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Minnesota Golden Gophers 2014 position breakdown: Tight ends

Maxx Williams (88) is quickly becoming one of the best tight ends in the Big Ten Conference.
Maxx Williams (88) is quickly becoming one of the best tight ends in the Big Ten Conference.
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Minnesota Golden Gophers are loaded at tight end with varying skill sets. They have an established, imposing receiving threat as well as established dominant blockers. In addition, they have several freshmen, both redshirt and incoming, that will provide depth in both areas.

Redshirt sophomore Maxx Williams is big, athletic and physical. He emerged as one of the better all-around tight ends in the conference last season. He is a matchup problem and outstanding receiver.

The backup tight ends on the depth chart are the dominant veteran blockers. Senior Drew Goodger and junior Lincoln Plsek contribute in the passing game, but are among the best edge blockers in the conference. Plsek works more off the line of scrimmage while Goodger opens holes from a three-point stance.

The rest of the tight ends are young players that could contribute in different ways this season. Redshirt freshman Nate Wozniak is a huge target with good hands, but is not an elite athlete. Redshirt sophomore Duke Anyanwu is going to contribute more as a receiver than as a blocker.

Three true freshmen may redshirt this season, but should become impact players in the future. Gaelin Elmore and Brandon Lingen are good blockers that likely will pair in roles like Goodger and Plsek currently perform. Jerry Gibson is an athlete that will be a matchup nightmare for defenses.

Head coach Jerry Kill has developed what could be the best tight end group in the nation.

Projected Depth Chart

First Team - 88 Maxx Williams, RS SO, Waconia, Minn. (Waconia High School)

Second Team - 83 Drew Goodger, SR, Shawnee Mission, Kan. (Northwest High School)

Third Team - 85 Lincoln Plsek, JR, West, Texas (Reicher High School)

Fourth Team - 39 Nate Wozniak, RS FR, Greenwood, Ind. (Center Grove High School)

Fifth Team - 87 Gaelin Elmore, FR, Somerset, Wisc. (Somerset High School)

The Rest - 81 Duke Anyanwu, RS SO, Blaine, Minn. (Blaine High School); 47 Alex Bisch, RS SR, Northfield, Minn. (Northfield High School); 3 Jerry Gibson, FR, Theodore, Ala. (Theodore High School); 45 Nick Hart, RS FR, Prior Lake, Minn. (Prior Lake High School); 86 Brandon Lingen, FR, Wayzata, Minn. (Wayzata High School)

The Rest of the Division

Illinois Fighting Illini - Jon Davis and Matt LaCosse split time as starters last season and both return in 2014.

Iowa Hawkeyes - The Hawkeyes need to replace graduated starter C.J. Fiedorowicz. Jake Duzey was second among tight ends in receptions last season and he could be the starter in 2014.

Nebraska Cornhuskers - Cethan Carter split time last season as the starter. This season the position is all his with Jake Long graduated.

Northwestern Wildcats - The Wildcats do not use a tight end, but use a slot back instead. Dan Vitale is returning as the starting slot back.

Purdue Boilermakers - Justin Sinz and Gabe Holmes split time as a starter in 2013. They both return in 2014. Sinz was the team’s leading receiver last season.

Wisconsin Badgers - Jacob Pedersen graduated. Sam Arneson was second among tight ends in receptions last season and he could be the starter in 2014.