Although they never enter the Golden Gopher football program with much fanfare, the Gophers are continuing to develop start tight ends year in and year out. Ben Utecht played in the NFL for six seasons, winning a Super Bowl ring with the Colts. Matt Spaeth, also a Super Bowl champion, is currently preparing for his tenth season in the NFL. Maxx Williams was a second round draft pick of the the Baltimore Ravens in 2015. Can we count current Miami Dolphins tight end MarQueis Gray? If you want to go way back Charlie Sanders is in both the CFB and NFL Hall of Fame, playing for the Detroit Lions from 1968 - 1977.
Brandon Lingen may have started slow, playing in 11 games during his freshman season and finishing with two receptions for 18 yards. But, as a tight end your responsibilities include much more than just catching the ball and after his rookie season Lingen was named the Gophers Outstanding Offensive Freshman of the Year.
It was during Lingen’s sophomore season where he started to get attention for his athleticism and playmaking abilities. Lingen played in 12 games, catching 33 passes for 428 yards and hauled in three touchdowns. Lingen was voted Minnesota’s Tight End of the Year and also was All-Big Ten Honorable Mention.
With the Gophers desperate to develop young wide receivers and provide some tools for quarterback Mitch Leidner in the passing game, Lingen will be very important to the success of the Gophers offense in 2016. As many tight ends have done before him, expect Lingen to be a security blanket for Leidner when a crucial first down is needed and chains are to be moved. Lingen has the potential to be reliable, but also has the potential to be a big play tight end as he showed last year on Halloween night and then again a few weeks later down on the farm. Lingen came up big against Michigan at home, catching a career high five passes for a career high 111 yards. He continued his hot streak at Iowa when he caught six balls for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Lingen can be that tight end we saw against Michigan and Iowa on a consistent basis. I believe Leidner and Lingen can continue the chemistry they showed during the Big Ten season and in the bowl game, when Lingen averaged 3.9 receptions and 44.8 yards per game. In 2016 I am putting Lingen on averages of 5.7 and 72 yards per game, while chipping in six touchdowns for the season.
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