Athlon Sports announced its preseason 2016 All-Big Ten teams today and six Gophers – Jonah Pirsig, Brandon Lingen, Shannon Brooks, Damarius Travis, Jack Lynn and Ryan Santoso – were honored by the publication.
Pirsig and Lingen were named third-team offense, while Brooks was named to the fourth team.
Pirsig, at 6-9 and 316 pounds, is one of the most imposing players in the Big Ten. He can play either tackle position and was the only offensive lineman to start all 13 games last season. In 2015, he protected for an offense that passed for 2,793 yards (most since 2008) and 15 touchdowns (most since 2010) en route to being named Minnesota's Offensive Lineman of the Year and All-Big Ten Honorable Mention.
Lingen broke onto the scene last season and started 10 games and played in 12. The CoSIDA Academic All-America second team member caught 33 passes for 428 yards and three touchdowns. Lingen also had two 100-yard receiving games (111 yards against Michigan and 106 at Iowa) to become the first Gopher tight end to have two 100-yard games in the same season since at least 1950. His 111 yards against Michigan were the fourth-most by a Gopher tight end since 1950 and were the most by a tight end since Ben Utecht had 104 against Wisconsin in 2001.
Last year, Brooks rushed 119 times for 709 yards, which was the fourth-most ever by a Gopher freshman. He rushed for seven touchdowns, which covered 75, 71, 40, 38, five and three yards (twice). He became the first Gopher since Maroney in 2005 to have four touchdown runs longer than 35 yards in one season. He also averaged 6.0 yards per carry, which is the 11th-best mark in school history and the third-best ever for a freshman behind Maroney (6.92 on 162 carries in 2003) and Barber III (6.28 on 118 carries in 2001). Brooks rumbled for 176 yards at Purdue and gained 174 yards against Illinois. Those marks rank eighth and 10th in single-game rushing records for a Minnesota freshman. Brooks also completed one pass last year, which was a 42-yard touchdown to Drew Wolitarsky at Iowa.
On defense, Travis was placed on the third team, while Lynn was named to the fourth team.
Travis, who started against TCU last year, but then missed the rest of the season with an injury is back after being granted a medical hardship waiver from the NCAA to compete in the 2016-17 season. Travis has played in 40 career games and has made 107 tackles, which includes 60 solo stops and 4.0 tackles-for-loss. Travis also has nine career pass breakups, two interceptions and has forced and recovered one fumble.
Lynn played in all 13 games last season and started 10 of them. He led the Gophers with 11.0 tackles-for-loss and recorded 76 tackles, which was fourth-best on the team. Lynn also added 1.5 sacks, broke up two passes, forced one fumble and recovered one fumble as he was named All-Big Ten Honorable Mention by the conference media.
Minnesota’s lone specialist honored was Santoso, who was named to the third team as a kicker. Head coach Tracy Claeys has said in recent weeks that Santoso is expected to take over the punting duties in 2016 and that Minnesota will be looking for a kicker to emerge in fall camp. Santoso, who was named Lou Groza Award semifinalist (nation's top kicker), last season has made 29-of-39 career field goals and has converted 76-of-77 point-after attempts.
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