Ryan Santoso will replace Peter Mortell as the Gophers punter this fall, giving up most of the team’s placekicking duties, coach Tracy Claeys said Monday.
Santoso made 17 of 21 field-goal attempts last year as a sophomore, earning third-team All-Big Ten honors. He also served as the backup punter behind Mortell, who graduated with a 44-yard punting average, best in program history.
Claeys does not want Santoso handling both jobs, so the Florida native will focus primarily on punting.
“We talked after spring ball; that’s what he wants to do,” Claeys said. “And he’s awfully good at it. You’ve got to make sure you get the 40-plus yards on the punt game. That’s a big part. But he will also be the long field-goal guy for anything that is over the 50-yard range.”
Santoso hit a 52-yard field goal to defeat Purdue in 2014 and added a 50-yarder last year at Colorado State.
As for the regular place-kicking duties, sophomore Emmit Carpenter “will have the upper hand” to win that job, Claeys said. Carpenter made all four of his field-goal attempts in the April 9 spring game.
Quarterback Mitch Leidner is fully recovered from left foot surgery and will lead the players through captains’ practices, beginning June 6.
Tight end Brandon Lingen, who had shoulder surgery in April, is expected to be full-go by August, Claeys said.
“It was nothing major, just needed to clean up some things in there,” Claeys said. “It gave him more trouble [in spring practice] than we thought it would. … That kid can catch balls for first downs and touchdowns. He’s an awful good blocker. He will be a big part of what we do.”
Claeys also said offensive linemen Garrison Wright and Jared Weyler had minor knee surgeries once spring ball ended. Both are expected to be at full health for training camp.
Helmet stickers coming
Claeys said the coaching staff is designing helmet stickers with tiny gold bricks, which will be awarded for plays that help the team win.
“It’s nothing that is going to be big, gaudy and ugly,” Claeys said. “It’s not going to be nearly as drastic as what other schools do. The kids are excited about it, and it will be a good change.”
Claeys said one goal is to reward plays that might not show up in the highlights. An example would be a wide receiver holding a key block that helps a running back rush for a touchdown.
Meet the new boss
Claeys said he hadn’t heard of Mark Coyle before last week, when the university named Coyle as its new athletic director, hiring him away from Syracuse. Claeys was out of town, so the two spoke by phone, and Claeys said he’s looking forward to meeting his new boss in person.
“I like the fact he’s been here at the University of Minnesota, so he has an understanding of how things work,” Claeys said. “But on top of that, he’s been at places where they’ve been good at basketball [Kentucky and Syracuse], and they’ve been good at football, at Boise [State]. I think that’s what makes that right now look like a really good fit for where we’re at and where we want to go.”
• Claeys said he has enjoyed working for Gophers interim AD Beth Goetz. “She knows how important football is, and she understands how it works,” he said.
• Claeys was clearly distraught when asked about former Gopher Jeff Jones, who was charged Friday with felony drug possession. “Bad deal,” the coach said. “Wish him the best. Struggled and made bad decisions, so hope it works out for him eventually.”