Entire Minnesota offensive line earns All-Big Ten honors

Gophers tight end Ko Kieft makes a catch for a 37-yard touchdown in Minnesota's game at Iowa on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium. ((credit: University of Minnesota Athletics))

The Big Ten on Wednesday announced its all-conference honors for the 2021 football season, and every University of Minnesota starting offensive lineman earned an award from the league.

Daniel Fa’alele and Blaise Andries were each selected First Team All-Big Ten. The Gophers haven’t had two offensive linemen named to the first team since Greg Eslinger and Mark Setterstrom in 2005.

Center John Michael Schmitz earned Second Team All-Big Ten by the coaches and third team by the media. Conner Olson was selected Third Team All-Big Ten by the coaches, and honorable mention by the media. Sam Schlueter was also named Honorable Mention by coaches and media.

A total of seven Minnesota offensive players earned All-Big Ten honors. Tight end Ko Kieft was named Honorable Mention by coaches and media, as was receiver Chris Autman-Bell.

The Gophers ran for 2,575 yards, the most since 2014. They also had 25 rushing touchdowns, the most since 2016. Minnesota did that despite losing Mo Ibrahim, Trey Potts and Bryce Williams to season-ending injuries.

Kieft served as a bruising blocking tight end, helping five different running backs have 100-yard rushing games this season. He also had seven receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown.

Autman-Bell played in 10 games, and had 35 catches for 490 yards and six touchdowns after battling an ankle injury suffered during fall camp.

The Gophers finished 8-4 after beating rival Wisconsin 23-13 on Saturday. They wait to learn their bowl destination, which will likely be announced Sunday night. This will be Minnesota’s third bowl game in PJ Fleck’s five seasons.