Gophers’ Dunlap Jr. enters transfer portal

Curtis Dunlap Jr. had a remarkable freshman season earning an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection.

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A Gophers football player watches from the sidelines during a game on Sept. 16, 2017.

AJ Condon

While the Gophers lost the majority of its defense to either graduation or the NFL Draft, the team expected to return its entire offensive line this upcoming season, until Tuesday. 

The hope was for quarterback Tanner Morgan to have his front five back to protect him from some staunch Big Ten defenses. It appeared that would become a reality, until redshirt sophomore Curtis Dunlap Jr. entered the transfer portal.

The Jacksonville, Florida native came to Minnesota in 2018 as a four-star recruit for head coach P.J. Fleck. In his message he thanked the coaching staff, professors, teammates and the student body for what he said was a “successful tenure in school, as well as on the field.”

He cited wanting to be closer to home as a reason to enter the portal. 

Dunlap Jr. started 12 games at right guard, missing just the Iowa game with an injury. The offensive line played a pivotal role in the Gophers’ 11-2 record, and Dunlap’s presence will be missed. 

Despite losing Dunlap, the Gophers have options at the vacant RG position. Fellow redshirt sophomore Austin Beier could step in at RG after stepping in for a game last season.

Redshirt senior, Conner Olson started all 13 games last season primarily at center. If Olson moved into the guard position, the Gophers could give backup center John Michael Schmitz an opportunity to start. Schmitz started four games at center while also appearing in all 13 games last season. Olson has experience at left guard as he started three games there last season. 

Whoever steps into the RG position will be crucial to the Gophers offensive success, whenever the season takes place.