The Gophers have a nice group coming in from the transfer portal. So far Minnesota has six players committed to the University of Minnesota but have lost nine players in the portal. The Gophers roster isn’t looking as bad as I initially thought at the start of last year. Some players have come back that many assumed weren’t going to be back. A team that may have been staring down a rebuild now looks to retool instead. With that, let’s take a look at my ranking of the Gophers 2023 transfer class.
#6 – Chris Collins – DE
Collins transfers over from the Tar Heels (who the Gophers will play in the upcoming season). Collins joined North Carolina in 2018, seeing playing time more and more each season. In his five years at Chapel Hill, he has recorded 69 total tackles (34 solo/35 assisted), 12 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, one pass defended, and one forced fumble. Collins will be in his sixth and final season of eligibility in Minnesota.
Why is Chris Collins sixth in my rankings? Well in his time with the Tar Heels he mostly held the reserved role. In the last two seasons he has started in six games while appearing in 25. He will be of value in the same role in Minnesota. With the loss of Thomas Rush, it is expected that Danny Striggow will be taking over for him next season.
Jalen Logan-Redding will be opposite him, and it is expected that Lucas Finnessy will miss some time next season after suffering an injury to his right leg against Iowa. While Collins doesn’t have the stats that scream starter, he’ll have a shot to earn a starting job, but as of right now, it seems that he’ll stay in the reserved role.
#5 – Corey Crooms – WR
The first of two wide receivers the Gophers landed in the transfer portal is Corey Crooms. Crooms is one of three Western Michigan players to transfer to Minnesota this year. Crooms lead the Broncos in receiving (814 yards) and touchdowns (five) in 2022. Crooms began his career with the Broncos in 2019 and has played with them through 2022. In his time there he has had 115 receptions, 1,766 yards averaging 15.4 yards per catch, and 12 touchdowns. He also earned second-team All-MAC second team honors. Crooms will be in his final season of eligibility with Minnesota.
Why is Corey Crooms fifth in my rankings? Crooms will be a solid receiver for the Gophers, but much like Collins, he could see himself at a reserve position and not a starter. He’ll get playing time, but Minnesota already has a loaded wide receiver core. The Gophers will have five players returning with two pending decisions. Crooms will be competing for the starting spot at slot receiver for the Gophers (his primary spot with Western Michigan).
With Corey Crooms it will come down to if he can beat out some of the other receivers. He should see playing time regardless because he’s just too talented to ride the bench. It’s just too early to tell what will happen with the Gophers receiving core.
#4 – Ryan Selig – LB
The second of three Western Michigan transfers, Ryan Selig, joins fellow wide receiver Corey Crooms in Minneapolis. Selig has been with the Broncos since 2018. Interestingly enough he wasn’t a linebacker when he first arrived but a tight end. After 2019, he transitioned to linebacker and has been there ever since. In his career at Western Michigan, Selig has 153 total tackles (88 solo/65 assisted), 13.5 tackles for a loss, six sacks, one interception, two passes defended, and one forced fumble. Selig should do well under Joe Rossi’s defense, that has been one of the best in the nation since taking over in 2018.
Why is Ryan Selig fourth in my rankings? He is expected to be the favorite to take over for Mariano Sori-Marin at mike linebacker next year. He’ll join veteran linebacker Cody Lindenburg in providing a strong veteran presence at the linebacker position after losing both Sori-Marin and Braelen Oliver (transfer portal). Needless to say, Selig is the first player on this list who seems like a lock to land a starting job.
#3 – Jack Henderson – DB
Jack Henderson is a transfer from Southeastern Louisiana. He played for SE Louisiana from 2020-to-2022. In his three years with the Lions, Henderson has had 94 total tackles (59 solo/35 assisted), two sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, six interceptions, two touchdowns, and four passes defended. Jack Henderson’s performance in the 2022 season earned him first-team Southland Conference honors. Henderson will have two years of eligibility remaining in Minnesota.
Why is Jack Henderson third in my rankings? Have you seen the numbers? That was mostly just from last year, and now he comes to play with a veteran secondary and be coached by Joe Rossi. Yeah, he’s going to be good in Minneapolis. He will be competing for the nickel position/slot corner. The Gophers currently have no one at that position after losing both Micheal Dixon (unexpectedly) and Jalen Glaze. Minnesota will also have an opening at strong safety after losing Jordan Howden. However, it seems unlikely for Henderson to get the starting job there as the Gophers have liked what they’ve seen from the trio of Darius Green, Coleman Bryson, and Aidan Gousby.
#2 – Sean Tyler – RB
Sean Tyler’s transfer to Minnesota was a bit more dramatic than most transfers, flipping from Oklahoma State to become the third Western Michigan player to come to the U-of-M. Sean Tyler is coming off his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season with the Broncos. Tyler has been with the Broncos since 2019. In his four seasons he has 495 carries for 2,830 yards averaging 5.7 yards per carry and 23 touchdowns. He also has 43 receptions for 338 yards and three touchdowns. Like his fellow teammate Corey Crooms, Tyler also earned All-MAC second team honors in 2022. Tyler has one more year of eligibility remaining.
Why is Sean Tyler second in my rankings? Well, he’s likely to be the number one running back come the start of the season. Even with Trey Potts, Bryce Williams, Zach Evans, and freshman Darius Taylor, he’ll likely be the number one back for the Gophers in 2023. He provides pass catching ability that is to be desired, as well as some explosiveness. Minnesota will once again use a three-back backfield with Tyler, Potts, and Williams like they have done in the past three seasons.
#1 – Elijah Spencer – WR
Elijah Spencer joins Corey Crooms as one of two wide receivers that Minnesota landed in the transfer portal. Spencer is going into his junior year with the Gophers. In his first two seasons with the Charlotte 49ers, Spencer had 85 receptions for 1,324 yards, averaging 15.6 yards per catch and 15 touchdowns. In 2021 Spencer was named the Conference USA Freshman of the year. Spencer will have two years of eligibility remaining with Minnesota.
So why did Elijah Spencer get the number one spot in my rankings? While he will likely not be a full-time starter given the stiff competition, he seems to be the most talented of the six. Freshman of the year in the Conference USA (okay it’s a Group of Five conference but still impressive). His team went 3-9 last year, what do you think he’ll do on a team much, much better than what Charlotte has been since he’s been there.
He will be competing for snaps with Daniel Jackson, Dylan Wright, and Autman-Bell (pending the approval of his medical redshirt). Like I said earlier with Crooms, it’s to early to tell how he’ll fit in but he’s too talented to be on the bench. No matter what happens he’ll add some fantastic depth to the Gophers receiving core.
Look, even with my rankings here, these are all going to be good and important players for the Gophers in 2023 (at least it seems that way at the moment). This is a great group of six players P.J. Fleck has brought in, from depth pieces to potential key starters at important positions. Fleck has done a great job with the Gophers 2023 transfer class and has helped his team fill some big holes already.
The biggest news from this is the insane depth Minnesota’s receiving core is looking to have. Upon adding Spencer and Crooms, the Gophers already have Jackson, Wright, Brockington, Redding, and Kaliakmanis (Dino not Athan). Along with that there is the pending medical redshirt of Chris Autman-Bell. The Gophers are now set to have one heck of a passing attack next season and that’s not even counting Michael Brown-Stephens whose return status is unknown as of right now. We’ll have to wait a bit to see how the Gophers 2023 transfer class turns out, but as of this moment, it looks to be quite the special and talented group.