The Gophers added a player with College Football Playoff experience to their 2021 roster Monday.
Nyles Pinckney, a 6-1, 300-pound defensive tackle, announced his transfer to the Gophers from national powerhouse Clemson. The graduate transfer played four seasons for the Tigers after redshirting in 2016. He was part of Clemson's 15-0 national championship team two years ago, and in the title game he stopped Alabama holder Mac Jones for a 2-yard loss on a fake field-goal attempt as the Tigers routed the Crimson Tide 44-16 in Santa Clara, Calif.
A South Carolina native, he was an All-ACC third team member in 2019, when Clemson lost to Louisiana State for the national title; Pinckney missed that game because of an ankle injury suffered in the Fiesta Bowl. He started two of 12 games this season, totaling 27 tackles and one sack, including three tackles in the Tigers' 49-28 loss to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl — Clemson's sixth consecutive appearance in the playoff.
An inexperienced Gophers defense struggled this past season, and the Gophers have since added Pinckney, a former four-star recruit, and North Carolina State graduate transfer Val Martin on the defensive line.
The Gophers should have plenty of experience at defensive tackle now, especially if some return for the NCAA-granted extra year of eligibility from the pandemic. Micah Dew-Treadway, a Notre Dame grad transfer, and Keonte Schad, a former four-star recruit and junior college transfer, both joined the Gophers ahead of the 2019 season and could stay through 2021. Redshirt freshman DeAngelo Carter also had a breakout season at the position, playing in seven games and making 16 tackles, plus a 21-yard interception return.
Also Monday, redshirt freshman defensive lineman D'vion Harris entered the NCAA transfer portal, a source confirmed. The 6-2, 245-pound St. Louis native redshirted 2019 and appeared in only the Purdue game this past season, making one tackle.