When the Gophers open spring practice March 3, many eyes will be drawn to the quartet of wide receivers who redshirted last fall -- Isaiah Gentry, Desmond Gant, Melvin Holland and Jerry Gibson.
The Gophers have struggled at receiver, and they need to replace Isaac Fruechte and Donovahn Jones. Drew Wolitarsky and KJ Maye are back, but after that, there's no wide receiver on the roster who caught more than one pass last year.
Coach Jerry Kill has raved about his redshirt freshmen quartet. Offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover was more measured when I spoke to him this week.
“I know Coach [Kill] is pretty high on them, and I can see why,” Limegrover said. “Are they going to be complete receivers on April 11? Probably not. Are they going to be complete receivers on Sept. 1? Probably not. You’ve got to get through the growing pains with them, let them work against a darn good secondary for the next six months.”
That's a great point about the secondary. These receivers will need to be good if they're going to catch passes against the likes of Eric Murray, Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Jalen Myrick and Craig James. The Gophers would put those cornerbacks up against anybody.
"[The redshirt freshmen receivers] work really hard," Limegrover said. "They put in extra time with the quarterbacks, and hopefully that’s going to pay off. We’ll see exactly how far they’ve come obviously in the spring, but they’re doing the right things.
"All of them have the potential to be very complete receivers. ... One of them probably will [emerge] a little quicker than the others. I can’t sit here and say right now which one that will be. One will impress a little bit sooner, one may take a little longer. But the one that takes longer, maybe by the end of his career, he'll be the one that continues to steadily increase and becomes the best one of the group.
"It’s just hard to say who that is at this point. I just like watching them run around, that’s for sure."