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Minnesota Football: Spring Position Previews - Wide Receiver

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Can the Gophers help Dylan Wright unlock his potential?

NCAA Football: Guaranteed Rate Bowl-Minnesota at West Virginia Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With spring football practice underway at Minnesota, we’ll be breaking down each position group in the lead-up to the spring game at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 30.

2022 Wide Receiver Roster

Returning Starter(s): Chris Autman-Bell, Mike Brown-Stephens, Daniel Jackson, and Dylan Wright
Other Returners: Clay Geary, Jonathan Mann, Lemeke Brockington, and Dino Kaliakmanis
Spring Enrollees: Ike White
Fall Enrollees: Kristen Hoskins

Out the Door: Brady Boyd, Dylan Hillard-McGill, Peter Udoibok, and Douglas Emilien

Spring Wide Receiver Preview

The days of Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman feel like a distant memory. Last season was supposed to be Chris Autman-Bell’s time to shine, but an ankle injury suffered during fall camp and inconsistency in the passing game led to an underwhelming campaign. Fortunately, Autman-Bell is back for one last ride, but the Gophers are going to need others to step up.

This is an important offseason for Dylan Wright. The transfer from Texas A&M turned a lot of heads in last year’s season opener, hauling in five receptions for 57 receiving yards and a touchdown. He looked prime to give the Gophers a formidable 1-2 punch at wide receiver alongside Autman-Bell, but struggled to earn consistent playing time. By season’s end, Wright had only seen 25% of the team’s offensive snaps and finished with only 18 receptions for 365 yards and two touchdowns.

Minnesota offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca and wide receivers coach Matt Simon are working together this spring to help Wright unlock his potential.

On the topic of Wright, Ciarrocca said earlier this spring: “As Matt and I were talking this morning, I was like, ‘Matt, we know where we want him to be and where he’s capable of being, but let’s just understand that he’s moving in that direction.’ And as long as we keep him moving in that direction, and he stays committed to wanting to move in that direction, because you gotta do the work. And he’s really been committed to doing the work and so we’re seeing improvement in him.”

Mike Brown-Stephens was perhaps the team’s most consistent wide receiver last season, drawing more offensive snaps than any other pass catcher and often finding separation downfield in coverage on long and slow-developing routes. Minnesota needs him and Daniel Jackson to be more reliable targets in the passing game to complement Autman-Bell and Wright.

The Gophers’ crop of underclassmen wide receivers is a bit of unknown. Brady Boyd and Douglas Emilien both saw limited action last season but opted to enter the transfer portal along with Dylan Hillard-McGill and Peter Uboidok. That leaves redshirt sophomore Jonathan Mann, redshirt freshman Lemeke Brockington, redshirt freshman Dino Kaliakmanis, and early enrollee Ike White.