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Minnesota Football: Spring Position Previews - Running Back

Welcome to the Sean Tyler show

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 02 Western Michigan at Michigan State Photo by Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With spring football practice underway at Minnesota, we’ll be breaking down each position group in the lead-up to the spring game at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 22.

2023 Running Back Roster

Returning Starter(s): None
Other Returners: Bryce Williams and Zach Evans
Spring Enrollees: Sean Tyler and Darius Taylor
Fall Enrollees: Marquese Williams

Out the Door: Mohamed Ibrahim and Trey Potts

Spring Running Back Preview

How do you replace Mohamed Ibrahim?

The short answer: You don’t. Ibrahim was the most prolific running back in program history, capturing the school’s single-season and career records for rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. He was a once-in-a-generation running back, and anyone expecting the next man up to equal his production needs to dial back their expectations.

Following Ibrahim out the door is Trey Potts. His once-promising career at Minnesota was derailed when he suffered a medical emergency in the fourth quarter of a 2021 game against Purdue. Potts had to be rushed to the hospital by ambulance and missed the rest of the season with an undisclosed ailment. He defied the odds when he returned to the field last season, but Potts never seemed to regain his form, rushing for 471 yards and three touchdowns.

He entered the transfer portal earlier this month, likely in part due to the arrival of Western Michigan transfer running back Sean Tyler, who figures to draw the bulk of the carries this fall.

This spring, Gopher fans will get their first glimpse of the unique skillset Tyler brings to the Gophers’ backfield. He is a more explosive running back than Minnesota has had in recent years, having recorded three touchdown runs of 50+ yards last year. Tyler also returned a screen pass 76 yards for a touchdown and was a weapon on special teams for Western Michigan.

“Sean can really run,” head coach P.J. Fleck said when asked about Tyler in his Tuesday press conference. “He’s got legit speed. He is tightly wound. He’s twitched. He’s explosive. He can work really well in space. He’s a jitterbug, and he’s really strong.”

With Tyler set to lead the Gophers’ new-look running back room, the question becomes who will step up to help him carry the load. Two obvious candidates would be seem to be redshirt freshman Zach Evans and incoming freshman Darius Taylor, who enrolled early and is on campus for spring practice. Evans saw limited action last year after being banged up early in the season, but both he and Taylor will have ample opportunity to compete for carries this fall.

The wild card is Bryce Williams. The sixth-year senior has not seen consistent playing time since his freshman season. You can never have enough running backs in your stable, but I would be surprised if he has anything more than a limited role this year.

NEXT: Wide Receiver