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RB Mo Ibrahim Gets Preseason Love

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July 13, 2021

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Preseason college football authorities are on the Mohamed Ibrahim bandwagon. The fifth-year University of Minnesota running back is receiving All-American and All-Big Ten hype this summer.

Walter Camp Football Foundation has the 5-foot-10, 210-pound Ibrahim on its first-team All-American unit. Athlon Sports made him a second-team All-American and so did Phil Steele Publications. Athlon, College Football News, Lindy’s, Phil Steele and Pro Football Focus are part of the crowd who make Ibrahim an apparent unanimous pick for first-team All-Big Ten. Bleacher Report rated him the No. 3 senior (regardless of playing position) in the nation.

If Ibrahim is named a first-team All-American after the season, he will be the first U running back to achieve the honor since Laurence Maroney in 2005. Ibrahim was an Associated Press third-team All-American last season. He was also named Big Ten Running Back of the Year and, of course, made first team All-Big Ten.

The Baltimore native rushed 201 times for 1,076 yards and 15 touchdowns during an abbreviated seven-game schedule last season. He led the Big Ten in the following categories: rushing attempts (201), total rushing yards (1,076), rushing yards per game (153.7), rushing touchdowns (15), scoring (90), points per game (12.9) and all-purpose yards per game (168.4). His rushing average of 153.7 yards per game set a school record.

Ibrahim has rushed for 2,840 yards in just 28 games during his U career. With a big season in 2021 he could move past Rodney Smith (4,122 yards) on the all-time career rushing list at Minnesota. Smith is second on the list to Darrell Thompson’s 4,654 career yards.

Ibrahim is a powerful runner, consistently breaking tackles and able to lean forward with defenders on his body. While not having breakaway speed, he is among the best power runners in U history. He doesn’t have Maroney’s speed and explosiveness but his vision and stubborn running style is reminiscent of another former Gopher, Marion Barber III (played with Maroney and is second in career touchdowns with five less than Thompson’s 40).

Gophers Football Notes

Other Gophers are receiving preseason attention for being among the better players in the Big Ten. Guard-tackle Blaise Andries and center John Michael Schmitz are on Athlon’s All-Big Ten second team offense. Quarterback Tanner Morgan and defensive end Boye Mafe are third team selections by Athlon.

Tanner Morgan

Lindy’s has Mafe on its Big Ten second team defense and offensive tackle Daniel Faalele is also a second-teamer. Lindy’s ranks Ibrahim the No. 3 running back in the nation, Mafe the No. 14 defensive end and Morgan the No. 24 quarterback.

Phil Steele is among the most respected of authorities and he went heavy on props for the Gophers. He placed guard-center Connor Olson on his All-Big Ten first team with Ibrahim. Second teamers are Andries and Morgan. Third teamers are wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell, cornerback Coney Durr, defensive tackle Nyles Pinckney, and Faalele and Schmitz.

It was announced yesterday Andries made first team on the 2020-2021 Academic All-America Division I team selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America. The honor recognizes the nation’s top student-athletes for their performances on the field and in the classroom. Andries is majoring in mathematics and is an aspiring actuary.

Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck received recognition in Seth Galina’s Pro Football Focus story last week ranking the top 20 coaches in college football. Citing Fleck’s successes at Western Michigan and Minnesota, the Gopher leader was ranked No. 20. Among Big Ten West Division coaches, only Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald at No. 6 was ahead of Fleck.

The Gophers sagged in 2020 (3-4 record) after their impressive 2019 performance, 11-2 overall, 7-2 in the Big Ten and ranked No. 10 in the nation in the final Associated Press poll. With Fleck going into his fifth season at the U with an experienced roster, expectations are pretty high.

“This is a big year for P.J. (Fleck); a lot of problems they had last year you could attribute to personnel and coordinator changes; plus some key guys opting out and getting injured,” anonymous opposing coaches said in Athlon. “His brand and style never makes friends in the division; they want to be flashier and louder than the programs that have been successful in their area.  …”

Minnesota gave up 30.14 points per game last season and concerns about improvement lessen enthusiasm among media for 2021. The offense generates confidence but doubts about stopping the opposition has predictors thinking Minnesota will finish third or fourth in the seven-team West Division.

Most likely Wisconsin but maybe Iowa to win the West, is a trend seen this summer by crystal ball specialists. The Gophers and Northwestern draw support as the next best teams in the division.

Typical prediction on wins and losses has Minnesota at 7-5. Included in that camp is Cbssports.com’s Tom Fornelli who predicts one of the wins will be over border rival Wisconsin in the last game of the season. Athlon projects Minnesota playing Toledo in Detroit’s Quick Lane Bowl.

Ugh.

Among anticipated dates on the Minnesota schedule is the September 18 nonconference game against Colorado in Boulder. The Buffs aren’t a Pac-12 power but the Denver-Boulder area offers a lot to see and do. Steve Erban’s Creative Charters has filled two planes for the trip and is working on a third.

Steve and wife Dorothy are part of the 2021 Canterbury Park Hall of Fame class. The Stillwater couple will be recognized at Canterbury Saturday for their role in the state’s horse racing industry. Steve was an important advocate for Canterbury Park before it opened in 1985. He and Dorothy have owned and bred stakes winning horses, developed a national horseracing event and formed partnerships introducing new owners to the sport.

Other inductees in the class of 2021 are Mary Green of Eden Prairie, who is another pioneer in the development of Canterbury Park and long involved with the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association, and also two thoroughbreds, A P Is Loose and Honey’s Sox Appeal, that are among the all-time leaders in purse earnings at the Shakopee racetrack.

Former Gophers football and basketball public address announcer Dick Jonckowski will do standup comedy Friday at the Alpine Inn in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The appearance was facilitated by Jonckowski’s friendship with Jay Buckley, the La Crosse-based operator of Jay Buckley’s Baseball Tours.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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