Former Gophers Standing Out Early at NFL Draft Prospect Bowls


The Minnesota Gophers finished the 2022 football season with 9 wins and another bowl game victory, making PJ Fleck 4-0 in postseason play as head coach. Now, the program is looking to the future and so are its former players.

There are seven former Gophers who are competing in one of three NFL draft eligible prospect bowls. Those players include Tanner Morgan — who has already gotten a chance to perform in front of NFL scouts this offseason at the Hula Bowl — , Mohamad Ibrahim and possible first round pick, John Michael Schmitz.

NFLPA Bowl – Jan 28, 2023
  • Thomas Rush – EDGE

The NFLPA Bowl was played on January 28 and EDGE rusher, Thomas Rush, was the only Gopher in attendance. But he represented well, coming away from the week with an inflated draft stock. Rush impressed on both the practice field and on game day, where he recorded two sacks.

East/West Shrine Bowl – Feb 2, 2023
  • Tanner Morgan – QB
  • Terell Smith – CB
  • Mohamed Ibrahim – RB
  • Jordan Howden – S
  • Brent Laing – OL (U of M – Duluth)

If you’re a Minnesota Gophers fan who is interested in the upcoming NFL Draft and seeing your favorite players compete for scouts’ attention then you’ll want to find a TV that has NFL Network at 7:30 PM on Thursday.

The Shrine Bowl will feature four Gophers and one offensive lineman, Brent Laing, from the University of Minnesota – Duluth. We’ll see Tanner Morgan take plenty of snaps for the East team and Mohamad Ibrahim get handoffs for the opposing West team.

Both Jordan Howden and Terell Smith will patrol the West’s secondary. This week at practice, media members and scouts have raved about how good Terell Smith has been, going as far as calling him the best player on location through two days.

At 6’1″, 215 pounds with plenty of ball skills and athletic ability, the questions surrounding Smith’s NFL future have never been about build or talent. He has everything needed to play on Sundays, if he can put it all together.

Reese’s Senior Bowl – Feb 4, 2023
  • John Michael Schmitz – C

John Michael Schmitz was the only Gopher in 2022-23 to make the Reese’s Senior Bowl, which is far and away the most prestigious of the three. This game, too, will air on NFL Network but it will play on Saturday at 2 PM CT.

JMC was the best center in the country last season, according to Pro Football Focus, and projects to be the first center taken, come April. Will he hear his name called in day one or day two, though? Scouts will get a better close-up look at him this week, as they try to answer that question.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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