GopherDigest publisher Ryan Burns is breaking down each Gopher football position group, what they're looking to add at each position in the Class of 2017 and their top targets.
Now, let's look at the tight ends.
What the Gophers have on roster
Minnesota's undisputed leader of the tight end group is junior Brandon Lingen, and he's already catching the eye of NFL Scout's. Lingen will be relied upon heavily this fall with the departure of KJ Maye, and it'd be no surprise if the Wayzata native ended up leading Minnesota in targets in 2016. Lingen has taken a step forward during each season he's played, and now that he's an upperclassman, GopherDigest is expecting another leap forward this fall. Lingen is coming off of shoulder surgery, but is expected to be ready for fall camp. Lingen also has the versatility to play H-back or be an end of the line of scrimmage Y.
Redshirt junior tight end Nate Wozniak was forced into significant action last fall after injuries to Lincoln Plsek and Duke Anyanwu, but Wozniak was up to the challenge. The role that Woz fills is one that'll never get enough attention or recognition, but he's the 6th glorified offensive lineman continually setting the edge for Minnesota's rushing attack. Gophers will need Wozniak to really stay healthy this fall, as they don't have a true back-up for Wozniak at that Y position.
Redshirt freshman Colton Beebe has yet to take a single college snap for the Golden Gophers, but he's going to be expected to be a "swiss-army knife" guy of sorts for this group. Beebe is big enough to be a Y tight end for Minnesota at 6'2" 260 lbs, but he's also athletic enough to be an H-back and meet a defender in the hole, and catch a ball in the flats out of the backfield. The future looks very bright for the young Kansas native.
Prior Lake native Nick Hart is also going to have to play a role within this tight end group heading into 2016. Minnesota only has a handful of bodies at the position, and Hart has shown that he can be effective when called upon as he had key catches against Colorado State, Ohio and Wisconsin last fall. Hart at the very least will be called upon for special teams.
Grand Rapids native Bryce Witham also looks to be shaping into a Big Ten tight end after a redshirt season in 2015. Witham showed flashes during spring ball, and with the lack of guys at the position, Witham is another guy that at the very least, will be on special teams for the Gophers.
I truly hope for a full recovery for redshirt junior tight end Duke Anyanwu, but after his third knee surgery in four years, I just don't think Anyanwu can return to his old, explosive self of fall camp 2014. Anyanwu, because of these knee injuries, hasn't see the field since 2013.
Incoming Iowa native Ko Kieft is a player that tight ends coach Rob Reeves really fell in love with at Minnesota's camp this past July, and Minnesota is excited to get working with him here in a few weeks. I do expect Kieft to redshirt this fall.
Projected 2016 depth chart
- Brandon Lingen
- Colton Beebe
- Bryce Witham
- Nate Wozniak
- Nick Hart
- Colton Beebe
What the Gophers want in 2017
Minnesota isn't graduating anyone this fall, but need bodies with only five scholarship tight ends on the roster for 2016. I expect Minnesota to grab a H-back and a traditional Y tight end for their 2017 class, so two tight ends total.
One of the first tight end offers for Minnesota, was to Venice's (Fla.) Aaron Hackett. The Florida native did have a visit set up for next week to the Twin Cities, but had to postpone the visit due to a 7 on 7 tournament with his high school. Hackett is still expected to visit Minnesota this summer, and is arguably the Gophers top target as an H-back.
Crosby (Minn.) tight end Noah Gindorff is someone that I'm very high on after seeing him personally at the Chicago Nike camp. Gindorff has a huge, athletic frame at 6'5" 230 lbs and he moves well. Noah will camp with the Gophers on June 12th and could possibly receive a Gopher offer with a good camp performance. If that offer comes, I expect Gindorff to become a Golden Gopher soon after, although Iowa and Michigan State are pushing for him to camp as well.
Central Michigan commit Keegan Cossou is another tight end prospect that plans on taking an unofficial visit to Minnesota this summer. If and when Cossou does visit, Minnesota would become a prime candidate to potentially flip the Chippewa commit.
Finally, one name to watch here with camps approaching shortly is Woodbury's Nathan Bursch. Bursch is another big, strong tight end that has seen his recruiting start to pick up a bit with offers from South Dakota State and North Dakota. I expect Minnesota give Bursch a long, hard look at camps this summer.