5 Players Who Need To Step Up For Minnesota Football in 2015

By brookshooley

5 Gophers Who Need to Step Up

Mitch Leidner
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota began their 2014 season with a 6-1 record and appeared to be well on their way to a berth in the Big Ten Championship Game. However, they faltered down the stretch and finished 8-5, capped off by a loss to Missouri in the Citrus Bowl. Still, it was something to build on going into 2015. But with the departure of some key players on both sides of the ball, new playmakers will need to emerge for Minnesota to succeed this fall.

5. Mitch Leidner

Mitch Leidner 2
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

5. Mitch Leidner

Mitch Leidner 2
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Leidner made a handful of big plays for Minnesota in 2014, the biggest one being his two-yard touchdown run that sealed the 28-24 win over Nebraska. He threw for 1,798 yards and rushed for 452 more as a sophomore. However, he only had 11 touchdown passes and threw eight interceptions. If Minnesota is going to build off of last season, Leidner will need to take better care of the ball.

4. K.J. Maye

KJ Maye
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

4. K.J. Maye

KJ Maye
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Maye had a quiet junior year in the shadow of tight end Maxx Williams in 2014. Maye caught 16 passes for 298 yards and only one touchdown. Still, these numbers were good enough for Maye to be Minnesota’s second-leading receiver. Now that Williams is gone to the NFL, Maye will need to emerge as the hot receiver in Matt Limegrover’s offense.

3. De'Vondre Campbell

De'Vondre Campbell
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

3. De'Vondre Campbell

De'Vondre Campbell
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Campbell had a breakout season for the Gophers as a junior. He recorded 49 solo tackles (six of them for loss) and one interception that he returned for a touchdown. With the departure of Damien Wilson and his 63 solo tackles from last season, Campbell will have to be the cornerstone for the Minnesota linebacking corps and possibly the front seven as well.

2. Briean Boddy-Calhoun

Boddy-Calhoun
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

2. Briean Boddy-Calhoun

Boddy-Calhoun
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota’s secondary was highlighted by Boddy-Calhoun’s ball hawking defense in 2014. He led the team with five interceptions as a junior and recorded 39 solo tackles as well. Boddy-Calhoun will have to generate another season like last year to make up for the loss of Cedric Thompson, the leading tackler amongst defensive backs in 2014.

1. Jeff Jones

Jeff Jones
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

1. Jeff Jones

Jeff Jones
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Losing David Cobb is a huge blow to the Minnesota offense. With his 1,626 yards and 13 touchdowns, it was easy to build the offense around him, but difficult to find a replacement. Enter 6-0, 196-pound freshman Jeff Jones. A perfect fit for Minnesota’s offense. Jones rushed for 1,525 yards and 34 touchdowns as a senior in high school. If he can translate his skill set to the college game, it can take a lot of pressure off of Mitch Leidner.

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