Barber, Eslinger, Utecht are first-team All-Big 10

The 2003 All-Big Ten football selections were announced today and five Golden Gophers were named to either the first or second team.

Sophomore tailback Marion Barber III and sophomore center Greg Eslinger were named first-team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and the media. Senior tight end Ben Utecht was a first-team selection by the coaches and was a second-team choice by the media. Senior guard Joe Quinn was named to the second team by both the coaches and the media, and junior tackle Rian Melander was a second-team selection by the media and was named honorable mention by the coaches.

Barber finished the 2003 season with 1,159 yards and set a school record for single-season rushing touchdowns with 17. He also had a single-season school-record-tying seven 100-yard rushing games and moved into 11th place all-time in career rushing yards with 1,970. He becomes the first Gopher running back selected first-team All-Big Ten since Thomas Hamner in 1999.

Eslinger, Quinn and Melander helped pave the way for the most prolific Gopher offense in school history. They were part of an offensive line which set school records in 2003 for total offense (501.4 ypg), rushing offense (293.2 ypg), rushing touchdowns (42), scoring (39.3 ppg), touchdowns (62), yards per play (6.7), 500-yard games (7) and 200-yard rushing games (10). Eslinger is the first Minnesota center to earn first-team honors since Ben Hamilton in 2000.

Utecht had his third consecutive season with at least 200 yards receiving, tallying 289 yards with two touchdowns in 10 games. He is the first Gopher tight end to be a first-team selection since Patt Evans in 1991. Utecht was a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2001.

Seven other Gophers were named honorable mention by either the coaches or the media. Senior quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq, sophomore guard Mark Setterstrom and senior free safety Eli Ward were named honorable mention by both the coaches and the media. Junior placekicker Rhys Lloyd received honorable-mention recognition by the coaches, while receiver Jared Ellerson, strong safety Justin Isom and defensive tackle Darrell Reid were honorable-mention selections by the media.

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