Sep 12, 2015; Fort Collins, CO, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky (82) is tackled by Colorado State Rams cornerback DeAndre Elliott (13) during the second quarter at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports
Going back across multiple head coaches, the Golden Gophers’ football team has lacked consistent production from the wide receiver position. A historically run-oriented offense has sent multiple running backs and offensive lineman to the NFL through the years, and some defensive players have made it to the next level from Jerry Kill’s current tenure. But tight end Maxx Williams, who was the Baltimore Ravens’ second-round pick this year, and current New York Jet wide receiver Eric Decker are by far the most notable Gophers’ pass catchers to enter the NFL in recent years.
Gophers’ quarterback Mitch Leidner has 80 pass attempts through two games this season, with a new career-high in that category in each game, and that has brought more opportunities for wide receivers. Drew Wolitarsky, KJ Maye and Eric Carter have combined for 29 receptions, 345 yards and three touchdowns so far, after combining for 27 receptions all of last season.
Redshirt freshman Isaiah Gentry has missed the first two games this season with a hamstring injury, is he expected to make his debut against Kent State on Saturday. Maye injured his midsection against Colorado State last Saturday, but he is tentatively expected to be ready to go for Saturday. Add in young and to this point unproven players like Rashad Still, Melvin Holland Jr., Desmond Gant and a hopefully soon-to-be healthy Jeff Jones, and the Gophers suddenly have some interesting depth at wide receiver.
It’s a major reach to suggest that anyone in this current group of Gophers’ wide receivers will become a solid NFL prospect, and Leidner’s inconsistency stands to continue to hold back the passing game until further notice. But for the first time in a long time there is some intriguing talent in Minnesota’s wide receiver group, and that is enough to create some optimism as non-conference play winds down ahead of the Big Ten opener at Northwestern on Oct. 3.
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