After starting seven games this past season at right guard, Joe Bjorklund faces another tough fight for playing time in his fifth and final year. Gopher Digest's A-to-Z series continues with the senior swing man.
Joe Bjorklund's college career has been exceptional on all accounts of an overall student-athlete. He's been named to the Academic All-Big Ten team multiple times with a major of Business and Marketing Education and has appeared in 20 games, starting seven of them for his home-state school.
With the Gophers still trying to nail down their starting interior line for the 2015 season, Bjorklund is right in the thick of things after starting most of the spring at left guard. With more guys along the offensive line getting healthy for the fall, Gopher Digest's A-to-Z look at Minnesota's roster moves to Bjorklund, a product of Rosemount, MN, who's looking to end his collegiate career with a bang.
Bjorklund's game takes another step forward during fall camp and he wins the starting left guard job. That would mean Bjorklund holds off both Isaac Hayes and Jon Christenson, while Brian Bobek and Christenson battle for the center spot. It's been an open competition all spring at left guard with the loss of Zac Epping for who started 47 straight games for Minnesota, so if Bjorklund can even adequately fill those big shoes, this Gopher offense should continue to hum.
Christenson comes back 100% and slides over to left guard while fellow senior Brian Bobek retains his starting center job from the spring, leaving Bjorklund to be the 6th offensive lineman. He'd be the swing interior offensive lineman at the guard spots and also could play tackle in a pinch as well. With strong competition from freshman Tyler Moore and sophomore Connor Mayes, things could be very competitive along the interior line.
When looking through offensive linemen the past 10 years, one offensive lineman who is a decent comparison for Bjorklund in the Gopher archives is Ryan Wynn. When Wynn graduated in 2011, he finished with over 29 career appearances along the interior of the offensive line including over 20 starts. Both Bjorklund and Wynn are Minnesota born and bred and will really hold a key position in determining the success of the Gophers running game and protection of Mitch Leidner.
Development Vs. Recruiting Ranking
Bjorklund earned all-state honors from the Associated Press, Pioneer Press and the Minnesota Vikings along with All-Metro, while receiving a rating of three stars from Rivals and two-stars from Scout. Two stars was probably a little bit of an undervalue for Bjorklund as he's proved he's a more than capable offensive lineman in the Big Ten, so his development has definitely exceeded Scout's expectations.
Starting seven games at right guard last season, we believe Bjorklund's best game to be Purdue win where the offense rushed for 285 yards and dismantled that Boilermakers defensive line providing running back David Cobb huge holes to run through. The offense ended up with 450 yards of total offense and 39 points in the Gophers victory.
Quote to note
"Joe did a good job, too. With Joe’s situation he played on a bad knee all year, and he’s going to be better a year from now."
- Jerry Kill on January 3rd, 2015 when talking about the Gophers offensive line.
Minnesota A to Z: Joe Bjorklund
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