While on the field the gophers have been less than entertaining, off the field it has been a lot of fun to follow the recruiting process. In the past there has been very little recruiting news to follow, especially during the season. The last 2 home games have brought a plethora of talented kids on to campus for official visits and has actually resulted in a few commitments.
Skyline 4 - the gophers are heavily pursuing a group of kids who play for Dallas Skyline High School. All 4 would project to play on the defensive side of the ball and at least 2 of them would likely contribute immediately to this beleaguered defense.
The Raiders are currently 3-1 having lost only to Arlington Bowie who is 4-0 and #9 in Texas 5A statewide rankings. Their week 6 matchup should be their toughest remaining game as they will face Molina who is currently 4-0. There seems to be a good chance that Skyline will be 9-1 (maybe 8-2) heading into the playoffs.
- Spencer Reeves - 3* LB - Reeves would be the cream of this crop and would likely start at OLB next year. "As we were getting ready to leave yesterday I was very close to commiting. Minnesota just has everything that I am looking for and it just seemed like the right thing to do. The only thing that was holding me back was the fact that it was my first visit and I hadn't seen anyone else." Also has offers from the likes of Alabama, Arkansas, KState, Tex Tech and Wisconsin.
- Keanon Cooper - 3* S - Cooper also would likely see significant playing time next year possibly as a starter. Also has offers from Michigan, Oklahoma, TexTech, Wisconsin and others. Cooper
- Troy Stoudermire - 2* D-Back - FAST kid who projects to play DB. "I want to take at least one more visit so that I have something to compare to Minnesota, but it will be tough for anyone to live up to what Minnesota has." Troy seems most likely to commit.
- DaJon McKnight - 2* WR/DB - Minnesota is the only school to offer a scholarship to McKnight. That is kind of concerning but if he helps to land the other 3 then it is absolutely the right move.
The recent visits have resulted in another verbal commitment from a 3-Star defensive player. Your newest golden gopher is...
Jonathan Dandridge - 3-Star Corner who is ranked the 48th best CB in the class according to Rivals (29th by Scout.com). Dandridge had offers from Purdue, Mich State, Colorado and other mid-major schools. We need help defending the pass so bring on the corners!
Other Big Name Visitors
DT - Jewhan Edwards - 3-Star - This big kid would be a great signing for the gophers. A big presence in the middle of that DL is always great for stopping the run. Edwards is a needed recruit but we are battling with the local Penn State, West Virginia and Syracuse.
QB - MarQueis Gray - 4-Star - Gray is considered by many to be one of the top 2 or 3 recruits that the gophers need to land. He is a gifted and athletic QB who would possibly play right away. Personally I think it will be hard for any incoming QB who isn't Joe Montana to beat out Weber. If we are going to land a big time QB recruit I'd rather it be next year. But he got up early Sat morning with his mom and drove to MN from Indiana for the Ohio State game. Gray has narrowed his choices to MN or Oregon. I'd be crazy to say we shouldn't land a big, fast, 4-star QB with a strong arm but I won't be crying if Gray goes to the Pac 10.
CB - Traye Simmons - 4-Star - JUCO kid who I'm certain would start immediately for the 2008 gophers. 5'11" with 4.4 speed. This is the biggest area of need for the gophers and landing a 4-star caliber kid who will be more experienced than a true freshman out of high school will help a LOT. Also has offers from Cal, Florida, Purdue and others. Where kids are getting offers from often says more than their star ranking. Simmons postponed his Florida visit to come to Minnesota this past weekend. "I was hoping that they were going to let me put on the all gold and suit up." We all wish they would have.
Playing Time Promises
If you've paid close attention you notice that the current coaching staff is telling every recruit (especially defensive recruits) about their opportunity to earn playing time right away. Chip Scoggins at the Star Tribune noted that Brewster has M&Ms in his office (maroon and gold of course) with the words "Play Right Away" on the back. Nobody is denying that we have a talent deficit on that side of the ball and that assuming we land some talented recruits next year's defense will be loaded with some true freshmen. BUT, there are only 11 starting spots on the defense. By my count there are 4 potential incoming freshmen + 2 current freshmen who think they will be playing a lot at Corner next year.
- Ryan Collado - current freshman starting CB
- Justin Chatman - current freshman getting playing time
- Jonathan Dandridge - incoming freshman, expecting to play
- Troy Stoudermire - 4* recruit says he'll have opportunity to play
- Mike Harris - 2* thinks he'll play right away
- Traye Simmons - 4* JUCO recruit who thinks he'll play right away
I should assume that the coaching staff is telling these kids that they'll be given the "opportunity" to play right away but that they'll have to earn it. But from these kids' quotes they feel that they'll be playing right away.
Safety is a similar situation, potentially 5 players for 2 spots...
- Kyle Theret - current freshman playing a lot
- Curtis Thomas - current freshman starting
- Simoni Lawrence - incoming freshman (could move to OLB)
- Keanon Cooper - a good 3* recruit who would expect to play
- Nolan Brewster - current Texas recruit but still could change his mind and would expect to play