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 wide receivers.
What the Gophers have on roster
The guy who may have the most on his plate coming up to try and replace what KJ Maye had in production last season for Minnesota is senior Drew Wolitarsky. Drew was one yard away from becoming a part of one of the most iconic plays of the Gophers season in 2015 with his catch against Michigan on the one yard line. The signature game for Wolitarsky last season was his coming out party against Colorado State where he had nine receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown, and Drew finished the season with 39 catches for 524 yards. Now with Maye gone, Drew is the leader of this wide receiver group and with Leidner looking for a new top target, Wolitarsky could be that guy as he is the most established of the group.
As a true freshman last season, Rashad Still burst onto the scene with two standout games against Michigan (two receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown) and Ohio State (six catches for 41 yards and a touchdown). Now coming back into his sophomore year, Still may have the highest ceiling of all the Gophers wide receivers currently on the roster. The El Paso native has a giant 6'5" frame with great length and knows how to go up and high point the ball. For Still to take the next step this fall, he's got to work on getting off press coverage and creating separation early, plus he needs to keep getting stronger and developing his route tree, but the potential is surely there.
Junior Eric Carter came into Minnesota as one of the most highly recruited player of the 2012 class with offers from Mizzou, Purdue, Iowa State and Cincinnati among others, and finally saw the field last season ending up with 23 receptions. Carter and former Gopher KJ Maye are very much of the same mold physically, and the Gophers hope he can double his production from last season. Carter has some of the surest hands on the team.
Holland kicks off a group of younger receivers that all have the potential to see a lot of playing time this fall. After redshirting in 2014, Holland Jr. played in eight games last fall and I could absolutely see a scenario where he catches 25+ balls this fall. Holland struggled with some drops this past spring, and while I believe he may be one of the most talented receivers on the roster, he just needs to get his confidence back with his hands. That's easily fixable and just requires a strong fall camp, so Holland could be the one to break out this fall.
Sophomore Isaiah Gentry may be one of the most tantalizing players on the roster. Gopher fans see flashes of ability against Ohio where he accelerates past defenders for a big gain, but then Gentry misses most of the remainder of the season with injuries. Gentry battled injuries again this spring, and if he can just stay healthy for an entire season, he could be a factor.
Register redshirted this past season and looks to have put more muscle on this last spring. For Hunter to take that next step, he's got to continue to develop his route tree and explosiveness out of his cuts.
One walk-on to watch will be redshirt freshman Adam Mayer who drew praise from the coaches and players during the fall and spring of this past season. Mayer is a tough guy in the interior of the field and is usually sure handed with his catches.
In-state wide receiver Drew Hmielewski is one of the most athletically gifted players from Minnesota's 2016 class and if he's healthy, should have a chance to play this fall. Word is that Hmielewski may have to have miss some time though with an existing injury.
2016 wide receiver signee Phillip Howard has the athletic ability to play right away, but he's going to have to show he's durable enough to be a Big Ten wide receiver and that he's a quick learner with his route tree, as Howard played quarterback in high school.
Johnson is another that has a chance to play this fall with all the uncertainty at wide receiver. The Minneapolis North product had one of the most productive seasons in the history of Minnesota football and showed well at an all-star game in California in January.
Projected 2016 Depth Chart
- Rashad Still
- Hunter Register / Isaiah Gentry
- Drew Wolitarsky
- Melvin Holland
- Eric Carter
- Phillip Howard / Adam Mayer
What the Gophers want in 2017
Minnesota only graduates Drew Wolitarsky this fall, so it wouldn't be surprising to see the Gophers to take only one, maybe two receivers in 2017.
Legacy recruit Demetrius Douglas has offers from Minnesota, Oregon, Oregon State and Colorado State among others, with upcoming camps at Cal, Stanford and Washington. Douglas camped with the Gophers as a to be Junior last year and picked up an offer from the Gophers. Douglas will be back to camp with the Gophers in July and will visit for the BBQ that weekend as well. A decision could come this summer.
Igbinoghene holds offers from Minnesota, Notre Dame, Duke, Mizzou and Illinois among others. With that Fighting Irish offer, things may be tough to land the Alabama athlete.
Johnson currently holds offers from the Gophers and Hawkeyes among others so far in June, and it wouldn't be surprised to see Johnson visit Minneapolis here in the coming months.
Comma was one of the Gophers first offers in the 2017 recruiting cycle and the Georgia wide receiver now holds offers from Illinois and Maryland among others. Minnesota is hoping for a visit this summer from the Roswell native.