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Minnesota Football: Spring Position Previews - Linebacker

Cody Lindenberg is the lone returning starting linebacker

Iowa v Minnesota Photo by David Berding/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 Linebacker Roster

Returning Starter(s): Cody Lindenberg
Other Returners: Devon Williams, Joey Gerlach, and Maverick Baranowski
Spring Enrollees: Ryan Selig
Fall Enrollees: Alex Elliott and Matt Kingsbury

Out the Door: Mariano Sori-Marin, Braelen Oliver, Donald Willis, and Josh Aune

Spring Linebacker Preview

It should come as no surprise that Minnesota hosted Utah State transfer linebacker A.J. Vongphachanh for a campus visit earlier this month, because the Gophers barely have enough linebackers on the roster to fill out a two-deep this spring.

Mariano Sori-Marin, a four-year starter, has finally graduated. The only returning starter is Cody Lindenberg, who I believe has All-Big Ten potential at will linebacker. The Anoka native finished second on the team in total tackles (71) last year, earning All-Big Ten Honorable Mention honors.

The sam linebacker position has experienced the most upheaval this offseason. Braelen Oliver was the starter there last season but opted to enter the transfer portal, ending up closer to home at Georgia Tech. Donald Willis figured to be the next man up before he also decided to enter the portal earlier this spring. He has yet to find a new home. The leaves redshirt freshman Joey Gerlach, who has yet to see the field in his college career, as the de facto starter.

As I alluded to earlier, the Gophers are likely to explore their options in the transfer portal, but finding a potential starter at sam linebacker is going to be a tough sell. Because they operate out of a base 4-2-5 defense, they only need a third linebacker when they switch to a 4-3 against more run-heavy offenses. So the starting sam linebacker is essentially a part-time position.

To replace Sori-Marin at mike linebacker, Minnesota brought in Western Michigan linebacker Ryan Selig. But if spring practice reports are to be believed, redshirt sophomore Devon Williams is giving Selig all the competition he can handle. Redshirt freshman Maverick Baranowski is another up-and-comer at mike linebacker who might see the field sooner rather than later.

NEXT: Defensive Back