Redmon quietly fills shoes for injured Tapeh

Sarah Mitchell

If there’s one person Gophers running back Tellis Redmon might never juke, it’s his teammate, running back Thomas Tapeh.
Redshirt freshman Tapeh, who tore a ligament in his foot last spring, has yet to play a down for Minnesota.
Still, Tapeh — who averaged 8.9 yards per carry his senior year at St. Paul Johnson High School — is more heralded than Redmon.
“He’s well known around here,” said Redmon. “I’m from out of state, so it’s cool with me.”
The sophomore from Texas made others take notice in Minnesota’s season opener on Saturday. Redmon was the Gophers running game in their 47-10 defeat of Louisiana-Monroe.
In 27 rush attempts, Redmon gained 101 yards and did not fumble. He kept going forward, losing only eight yards on three attempts and scoring two touchdowns.
While his performance was solid, it was not flashy. Redmon averaged 3.7 yards per carry. And his longest run was just 10 yards.
“Some guys have to prove they can do it, and other guys have to prove they can’t do it. I think that case in point you have two running backs. With all the hype around Thomas Tapeh, he’s the one who’s got to prove he can’t do it,” Minnesota coach Glen Mason said. “Now Tellis Redmon, little-known guy, he didn’t play very much, and all of a sudden he’s in the light. He’s going to have to continually prove he can do it.”
The way Redmon began the 2000 season did not foreshadow the high on which he would leave the game. At the end of the first quarter, the sophomore had just eight yards to show for his five carries.
“The first half I was scared,” said Redmon, who carried the ball just eight times last season.
But after a calming conversation with Mason, an improved Redmon took the field in the second half. In the third quarter, Redmon rushed for 63 yards on 14 carries.
The strong finish gave Redmon a hundred-yard day in his first collegiate start. It also could make the Gopher-backfield quite crowded.
“All jobs are wide open,” Mason said. “No one owns a position.”
While Tapeh has not been given the title of starter yet, all the accolades surrounding him make it seem like a stretch to think he won’t be Minnesota’s leading rusher.
Mason said Tapeh will likely see some playing time next weekend when Minnesota hosts Ohio. A successful debut by Tapeh could make Redmon a backup.
If that is the case, Redmon said he will “just make myself more useful on special teams.” Redmon’s speed makes him a candidate for punt and kick returns. Last season, Redmon returned two punts for 54 yards, including a 15-yard blocked punt return for touchdown in the team’s win over Louisiana-Monroe.
“I’m going to give my best,” Redmon said. “If (Tapeh) beats me out, I’m going to give him 100 percent.”
At the same time, Redmon does not intend to back down. He wants to keep his forward momentum and maybe shake the shadow of Tapeh.

Sarah Mitchell covers football and welcomes comments at [email protected]