November 30, 2007

Brewster's Recruiting Grades

With Willie Mobley committing to Ohio State this morning we can now assess how well Brewster has done recruiting in state kids.

In the past there was much criticism that the previous coaching staff did a poor job of keeping the best kids home. This was very true as the list of successful college players from Minnesota who excelled at other schools is longer than the list of gophers who stayed home. Brewster has clearly stated that keeping Minnesota's finest at home is a top priority. I am going to say that while coach Brewster has had an outstanding recruiting class he is failing at keeping MN kids in MN. I know this is basically his first year and going 1-11 isn't going to help your cause, but there are some very talented individuals playing in this state that Brester was unable to land.

The Can't Blame Them Camp - There were two highly rated high school seniors this year. Two players who project to be impact players at any program. And these were the only two players who were legitimately recruited by the best of the best programs (Ohio State, Notre Dame, Florida, etc.).

Mike Floyd (pictured right) - WR - committed to Notre Dame
Willie Mobley - DE - committed to Oho State
Sam Maresh - LB - MINNESOTA

When you are a player being courted by the likes of Notre Dame and Ohio State, I really can't blame you for choosing them over Minnesota. If you feel that you will play and contribute on a team that most years will be competing for a BCS Bowl game, why would you choose Minnesota? I know that Brewster is engaging and has people believing he'll bring the gophers to a championship level, but why not take the sure thing? Really, there is no good reason that players like Floyd and Mobley should choose MN over those fine schools. We want them here and we want to seem them lead the gophers to a Rose Bowl, but can you really blame them?

Landing Maresh was a great get, but getting a third of your state's best isn't a good average. I also don't think Maresh had quite the same options as Floyd/Mobley. The real loss here is Mobley for a couple reasons. First of all we have a pluthera of WRs coming in and losing Floyd isn't the end of the world but we NEED help on the defensive line in the worst way. Mobley would have played and been an improvement from day 1. Secondly, it appeared that he was truly on the fence. We were so close and when it is close we have to land the hometown guy.

Good Players, Gotta Have 'em - this is your group of good players who are not the best of the best but they'll still help you win football games. These guys will contribute to most programs even some of the top notch programs. Land enough of these kids and you have a solid team. These are the kids we HAVE to land. This is where we lose good players to Wisconsin and Iowa each and every year. Then we watch them contribute to winning programs that go to decent bowls.

Joe Schafer - OL - committed to Wisconsin
Brendon Kelly - DE - committed to Wisconsin
Shady Solomon - RB - MINNESOTA
Roszell Gaydon - OL - MINNESOTA
John Nance - QB - MINNESOTA

Honestly I'm disappointed how this one turned out. Landing 4 of these 5 would have been acceptable (especially considering our young talent on the OL), but year in and year out we need to go 5 for 5 with this level of athletes. What makes this sting more is that Wisconsin landed them. I can't stress enough how important it is to keep these kids at home.

Ultimately when you rank the players within the state of Minnesota we are keeping one of the top five. I don't find that this is an improvement over what we saw in previous years.

Brewster's Recruiting Grades - being critical of this recruiting class is like being upset you won the powerball when it was "only" 15 million, not 200. This is arguably the best gopher recruiting class in my lifetime. But I'm going to be unusually critical anyway.

National Recruiting - A - I can't complain about Brewster's recruiting efforts outside of Minnesota. He is pulling kids from winning programs in Florida and Texas. He has 4-star recruits seriously considering and even committing to being golden gophers. Landing kids like Brandon Green(WR), Spencer Reeves(LB), Traye Simmons(CB) and Troy Stoudermire(Ath) are great recruiting gets for Minnesota. And we still have chips in the game. Other top rated players like MarQueis Gray(QB), LaMichael James(RB), Keanon Cooper(S), Nolan Brewster(S) and Jewhan Edwards(DT) are still on our radar with good chances of landing a handful of these kids.

Minnesota's Finest - B minus - I really don't fault Floyd for choosing Notre Dame or Mobley for choosing Ohio State when the gophers have a long history of playing somewhere between bad and mediocre. Maresh is a good get and I'm looking forward to watching him help the gophers over the next 4 years. This is hard to grade cause these guys were going to be difficult to keep. I'm frustrated that we didn't get Mobley and that is probably keeping this grade down the most. Had we landed him I would be very happy with this group.

Minnesota's Next Best - D+ - As frustrated as I am that we lost Mobley, missing out on the 2 best in this group to Wisconsin is unforgivable. Kelly committed originally and then de-committed for a Badger scholarship. That flip flop makes all the difference in the world. Getting a good DE to stay here would have been very helpful for this class. The border bleeding has to stop and it starts with this caliber of player.

Overall - B - this is tricky. As I mentioned above this has been a great recruiting class. But stopping the border bleeding has to happen now. So grading a great class with the disappointment of our inability to keep kids home is tough. I feel like I'm getting picky and acting as though it will never be enough. But at Minnesota building a winning program has to start with keeping our best home. That can't be something that "eventually" happens when we start winning. It has to start with that. Brewster has done a nice job of getting talented kids from Chicago, Texas and Florida to come here but he'll never get their best and he won't be able to get enough of them to build a Big Ten challenging team. A dream class that has Floyd, Mobley, Maresh and then several kids from around the country is what we need to build a winning foundation.

It should be noted that it ain't over till it's over. I think there is a good chance that a few players who have already committed elsewhere will change their minds and become golden gophers. Nolan Brewster leads that list and in-state guys like Mobley and Kelly are possibilities in my mind. This game is far from over but as it stands I'm not as happy as I probably should be.

Next year will be a huge upgrade in talent because of this outstanding class. I am pleased but not satisfied.

1 comment:

PJS said...

I completely agree with your thoughts here, Tom. We can't take leaps forward without stopping the flooding through the borders.

I will say I think Brewster needs to make another hit or two nationally to receive a grade A. The fact is, a much smaller percentage of Minnesotans know who Brandon Green is then Michael Floyd. Green could be just as good as Floyd someday or better, but to get the bored and upset fan base interested again, it's going to take the Minny kids, combined with the national standouts to do it.