It’s no secret that P.J. Fleck has been improving the talent level at Minnesota every year since arriving in January of 2017. Seeing Minnesota players on pre-season watch lists* was often a rarity. But now we’re seeing it happen repeatedly. Bruce Feldman has been doing a college football “Freaks List” for years now.
But it wasn’t until last year that Minnesota finally placed a player ( Daniel Faalele ) onto the list.
GoAUpher update: As noted by 3PW in the comments, I forgot all about Ra’Shede Hageman. My apologies to Optimus for the oversight and a hat tip to 3PW for the assist!
Boye Mafe has joined Faalele and Hageman on the newest edition of Feldman’s Freaks list at The Athletic:
5. Boye Mafe, Minnesota, defensive line
Freakiest attribute: Vertical leap
Last year Minnesota was represented by offensive tackle Daniel Faalele, the biggest man in the sport. This year, the Golden Gophers’ biggest Freak is one the other side the line of scrimmage. Inside the Gophers’ program, they’re expecting a big year from Mafe, who had flashed some of his potential in 2019 (3.5 tackles for loss and three sacks). Very few guys his size can jump the way the 6-4, 260-pounder can. His vertical is 40½ inches. That’s 4½ inches higher than any defensive lineman at the NFL combine this year. He can touch the top of the square on a basketball backboard.
But it’s not just his vertical. All of his numbers that are head-turning. Mafe has broad jumped 10-6. He has run a 4.57 40. His 10-yard split is 1.58. His short shuttle is 4.3. He can power clean 400 pounds and squats 653. It’s just a whole lot of wow stuff.
His athleticism is just one of the reasons Boye wow’d Blake enough to make him one the first players featured in the Race to Mahturity profiles this summer. Mafe was a 3-star commit coming to Minnesota, and a relatively unheralded one at that (Rutgers was the team Minnesota beat out for the Hopkins native). The work he’s done with Fleck and his staff to become a Feldman Freak is the sort of growth Minnesota will need to continue to see to sustain the success displayed last season in the years to come.
*As Gopher Nation would tell you, pre-season watch lists are the only thing that matter.