The class is at 16 solid commitments, with one soft verbal currently. A good number of those have come in June and July and seven of those come from within state borders. What's good for the rest of the class is that it is a strong state this year and there are still several top in-staters on the board and considering Minnesota. The Gophers have also done well in Florida, securing a few verbals. Traditionally, the school has recruited well in the Sunshine State, and it looks like this new staff will continue that.
I thought getting a quarterback and a top in-state kid like Philip Nelson off the bat was huge. You can build your class around the quarterback and you've seen that with the skill position commitments since. We liked Nelson on tape and felt that he was due for more offers before his commitment.
One that Got Away:
The Gophers were the first BCS school to offer Indianapolis Cathedral safety John Turner and seemed like they were in good position, but others soon followed suit and his recruitment exploded. He was offered by Notre Dame in late June and committed shortly thereafter.
Minnetonka Hopkins wide receiver Andre McDonald committed early, but recently re-opened his recruitment with offers from Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State also being considered. It would be a major coup for the Gophers to keep him committed. He did camp at the school this summer, despite being committed.
Film on Maxx Williams was hard to come by, but I was able to get a couple of games, and I like what I see. The kid has good size and he can play either side of the ball. We have him projected as a tight end. If he plays offense, I think it would be more as an H-Back than a traditional tight end.
The second quarterback in the class is Mitch Leidner, and I really like what I saw from him. He's a good sized kid, but much more mobile than I expected and he threw on the run very well. Nelson is the higher rated and the first to commit, so he has more press, but don't count ot Leidner. He's just the type of quarterback than can succeed in this offense.
He'll have some targets, even if McDonald goes elsewhere. JUCO transfer Isaac Fruechte will have three years of eligibility and is a good sized, sure handed target. Samad Hines is a Florida kid with good size.
Nick Rallis was in the class, then he wasn't, now he is again, but one thing hasn't changed and that's that he's a great football player. The knock is that he may not have a true position, but the kid finds the ball, he gets to it, and he hits. We think he'll be a fantastic player as a WILL or strong safety.
Isaac Hayes was a nice get considering some of the other offers he had. He's not overwhelming in terms of measure-ables, but he moves well and looked good on tape. Recent commit Jack Lynn is a good sized linebacker who can play a variety of roles. He says he'll be an outside guy and part time edge rusher. We believe that will be a good role for him as he will continue to fill out a frame that is capable of carrying more weight.
Two out of state linemen who we think have a chance to be good ones are defensive tackle Jordan Hinojosa and defensive end Scott Ekpe. Hinojosa is a wide bodied kid with good strength and Ekpe is big at 6'4, 250-lbs, and on tape, looks like a guy who will grow into a strongside, run stopping end, or potentially even an interior guy.
The secondary has two sleepers with good athleticism. Dinero Moss has great measureables and could play corner or safety. Eric Murray, currently listed as a wide receiver, will likely be a defensive back. His high school coaches tell us he's an outstanding athlete, who simply stayed under the radar, but is a legitimate prospect.
It's a pretty good year in the state, and in addition to hanging onto McDonald, offensive tackles Jonah Pirsig, Nick Davidson and tight end Will Johnson give the Gopher coaches plenty of reason to make the rounds through their own backyard. None of the three have Minnesota in the lead, but all three have the Gophers in consideration. Johnson and Pirsig, especially, are in play and both would be tremendous gets.
While there are two quarterbacks committed already, Chicago Simeon's Robert Gregory would be too good of an athlete to pass up, and he has the Gophers in his top three. He's a similar player to Marquiese Gray, and could play a variety of roles. The same goes for Lamontiez Ivy, another Illinois kid who plays quarterback in high school. Ivy, we see as less of a pure quarterback than Gregory, and more of a running back recruit.
Speaking of which, no running backs yet in this class, but the Gophers have offered quite a few in the south, and JUCO prospect James Gillum. Illinois back Tevin Coleman still has the Gophers listed among the schools he is considering, along with fellow Land of Lincoln runner David Smith.
Along the offensive line, other than Pirsig and Davidson, Gibraltar (Mich.) Carlson OT Kodi Kieler has been offered. If none of the three commit, a sleeper we like is Plymouth Wayzata's Ben Lauer, a good prospect, who has been held back due to an ACL injury. A good season could mean more offers for him.
Defensively, end Marques Cheeks and safety Charles Rogers are two of the top prospects on the board. Two Florida kids, defensive tackle Jean-Marc Charles, and defensive back Terry Harden also have Minnesota high on their lists.