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Who are the greatest Gopher players in history?

07/24/2019, 8:00am CDT
By Jon Firman

The University of Minnesota has a long and proud heritage in the USA. One of the most well-known and respected educational institutions around in America, it is still a popular choice for many students to this day. A key part of its appeal is the sports teams it operates. The Golden Gophers are known far and wide for the baseball, football, basketball and hockey teams it runs.

 

A big part of the Gophers success across all sports is the players it recruits. This is still true in the modern age where the Gophers odds with the best NJ sportsbooks online will be affected by having top players in their ranks. A big name playing well can really have an impact on the odds you get when betting on them and their chances of winning. Recruiting the best talent also helps the Gophers to win games, attract fans to watch and grab national media attention.

 

With the new sporting seasons coming up quick, now seems the perfect time to look back at past Gophers legends.

 

Neal Broten

 

To be fair, the University of Minnesota has produced some top-notch hockey players over the years. For Gophers fans though, Neal Broten is the name that sticks out the most. You would certainly have to say he went on to be the most successful after graduation. Broten was part of teams that won the NCAA Championship (with the Gophers in 1979), Olympic Gold (with the Miracle on Ice team of 1980) and the Stanley Cup (with the Devils in 1995).  Broten also won the Hobey Baker Award when at University which is another sign of what a great athlete he was. His coach at the time rated him as one of the best freshman ever to play for Minnesota which is quite some achievement. A real powerhouse of a player, Broten tallied 71 points from 40 games in his freshman year.

 

Dave Winfield

 

Getting drafted to play one or two different sports is pretty cool. Getting drafted in three? That is practically unheard of unless you are called Dave Winfield. On the basketball court at University, he led the Gophers to their first Big Ten win in over 50 years. However, it was baseball where he really made a big noise. Leading the Gophers to the College World Series in 1973, this super amazing pitcher was also named MVP of the series too. Winfield went on from his college success to a big career in pro sports. As well as playing pro baseball ad basketball, he even got drafted by the Minnesota Vikings to play pro football!

 

Bronko Nagurski

 

One of the names many Gophers fans will know and love is football star Bronko Nagurski. What is funny is the story of how he came to play for them! The tale goes that coach Clarence Spears signed him after getting lost in Nagurski’s hometown and being impressed by a young farmers strength when seeing him plough a field by hand.

 

The young farmer in question was of course Nagurski and Spears soon had him playing for the Gophers football team. From 1927 to 1929. Nagurski played as a fullback and defensive tackle. During this time, the team recorded 18-4-2 figures and won the Big Ten Championship in 1927. He now even has an annual award named after him which was set up in 1993 by the Football Writers of America.

 

Kevin McHale

 

Although many might know him for his coaching adventures with the Timberwolves, McHale was in fact a star name for the Gophers before that. His stellar career in the Gophers legendary colors made him a real hero in Minnesota. From 1976 to 1980, he was a power forward for the University’s basketball team. This saw him score 1704 points overall and 950 rebounds which is quite some achievement. In addition, 1995 saw him crowned the Gophers ‘Greatest Player of All-Time’ which was another big achievement. His basketball exploits did not end when his University days were over either. Upon leaving, he got drafted by the Boston Celtics and went onto win 3 NBA Championships with them.

 

Gophers really are golden

 

As the above list of legendary names from the Gophers past shows, they really have produced some top players over the years. As we move back to the modern day and set our sights on what may happen next year, the only thing that seems certain is younger athletes will add their names to this roll of honor with their sporting achievements.

 

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Tag(s): Other Gopher Sports