PHOENIX – The Gophers have 12 players on the NCAA transfer portal this season, and there could be a few more after Minnesota plays West Virginia in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl Tuesday night.

The Minnesota coaches held most of their year-end meetings with players, and Fleck said it was expected everyone would return to the team in 2022. “But there will likely be a surprise or two,” he added.

During meetings, coaches have face-to-face discussions with players about their position on the depths table and their chances of seeing the field in the following season, but never deduct scholarships. The high chances of seeing the field could influence a player’s decision to leave.

For example, when quarterback Tanner Morgan started after defeating Wisconsin on Nov. 27, saying he would return for a sixth season in 2022, backups Zack Annexstad and Jacob Clark soon said they would go to the portal .

Cornerback Coney Durr said he was most proud of his “stamina” in holding out after a knee injury and a change of manager to stay in Minnesota for six seasons.

“With … the (transfer) portal and all, man, it’s really important that a lot of people just trust the process,” said Durr. “This stuff is going to be difficult. You can’t run away hard. Accept that and it will make you who you will be. ”

The Gophers have 20 players in their 2022 recruiting class, including some transfers to upcoming cornerbacks Shannon “Beanie” Bishop (Western Kentucky) and Ryan Stapp (Abilene Christian).

Fleck estimated that Minnesota could accept three more players this cycle, with fall athletes being required to notify schools of their departure before May 1.

“After the bowl games and then after the jumping ball, there will be another wave of the portal,” said Fleck. “They’re always looking for, even transfers, that may come in late May.”

The defensive line is a likely point at which the U could add reinforcements, and multi-year transfer players are often highly sought-after recruits. Bishop and Stapp still have two years.

Half of the 12 departures from Minnesota have found new destinations: defensive end MJ Anderson (Iowa State), receiver Brady Boyd (Texas Tech), running back Cam Wiley (Akron), tight end Austin Henderson (Liberty) and defensive End Rashod Cheney and linebacker DJ Gordon (both South Florida).

Six players have not yet announced any new schools: Annexstand and Clark, offensive linemen Curtis Dunlap and Saia Mapakaitolo, receiver Dylan Hillard-McGill and kicker Michael Lantz. Lantz was last on the team in 2020 but announced his move earlier this month.

In addition to player changes, some Gophers assistant coaches could also be on the road.

Minnesota has already made a change – offensive coordinator Mike Sanford Jr. has not been taken over after two seasons and Kirk Ciarrocca is returning to Dinkytown. They also extended defensive coordinator Joe Rossi’s contract to the 2023 season and he received a raise of $ 137,000.

Fleck’s contract extension in October included an additional $ 350,000 in the assistant coach’s salary pool. With Rossi and Ciarrocca in mind, there is about $ 250,000 left on the field for the eight other assistants. It is understood that this money will be distributed to them.

Running backs coach and assistant head coach Kenni Burns, assistant receiver coach Matt Simon, special teams coordinator / rush ends coach Rob Wenger, tight ends coach Clay Patterson, and cornerbacks coach Paul Haynes expire in January.

Running game coordinator / offensive line coach Brian Callahan, co-defensive coordinator / safety coach Joe Harsimiak and defensive line coach Chad Wilt are under contract for 2022.

The Gophers let two real newbies use their red shirts in 2021 – cornerback Justin Walley and running back Mar’Keise Irving. The U had 13 remaining members of the 2021 class who were eligible for four years through 2022.

Minnesota had eight 2020 class players wear their red shirts this season – running back Ky Thomas, receiver Daniel Jackson, safety Michael Dixon, defensive end Danny Striggow, cornerback Jalen Glaze, punter Mark Crawford and linebackers Lucas Finnessy and Jaquondis Burns.

The Gophers had six players in the 2020 class in less than four games and kept their red shirts – linebackers Cody Lindenberg, defensive back Miles Fleming, defensive ends Jalen Logan-Redding and Jah Joyner, receivers Doug Emilien and offensive lineman Aireontae Ersery . The U had five returning players in 2020 class who weren’t playing any games in 2021.
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