Analysis: These Gophers have Golden opportunity

Terry Jackson II, Marion Barber III, Thomas Tapeh, Adam Boone and Aliou Kane all will have important roles with their respective teams this season. Read about why their skills and talents should translate into success and provide excitement for Gophers fans in 2003-2004. Part one of a two-part series.

With Minnesota temperatures hovering around 90 degrees and the dog days of August approaching fast, the college sports season seems more than a few mosquito bites away.

That's why now is the time to stay inside, take advantage of the air conditioning and read about the athletes that will excite Gophers fans during the 2003-2004 season. Today we feature some intriguing members of the football and men's basketball team, while Tuesday will feature a look at men's hockey, women's basketball, women's hockey and wrestling.


Call them the Three Amigos, call them Three's Company, or call three a crowd. Whatever you do, call the trio of Terry Jackson II, Thomas Tapeh and Marion Barber good – good enough to be considered one of the deepest and most talented backfields in the Big Ten this season.

Jackson, who will be a junior this season, exploded onto the scene last year, gaining 1,317 yards on 239 carries, while becoming the first Gopher to rush for 200 yards in consecutive games, with 239 against Northwestern and 238 against Michigan State.

Translation: He is the type of workhorse back a team needs to contend for the Big Ten title.

While Jackson provided the speed, Tapeh was the powerful, bruising back that ran over defenses, especially late in games when fatigue set in. Finally healthy for the first time in his career, Tapeh, who will be a senior this year, rushed for over 100 yards in a game four times, including three straight against Illinois, Northwestern and Michigan State. Tapeh's 33-yard touchdown run in Minnesota's 29-14 win over Arkansas in the Music City Bowl defined the type of speed, strength and power Tapeh brings to the game.

Translation: A healthy Tapeh is a dangerous Tapeh, and that's why NFL scouts are keeping one eye on the St. Paul Johnson High School graduate this season.

Don't forget, Gophers faithful, that Barber is healthy after a nagging hamstring injury hurt him all of last season. The son of former Gopher and New York Jets running back Marion Barber, the younger Barber, who will be a sophomore this season, averaged an amazing 6.9 yards per carry in 2001. Barber has the speed of Jackson and power of Tapeh.

Translation: He might be the best back of the bunch. If he's healthy – which he appears to be – the sky is the limit.


Asad Abdul Khalig – The QB could break numerous Gophers passing records this season.

Ben Utecht – Arguably best TE in Big Ten.

Dominique Sims – Former Parade All-American has bulked up and will play linebacker.

Aaron Hosack – Athletic WR averaged 22.4 yards per reception last year.

Paul Nixon – Defensive lineman led team with eight tackles for losses, had three sacks at Ohio State.

Eli Ward – led team with 116 tackles last season as free safety.


The Gophers have not had solid guard play since Bobby Jackson, Eric Harris and Sam Jacobsen took the floor at Williams Arena – but that could change with the addition of Adam Boone.

The word out of Twin Cities summer leagues is that Boone, who transferred to the Gophers after two seasons at North Carolina and sat out last season, is going to be the missing link at guard the Gophers have desperately needed since the days of Jackson, Harris and Jacobsen.

The 6-2 Boone, a graduate of Minnetonka (MN) High School, played both guard spots and led the Tar Heels in three-point shooting percentage (.430) during the 2001-2002 season. The combination guard will likely play point for the Gophers, and should be a stabilizing force that can control the team, and provide scoring and leadership when needed.

Translation: More than anything, Boone should help improve the game of those around him, like Michael Bauer, Mo Hargrow, and big man Jeff Hagen by getting them easier looks and better shots.

Aliou Kane is waiting to get a chance. The 6-9, 243-pound graduate of Blue Ridge High (Dallas, TX) grew up in Mauritania, Africa and has only played organized basketball for three years. Kane's role with the team next season hinges a lot on what happens with recently signed phenom Kris Humphries' ability to play next season, but with the loss of Rick Rickert and Jerry Holman, Kane, if able, could be a strong inside presence for the Gophers.

Translation: Kane is still raw offensively, but he won't be counted on for scoring. His rebounding and strength are what the Gophers need in the rugged Big Ten.


Michael Bauer – The senior forward was once called Dow Jones by Dick Vitale, because his stock increased so fast at summer camps during high school. Bauer has all the athletic ability in the world, and has been having a great summer season, reports say.

Wesley Washington – A 6-3 guard from Santa Ana, Calif., Washington is a consensus top 100 recruit from Mater Dei High School. As a junior, Washington was named the Player of the Year in the California Interscholastic Federation after leading Mater Dei to a No. 19 final national ranking.

Check back Tuesday for more analysis of Gophers athletes to watch on GoldenSports.Net.

Matt Krumrie covers Gophers sports for He can be reached at

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