The knee injury Gophers wide receiver Derrick Engel suffered in practice last Sunday is a torn anterior cruciate ligament that likely spells the end of his college career, a person familiar with the injury said Friday.
Engel, a senior from Chaska, has returned punts in practice this week and is listed as questionable on the injury report. But there appears little chance he’ll play in Saturday’s game against Wisconsin.
Coach Jerry Kill has declined to go into specifics about Engel’s injury, not wanting to tip the team’s hand.
Engel leads the Gophers with 25 receptions for 405 yards and five touchdowns. They don’t have another wide receiver with more than eight receptions or a single touchdown catch this season. Tight end Maxx Williams ranks second on the team with 17 receptions for 299 yards and four touchdowns.
At receiver, the Gophers will be leaning more heavily on junior Isaac Fruechte (eight catches, 97 yards) and two true freshmen — Drew Wolitarsky (eight catches, 109 yards) and Donovahn Jones (six catches, 79 yards). Redshirt freshman Jamel Harbison, who had been out for disciplinary reasons, has been given the green light to play.
“Our young kids have just gotten better and better,” offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said. “You couldn’t ask for better progress from Drew Wolitarsky and Donovahn Jones. Isaac Fruechte — he’s primed to have a good game, and we’ll maybe get him in some of the spots that’s Derrick is usually in and maybe get him a few touches.
“A couple other guys will have an opportunity to step up, and hopefully they take advantage of it.”