Gophers cornerback Justin Walley, who made a momentum-swinging interception in the Gophers' 23-13 victory over No. 14 Wisconsin on Saturday, was named the Big Ten's freshman of the week on Monday.
Walley, a true freshman from D'Iberville, Miss., also finished with a career-high five tackles as the Gophers beat the Badgers to win Paul Bunyan's Axe for the second time in four years and the first time in Minneapolis since 2003.
Walley's biggest impact came on the third play of the third quarter with Wisconsin leading 10-6. Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz threw a pass toward wide receiver Kendric Pryor near the right sideline, and Walley swooped in to win a battle for the ball with Pryor, giving the Gophers possession at Wisconsin's 28-yard line. Two plays later, Ky Thomas' 2-yard touchdown run put Minnesota up 13-10.
The 2020 Class 6A Mississippi Mr. Football, Walley has played in all 12 games this season, making 20 solo tackles and eight assisted tackles. He also has six pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.
Other Big Ten players of the week were Michigan running back Hassan Haskins (offense), Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (defense) and Iowa kicker Caleb Shudak.
Gophers senior offensive tackle Daniel Faalele accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl. The game will be played Feb. 5 in Mobile, Ala. The 6-9, 380-pound Faalele had a year of eligibility remaining but opted to embark on his professional career.