Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Golden Gopher senior cornerback Jalen Myrick checks in at MIG No. 7

The Gophers, under the leadership of Jay Sawvel, have developed some very talented cornerbacks at Minnesota. Senior cornerback Jalen Myrick has paid his dues backing up Eric Murray and Briean Boddy-Calhoun and is now looking to take over the top spot and help lead the Gopher cornerbacks.

I gotta admit the recruitment of Golden Gopher senior cornerback Jalen Myrick was a bit of a head scratcher. I knew the previous year the Gopher staff took a chance on a recruit nobody wanted out of Milwaukee, but I had the chance to personally watch the workout Jay Sawvel put Eric Murray through before submitting an offer and was impressed with his length, ball skills and athleticism.  With Myrick the speed was clearly there, so was the athleticism but the fear was the level of competition.  Watching clips of Myrick at Savanah Prep almost looked like a senior playing against middle school aged talent.

Playing high school ball in Savanah, Georgia opened up Myrick to evaluations from all the SEC and ACC schools.  They all passed.  No offers from any school from a major conference except for your Minnesota Golden Gophers.  Like Murray, the Gopher coaching didn’t mind one bit that they were the only other BCS school to submit an offer.  The Gophers were quick to offer and Myrick was quick with a decision, accepting the offer prior to his senior season beginning on August 6.

Many felt Myrick would need a redshirt season for sure, coming from the smallest schools of Georgia to the Big Ten would be too much to handle in just one offseason.  As Gopher fans have come to learn, speed has never been an issue for Myrick and he used his speed to get himself on the field right away.

As a freshman Myrick played primarily on special teams in coverage units and played a minor role in the secondary to add depth.  Finishing his first season with only four tackles, but gained valuable experience.

As a sophomore Myrick continued to add depth to the Gopher secondary playing in all 13 games but earning only one start, but who wouldn’t with Murray and Briean Boddy-Calhoun on top of the depth chart?  However, Myrick continued to make his name known and became a fan favorite in the Big Ten home opener against Northwestern.  The Wildcats fought back all day and did so again with a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to tie the Gophers 17-17.  However, that didn’t last long.  Myrick took the ensuing kickoff and raced 100 yards through the Wildcat special teams for a touchdown and a Gopher victory.  It was Myrick’s second touchdown of his Gopher career, a previous pick six was recorded against Middle Tennessee State, but it proved that Myrick indeed had a flair for making the big play. Myrick finished his second season tied for second on the team with seven pass breakups, 21 tackles, one interception and force fumble, and two touchdowns.

Injury shortened Myrick’s junior season at the U, missing out on three contests, but he did play in 10 games and started seven.  Myrick’s ability to make big plays continued as he finished with 27 tackles (18 solo), 3.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions and breakups, and one pick six at Purdue.  Myrick was also a force last year in the return game, returning 12 kicks for 257 yards (21.4).  The Big Ten coaches took notice of Myrick’s skills and named him All-Big Ten Honorable Mention.

Myrick’s importance as a senior is pretty obvious to anyone who follows Gopher football.  Minnesota, under the leadership of Tracy Claeys and Sawvel, have turned the Gopher secondary into one of the best units in the Big Ten.  However, gone in 2016 are Murray and Boddy-Calhoun, two players who logged many reps over the past three seasons.  Myrick will be counted on to continue the tradition and help lead the young corners. Sure, the coaches and fans will continue to crave the big plays out of Myrick, but it will be more important that Myrick show the younger corners how to make the plays that Gopher corners are expected to make, prepare how they are expected to prepare and practice how they are expected to practice.

The senior corner from Georgia has all the physical tools to make Gopher fans forget about the loss of Murray and BBC, and I feel he will be up for the challenge.  Expect Myrick to have his best season.  I’m putting Myrick on a stat stuffing season...look for 35 tackles, five interceptions, nine pass breakups, six combined tackles for loss and sacks, and just for fun three touchdowns.

Top 15 MIG Countdown

15.  Isaiah Gentry

14.  Cody Poock

13.  Julian Huff

12.  Drew Wolitarsky

11.  Rodney Smith

10.  Merrick Jackson

9.   Jonah Pirsig

8.  Brandon Lingen

7.  Jalen Myrick

Gopher Illustrated Top Stories