Few top recuits see playing time in season opener

Even after losing some of their top recruits to academic issues in the offseason, the GophersâÄô remaining class was ranked as the 35th best in the country by Rivals.com . Few of those recruits saw the field Saturday. Most of the teamâÄôs top incoming recruits spent the Gophers season-opening win on the sideline, including Brandon Green, Brodrick Smith and junior David Pittman. âÄúTheyâÄôre continuing to grow and learn and theyâÄôre going to get their opportunities,âÄù Gophers head coach Tim Brewster said. âÄúThis is a long season, and this was the first game.âÄù Pittman, a four-star recruit who can play quarterback, running back and wide receiver , was perhaps the most surprising no-show, as he has junior college experience . Brewster said Pittman wanted to play Saturday, and âÄúI really think heâÄôll play next week against Bowling Green.âÄù Simmons 100 percent Tight end Jack Simmons caught three passes for 77 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter . Simmons was hampered by a foot injury for much of last season, but said heâÄôs feeling back to 100 percent this year. âÄúIt felt natural,âÄù he said. âÄúIt felt easy and even though I had foot surgery, the injury wasnâÄôt in the back of my mind.âÄù Fellow tight end Nick Tow-Arnett also had a big game, catching four passes for 66 yards, including two on the teamâÄôs final drive . âÄúOur tight ends did some damage tonight,âÄù Brewster said. Campbell returns to linebacker Junior Lee Campbell spent most of the 2007 season at defensive end , but this season has returned to his natural position: middle linebacker . Campbell was moved last season because of depth issues, but was moved back this year with the emergence of juniors Derrick Onwuachi and Cedrick McKinley at the end position. Campbell did move to defensive end when Northern Illinois came out in nickel packages but spent a majority of the game at middle linebacker, where he recorded two tackles, including a sack. âÄúIt was awesome,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs just fun and feels good to be back at my position.âÄù Notes âÄ¢ Northern IllinoisâÄô Nathan Palmer started off his receiving career with a splash. For his first career reception, he got around Gophers cornerback Ryan Collado for a 91-yard touchdown catch. His second catch went for 27 yards. Then, a few plays later, the third catch of his career was a 52-yard touchdown , again at the expense of Collado. âÄ¢ Gophers receiver Eric Decker limped off the field after breaking up a pass on the final play of the game, but said it was just a cramp and that he is fine.