Gophers see options at middle linebacker

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 10, 2013 - 11:41 AM

Redshirt freshman Jack Lynn has joined JUCO transfer Damien Wilson in impressing their coaches.

hide

Damien Wilson, a junior college transfer, is a candidate to start at middle linebacker for the Gophers, but redshirt freshman Jack Lynn also is in the mix.

Photo: BRUCE BISPING • bbisping@startribune.com ,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

The Gophers brought in junior college transfer Damien Wilson this spring, knowing they have a big hole at middle linebacker, and Wilson has seemingly been everything they expected.

But the coaching staff remains excited about another middle linebacker candidate — redshirt freshman Jack Lynn.

Lynn has grown in both height and weight since signing with the Gophers out of Lake Zurich (Ill.) High School. He’s now about 6-4, 234 pounds, up from 6-3, 210.

Lynn missed Tuesday’s practice because he was ill, but he worked with the first-team defense for the first six spring practices, while the 6-2, 254-pound Wilson was getting acclimated on the second team.

“That’ll be a good, healthy battle in there,” defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys said.

Coach Jerry Kill said the videotape from the first four practices showed a clear progression for Lynn: “First practice — very raw. Second practice — better. Next practice — good. Last practice — very good.

“So he’s one of those guys that just gets better,” Kill added. “And when you talk with him, he’s mature. He’s not the kind of guy that wiggles around.”

Lynn was noticeably composed when he met with the media last week for the first time as a Gopher. He said the main thing he needs to continue learning how to dissect opposing offenses.

Though he didn’t play in a game last year, he gained experience facing the Gophers’ first-team offense on the scout team. He acknowledged that the college game seemed pretty fast.

“My head was kind of spinning in my first camp last year,” Lynn said. “So it’s a slowed down a lot, but hopefully it slows down a little bit more for me.”

Lynn made 93 tackles as a senior for Lake Zurich, including seven tackles for a loss and 2 ½ sacks. He earned all-state honors and was listed as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com.

His added height helped him deflect a pass off his fingertips last week, and the extra weight makes a difference, too, he said.

“When you’re hitting linemen, you’re not really moving them the first day because you’re lighter,” he said. “But you can feel a big impact right now compared to last year.”

Outgoing senior Mike Rallis handled the Gophers’ middle linebacker duties last year, at 6-2, 245 pounds, and finished second on the team with 82 tackles. Overall, the Gophers made big strides defensively, but they still had trouble stopping the run.

They reluctantly played several true freshmen — including defensive backs Antonio Johnson, Damarius Travis and Eric Murray — knowing it would cost a year of their development. But the team is thrilled Lynn still has four years of eligibility remaining.

Wilson has two years of eligibility. He ranked fourth nationally among junior college players last fall with 122 tackles at Jones County (Miss.) Community College.

Wilson and Lynn have different builds, but as Kill said, “They both can run, they’ve both got long arms, speed and good strength. Damien’s probably a little further along in the strength category because he’s older, but they’re both very similar athletes.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Brooklyn 109 FINAL
Boston 107
Cleveland 98 FINAL
Orlando 89
Indiana 109 FINAL
Detroit 119
Milwaukee 107 FINAL
Atlanta 77
Houston 117 FINAL
Memphis 111
San Antonio 90 FINAL
New Orleans 97
Charlotte 75 FINAL
Oklahoma City 98
LA Lakers 98 FINAL
Dallas 102
Minnesota 102 FINAL
Denver 106
Philadelphia 93 FINAL
Portland 114
Phoenix 115 FINAL
Sacramento 106
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
(15) Arizona State 1:10 PM
Duke
Miami-Florida 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

<
Gophers Football Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pmX34-24
Jan 1 - vs. Missouri noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What's your favorite Gophers football uniform colors?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close