Chris Autman-Bell Ruled Out for Season, Future with Gophers Uncertain

PHOTO: LIZ FLORES, STAR TRIBUNE

The Minnesota Gophers dominated another non-conference opponent on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Colorado Buffaloes, 49-7. Unfortunately, the victory came with serious sacrifice. Late in the first half, Tanner Morgan’s main target — 6th-year wide receiver and NFL prospect — Chris Autman-Bell left the game with a non-contact leg injury.

A non-contact leg injury that will need season-ending surgery, PJ Fleck confirmed on Monday. That would leave Autman-Bell without any eligibility remaining. Fleck also noted, however, that an injury waiver could allow CRAB a 7th year, should the NCAA approve it.

Missing CRAB

The Minnesota Gophers offense will miss desperately miss Chris Autman-Bell. He’s been Tanner Morgan’s safety blanket, since losing Rashod Bateman to the NFL after the 2020 season. At times over the last two years, Chris Autman-Bell has been the only competent piece of the Gophers’ passing game.

Even when life in the pocket was at its most difficult, under Mike Sanford, Tanner Morgan could always throw the ball up to Chris Autman-Bell and know there was a good chance CRAB would come down with it.

In 2022 with Kirk Ciarrocca back, Tanner has looked much more comfortable, in general. Still, he’s leaned on CRAB, who caught 11 of Morgan’s 38 completions this season and one touchdown. Without CRAB in the picture, expect much bigger roles from Dylan Wright, Brevyn Spann-Ford, Daniel Jackson and Mike Brown-Stephens. Senior, Clay Geary, could see some extended snaps too.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan