Minnesota’s football program was in shambles when Jerry Kill took the helm in 2011.
The Golden Gophers were coming off a 3-9 season and needed direction fast. With Kill at the helm, the Gophers have been improving at a steady rate. One of the biggest improvements over the last few years has been the pass defense. Minnesota was fourth in the Big Ten in pass defense in 2014, surrendering 193.5 yards a contest.
But that wasn’t the biggest eye-popping stat for the Gophers last season. It had a plus-ten turnover margin, second only to Michigan State. This was in large part due to the performance turned in by junior cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun.
Boddy-Calhoun was a ball-hawking menace for Minnesota in 2014. He was responsible for half of the Gophers’ turnover margin with five interceptions. This tied him with three other defensive backs in the conference (Purdue’s Landon Feichter, Nebraska’s Nate Gerry and Ohio State’s Doran Grant). He wreaked havoc on the ground as well, forcing two fumbles to go along with his 52 total tackles.
With multiple talented wide receivers in the Big Ten, Kill is going to need an All-American performance from Boddy-Calhoun. He is going into his final season at Minnesota, and will need to be the senior leader of the secondary. If Boddy-Calhoun continues to disrupt opposing air attacks, Minnesota’s secondary will be even better than last season. He has the potential to be the school’s first Thorpe Award winner since Tyrone Carter in 1999.
Brooks Hooley is a Junior Big Ten Football writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @brookshooley.