INDIANAPOLIS – Mohamed Ibrahim and Trey Potts entered the 2021 season as the top two rushing options for the Gophers but were limited to one and five games, respectively, because of injuries. On Tuesday during Big Ten media days at Lucas Oil Stadium, coach P.J. Fleck announced both have been cleared to take contact when training camp opens on Monday.

Ibrahim, the 2020 Big Ten Running Back of the Year, tore an Achilles' tendon after rushing for 163 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener against Ohio State. Ibrahim, whose 3,003 rushing yards rank eighth in school history, was held out of contact drills during spring practice as a precaution, Fleck said.

"I'd rather have the hits come [on Ibrahim] when we need it, and that's in training camp,'' Fleck said of the sixth-year senior. "We're going to do it a little differently than we used to. … We have to be able to get him hit and get him tackled and scrimmage him so when he gets to the game, it's not a worry.''

Potts, a fourth-year player with three years of eligibility remaining, was lost for the season late in the Oct. 2 game at Purdue because of an undisclosed injury that caused him to be hospitalized in Indiana for six days. He went through non-contact drills during spring practice before being cleared recently.

Fleck said Potts had to go through "multiple medical people and multiple medical places'' to get cleared and that Potts and his family had the option to not play. "It's good to have him back, though, and you can see it in his eyes and see it in the way he works. Toward the end of spring, you knew that was going to happen.''

Gophers center John Michael Schmitz welcomed the news.

"They are two of the best guys and two of the best backs in the Big Ten this year,'' Schmitz said. "They're two even better people off the field.''

Fleck said his roster should be almost fully healthy in time for Monday's opening of training camp. Freshman wide receiver Le'Meke Brockington will be eased into practice because of an injury.

Team's approach impresses Fleck

Fleck, who's entering his sixth season as Gophers coach and 10th overall as a college head coach, praised his team for its approach to the upcoming season.

"When your best players are your hardest workers, you have something really special,'' he said. "We have a lot of guys who chose to come back for that sixth year. … It's a fun team, a committed team, probably more than I've ever had in my six years at the University of Minnesota."

How committed?

"They don't have any time for silliness,'' he said. "They go right in, get their work done and get better.''

Relishing the 'White Out' game

The Gophers play at Penn State on Oct. 22, their first visit to Happy Valley since 2016. The night game with a 6:30 kickoff will serve as Penn State's "White Out'' game in which Nittany Lions fans fill Beaver Stadium in all-white attire.

"I've never been to Penn State for a game, and I'm excited about that,'' Fleck said. "… We've always talked about that would be a really cool experience to watch, and now we're going to be a part of it.''


• Schmitz was one of 89 players named to the watch list for Outland Trophy, which is given to the top interior lineman in college football.