Ra’Shede Hageman was the focal point of game plans for offenses, but the Minnesota Golden Gophers have other highly talented defensive linemen.
The team returns starting defensive ends, senior Michael Amaefula and junior Theiren Cockran. Cockran finished third in the conference with 7.5 sacks. The rotation remains in tact with redshirt freshman Owen Salzwedel entering the mix. Senior Ben Perry, junior Alex Keith and sophomore Hendrick Ekpe all return as reserves.
Defensive tackle is more of a question mark with two of the four players on the two-deep depth chart last season have graduated. Senior Cameron Botticelli and junior Scott Ekpe should be the starters. The depth has little experience with junior Jordan Hinojosa, sophomore Yoshoub Timms and redshirt freshman Demaris Peppers the likely candidates to push for more playing time.
The Gophers have gotten commitments from three defensive linemen (two ends and one tackle) for the class of 2014.
Defensive end Andrew Stelter from Owatonna High School in Owatonna, Minn. leads the charge. He is a three-star rated prospect by both Rivals and ESPN. He has seven offers.
The other defensive end commitment for the Gophers comes from Julien Kafo from Vanier College in Montreal, Quebec, Can. He recently had his Rivals rating bumped up to three stars. ESPN also gives him a three-star rating. He also has six offers, including Iowa, Nebraska and Purdue.
The lone tackle commitment for the Gophers is Steven Richardson from Mount Carmel High School in Chicago, Ill. He has a three-star rating from Rivals and two-star rating from ESPN. He also has two offers.