Gopher Football Preview: Fullbacks

Minnesota will need rely heavily on returning starter Jon Hoese to open holes and carry the ball if they want to improve upon their Big Ten worst rushing attack from last season.

Projected Starter:
The Golden Gophers return senior starting fullback, 6-foot-2, 233-pound Jon Hoese. Hoese, formerly a walk on, earned a scholarship for the 2009-2010 due to his work ethic and contributions to the team.

The converted safety has become more than just a standout special teams players, he is an integral part of the Minnesota offense. Although he doesn't get to carry the ball very often, only 29 carries last year, he does make the most of his opportunities with 11 of his carries resulting in a first down or touchdown.

While his main responsibility remains clearing holes for the runningbacks, Hoese has developed into a reliable threat receiving the ball out of the backfield catching 11 passes for 87 yards and one touchdown.

Expect the Gopher coaches to rely heavily on Hoese in short yardage situations again this season where he can utilize his strength and power to convert in crucial situations. Hoese was the only Gopher runner to gain positive yards on every carry last season.

Projected Top Reserves:
With Jon Hoese returning and handling the bulk of the fullback duties reserves Ed Cotton and Willie Schneider will most likely have to make an impact on special teams this season. Barring injury to Hoese don't expect a lot of touches on offense by the backups.

Cotton is a 6-foot-0, 219-pounder from Champlin Park, Minnesota who redshirted last season. Cotton played fullback in high school compiling 881 total yards of offense and six touchdowns while leading his team to the state championship game where they finished runner-up his senior season.

Playing defense at powerhouse Cretin-Durham Hall high school, the stout 5-foot-11 216-pound Willie Schneider looks to use his experience as a linebacker to get on the field in special teams situations. As a senior he amassed 72 tackles, three tackles for loss, and three fumbles forced.

Cotton and Schneider have yet to see the field for the Maroon and Gold so finding ways to get them game experience this season is crucial for their future development when they will battle for the starting spot next season.

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