The Gophers are eight days from their season opener against TCU, and we’re ramping up our coverage at StarTribune.com. This week, as an added feature, Chip Scoggins and I are unveiling a series of Top Five lists, looking at the Gophers and the national college landscape.
1. Jack Lynn
Last year’s headliner at linebacker for the Gophers was Damien Wilson, and this year, the one with the most NFL buzz is De’Vondre Campbell. But Lynn is a quiet difference maker who can play inside or outside. Lynn made 57 tackles last year, including seven for a loss, in his first full season.
2. Josh Campion
I highlighted him at No. 3 on my list of “Most Important Gophers,” so maybe it’s a contradiction to also call him unsung. But really, how much do general fans hear about this guy who has started all 39 games on the offensive line the past three seasons?
3. Miles Thomas
After walking on out of Butler County (Kan.) Community College, he stepped into the starting fullback job last year and did a solid job replacing Mike Henry. The Gophers are one of the few teams that still rely heavily on their fullback, yet I’ve barely written about Thomas.
4. Steven Richardson
The Gophers were hurting when defensive tackle Scott Ekpe tore his ACL in last season’s opener, but Steven Richardson filled the void as a true freshman. He started the rest of the season and finished with six tackles for a loss. Listed generously at 6-feet tall, Richardson is shorter than most Big Ten defensive linemen, but with his technique, he’s no less potent.
5. Peter Mortell
He’s the reigning Big Ten Punter of the Year, and his 44.3-yard punting average currently ranks first in school history. But I don’t think he’s done a single interview so far during training camp. The fifth-year senior has been quiet on Twitter lately, too, which is kind of a bummer, but he’s just going about his business.