Gophers have 5 named Preseason All-Big Ten by Pro Football Focus

Head Coach P. J. Fleck of the Minnesota Golden Gophers celebrates a touchdown 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 will start fall camp soon and has Big Ten Media Days next week.

This week, five players were named Preseason All-Big Ten by Pro Football Focus. None of the names should be a big surprise, and all could play a big role if the Gophers are to contend in the Big Ten West this season.

Tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford, wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell, safety Tyler Nubin, defensive back Justin Walley and offensive lineman Quinn Carroll all earned the preseason honors.

Spann-Ford was named All-Big Ten Honorable Mention by the coaches and media last season after leading the Gophers with 42 catches in 13 starts. He finished with 497 yards and two touchdowns. Spann-Ford is stout as a run-blocker, and considered one of the top tight ends in college football. The St. Cloud native could’ve gone to the NFL Draft, but opted to return to Minnesota for one more season.

Autman-Bell was poised for a big year with the Gophers last season, and had 11 catches for 214 yards and one touchdown before a season-ending knee injury in Game 3 against Colorado. In 47 career games, Autman-Bell has 125 catches for 1,970 yards and 13 touchdowns. He’s 12th in program history in catches, and ninth in yards.

Nubin is back for his fifth season after making 55 tackles in 11 starts last season. He had four interceptions, three pass break-ups and forced one fumble. He earned Second Team All-Big Ten honors last year and has made 24 starts the past two seasons.

Walley started every game last season and made 39 tackles. He also had three interceptions, two pass break-ups and forced and recovered one fumble. He has 19 starts in hist first two seasons, and recorded his first interception against Wisconsin in the 2021 regular season finale.

Carroll is back for his last season with the Gophers after transferring to Minnesota from Notre Dame last year. The Edina native started all 13 games at right tackle last season as the Gophers ran for 2,698 yards and 33 touchdowns, one of the top rushing offenses in the Big Ten. Carroll is moving to right guard this fall.


PJ Fleck is entering his seventh season at Minnesota, and last week was one of 21 head coaches named to the Dodd Trophy watch list. The award recognizes on-field success, as well as the importance of scholarship, leadership and integrity away from the field.

Under Fleck, the Gophers have won at least nine games in three of the past four seasons. Fleck is 44-27 in six seasons at Minnesota, including 26-26 in the Big Ten. Not counting the 2020 COVID-19 season, the Gophers are 29-10 the last three seasons, and 18-9 in league play.

The Gophers open the 2023 regular season on Thursday, Aug. 31, against Nebraska at Huntington Bank Stadium, a game you can watch on Fox 9.