Minnesota RB Shannon Brooks to miss entire 2018 season

Minnesota tail back Shannon Brooks (23) during an NCAA college football game, in Corvallis, Ore., Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Timothy J. Gonzalez)

Minnesota’s spring practice sessions begin Tuesday. The Gophers will start without a key offensive piece.

Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck announced Tuesday that running back Shannon Brooks would miss the 2018 season with what he termed as a non-contact lower body injury.

“A non-contact injury,” Fleck said at his Tuesday press availability via the Minnesota Daily. “That’s unfortunate, obviously that’s not the news everyone wants to hear [and] not what I want to hear.”

Brooks was limited to just six games in the 2017 season because of various injuries. He was still third on the team in rushing with 369 yards.

As a freshman in 2015, Brooks was the team’s leading rusher with over 700 yards and seven touchdowns. He took a backseat to Rodney Smith in 2016, but still had 650 yards and five touchdowns in 10 games. He also added two receiving touchdowns.

Fleck said Brooks will redshirt in 2018 — his initial senior season — and return for 2019.

Brooks’ absence means Smith will carry the team’s rushing load once again. He had 977 yards a year ago and Kobe McCrary, who also returns for 2018, led the team with eight rushing touchdowns.

– – – – – – –

Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.