NCAA Football Minnesota Golden Gophers

Top 6 Players Who Are Expected To Step Up For Minnesota Golden Gophers In 2014

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Minnesota Golden Gophers: Top 6 Players Expected To Step Up In 2014

Minnesota Golden Gophers Have Youth and Enthusiasm
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Golden Gophers had a very emotional 2013 full of highs and lows. The team saw many highs following emotional victories and disheartening lows following losses and the potential of losing their emotional leader. Golden Gophers head coach Jerry Kill continued with his long battle with epilepsy in 2013. This season saw the coach relegated to his couch at times, a place that he found to be far from comfortable.

Following seizures that Kill suffered as a result of the epilepsy, he knew that he would need to step away from his role and concentrate on what was best for him and for his family -- his health. Kill soon began doubting whether an absence from football was what was best for him at all. Following a loss in the Battle for the Little Brown Jug at the hands of the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor, Kill knew that he could no longer stay away from his team. The following week, Kill and his family loaded up in their vehicle and made the trip from Minnesota to Illinois for the game against the Northwestern Wildcats.

Though defensive coordinator Tracey Claeys played the role of head coach for much of the season, there was never a doubt that Kill was still the man leading the program. Kill and his staff had a great deal of confidence in their freshman class as many were asked to step up and contribute this season. There is no doubt that Kill will be back and ready to lead these young men next season.

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6. Maxx Williams

Maxx Williams
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Maxx Williams is literally the big man on campus in Minneapolis. The big tight end lines up at 6-foot-4, 255 pounds. Williams caught four touchdowns in his freshman season. Expect that stat to grow along with the young man as he becomes more prominent in the Golden Gophers' offensive game plan.

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5. Mitch Leidner

Mitch Leidner
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

This freshman is an in-state prospect from Lakeville, Minnesota. Leidner competed with Phillip Nelson at the quarterback position for the Golden Gophers in 2013, and proved to be an athletic team leader. Leidner racked up four rushing touchdowns against San Jose State in 2013.

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4. Donhovan Jones

Donhovan Jones
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Like Leidner, Jones came to Minnesota as a quarterback prospect. He also came to the program with potential of playing wide receiver for offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover’s offense. At 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, Jones has the size and skill to contribute to the Golden Gophers at wide receiver in an expanded role in the future.

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3. Devondre Campbell

Devondre Campbell
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

This was Campbell’s redshirt freshman season for the Golden Gophers, but it was his first season as a Division I college football player. This linebacker is a perfect fit for defensive coordinator Tracey Claeys. Campbell is not a prototypical linebacker according to his size as he stands at a staggering 6-foot-5. The height is not going to hinder his ability to play linebacker at Minnesota. He is fast and will cover a lot of space on the defensive side of the ball. His long arms could lead to a lot of turnovers in the future for the Golden Gophers' defense.

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2. Caleb Bak

Caleb Bak
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Bak is another big man on campus for Minnesota. He is one of the many versatile offensive linemen on the Golden Gophers roster this season. Bak will undoubtedly help lead his squad in the trenches for years to come.

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1. Drew Wolitarsky

Drew Wolitarsky
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

This 6-foot-3, 225-pound wide receiver may be bound for great things in Minnesota. The young man from California has good size and hands. Wolitarsky could be a reliable outlet for Golden Gophers quarterbacks for years to come.