It’s been a different kind of offseason for the Minnesota Gophers football team. Normally, PJ Fleck likes to take a full 25-man class of mostly high schoolers. In 2021, Fleck opted for just 16 of those. Because of the free year of eligibility in 2020 for existing players, Fleck has filled out roster holes with transfers this offseason, hoping for more immediate results in 2021.
The latest in his impressive transfer class is DT Nyles Pinckney. A former Clemson Tiger, Pinckney has a wealth of experience that current Golden Gophers can only dream of.
Pinckney is a graduate transfer who played four seasons under Dabo Swinney. That includes NINE games as a RS freshman, ELEVEN games as a RS sophomore, TWELVE as a RS junior and ELEVEN more in 2020 as a RS Senior.
Pinckney is already on NFL Draft radars and had an invite to the East/West Shrine Bowl this offseason. Still, he only started 13 of his career games for the ACC powerhouse. That’s why Nyles is looking to pump up his NFL profile for one more season under another “raw raw” head coach, PJ Fleck.
— Nyles Pinckney (@NylesPinckney) January 11, 2021
Wealth of experience at DT
The Gophers now have a ridiculous wealth of experience at defensive tackle. According to GopherIllustrated.com, Pinckney will become the most tenured of the DT bunch (by snap count – 1,166) when he joins the team. But he joins 7th-year senior Micah Dew-Treadway and 5th year seniors Keonte Schad and (NC State transfer) Val Martin.
Together, they house around 3,000 career defensive snaps. The senior group will allow another year of growth for promising young DT’s Rashad Cheney and De’Angelo Carter as well.
Gaining strength and experience up middle of defense
Fleck has now added multiple transfers up the middle on defense, including Pinckney and Martin at DT and Jack Gibbens at inside linebacker. That’s good because this is a defense that was destroyed by the interior run game all season.
The other transfer they added was Dylan Wright from Texas A&M, who still has all four seasons of his eligibility remaining.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan