The Gopher running back room has been in rough shape this year. Injuries have decimated the depth chart but to the coaching staff’s credit, this was fortunately a very deep and talented room.
Mohamed Ibrahim- the returning Big Ten running back of the year who looked to be in top form before being lost for the season near the end of the Ohio State game.
- Mar’Keise Irving - also known as Bucky, also known as Bucko (we will get to the bottom of this one another time). Is now the co-lead back as a true freshman and looking to be very impressive.
- Ky Thomas - after lighting the Kansas high school football landscape on fire, Thomas is getting a chance to shine as a redshirt freshman.
Bryce Williams- the veteran of the group who was mixing in playing time with Irving and Thomas before suffering an injury in the Northwestern game.
Cam Wiley- entered the transfer portal as he realized where he stood on the overall depth chart.
- (no one)
- Derik LeCaptain - the former walk-on linebacker who is being thrust into running back duties because he was a record setting RB in Wisconsin.
Typically entering the season with 6 scholarship running backs should get you through the season. But the Gophers are now looking at a situation where they have 2 scholarship running backs for the final 5 games of the season, with no chance that any of the injured backs will be returning.
So what do you do?
You put the former walk-on linebacker from a small school in Wisconsin in as your third running back. Obviously. And then this happens.
So really, who is Derik LeCaptain?
As I’ve mentioned several times, he is a former walk-on linebacker from Southern Door High School in Wisconsin. Southern Door is a Division 5 school located in southern Door County.
Out of high school LeCaptain had some Division II scholarship offers, a preferred walk-on offer from in-state Wisconsin and from PJ Fleck to walk-on with the Gophers.
You can view his junior and senior year highlights at the links provided.
So during his time at Southern Door, LeCaptain did a little bit of everything for the Eagles. Over his career he rushed for 5,199 yards and accounted for 100 total touchdowns. According to his GopherSports bio he recorded the most yards from scrimmage in Wisconsin high school football history. While also being a 2-time All-State linebacker.
As a senior his Eagle’s squad made it to the 2nd round of the playoffs before falling to the #1 seeded Kewaunee Storm.
LeCaptain then chooses to row the boat at Minnesota as a walk-on. In 2019 he redshirted, being able to play in 4 games where he contributed on special teams. In 2020 he played special teams in all 7 games, earning himself the team’s special teams player of the year award. His first full season of playing, earned himself this...
Now in 2021, as a scholarship athlete for the Gophers he has once again played in every game, exclusively on special teams. Until Bryce Williams went down at Northwestern and the game was essentially over. The former high school running back was put in to play running back in the team’s final series.
The kid rushed for 31 yards on 3 carries and the touchdown gif that was shared above.
Depth at running back is a pretty serious issue for this Gopher team that is trying to win the Big Ten West and get to the Big Ten Championship game for the first time. Expect LeCaptain to get plenty of reps at RB this week as he very well may be needed down the road.
For now, this has to be a pretty exciting week for LeCaptain.