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Minnesota Football: Spring Position Previews - Offensive Line

The Gophers must replace the interior of their offensive line

NCAA Football: Western Illinois at Minnesota Matt Blewett-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 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 22.

2023 Offensive Line Roster

Returning Starter(s): Aireontae Ersery and Quinn Carroll
Other Returners: Nathan Boe, Karter Shaw, Tyler Cooper, Martes Lewis, J.J. Guedet, Tyrell Lawrence, Logan Purcell, Spencer Alvarez, Tony Nelson, Cade McConnell, and Ashton Beers
Spring Enrollees: Greg Johnson and Reese Tripp
Fall Enrollees: Phillip Daniels, De’Eric Mister, and Jerome Williams

Out the Door: John Michael Schmitz, Axel Ruschmeyer, and Chuck Filiaga

Spring Offensive Line Preview

The Gophers have their cut out for them on the offensive line going into next season. Not only do they need to replace John Michael Schmitz, a four-year starter, an All-American center, and a soon-to-be NFL Draft pick. But the entire interior of the starting offensive line is gone, as left guard Axel Ruschmeyer and right guard Chuck Filiaga must both be replaced.

The one starting spot that is not up for grabs is at left tackle, where Aireontae Ersery has planted his flag after starting all 13 games at that position last year. Former Notre Dame transfer Quinn Carroll, who started at right tackle last season but often struggled in pass protection, seems poised to start at right guard, which is where he is practicing this spring. Redshirt junior Martes Lewis is competing with redshirt senior J.J. Guedet for the now vacant starting spot at right tackle.

Nathan Boe started at center in the Pinstripe Bowl and seems to be in pole position to take over at that position full-time, but first he’ll need to fend off sixth-year senior Karter Shaw. Both Boe and Shaw have also seen time at left guard this spring, along with redshirt senior Tyler Cooper. Offensive line coach Brian Callahan has been using different pairings at center and left guard this spring, hoping to find the right combination of Boe, Shaw, or Cooper.

It is also possible that head coach P.J. Fleck may explore his options in the transfer portal when it re-opens in May. Minnesota is certainly thin in terms of depth on the offensive line. There is quite a bit of youth on the depth chart. Redshirt freshman Cade McConnell has been getting work at center, redshirt freshman Ashton Beers is behind Carroll at right guard, and early enrollee Greg Johnson is reportedly making an impression at left guard.

NEXT: Defensive Line