5 Gophers to be excited about for the 2018 football season

There's some legit potential with a bunch of these players.
Author:
Publish date:

Nobody is talking about the Gophers as one of the top teams in the Big Ten this season, but that doesn't mean there isn't plenty of reason to be excited to watch year two of the P.J. Fleck experience. 

Fleck draws eyeballs wherever he goes, and he's got some talent on the 2018 roster that fans should be aware of. Below are five guys that we're excited to see play. Do note, however, that we're not mentioning senior running back Rodney Smith among the five players, simply because everyone knows he's the rock of the offense and is undoubtedly going to be really good again. 

Zack Annexstad, freshman quarterback

Annexstad won the starting job as a true freshman, getting the nod from Fleck over redshirt freshman Tanner Morgan. Annexstad is just the second true freshman walk-on to win the starting quarterback job at a D1 program since Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 pick in the most recent NFL Draft, did it in 2013. 

Annexstad was featured on SportsCenter Tuesday morning, and you can see his appearance right here. 

Tyler Johnson, junior wide receiver

Johnson is one of the most natural athletes in the Big Ten, and if the offensive line can provide Annexstad time to throw, Johnson could finally break out as one of the premiere wide receivers in the conference. Johnson finished with 35 receptions for 677 yards and seven touchdowns last season, doing so despite the quarterback duo of Conor Rhoda and Demry Croft combining for an ugly 47.4 completion percentage. 

Donnell Green, senior left tackle

Could it be that the program that used to put offensive linemen in the NFL routinely will finally do it again with Green? According to 247 Sports' Ryan Burns, Greene will likely be the guy who ends the 12-year NFL drought for Gophers o-linemen. We're also very excited to see what redshirt freshman Blaise Andries (Marshall, MN) does at right guard. 

Thomas Barber, junior middle linebacker

Ok, we're cheating on this one because all three starting linebackers have skills that should make the second level of Minnesota's defense very strong. But Barber is the man in the middle who led the Gophers with 115 tackles last season. 

Playing alongside Barber will be senior Blake Cashman and junior Kamal Martin. 

Even more fun about the trio is that they starred at Twin Cities high schools: Cashman (Eden Prairie), Barber (Robbinsdale Armstrong), and Martin (Burnsville). 

Antoine Winfield Jr., junior safety

Yes, the son of former Vikings All-Pro cornerback Antoine Winfield has the same name and a very similar skillset, although the younger Winfield is built with a more muscular frame. Winfield proved himself as a playmaker during his sophomore season and he should be even better as a junior. Expect the Gophers to use him all over the field. 

Game 1 is Thursday at 6 p.m. against New Mexico State and will be televised on Big Ten Network.

Next Up

DirecTV

DirecTV subscribers could lose KARE 11 on Tuesday

A new contract needs to be agreed upon by 6 p.m. Tuesday.

prison, Rush City cell block

Inmate from Rush City prison dies after COVID-19 diagnosis

The man is the fifth incarcerated person in Minnesota to die from COVID-19.

ambulance

Belle Plaine man dies after duck boat capsizes on lake

One man was found sitting on the overturned boat while another man was in the water.

Screen Shot 2020-11-29 at 4.59.51 PM

Watch: Adam Thielen watches end of Vikings/Panthers just like all of us

The Vikings receiver looked like a true fan on Sunday afternoon.

Chad Beebe

Chad Beebe's roller-coaster fourth-quarter keeps Vikings playoff hopes alive

A muffed punt and a game-winning touchdown helped defeat the Panthers on Sunday afternoon.

127266986_2766399800267634_3587849554502438415_n

West-central MN cops warn kids to stay off ice, or 'Santa won't come'

This comes amid repeated ice warnings across the state.

covid-19, coronavirus, PPE

Nov. 29 COVID-19 update: 57 deaths, nearly 9,000 more cases

Nearly 100,000 tests were included in Sunday's report.

jim ramstad

Watch former Rep. Jim Ramstad's memorial service online

The ceremony will be live-streamed for the public on Sunday.

EDL1LeKXsAEeH32

How high can Rashod Bateman go in the 2021 NFL Draft?

The Gophers star receiver has plenty of praise heading into next April.

TCF Bank Stadium

15 more from Gopher football team test positive for COVID-19

That brings the total number of cases from this outbreak to 40.

Teddy Bridgewater

5 questions for Vikings-Panthers Week 12 NFC battle

The Vikings welcome Teddy Bridgewater back to U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.

police lights

Man, 21, in custody after Albert Lea police officer shot in the chest

The officer was able to drive to an emergency room.

Related

Fleck hasn't decided on starting QB for upcoming Gopher season

Fall camp is underway and the QB battle has started again.

Previously winless Nebraska blows out Gophers 53-28

Minnesota fought back from a 28-0 deficit but didn't last.

Fleck names true freshman Annexstad starting quarterback

He won the job over redshirt freshman Tanner Morgan.

Marcus Carr

What the Gophers' starting 5 could look like next season

It's very possible that Minnesota's lineup features three new starters.

Gophers hang tough but fall short to Ohio State

Nobody expected the Gophers to hang with the third-ranked Buckeyes.

P.J. Fleck

P.J. Fleck agrees to 7-year contract extension with Gophers

Fleck won't be rowing his boat anywhere else just yet.

P.J. Fleck

Gophers finalize football schedules through the 2025 season

The 2021 season should be wild when Minnesota opens against Ohio State.