After being undersized and short on bodies a couple years ago, Minnesota's defensive tackle position has new life and looks to be one of the deepest positions on the team in 2015.
The Gophers have two consistent starters in junior Scott Ekpe and sophomore Steven Richardson. Ekpe is coming off a year where major knee surgery derailed a promising season, but he's proven to be a solid Big Ten starter during his two years as an underclassmen. After a spring where Ekpe did only non-contact drills, the staff has high expectations come this fall. Richardson burst onto the scene as a true freshman last fall starting 12 of 13 games and logging six tackles for loss. Another year getting bigger and stronger in the weight room will serve Richardson well.
Spring surprise: Moore and Stelter emerging
After both played as true freshmen last season, Gary Moore and Andrew Stelter looked bigger, stronger and more confident this last spring. Moore became much more consistent over the course of the spring football season and was in the backfield and drawing praise practice after practice from defensive line coach Jeff Phelps.Moore needs to keep that developing rolling into the summer and fall camps if Minnesota wants to have another defensive play maker along the defensive line.
Andrew Stelter played both defensive end and tackle last fall, but after bulking up some over the winter, he looks more of the part of a Big Ten defensive tackle. Stelter has a motor that never quits and is relentless in the trenches. The Owatonna native will definitely be heard from again this fall.
Question that still needs answering: How much will Minnesota rotate?
Gopher fans are used to seeing defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys and Coach Phelps rotate their defensive line consistently throughout the course of a game, but the question will be now how will things be split among the defensive tackles.
It'll more than likely be very similar to last where it's about a 60/40 split, but which players getting which will be something to keep an eye on throughout the season.
What does the future hold at the defensive tackle position?
The future is only going to get brighter at defensive tackle for Minnesota. Sophomores Gary Moore, Steven Richardson and Andrew Stelter showed a lot of promise at defensive tackle this past fall and spring seasons.
You factor that in with the addition Mose Hall and potentially Colton Beebe as well, although it looks like Beebe will get a shot on the offensive side of the ball first. Gophers have a lot of young talent at defensive tackle, which for such a tough position to recruit, is definitely a very good thing to have.
Projected depth chart:
1 - Steven Richardson (6-0, 291) So.
2 - Andrew Stelter (6-4, 277) So.
3. Yoshoub Timms (6-2, 290) RJr.
1 - Scott Ekpe (6-4, 290) RJr.
2 - Gary Moore (6-4, 283) So.
Robert Ndondo-Lay (6-5, 264) RSr.
Fall Camp Primer: Defensive Tackle
Gopher Illustrated Top Stories
4-star Green has Minnesota RootsMinnesota’s most recent offer went to 2018 guard A.J. Green of Cedar Falls, Iowa. Green is ranked as the 87th best prospect in the country and last weekend visited Minnesota…
Gopher Illustrated9:51 AM
Know Your Enemy: Penn StatePenn State publisher Mark Brennan of FightOnState.com breaks down the Penn State Nittany Lions, the Gophers week 5 opponent.
Gopher Illustrated6:54 AM
Gopher Gridiron Radio 9.28.16Derek Burns returns to join Luke and Ryan breakdown the Gophers victory over Colorado State.
Gopher Illustrated6:29 AM
Focus on 16-17: Bakary KonateBakary Konate started at center last winter for the Gophers as a true sophomore season. Konate gained 22 minutes of experience on average. Konate is the subject of today’s focus.
Gopher IllustratedYesterday at 1:19 PM