ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Gophers football avoids big departures before NCAA transfer portal deadline

The NCAA set Sunday as the deadline for players to leave their current school and still maintain eligibility at their new destination next season

NCAA Football: Guaranteed Rate Bowl-Minnesota at West Virginia
Minnesota Golden Gophers wide receiver Brock Annexstad (81) scores on a fake extra point against the West Virginia Mountaineers in the first half of the Guaranteed Rate Bowl on Dec. 28, 2021, at Chase Field in Phoenix.
Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports
We are part of The Trust Project.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers football program didn’t suffer any significant departures before the NCAA transfer portal deadline last weekend.

Minnesota had nickel back Sol Brown, punt returner/receiver Brock Annexstad, receiver Jonathan Mann, linebacker Ben Wileman and punter Daniel Sparks enter the portal before the NCAA cutoff. The most substantial player was Annexstad, its primary punt returner in 2021.

The NCAA set Sunday as the deadline for players to leave their current school and still maintain eligibility at their new destination next season.

After spring ball ended with Saturday’s game, Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck said: “Hopefully we keep everybody here.” While that didn’t pan out, Minnesota did avoid losing another impact player similar to when Mar’Keise “Bucky” Irving departed amid spring practices on April 8. The tailback from Illinois announced Sunday he will join the Oregon Ducks.

MORE MINNESOTA GOPHERS COVERAGE:
Head coach P.J. Fleck has referred to the 2022 version as “probably the most-committed” squad across his six seasons at the helm.
Kindred Vikings lineman Riley Sunram has received scholarship offers from Minnesota, NDSU and UND for football.
University spokesman Jake Ricker said all the buildings have been cleared and will remain so until campus police and the Minneapolis Fire Department determine that it is safe for people to return.
Latest injury comes after Parker Fox lost for season.
Former Spud baseball star got a call 30 minutes after the MLB draft that changed his life. Fargo North alum Cam Blazek transfers to his third college, joining the Gophers. West Fargo knocks off Rival Post 2 in the AA Legion State Tournament.
Christie had offers from Michigan State, Illinois, Ohio State, Purdue, Iowa, among many others, but he picked the Gophers, in part, due to their early interest.
This year’s Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe is Nov. 26 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis.
Fargo North graduate Cam Blazek is transferring to the University of Minnesota to play baseball for the Golden Gophers.
Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck credited how Illinois plays resembled first-year head coach Bret Bielema’s personality.
Per the schedule, Frost went to the dais before Gophers coach PJ Fleck on Tuesday, and Frost didn’t offer any opening statement, going straight to questions from reporters.

Annexstad, a former walk-on from Norseland, Minn., was awarded a scholarship in 2018 and played in 21 games. He had nine returns for 71 yards last season. His brother, quarterback Zack Annexstad, transferred from Minnesota to Illinois State after the 2021 season.

ADVERTISEMENT

Brown, of Largo, Fla., played in eight total games across three seasons with Minnesota. He played in the spring game Saturday, but even with longtime nickel back Justus Harris out of eligibility, Brown didn’t project into Minnesota's two-deep depth chart going into the 2022 season.

Mann, a Rosemount High School alum, did not play in his two seasons at Minnesota. Wileman, of Edgerton, Wis., did not see the field in his two years at Minnesota. Sparks, a transfer from Louisiana-Monroe, did not play in his one season at Minnesota in 2021; he was behind incumbent starter Mark Crawford.

Briefly

Former Gophers offensive lineman Conner Olson, who set the Big Ten record for career starts with 58 from 2017-21, will enroll in the U of M Medical School in August. The Monticello, Minn., native will spend his first two years at Minnesota Duluth, followed by two years at the Twin Cities campus. … Former Gophers receiver Doug Emilien announced Monday he is transferring to Kansas, where he will join ex-U running back Ky Thomas. Emilien, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; he played in two games at Minnesota in 2021.

What to read next
NDSU received 52 of 54 first-place votes. South Dakota State received the other two first-place votes and was ranked second. NDSU and SDSU were among the five Missouri Valley Football Conference teams ranked in the top 25.
Following knee injury last season, defensive end returns for sixth season thanks to COVID rules
Cloquet (Minn.) High School rising senior Reese Sheldon has verbally committed to play football for NDSU.
Here's a running list of NDSU football verbal commitments for the 2023 recruiting class.