Donnell Kirkwood burst through the line and rumbled upfield for 18 yards on his first carry as a college football player last September, and at that moment it was easy to imagine he would make a huge impact for the Gophers as a freshman.
He still might.
Kirkwood had 50 yards against Middle Tennessee State that night, but the 18-yard gain was his biggest of the season. He didn't carry the ball again after straining his right hamstring on Sept. 25, just four games into the regular season.
As a result, the NCAA has restored a year of eligibility for the 19-year-old tailback, allowing him to play four more seasons at Minnesota.
Kirkwood, from Delray Beach, Fla., was one of three highly recruited freshman running backs on the Gophers' roster last season, but the only one to appear in a game. Kirkwood, who is healthy again and will participate in spring practice, carried the ball 27 times and gained 107 yards, an average of 4.0 yards per carry.