With Minnesota starting Fall Camp about two weeks from today, GopherDigest makes three bold predictions for the 2015 season.
1) Jeffrey Jones starts at wide receiver for Minnesota
I think Jeff seizes control of a wide open receiver position along side K.J. Maye during fall camp and doesn't look back. Maye is really the only proven guy the Gophers have coming back in 2015 as both Wolitarsky (injuries) and Carter (little experience). A lot is being expected from redshirt freshmen receivers Melvin Holland, Isaiah Gentry and Desmond Gant along with Jones. The transition to wide receiver midway through spring ball seemed effortless for Jones and he started earning some starters reps at the tail end of practices. He's too much of a talent to keep off the field and especially at a position of need for the Gophers this fall, sooner rather than later, I believe Jones starts at receiver with Maye.
2) Rodney Smith leads the Gophers in carries
There is an absolute log jam of talent at the running back position as four different backs could plausibly start a game this season for the Gophers. Senior Rodrick Williams, sophomore Berkley Edwards and freshman Rodney Smith and Jeff Jones are all competing, but as the season wears on, I think one guy emerges. While Rodrick will more than likely start the year against TCU, I think Smith emerges more and more each game heading into the Big Ten season. Williams has by all accounts had a David Cobb type of "light bulb" go on since the end of last season and has earned the opportunities given to him, but I believe Smith is too talented to keep off the field for too long. He had a great spring and I think holds a majority of the timeshare with Williams and Edwards before becoming the full-time starter in 2016.
3) Hank Ekpe has the highest single season sack total since 2008
I've been extremely bullish on Hendrick (Hank) Ekpe after he showcased this past spring that he can be very effective when healthy. GopherDigest believes the corner he turned this spring continued into the summer as Ekpe has dropped 10 pounds and leaned up and his speed off the edge is something fellow defensive end Theiren Cockran has never had during his career. I think Ekpe becomes the first Gopher to surpass 8.5 sacks since Willie VanDeSteeg did so in 2008. Teams will key on Cockran during the non-conference and I think Ekpe becomes a household name sooner than fans expect and ends up around nine sacks when all is said and done.
Three Bold Predictions for 2015
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