Aug. 11, 2014
The Minnesota football team is known for its run-heavy offense, but will be looking for increased production from its wide receivers in 2014.
Derrick Engel, who paced the Golden Gophers with 40.1 receiving yards per game last year, graduated but there is a core of six letterwinning wide receivers returning (in addition to three returning letterwinners at tight end) to help the team's passing game.
Entering his fourth season at Minnesota after leading the team's running backs unit from 2011 to 2013, Brian Anderson will also have the benefit of a steadier quarterback situation in his first season coaching the wide receivers.
Leading the returning receivers is 6-foot-3 sophomore Drew Wolitarsky. California's all-time record holder in career catches (281) and career yardage (5,148) was in the mix for catches last year as a freshman and starred in the team's bowl game against Syracuse, catching four passes for 94 yards, including a 55-yard touchdown reception. Wolitarsky finished 2013 with 15 catches for 259 yards.
Two more wide outs who reeled in double-digit catches last year on the 2014 squad are redshirt senior Isaac Fruechte and sophomore Donovahn Jones. Fruechte will look to add to his 32 career receptions and 410 career yards in his final season, while Jones, a former quarterback, will look to improve on a 10-catch, 157-yard rookie campaign. Jones did not switch to wide receiver until the middle of fall camp last year, but now will have the experience of an entire season, spring and fall at that position.
KJ Maye, a junior who has been a popular target in fall camp, should contend for a starting job in his third year. In addition to receiving, Maye has been used as in rushing and kick/punt returning situations in his first two collegiate seasons. Redshirt seniors Logan Hutton and Devon Wright will provide more returning depth at the position.
Vying to make an impact as redshirt freshmen will be Eric Carter, Jeff Borchardt, Michael Conway and Brian Smith. Carter of Lakeland, Fla., and in-state product Borchardt led their high school teams to 10-win seasons before joining the Gophers. Conway, a quarterback in high school, and Smith, who was also a defensive playmaker before coming to Minnesota, stand at 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-4, respectively.
Also seeking game action in 2014 will be redshirt junior Aaron Marmer and redshirt sophomores EJ Sardinha and Louis Tuszynski. Marmer, a transfer from the Air Force Academy joined the team in February of 2013 and Tuszynski is the newest addition of the three, coming to Minnesota in February of 2014 following a year at Stetson University.
Anderson will also welcome true freshmen Melvin Holland Jr., Desmond Gant, Conner Krizancic and Isaiah Gentry, all of whom are 6-foot-2 or taller.