Gophers football depth chart projections

April 25, 2022The Gophers’ annual Spring Game officially kicks off this Saturday at 1 p.m. Before it gets underway, let’s look at a potential depth chart for the 2021 season.

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With offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca back in the fold after two seasons away from the program the Gophers’ offensive identity could look a lot different this season. With the eight most rushing attempts (601) in college football last season, Tanner Morgan and the passing game could see a 2019-like resurgence with Ciarrocca calling plays. Almost every major skill position week one starter returns from last season, but the offensive line will replace four starters.


  1. Tanner Morgan
  2. Cole Kramer
  3. Athan Kaliakmanis
  4. Jacob Knuth

With Tanner Morgan returning for another season, many Gophers fans were in disbelief after a very lackluster 2021-22 season passing the ball. For as talented as redshirt freshman Athan Kaliakmanis has looked in spring practice (and he certainly has), the position should look very similar this season. No matter who’s calling plays, Fleck has always liked having a rushing threat under center in short-yardage and red-zone situations, so I expect Cole Kramer to assume that role this season. Barring injury or a late-season change, the QB position is Morgan’s to lose once again.

Running Backs:

  1. Mohamed Ibrahim
  2. Treyson Potts
  3. Bryce Williams
  4. Zach Evans
  5. Presten Jelen

The Gophers’ RB room has faced a lot of adversity in the last two seasons. With Ibrahim, Potts and Williams all going down with injuries last season Bucky Irving and Ky Thomas emerged as the future of the position, but they’re now gone to the portal. Mo now returns as one of the best running backs in the big ten conference and Trey Potts seems nearly 100% recovered from his serious injury. With veteran Bryce Williams and true freshman Zach Evans as the depth at the position, it could be worse. Overall, the position has nowhere near the depth it had last season, s0 Mo Ibrahim could be in-line for a MONSTER 2022-23 campaign.

Offensive Line:

  • LT: Aireontae Ersey
    • J.J. Gudet
  • LG: Axel Ruschmeyer
    • Karter Shaw/Nathan Boe
  • C: John Michael Schmitz
    • Nathan Boe
  • RG: Chuck Filiaga
    • Karter Shaw/Nathan Boe
  • RT: Quinn Carroll
    • Martes Lewis

The offensive line was Minnesota’s strength last season. With two players (Faalele and Andries) likely to hear their names called during this month’s NFL Draft and returning center John Michael Schmitz as one of the favorites for the Remmington Trophy (center of the year), the Gophers were oozing with talent. Talented redshirt sophomore Airontae Ersey will fill the starting left tackle role, while Michigan transfer Chuck Filiaga and Notre Dame transfer Quinn Carroll should fill the right side. Overall the unit as a whole certainly has the talent to be productive, but finding the chemistry that this group had last season will be the key to remaining dominant.

*Reminder: Quinn Carroll is graduating from Notre Dame, so he did not participate in the Spring season*

Wide Receivers:

  • 1x: Chris Autman-Bell
    • 2x: Dylan Wright
    • 3x: Jonathan Mann
  • 1y: Daniel Jackson
    • 2y: Lemecke Brockington
    • 3y: Ike White
  • 1s: Mike Brown-Stephens
    • 2s: Clay Geary
    • 3s: Brock Annexstad

Some may look at last year as a disappointment for the Gophers’ wide receivers. The passing game as a whole was never able to get going, and Chris Autman-Bell battled injuries for much of the season. Now, the entire group is back with OC Kirk Ciarrocca back, calling plays. Autman-Bell, Daniel Jackson and Mike Brown Stephens all have shown great potential, but no players had more than 506 yards. I would not be shocked to see all three players’ production grow, but I am even more excited to see how Dylan Wright is involved. He continues to stand out at practice, and with his athletic profile, he becomes the wild card of the WR group. The overall talent of this position is more than enough to have a productive passing attack this season.

Tight Ends:

  1. Brevyn Spann-Ford
  2. Nick Kallerup
  3. Jameson Geers
  4. Nathan Jones
  5. Samuel Pickerign

The outstanding run blocking of Ko Kieft is gone from the Gophers TE room. Brevyn Spann-Ford returns hoping to put together a great season as the clear No. 1 man. With 23 catches for 296 yards last season, I would not be shocked to see those numbers double in 2022. Redshirt junior Nick Kallerup is capable to replace Kieft as a run blocker, while redshirt-freshman Jameson Geers and once walk-on QB Samuel Pickerign will attempt to add depth at the position.


The Gophers’ defense had a major resurgence last season. Under defensive coordinator Joe Rossi, they ranked 5th best in the country allowing 17.3 points per game. There was some shakeup on the coaching staff with Joe Harasymiak and Chad Wilt taking DC roles in the conference, and a lot of productive players moving on led by Boye MafeConey Durr and Jack Gibbens. With some great work in the transfer portal, Minnesota has a great chance to put together another great defensive year.

Defensive Ends:

  1. Thomas Rush
  2. Jah Joyner
  3. Lorenza Surgers
  4. Austin Booker
  5. Jalen Logan-Redding
  6. Danny Striggow
  7. Anthony Smith

Minnesota lost Boye Mafe and Esezi Otomewo to the NFL Draft, two of its top three sack getters from a season ago. Thomas Rush brings back his seven career sacks as a leader for this defense, while Vanderbilt transfer Lorenza Surgers adds veteran depth. The x-factor of this group will be redshirt sophomore Jah Joyner. After coming on late in the year last season Joyner has the talent to break out in 2022. Booker, Logan-Redding and Striggow add talented depth for new defensive line coach Brick Haley.

Defensive Tackles:

  1. Trill Carter
  2. Darnell Jefferies
  3. Kyler Baugh
  4. Logan Richter
  5. Deven Eastern
  6. Gage Keys
  7. Luther McCoy
  8. Jacob Schuster

Much like the defensive ends, the interior defensive line was the heart and soul of the Gophers team last season. But with the departures of Micah Dew-TreadwayNyles Pinckney and Val Martin this group also has a lot to replace. Harvard transfer Chris Smith was expected to come in, until recently flipping to Notre Dame. D’Angelo “Trill” Carter is the leader of this group, with a big season in 2022, he could hear his name called in next year’s draft. The next five players on the list; Clemson transfer Darnell Jefferies, Houston Baptist transfer Kyler Baugh, Logan RichterDeven EasternGage Keys and Luther McCoy all have the talent and skills to contribute this season. I fully expect the first four to have a major role, while McCoy has really impressed me through spring practice. Overall, there are a lot of moving parts, but I think the Gophers are loaded with talent along the interior.


  1. Moriano Sori-Marin
  2. Braelen Oliver
  3. Cody Lindenberg
  4. Donald Willis
  5. Josh Aune
  6. Derik LeCaptain

Jack Gibbens was arguably the Gophers’ biggest addition from the transfer portal last season, but he is now gone and the Gophers have to look to replace him. Moriano Sori-Marin will undoubtedly be one of their biggest defensive leaders, but his running mate will likely come down to two guys in my opinion. Braelen Oliver was the clear No. 3 guy last season in special packages, but Cody Lindenberg who played a lot in 2020, was injured for all of 2021. If I had to guess, I think we will see a lot of both players this season.


  • OCB1: Justin Walley
  • OCB2: Ryan Stapp
  • OCB3: Jalen Glaze
  • OCB4: Miles Flemming
  • SCB1: Beanie Bishop
  • SCB2: Solomon Brown
  • SCB3: Steven Ortiz Jr.

With the departures of Coney DurrJustus Harris and Phillip Howard the Gophers had a lot to replace at the CB position. After adding Abilene Christian transfer Ryan Stapp and Western Kentucky transfer Beanie Bishop those holes were quickly filled. After a terrific true freshman season, Justin Walley has the potential to be Minnesota’s best defensive player this season. A position that looked very questionable early in the offseason, will have a lot of talent in 2022.


  1. Tyler Nubin
  2. Jordan Howden
  3. Terrell Smith
  4. Michael Dixon
  5. Darius Green

The safety position will return all major contributors from a season ago. Terrell Smith saw time at cornerback early last season, until transitioning to the backend late in the year. Tyler Nubin and Jordan Howden return as the top two options from last season. If the safety room is able to take another step forward this season, it might be what takes the Gophers’ defense from good to great.

Special Teams:

Unfortunately, special teams continue to be an issue for all Minnesota football teams. The long snapper and punter situations are more than solid after great years from Brady Weeks and Mark Crawford. As for the kickers, Matthew Trickett returns after going 17 of 25 on field-goal attempts and 36 of 38 on extra points last season. Kickoff specialist Dragan Kesich will likely compete with Ball State transfer Jacob Lewis for long-range field goal duties and kickoff situations.

Long Snappers:

  1. Brady Weeks
  2. Austin Sullivan


  1. Matthew Trickett
  2. Dragan Kesich
  3. Jacob Lewis


  1. Mark Crawford
  2. Daniel Sparks

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