Gophers: What does the 2023 running back room look like without Mo Ibrahim?

Minnesota Golden Gophers running back Trey Potts (3) scores a touchdown on the end of a 15-yard run during the first quarter of a college football game between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Western Illinois Leathernecks on September 10, 2022 at Hu ((Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images))

The University of Minnesota football team has stared its offseason workout program. Before we know it, spring practices will be in full swing, and they’ll play the Spring Game in late April.

The Gophers are coming off their second straight 9-4 season, after beating Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. The 2022 season was good, but it also left meat on the bone. The Gophers were wins over Purdue and Iowa away from winning the Big Ten West and probably going to the Rose Bowl, and both games were winnable.

Minnesota will look at lot different in 2023 under PJ Fleck. One of the biggest changes will be in the running back room. Mo Ibrahim is gone and off to test the NFL waters. Ibrahim set single-season school records in rushing attempts (320), yards (1,662) touchdowns (20), 100-yard games (10) and averaging 153.7 yards per game which he did in 2020. He has school records with 53 career rushing touchdowns, 24 career 100-yard games, five career 200-yard games and 19 straight 100-yard games.

The Gophers will also have a new running backs coach, after Kenni Burns left to be the next head coach at Kent State. So who gets the carries next season? Here’s a look at running back candidates:


Trey Potts is entering his fifth season with the Gophers and got 101 carries for 474 yards and three touchdowns in 2022, playing when Ibrahim needed a breather. He had 552 yards and six touchdowns in five games in 2021, before his season ended in a scary injury at Purdue. He has 1,147 career rushing yards, 10 touchdowns and is averaging 4.9 yards per carry.


Bryce Williams is a sixth-year senior and in limited duty last season, he had 51 carries for 249 yards and three touchdowns. He played eight games in 2021, and had 186 yards and three touchdowns before suffering a season-ending leg injury. For his career, Williams has 227 carries for 974 yards and 11 touchdowns in 39 games. We’ll see if he gets a chance to be the lead back in 2023. 


PJ Fleck went to the transfer portal, and to his old program at Western Michigan, to bring Sean Tyler to Minnesota. Tyler ran for 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons, averaging more than six yards per carry in the process. He had 16 touchdowns the last two seasons, and had 2,830 yards over four seasons with the Broncos. He averaged 17 carries per game on a team that ran for 136 yards per game last season.


Do not sleep on Darius Taylor. He’s an incoming freshman, but the Michigan native is one of the best players in Fleck’s 2023 recruiting class. Michigan made a late push to keep him home, but Taylor signed with Fleck and the Gophers. As a high school senior, Taylor set school records with 2,450 rushing yards and 36 touchdowns on 268 carries. He ran for 438 yards in one game, and had six touchdowns in a game three times. Don’t be surprised if the incoming freshman competes for carries. After all, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, among others, wanted his talent.

Also keep in mind Fleck is likely to change his offensive philosophy in 2023 and pass the ball more. Matt Simon will be calling plays, Athan Kaliakmanis is returning at quarterback and the Gophers’ receiver room is loaded with talent heading into next fall.