many). I picked Willie because I met him on campus in 2006 and his hair was magically curly.

Rd 25 - Curtis Dunlap - RG: Look at all the guards that were already off the board and tell me you wouldn’t have gone full recency bias like I did.

Rd 26 - I GUESS I DIDN’T PICK ANYONE HERE? Dunno, spreadsheet says I didn’t. Hard to tell when you added as many positions as I did.

Rd 27 - Winston Delattiboudere - DE: All name team Heisman who should have never have fallen this far.

Rd 28 - O.J. Smith - DT: He was the first and only ‘croot we saw on the P.J. Fleck mini-series that ESPNU ran. That’s good enough for Round 28.

Rd 29 - Casey O’Brien - Holder LB: After being told I couldn’t create a holder position, I rebelled and put Casey at MLB because Casey is awesome and you can’t tell me what to do in a fake draft during COVID.

Rd 30 - Mitch Leidner - LB: Dude was big enough to play linebacker.

Rd 31 - Sam Schlueter - LT: After all the crap this guy took in 2018, he deserved a nod for pulling it all together last season.

Rd 32 - Shannon Brooks - LG: Watch Shannon truck a few more guys and then tell me he wouldn’t make a great pulling guard.

Rd 33 - Jacob Fucking Herbers - DL (Bench): IT’S ROUND 33 WHO CARES.

Rd 34 - Petulant Press Conference Glen Mason - LB (Bench): If Glen could have found a way to recruit linebackers who hit as hard as he whined after losing to North Dakota State, he’d have won the B1G twice.

Rd 35 - Tim Brewster’s Mustache at Illinois - OL (Bench): What? It was a great mustache. And you know full well he was a blocking TE back in the day.*

*I am not sure if this is true and there is no way I am bothering to look it up.


UStreet—Overall Pick #2

UStreet’s Selections

Position Player Round Selected
Position Player Round Selected
QB Asad Abdul-Khaliq 10
RB1 Bruce Smith 2
RB2 Lawrence Maroney 3
WR1 Ernie Wheelright 7
WR2 Rick Upchurch 14
TE Ben Utecht 9
LT Gale Gillingham 16
LG Bud Wilkinson 12
C Ben Hamilton 4
RG Mark Setterstrom 5
RT John Williams 6
Flex Paul Giel 8
DE Bud Grant 13
DT Big Shede 11
DT Ray Parson 21
DE Greg White 24
LB Mike Sherels 26
LB Damien Wilson 17
LB Kamal Martin 18
CB Marcus Sherels 22
CB Brock Vereen 19
S Eric Murray 15
S Cedric Thompson 23
P Preston Gruening 1
K Emmit Carpenter 28
QB Tony Dungy 27
RB Pug Lund 29
WR/TE Marqueis Gray 20
OL Bart Beutow 30
DL Boye Mafe 31
LB Michael Hunt 25
DB Dennis Hale 35
P Matt Crawford 36
Flex Jared Ellerson 34
Coach Cal Stoll 32


I was told that we were supposed to draft a punter in Round 1. Consequently, I went with the All-American.

From a team building perspective, I eschewed picking based on greatness and instead around building the best possible single wing death squad after WhiteSpeedReceiver and gopherguy05 grabbed all the good receivers. Bruce Smith and Lawrence Maroney provide a strong one-two punch, and Paul Giel and Pug Lund bring the wood off the bench. I blame my draft board for missing Brian Williams, but otherwise every member of the offensive line is a star. Bud Wilkinson would of course be given a massive dose of steroids to bring his weight and strength up. As we saw this past year, a good offensive line can make a good quarterback into an elite quarterback. That’s what I continue to tell myself after WhiteSpeedReceiver grabbed Sandy Stephens.

Q as a back-up wide receiver is a steal for a late round pick, and I will happily play the Pepsi challenge with any other “what could have been” player in Minnesota history. With effective coaching, he could easily be on this list as a star quarterback or star wide receiver.

The less said about Minnesota’s historical defensive talent the better. It is not a coincidence that most of my picks are from the last 20 years and that most of the starters come from the Jerry Kill era.

Special teams is locked down with multiple beast returners in Upchurch and Sherels.

Finally, a word on coaches. Given that GoAUpher stole multiple coaches I went with Cal Stoll because he had a better sweater game than Mason or Kill. The actual coach of this team is roid rage Bud Wilkinson with Bud Grant and Tony Dungy handling coordinator duties.

GopherGuy05—Overall #3 Pick


Position Player Round Selected
Position Player Round Selected
QB Tanner Morgan 1
RB1 David Cobb 13
RB2 Thomas Hamner 17
WR1 Tyler Johnson 2
WR2 Ron Johnson 3
TE Charlie Sanders 10
LT Dick Smith 20
LG Clayton Tonnamaker 11
C Brian Williams 8
RG Noel Jenke 22
RT Dick Wildung 18
Flex Amir Pinnix 24
DE Carl Eller 5
DT Bobby Bell 4
DT Stephen Richardson 23
DE Carter Coughlin 19
LB Karl Mecklenberg 6
LB Bob Stein 7
LB Pate Najarian 12
CB Willie Middlebrooks 9
CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun 15
S Dom Barber 14
S Sean Lumpkin 16
P Ryan Santoso 28
K Chip Lohmiller 26
QB Adam Weber 21
RB Bob McNamara 27
WR/TE Keith Fahnhorst 30
OL Blaise Andres 31
DL anthony jacobs 34
LB Nate Tripplet 32
DB chris williamson 33
P adam bailey 35
Flex gary russell 36
Coach Murray Warmath r29 29


Well I at least tried to play this straight up, which is more than someone who shall remain nameless (but not descriptive—its the tall bleeper in the zubaz) did. I started right off going for a stud quarterback who should keep rocketing up the Minnesota all-time record board in 2020 before adding a potent one-two punch of Johnson’s to catch said passes. Then I just started picking Hall of Famers. Not a bad strategy I would assume. Three NFL HOF’s and a College Football HOF later I decided I’d move onto first round NFL draft picks before adding another NFL HOF TE.

Yeah my OL ends up being a bit old, but those guys were studs back in the day and with a little technique work I’m sure they can adapt to the current age. Add in a pair of the Gophers top 5 all-time rushers in rounds 13 and 17 and as Brad Childress would say...thats a kick ass offense.

To fill out the rest of the defense we brought it back to the modern era but what recent Gophers were more beloved than Carter Coughlin and Steve Richardson. Add in some more NFL DB talent and my defense will play with any of the ones picked here.

I’ll take Santoso as my punter—two words—Eagle Shirt. Chip Lohmiller available in round 26? What were these guys thinking?

Add a good mix of modern and historic in my bench with Adam Weber and Bob McNamera capable to stepping in easily and Murray Warmath whipping everyone all into shape and this is easily the winning team—that is if you appreciate talent and a well rounded team rather than well...whatever that things GoAUpher calls a team.

White Speed Receiver—Overall Pick #4

White Speed Receiver

Position Player Round Selected
Position Player Round Selected
QB Rickey Foggie 8
RB1 Darrell Thompson 4
RB2 Chris Darkins 3
WR1 Rashod Bateman 1
WR2 Eric Decker 2
TE Matt Spaeth 26
LT Rian Melander 16
LG Leo Nomellini 7
C Clarence Munn 17
RG Tom Brown 9
RT Ed Widseth 19
Flex Tutu Atwell 20
DE Lamanzer Williams 5
DT Anthony Montgomery 11
DT Jewhan Edawrds 24
DE Karon Riley 12
LB Gary Tinsley & His Board 13
LB Blake Cashman 14
LB Craig Sauer 18
CB Mike Lehan 21
CB Jeff Wright 22
S Tyrone Carter 6
S Jack Brewer 15
P Justin Kucek 36
K Mike Chalberg 32
QB Sandy Stephens 10
RB Marion Barber II 30
WR/TE Ryan Thelwell 23
OL Ray Hitchcock 25
DL John Schlect 28
LB Bill Light 29
DB Coney Durr 33
P Paul Blanchard 34
Flex Troy Duerr 35
Coach Henry Williams 31


This is really pretty simple. It’s a combination of my favorite players and a desire to have the best team. Were there a couple spots that I took a player I didn’t like just to make sure I had the best team? No, just one. And it’s my own fault for not taking one of the three other TEs first. But that’s just fine because I’ll make sure he never sees the field on account of my squad having four of the five or so best WRs in Gopher football history. (Don’t question that. I’m WSR. This is my area of expertise, and I’ll fight anyone that besmirches Tutu Atwell.) I also have the greatest Gopher RBs since 1980 in Darkins and Thompson, two of the three best QBs not named Tanner Morgan, and a pair of safeties that are as offensive as they are defensively talented. Are there areas of concern? Sure. While 4/5 of my OL is in the College Football Hall of Fame, three of them have been dead for a combined 87 years. While they’re still probably more effective than any of Tim Brewster’s lines or less concussed than Jerry Kill’s, we’re still asking quite a bit from Melander and 83 year old Tom Brown. And there may be potential chemistry concerns among the LB corps with Craig Sauer being too well-behaved to fit in with that group, although I believe Gary Tinsley’s 2x4 could solve any real issues that would arise. The DL is sneaky-great with Anthony Montgomery and John Schlect being outstanding DTs, Lamanzer Williams and Karon Riley being arguably the best DEs of the past 40 years, and Jewhan Edwards being here to throw the best goddamn raves anyone has ever seen. The CBs don’t have the glitz that GG05’s do, but if we lost most of the secondary due to suspension I feel confident that Coney Durr could take care of business again for me. The most important, under-appreciated person on this team (other than Troy Duerr) is punter Paul Blanchard. That poor man was the punter in the 1983 Nebraska game (yes, THAT game) and still holds the school record with 13 punts in that game.

I grabbed Henry Williams to lead the team, because with Bierman, Warmath, and Fleck taken, which means there was only one other great Gopher coach left. And considering the fact that his 1903-1905 teams only gave up 46 points while outscoring the entire Kill/Claeys tenure, that makes him the perfect coach to utilize the weapons assembled.

Now it’s your turn!!

So there you go. Vote in the poll below as to which team you like the best. Let us know in the comments if you think we missed anyone, or thing we underrated or overrated someone? Like the idea? Maybe we try and do one for Gopher Basketball next.


Who drafted the "best" all-time Gopher Football Team?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    (42 votes)
  • 4%
    (5 votes)
  • 26%
    (28 votes)
  • 28%
    White Speed Receiver
    (30 votes)
105 votes total Vote Now