I have been signing the praises of Jay Sawvel and Tracy Claeys for years on what they have meant to the University of Minnesota secondary during their tenure with the Gophers. It is now time to give Gopher alum Mike Sherels his due in developing an equally effective group of linebackers. The play of the backers has been impressive during Sherels two seasons and his unit looks to be equally impressive in 2016, and it will need to be if the Gophers look to be a threat to make it to Indianapolis come the first weekend of December.
One player who will be very important when it comes to the success of the linebackers is redshirt junior Cody Poock. The play of Poock was concerning to start his Gopher career after a season ending injury cost him the 2014 season (still named Defensive Work Team Player of the Year), and a slow start during the nonconference portion of the 2015 season. During the early portion of 2015 Poock looked to be a linebacker who was a step slow and taking bad angles, it was clear the transition from junior college football in Iowa to the Big Ten was going to take some time.
I think it is safe to say Poock is a quick learner. Poock adjusted and the game clearly started to slow down. Poock recorded double digit tackle totals in four of eight conference games and finished the season with 5.5 tackles for a loss. The former Reiver from Iowa Western Community College will now be looked to as a leader on the Gopher defense and it is a role that Poock should thrive in.
With the Gophers possibly playing a little bit of 3-4 in 2016 Poock should have plenty of opportunities to make plays. I see it as a given that Poock’s tackle total will increase with ease (99, second on team in 2015), but can he make more plays? Last year Poock only contributed to one turnover (forced fumble against Colorado State) and that will need to change.
I have high hopes for what Sherels can do with Poock over the next two seasons in maroon and gold. I see Poock as a tackling machine who can make a sneaky big play when the opportunity presents itself...just give me 133 tackles and 5 forced turnovers and we can call it a successful season.
Top 15 MIG Countdown
15. Isaiah Gentry
14. Cody Poock