After an injury riddled first few seasons at Minnesota, redshirt sophomore tight end Duke Anyanwu has some big shoes to fill with the NFL departure of Maxx Williams.
Duke Anyanwu's Minnesota career was all set to take off last fall after a promising summer and fall camp before his second significant knee injury of his collegiate career forced him to miss the Gophers entire 2014 season. After going full contact this past spring ball, Anyanwu and the rest of the Gophers team has high expectation for the redshirt sophomore heading into this 2015 season.
Anyanwu returns to 100% health and is everything the Gophers hoped he could be last year at the Y position and fills the role that Maxx Williams provided for the Gopher offense in 2014. Anyanwu is the elder statesmen of this tight end / H-back group along with Lincoln Plsek and both are going to play huge parts in the success of this Minnesota offense as we know how much offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover likes his tight ends.
Anyanwu can't return to 100% or even 80% of his former self and is passed up by sophomores Brandon Lingen, Nate Wozniak and freshman Jerry Gibson. Anyanwu is then left to fight for special teams reps and keep working with the medical staff to try and regain his explosiveness and strength to compete again next season. Anyanwu will have every opportunity to regain his status as a contributor for Minnesota in 2015, but his health is a major question mark after two of his last three seasons have ended before they started with significant knee injuries.
Whether it's truly fair or not, Duke Anyanwu and Maxx Williams' collegiate careers will always be linked together as they were Jerry Kill's two play-making tight ends from the 2012 class. While both took redshirts as true freshman, they're career paths couldn't have progressed any differently as Williams became a sensational star for Minnesota the last two years and was a second round draft pick in this past years NFL draft. Anyanwu has battled injuries and with Williams now out of the picture, has a large chance to grab the role that Maxx had the past two seasons.
Development Vs. Recruiting Ranking
Anyanwu earned all-state honorable mention at the all-purpose position and was listed as a two-star prospect by Scout in 2012. Anyanwu committed to Minnesota in late January of 2012, choosing the Gophers over other offers from Air Force, North Dakota, Northern Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota State. Injuries have prevented him from living up to his two-star status which, in retrospect, appears to have been an accurate rating coming out of high school thus far.
To be determined.
Quote to note
"You can't say enough about the way he went about his business, always had a smile on his face. I think he's got a tremendous faith that it was going to happen for him. It's just these setbacks, they're bumps in that road, but as soon as that road smoothes out, things are going to be good."
- Matt Limegrover in March, 2015 when asked about Duke Anyanwu's progress so far
Minnesota A to Z: Duke Anyanwu
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