Shawne Merriman was a star linebacker for the San Diego Chargers for a handful of seasons before injuries derailed his NFL career.
Merriman now works for Big Ten Network as an analyst. In his most recent article, Merriman ranked the five best defensive triplets in the Big Ten, and the Minnesota Golden Gophers made the cut.
Actually, Merriman used four Gophers to rank Minnesota fifth in the conference in terms of three really good defenders: Defensive end Theiren Cockran, linebacker De'Vondre Campbell and cornerbacks Eric Murray and Briean Boddy-Calhoun.
"This is a talented group with plenty of experience. All four of these players are seniors, led by Cockran, who is a force off the edge. The 6-6, 260 pound DE has recorded 11.5 sacks over the past two seasons with the Gophers. Campbell is a talented linebacker who will look to replace the production of Damien Wilson. He is the Gophers’ top returning tackler, recording 75 stops in 2014. The Gophers’ secondary is arguably the most talented secondary in the Big Ten this season. Both Murray and Boddy-Calhoun are shutdown corners who will be playing on Sundays next year. Murray recorded 69 tackles and a pick last season, while Boddy-Calhoun’s five interceptions ranked second among all Big Ten players in 2014."
As the season draws nearer there is more hype building around the Gophers' secondary and how good it could be. A lot of the buzz is around Murray and Boddy-Calhoun.
Earlier this week Murray and Boddy-Calhoun were among 80 players recognized as the best defensive players in the country when they were named to the Bednarik Award watch list, the Star Tribune says.
The newspaper also notes that Murray and Boddy-Calhoun were named to the Bronco Nagurski Award watch list. The Nagurski Award goes to the defensive player of the year, as voted on by the Football Writers Association of America.