As the Minnesota Gophers took to the practice field on Tuesday there was a noticeable absence — expected starting running back Shannon Brooks. It appeared that a foot injury was suffered by Brooks, per Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
On Wednesday it was learned that head coach Tracey Claeys has stated the timeline of the injury to be in the three-to-five week range. He told a crowd that information at an event for the Twin Cities Dunkers.
Claeys refrained from speaking to specifics of the injury and will not give more information on Brooks’ status until his regularly scheduled media availability following practice on Saturday.
Last season Brooks broke out as a freshman, leading the Gophers in rushing with 709 yards on just 118 carries. However, the Gophers also have a capable player to take over for any amount of time Brooks may miss.
Fellow sophomore Rodney Smith rushed for 670 yards as a freshman in 2015 and was always in the plans to get major carries in 2016 as well. It just may come in a much more featured role early on than expected heading in to fall camp.
Depth beyond those two is a little bit murkier, with junior college transfer Kobe McCrary and redshirt freshmen Jonathan Femi-Cole and James Johannesson all battling for reps but not standing out as of yet.
Should Brooks be out for the full five weeks, there is a bit of okay news as he will only miss the Gophers’ first two games against Oregon State (Sept. 3) and Indiana State (Sept. 10) as the team has a bye for Week 3 of the season.
While it will hurt to have one of the two big running backs on the Gophers’ roster missing any time during the season, there could be far worse news than what has been received so far.