Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim, who was lost for the season in the opener against Ohio State because of a torn Achilles' tendon, announced Wednesday that he will return to the team for the 2022 season.
Ibrahim, the 2020 Big Ten running back of the year, revealed his plans in a Twitter video Wednesday morning. He was injured during the third quarter of the Gophers' 45-31 loss to Ohio State at Huntington Bank Stadium after rushing 30 times for 163 yards and two touchdowns. He underwent surgery to repair the injury.
The Baltimore native will be a sixth-year senior in 2022. He was named an Associated Press third-team All-America selection in 2020 after rushing 201 times for 1,076 yards and 15 touchdowns in seven games. He set a school record with a rushing average of 153.7 yards per game and tied a school record with four rushing touchdowns in one game, doing so twice.
"I was pretty excited,'' Gophers offensive coordinator Mike Sanford Jr. said of Ibrahim's return. "There were a lot of conversations happening, and Mo's a guy who keeps it close to the vest. I was hoping that's where the conversations were leading. … He's meant so much to this program.''
For his career, Ibrahim has rushed 547 times for 3,003 yards and 33 touchdowns, with 1,000-yard seasons in 2018 and 2020. He ranks eighth in school history in rushing yards despite playing in only 29 games.
"From a football standpoint, this is the absolute correct decision because what Mo does so incredibly well is what shows up on tape,'' Sanford said, referring to Ibrahim re-establishing his NFL resume. "… He's going to have an unbelievable year next year.''
Ibrahim explained his decision in the video.
"I felt like I was living a nightmare [when the injury happened]," he said. "The season I was dreaming of all offseason was just gone in a blink of an eye. I was crushed.
"I came back and started rehabbing the next day. I knew this was going to be the toughest thing I've ever done — physically, mentally and emotionally — but I made the decision I was going to attack the challenge.
"... I'm excited to announce that I will be coming back for the 2022 season. I can't wait to get back with my brothers, my teammates, this culture, the University of Minnesota and the state. Minnesota, it's time to row.''
Ibrahim's return will give a boost to Minnesota's backfield, which has been decimated by injuries this season. Ibrahim's replacement, Trey Potts, was lost for the season on Oct. 2 at Purdue because of an undisclosed injury that required his hospitalization for six days. Potts' football future is uncertain. Bryce Williams suffered a season-ending lower leg injury on Oct. 30 at Northwestern. That's left the Gophers relying on redshirt freshman Ky Thomas and true freshman Mar'Keise Irving to handle the bulk of the carries.
"Mo's going to be that steadying force, and it's going to be so fun to watch him compete,'' Sanford said. "And he won't have to carry the ball every single play.''