per Sid:

Smith, Brooks healthy

The Gophers football team finished eighth in the Big Ten in rushing yards last season despite losing their top two running backs, Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks, to knee injuries.

Smith rushed for 2,805 yards from 2015-2017; Brooks ran for 1,728 in that stretch.

Coach P.J. Fleck said this week that Smith and Brooks, both redshirt seniors, have been granted an extra year of eligibility and look as if they’ll be ready for the start of spring practice.

“They’re both coming back, both got the year. They’re doing a great job working,” Fleck said. “You look at them right now and you think they’re ready to go just based on how they work and how they look and watching them run and lift. They’re still months away from being ready to be involved in true football activity, but they’re working really hard.”

In addition to Smith and Brooks, redshirt sophomore Mohamed Ibrahim and sophomore Bryce Williams combined for 1,696 yards rushing last season and are going to challenge for carries.

“I think that whole competition has made everybody better,” Fleck said. “It has just completely uplifted the running back room. I’m really proud of Rodney and Shannon and what they’re becoming and the type of men they’re becoming as well, and what they’ve learned from their past to create their future. They’re getting better every day.”

Go Gophers!!