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Friday, August 21, 2009
Stoudermire will do it all for Minnesota this fall


Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Last season, Troy Stoudermire essentially had one job to do for Minnesota, and he did it awfully well.

Stoudermire led the Big Ten in kickoff returns with 1,083 yards, averaging 25.8 yards per runback for the Gophers. The 5-10, 183-pound Texan recorded seven returns of 35 yards or longer, including a 60-yarder against Kansas in the Insight Bowl.

Kick returns remain part of Stoudermire's repertoire this fall, but he's got a lot more on his plate.

Stoudermire also will handle punt returns and see more time as a wide receiver after recording only three receptions in 2008. And Minnesota plans to use his explosiveness in the ever-popular Wildcat formation, where Stoudermire will be the trigger man.

"We put in Wildcat as soon as we came back from the summer," Stoudermire said Friday. "That will be a great package. I'll be taking snaps from the shotgun."

The do-it-all role isn't foreign to Stoudermire, who contributed in multiple ways for two high schools in Dallas. Though he made his mark as a rusher, Stoudermire passed for 1,104 yards and seven scores in his final two prep seasons.

"In high school, I played quarterback all the time, so it's not really a big deal," he said. "It's just getting down the snaps and learning the Wildcat package."

Stoudermire emerged as a multi-dimensional player during spring ball and racked up 274 all-purpose yards, including 180 on returns, in the spring game. Minnesota's wide receiving corps looks fairly loaded as All-America candidate Eric Decker returns from playing baseball and heralded junior college transfer Hayo Carpenter joins the mix.

The Gophers return seven of their top eight receivers from last season but still need a legitimate No. 2 target to complement Decker. Stoudermire hopes to fill that role.

"It feels great to be working at receiver," Stoudermire said. "It's something I love to do, catch the ball and run routes. I just love to run. This summer, we worked really hard at learning everything, going over the techniques, doing drills.

"Now all I've got to do is get on the field and play fast. I know everything now, so it's getting real dangerous for our opponents."

Stoudermire surprised himself by leading the league in kick returns as a true freshman, but he didn't get complacent during the offseason.

"I watched a lot of film, learning where the cuts are, where the holes are," he said. "I saw a lot of things I missed last year that I will not miss this year. I watched a lot of film of [Chicago Bears wideout/returner] Devin Hester. All he does is hit the wedge full speed. I'll try to do that every single time I get the rock."

Open-field running is the easy part for Stoudermire, but like his teammates, he must master a new offensive scheme. The Gophers will run more of a pro-style offense under coordinator Jedd Fisch after operating in the spread the last two seasons.

For Stoudermire, all he sees is opportunity.

"They have me all over the place," he said. "It's been real fun for me, learning the offense, getting to move around in every position and learning everything."