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College Football: Gophers hope ‘DBU’ nickname catches on

MINNEAPOLIS -- The University of Minnesota secondary likes to call its part of the football program DBU, as in Defensive Back University. But even the Gophers admit that name is a work in progress.Cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun hopes the nicknam...

MINNEAPOLIS - The University of Minnesota secondary likes to call its part of the football program DBU, as in Defensive Back University. But even the Gophers admit that name is a work in progress.
Cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun hopes the nickname reaches a larger audience someday. “We’re trying to get this thing national,” he said. “But it just looks like it’s in Minnesota for now.”
The Gophers are not a known factory producing the latest high-end models of NFL D-backs, but come April, their totals could be two safeties and a pair of cornerbacks taken in the past three drafts.
The precedent started when Brock Vereen was picked by the Chicago Bears in the fourth round in 2014. Cedric Thompson was taken in the fifth round by the Miami Dolphins in 2015.
Last season, the Gophers had the 11th-ranked pass defense in the country (179.5 yards allowed per game), and Boddy-Calhoun and fellow cornerback Eric Murray are projected to be taken in the middle rounds of the draft.
“The predictions are so unstable; you just can’t get caught up in it,” Murray said. “Once you let it fill your head, you start to lose a little bit of work ethic, so I’m just trying to stay grounded, stay humble and just keep working.”
During Minnesota’s pro day Monday, Boddy-Calhoun and Murray did position drills before representatives from 28 of the NFL’s 32 teams. Eight of their teammates as well as players from small colleges in the area also took part in tests at the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex.
Boddy-Calhoun said Gophers D-backs are getting the opportunity to play in the NFL because of coaching, especially from Jay Sawvel, the secondary coach who became defensive coordinator during last season.
“When you turn the film on, he always says, ‘Do something that makes sense,’ ” Boddy-Calhoun said. “Coach does a great job of practicing the fundamentals and just doing the basics. The basics is how you become great.”
Their NFL dreams are coming into better focus by the day. During last season, they talked about life after playing in the Big Ten.
“It got to a point where watching college film was a little boring, so we’d bust out some NFL film,” Boddy-Calhoun said. “You watch some guys and you’re, like, ‘I think I’m better than him.’ Then we started to get the idea that we are actually pretty good and we can definitely play at the next level.”
After the draft, Murray and Boddy-Calhoun hope to be able to stick with one team, something Vereen and Thompson haven’t been able to do.
After playing 16 games with the Bears in 2014, Vereen was cut by Chicago in September. He was snatched up by the Vikings for their practice squad in October and then went to the New England Patriots in November. Thompson was cut by the Dolphins in September but spent the season on their practice squad. In January, he also moved to New England.
“DBU” has been passed down to the Gophers’ underclassman. When cornerback recruit Coney Durr of Geismar, La., picked the Gophers over Virginia Tech on national signing day, Minnesota freshman defensive back Zo Craighton took to Twitter.
“congrats bro welcome to the DBU family,” Craighton wrote. “it’s time to get to work now.”
Mortell works out
Former Gophers punter Peter Mortell worked out with Vikings special-teams coach Mike Priefer on Monday. The workout was filmed and will be shared with interested NFL teams.
“I’m hitting punts bigger, higher and farther than I ever have, so I’m feeling really good now,” Mortell said.
In the past 10 NFL drafts, 18 punters have been selected.
“I’m not anticipating that happening, but ideally I just want to get into a camp,” said Mortell, who led the Big Ten in punts of 50-plus yards (20) and punts downed inside the 20-yard line (26) in the regular season.
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with the Forum News Service

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