Gophers: Depth chart provides a look at the 2023 offense

Athan Kaliakmanis #8 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers throws a pass during the first half of the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium on November 26, 2022 in Madison, Wisconsin.  ((Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images))

The University of Minnesota football team opens the 2023 regular season Aug. 31 against Nebraska at Huntington Bank Stadium, a game you can watch on FOX 9.

The Gophers have had three fall camp practices open to the media, and two open to fans. As you might expect, P.J. Fleck and company aren’t showing much on either side of the ball as to what the on-field product will look like when the season starts. Since college football teams don’t provide injury reports or depth charts, we’re left to glean from those workouts what the 2023 Gophers might be.

Fleck is 44-27 in six seasons at Minnesota, 26-26 in Big Ten play and 4-0 in bowl games. Here’s a look at the offensive depth chart, which is subject to change.


Based on practices, Athan Kaliakmanis is the presumed starter to replace Tanner Morgan. Kaliakmanis played in 11 games last year, starting five. He threw for 946 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. Kaliakmanis didn’t throw a single pass in the last open practice, which Fleck said was planned. The 2023 Gophers will go as far as Kaliakmanis can take them.

The back-ups are veteran Cole Kramer, Drew Viotto and walk-on Max Shikenjanski.


The Gophers have three starters to replace with John Michael Schmitz, Chuck Filiaga and Axel Ruschmeyer gone.

The presumed returning starters are Quinn Carroll and Aireontae Ersery, and Nathan Boe is expected to be the center. After that, it’s hard to gauge who will start where as players have rotated and shifted to different positions at every workout. The presumption is Carroll will play guard, Ersery tackle and the other two spots are up for grabs between a combination of J.J. Guedet, Karter Shaw, Martes Lewis and Tyler Cooper.


It’s been a talker of the offseason – the Gophers running back room will look a lot different in 2023 without Mo Ibrahim. Fleck said after the last open practice it will be running back by committee this season, the Gophers don’t have much other choice.

Western Michigan transfer Sean Tyler, and true freshman Darius Taylor have gotten a majority of the first-team reps in fall camp. Tyler ran for more than 2,800 yards and 23 touchdowns in four seasons with the Broncos. Taylor is a star recruit out of Michigan who ran for more than 2,400 yards and 36 touchdowns as a senior. After those two, Zach Evans and Bryce Williams are likely next in line.


The Gophers are as deep in talent as they’ve ever been at wide receiver under Fleck, and that includes the 2019 campaign with Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman. Daniel Jackson is the top returner after 37 catches for a team-high 557 yards and five touchdowns. Dylan Wright and Michael Brown-Stephens left, and they’re replaced by Elijah Spencer and Corey Crooms. Spencer had 85 catches for more than 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns in two seasons at UNC-Charlotte. Crooms had 115 catches for more than 1,700 yards and 12 touchdowns in 42 career games at Western Michigan.

Le’Meke Brockington came on late last season and had a touchdown at Wisconsin. But the big question is Chris Autman-Bell. Back for his seventh season, Autman-Bell had 11 catches for 214 yards and a touchdown before a season-ending injury against Colorado last year. He’s worked back slowly in camp, but caught a touchdown in a team drill last week. If he can return to the field and contribute, it could take the Gophers to another level.


Anyone who follows the Gophers knows the name Brevyn Spann-Ford. He could’ve gone to the NFL Draft last season, but one of the top tight ends in college football opted to come back to the Gophers this season. He led the Gophers last year with 42 catches, and was second with 497 yards and two touchdowns. He’s also a key run-blocker. The stage is set for Spann-Ford to have a huge season.

Behind him, it’s Nick Kallerup and possibly Jameson Geers.

The season starts in a little more than a week!