Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said Friday that all the team's seniors will play in the Outback Bowl, minus linebacker Kamal Martin, who already announced his decision to skip the game.
Martin missed several games during this 10-2 season, one for a suspension and three with injury. He endured an apparent knee injury at Rutgers on Oct. 19 and also appeared to injure himself again in the regular-season finale against Wisconsin, though he did finish the game.
"Kamal had a tough decision to make in the last game with his knee, needed to get some things fixed and maybe to clean some stuff up," Fleck said. "… He was going to possibly miss the bowl game anyway because of his injury. And the time frame, if he could get the surgery a lot faster, it's going to help him be able to play and those things. It gets him to the [NFL] Combine healthy, gets him to pro day healthy. At this point, he's given so much to our program, and we support him 100 percent."
Fleck also said quarterback Zack Annexstad will not play in the Outback Bowl either. Annexstad hurt his right foot early in training camp and had surgery and could have possibly recovered in time for Jan. 1.
"He's just not ready yet," Fleck said. "Got some screws out, but we're not going to force [it]."
Right tackle Daniel Faalele, tight end Jake Paulson and running back Cam Wiley are questionable for the Outback Bowl with injuries.
Defensive line coach Jim Panagos left after one season this past Saturday to join Greg Schiano's new Rutgers staff. Fleck said he understands and supports Panagos' decision, which he made for family reasons with his parents in failing health and him being from the New York area.
Fleck said he's already started a search and will interview candidates at the American Football Coaches Association convention Jan. 12-14 in Nashville. He also didn't rule out other possible moves within his staff after such a high-profile season, though he said as long as his coordinators Kirk Ciarrocca and Joe Rossi stay intact, continuity shouldn't be a problem.
• The Big Ten Conference moved next year's Gophers-Iowa game from Saturday, Sept. 19 to Friday, Sept. 18 at TCF Bank Stadium. That will be the Gophers first of two Friday games next season, as they also end the regular season at Nebraska on Nov. 27, Black Friday.
• Redshirt freshman defensive end Abi N-Okonji announced on Twitter his decision to transfer. The 6-3, 270-pound Georgia native had not played for the Gophers but was a three-star recruit in the 2018 class. He joins defensive back C.J. Smith and offensive linemen Ben Davis and Nate Umlor as offseason transfers.
• Justin Bellido, one of the three 2020 commitments who did not sign for the Gophers at the start of the early signing period Wednesday, has instead signed with Boston College. The 5-10, 193-pound wide receiver out of New York is a three-star recruit, according to 247Sports.com.
• The Gophers already have filled 24 of their 25 scholarship spots for 2020 and have two players remaining who have not yet signed: Texas athlete Dylan McGill and Georgia receiver Dakota Thomas.