The Minnesota Golden Gophers have had some of the Big Ten’s best receivers, but that hasn’t happened since Eric Decker was injured during the 2010 season. Head coach Jerry Kill and his coaching staff have worked really hard to bring in more playmakers at the wide receiver position in the last two recruiting classes.
Overall the group is very good, but none have stood out as consistent go-to threats for quarterback Mitch Leidner. Someone needs to step up and it is likely to come from one of the second-year starters, Donovahn Jones and Drew Wolitarsky. Both of them have the skill sets to be really good. They got their first taste of college ball and how cold the weather can get in the midwest in late November and December. Both hail from warmer climates - Georgia and California, respectively - and it appeared to affect them late last season.
Behind them are redshirt seniors Isaac Fruecht, Logan Hutton and Devon Wright as well as junior K.J. Maye, redshirt freshman Eric Carter and true freshmen Melvin Holland Jr., Isaiah Gentry and Conner Krizancic. Late signee to the 2014 class is Desmond Gant, who is listed as an athlete on the team’s roster. He didn’t get much fan fare when he signed, but could be a factor for the Gophers as early as this season.
If one or more of these receivers steps up, the Gophers could have one of the most dangerous offenses in the conference.
Projected Depth Chart
First Team - 4 Donovahn Jones, SO, Stockbridge, Ga. (Dutchtown High School); 82 Drew Wolitarsky, SO, Santa Clarita, Calif. (Canyon County High School)
Second Team - 14 Isaac Fruechte, RS SR, Caledonia, Minn. (Rochester Community and Technical College); 1 K.J. Maye, JR, Mobile, Ala. (Murphy High School)
Third Team - 11 Eric Carter, RS FR, Lakeland, Fla. (Lake Gibson Senior High School); 17 Logan Hutton, RS SR, La Marque, Texas (La Marque High School)
Fourth Team - 21 Melvin Holland Jr., FR, Ashburn, Va. (Briar Woods High School); 84 Isaiah Gentry, FR, Cincinnati, Ohio (Moeller High School)
Fifth Team - 89 Conner Krizancic, FR, Mentor, Ohio (Mentor High School); 25 Devon Wright, RS SR, Coral Springs, Fla. (Taravella High School)
The Rest - 22 Jeff Borchardt, RS FR, Medina, Minn. (Wayzata High School); 19 Michael Conway, RS FR, La Crescent, Minn. (Aquinas High School [Wisc.]); 3 Dexter Foreman, RS JR, Manvel, Texas (Manvel High School); 13 Desmond Gant, FR, Aurora, Ill. (East Aurora High School); 80 Aaron Marmer, RS JR, Menasha, Wisc. (Air Force Academy); 23 E.J. Sardinha, RS SO, Wellington, Fla. (Palm Beach Central High School); 26 Brian Smith, RS FR, Milwaukee, Wisc. (Brookfield East High School); 29 Louis Tuszynski, RS SO, Germantown, Wisc. (Stetson University)
The Rest of the Division
Illinois Fighting Illini - The Fighting Illini list three starters at wide receiver, none of those three return in 2014. No returning wide receivers finished among the team’s top four receivers in 2013.
Iowa Hawkeyes - The Hawkeyes return both starting wide receivers, Kevonte Martin-Manley and Tevaun Smith.
Nebraska Cornhuskers - Kenny Bell, Nebraska’s retuning leading receiver, returns. His starting partner, Quincy Enunwa, graduated. Jordan Westerkamp, fourth on the team in receptions in 2013, is expected to step into the starting role.
Northwestern Wildcats - The Wildcats return two starting wide receivers, Tony Jones and Christian Jones. Rashad Lawrence, the third starter and fourth on the team in receptions in 2013, graduated.
Purdue Boilermakers - The Boilermakers return all three starting wide receivers - B.J. Knauf, Shane Mikesky and DeAngelo Yancey. Also returning are reserve wide receivers Cameron Posey and Danny Anthrop, both finished among the top five on the team in receptions last season.
Wisconsin Badgers - The Badgers’ best receiver, Jared Abbrederis, graduated. The other starting wide receiver, Jordan Fredrick, returns.