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John Rabe is one of the few seniors on the roster this year that has not been at Minnesota for all of the past four seasons. Rabe transferred from Ellsworth Community College, where he earned Junior College All-America honors after his sophomore season, before the 2011 campaign, but he is a Gopher now.
Rabe has successfully translated his skills to the Big Ten. Competing for the offense at tight end, Rabe played in all 12 games last season, earning six starting assignments. He recorded four receptions for 36 yards and scored two touchdowns. Coach Kill has stressed that receivers need to step up this year, and Rabe is hoping that means that he sees more balls coming his way. It is his affinity for big plays and his fearlessness against tough opponents that makes him a frontrunner for the fall's starting lineup.
"Last year, since it was my first year, I just wanted to get into the offense and make some plays," said Rabe. "I wanted to contribute any way I could. This year I know what it is like to go through a Big Ten season. I want to be a go-to guy for the offense. That is my goal: to get myself and our position to be a big threat for our offense. "
A year ago, Rabe tallied his first career touchdown on his first career reception against Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 17. On Nov. 5, he recorded two catches for 27 yards at Michigan State. A week later, he saw action in the Border Battle against Wisconsin and had three kick returns for 28 yards. He started against Illinois and ended the season on a high note as he hauled in a touchdown pass against the Illini.
It is no secret that the Gophers have a young squad this year. Even though Rabe has not been a Gopher for as long as some of the other seniors, he has welcomed a position of leadership among his unit to help guide and mold that youthful energy in the right direction.
"Being like the coach of the position as a senior is kind of the leadership role I have taken on," said Rabe who served as the tight end position coach during summer workout s and captain's practices. "In the summer, we'll have captain's practice, so I'll get all of the younger guys in my tight end group and we'll go watch film and I'll coach them on what we need to do better. Then we'll come out here and transfer it into drills."