Nearly all the focus paid to the defensive line of the Minnesota Golden Gophers ultimately lands on defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman. The massive presence in the interior is the unquestioned leader on the line heading into the 2013 season and is looking to step out onto the national stage next fall. With his presence in the middle, it opens up the door for other linemen to step up next season and Michael Amaefula is ready to break out.
Last season, Amaefula finished third on the team with 2.5 sacks as a sophomore. In all, he finished the season with 19 tackles, including five tackles for loss. The 6-foot-2, 240-pound lineman will have the benefit of a lot of one-on-one blocks in 2013 as offenses load up against Hageman on the interior. It will be up to Amaefula to take advantage of these opportunities to enjoy a break out season next fall.
Having a second pass rusher emerge will be a major boost to the Minnesota defense next season and could be a key in their competitiveness in the Big Ten race. Hageman can’t be the only option to get after the passer next fall, so Amaefula has to step up and unleash his pass rushing ability in 2013. It will be even more important as the Gophers try to replace the production of D.L. White who led the team with 8.5 sacks in 2012.
The opportunity is there for Amaefula to make a major name for himself in 2013. With the presence of Hageman drawing attention of offensive blocking schemes, someone has to take advantage. Will the junior be the one to break out?