2017 Spring Preview: Linebackers
March 9, 2017

Minnesota has twelve linebackers on its spring practice roster and 10 of the twelve have seen game action. The group, which is coached by defensive coordinator Robb Smith, is the deepest on defense and could be considered the greatest overall strength that Minnesota has on its roster. Smith will certainly have options at the position in the fall.

The most tenured of the backers is Cody Poock, who will be a redshirt senior in the fall. Poock, who has battled injuries during his career, has the potential to be a difference maker for the Gophers. He has played in 19 career games and has tallied 123 tackles, which includes 69 solo stops. Poock has started 14 games for the Gophers, but missed six games last season with an injury.

Jonathan Celestin enters his final year in the Maroon and Gold after a breakout junior season in which he finished second on the team in tackles with 80. The Jonesboro, Ga., native has played in 37 career games with 13 starts. He has 139 career tackles (90 solo tackles) and has also made 14 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Celestin has broken up five career passes and has also forced three fumbles for the Gophers.

Blake Weber and Everett Williams will be redshirt juniors in the fall after both redshirted last season. Weber played in nine games on special teams in 2015 as a sophomore, which was his first season at Minnesota after he transferred from Rochester Community and Technical College. Williams has made three career starts at linebacker and has played in 15 games (seven in 2015 and eight in 2014). He has 14 career tackles and two pass breakups on his resume.

Blake Cashman and Julian Huff will both be juniors in the fall and both have proven to be special players on the field. Cashman was a revelation last season as he emerged as a skilled pass-rusher. The Eden Prairie, Minn., native notched 45 tackles last season, but led the Gophers with in sacks (7.5) and was second on the team in tackles for loss (10.5). Cashman, who also forced one fumble, was named Holiday Bowl Defensive Most Valuable Player after recording 12 tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack.

Huff has not missed a game in his career, as he has played in 26 and started two. He has made 52 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, recovered three fumbles, forced two fumbles and broken up two passes in his career. When Huff is on the field he tends to make plays.

Jaylen Waters will be a redshirt sophomore next season and played in all 13 games last season after redshirting in 2014. Waters saw most of his action on special teams last season and made seven tackles. He also broke up one pass.

The trio of Thomas Barber, Carter Coughlin and Kamal Martin all saw extended playing time last season as true freshman. They all excelled on special teams, but also made plays on defense. Barber, who is a legacy Gopher, made 12 tackles in 11 games. He also forced and recovered one fumble and gained 28 yards while unexpectedly returning two kicks.

Coughlin, who like Barber, is following in family footsteps being a Gopher made 25 tackles in 11 games. He also recorded 4.0 tackles for loss and two sacks.

Martin played in all 13 games as a true freshman. He made 10 tackles, assisted on one sack, recovered one fumble and tallied his first career interception.

Bailey Schoenfelder redshirted in 2016 after a standout career at Huron High School in South Dakota. He captained his team as a senior and made 51 tackles. Schoenfelder also won a state championship in wrestling at 195 pounds.

Minnesota's newest linebacker is freshman Trenton Guthrie, who enrolled in January. The Northville, Mich., native totaled 26 tackles for loss and 11 sacks as his team finished 7-3 during his senior season. He also broke up two passes and forced one fumble en route to being named to The Detroit News' All-Metro West second team.


 

 

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