Jeff Jones was one of the top rushing threats in the nation coming out of Minneapolis Washburn. The Gophers liked his pass-catching ability, too.
On Thursday, they gave Jones an extensive look at slot receiver as a secondary position for him. Jones lined up at both tailback and receiver during the 11-on-11 drills, but when the team broke into position groups, he was with the receivers.
“I feel like it’s something where he could be a real weapon for us,” offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said.
Jones is one of four tailbacks fighting to replace David Cobb, along with senior Rodrick Williams, sophomore Berkley Edwards and fellow redshirt freshman Rodney Smith.
Jones was academically ineligible last fall and unable to practice, but the coaching staff has been pleased with how quickly he’s gotten up to speed.
Limegrover said the benefit of trying Jones at receiver this spring is that the staff can give him pointers to practice through player-led workouts from April through July. He made one spectacular catch Thursday, leaping to catch a high throw from Mitch Leidner.
“Sometimes we wait a little bit too long [to try players at multiple positions],” Limegrover said.
“And if we waited too long with him, then we’d have to wait until August really to be able to coach him [at receiver].”
Gibson tries H-back
The Gophers entered spring camp with Jerry Gibson at wide receiver, but he got a long look Thursday at H-back.
The 6-3, 227-pound Gibson was recruited as a multiposition athlete out of Theodore, Ala. He turned down an offer from South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier right before the 2014 signing day.
After redshirting last year, Gibson could make an impact this fall, but the question is at what position? The Gophers need to replace the production Maxx Williams gave them at the H-tight end spot, but Gibson isn’t as big as the 6-4, 250-pound Williams.
“Jerry’s an athletic kid,” Limegrover said. “There’s a potential for a mismatch there, a guy we know can get out and run some routes and do those things on the perimeter.
“We want to get him into the backfield, and have him block some people and bloody his nose.”
Campion moves to OG
Josh Campion has started 39 games at tackle for the Gophers, but the 6-5 senior moved to right guard this week, allowing the Gophers to use 6-7 Ben Lauer at left tackle and 6-9 Jonah Pirsig at right tackle.
“Love it; I think it’s been a great move,” Limegrover said. “It makes us a little thin at tackle, but I love what [Campion’s] doing in there. He’s a big physical kid.”
Limegrover said he’s been pleased with Foster Bush’s play as the second-string right tackle.
“That’s given me a little bit of comfort,” Limegrover said. “I feel like we have three guys [Lauer, Pirsig and Bush] who have all had good game experience at tackle. We need to find a fourth to helps us get out there and compete.”
Limegrover added that the backup left tackle “might not be on campus yet.”
One of the Gophers’ top incoming recruits is Quinn Oseland, a 6-6, 309-pound tackle from Springfield, Ill.