The Gophers have a new starting tight end this year who might leave observers doing a double take.
Nate Wozniak is a 6-10 sophomore from Greenwood, Ind. Coach Jerry Kill said he is one of the team's most improved players.
Wozniak, aka "Big Woz," arrived two years ago as a three-star recruit who also had offers from Miami (Fla.) and Maryland. Some teams thought he should be an offensive tackle, but he always wanted to play tight end.
After redshirting in 2013, Wozniak played five games last season but didn't have a catch. He has added 30 pounds since getting to campus and now weighs about 270. He'll be counted on heavily with Lincoln Plsek (back injury) and Duke Anyanwu (knee) out. Sophomore Brandon Lingen returns after playing 11 games last season, including one start, but All-Big Ten pass-catcher Maxx Williams, a Baltimore Ravens draft pick in May, and the graduated Drew Goodger need to be replaced.
"Wozniak is just really playing well right now, and Lingen — those tight ends have certainly stood out," Kill said.
Wozniak has improved dramatically as a blocker and pass catcher since arriving on campus.
"I looked a little uncoordinated, a little too slow for the speed of the game at the Division-I level," he said. "But now that I've kind of grown into my body, my speed's picked up. I feel more confident with my game."
Did he ever consider playing basketball?
Anybody his height is bound to get that question, especially coming from Indiana.
"I think I've always liked football more," Wozniak said. "Basketball's a little more of a softer sport."