February 6, 2008

Minnesota doesn't have an ocean or mountains...

That was basically Glen Mason's motto, but Tim Brewster must have convinced kids from around the country that Minnesota is warm, has an ocean and mountains.

Today is National Signing Day and this is a big day for Gopher Football.
(and I totally stole that icon from ESPN, don't tell 'em)

Tim Brewster came in just over a year ago and promised a couple of things. 1-Rose Bowl was the goal and 2-he and his staff would recruit tirelessly to bring in a new level of talent. So far he has delivered 50% of his initial press conference promises.

I have not avidly covered Gopher recruiting before this year but by most accounts this is probably the most talented recruiting class in decades. In the age of internet coverage take a look at the Rivals.com ranking of recent Gopher classes...

National Rank B10 Rank Key Players
2008 17th 3rd several key players
2007 57th 8th Anthony Jacobs
2006 62nd 9th Adam Weber, Dom Alford
2005 55th 10th Alex Daniels, Ned Tevale
2004 58th 9th Dom Barber
2003 37th 4th Lawrence Maroney, Tony Brinkhouse
2002 55th 9th Greg Eslinger, Matt Spaeth

Say what you want about Brewster's results in his first season on the field, but there is no denying his talent for recruiting players. He pulled in a top 20 class (3rd in the Big Ten) coming off a 1-11 season.

Nntl Rnk Big10 Rnk
Rivals.com 17 3rd
Tom Lemming 20 14
Scout.com 24 4th
ESPN Insider 28 23

Of course Rivals rankings and star ratings are far from a perfect science (FAR from it). Star ratings give us some indication of the incoming talent but the transition from high school to major college competition is more than some kids can handle. The mark of a great recruiting class is one that finds the 2 and 3 star kids who become stars of your football team. Time will tell if Brewster has an eye for true talent, but there is no denying that he will be able to upgrade the overall depth of talent for Gopher fans.

As posted below the Gophers are bringing in seven 4-star recruits with this class (a total of four 4-start in previous six years). These kids should headline this particular recruiting class. The hope is that all of these kids all live up to their 4-star rating AND some of the 2 or 3-star kids become diamonds in the rough.

Below I am going to list the 4-star kids, the guys I think will be pleasant surprises and then the rest of this massive recruiting class.

4-Star Commits

QB - MarQues Gray - strong arm, fast, athletic and should be the perfect fit for the Spread Coast Offense down the road.
2008 impact: likely redshirt

S - Keanon Cooper - very late commit, starred on a dominant defense in Texas that was a quarter finalist in the 5A State tournament.
2008 impact: should be given every opportunity to start at SS

WR - Brandon Green - well over 1,000 yds receiving in his sr. season and 20+ TDs in both his jr and sr seasons.
2008 impact: likely starter

WR - Vincent Hill - prep school recruit who has decent size and is strong. Hill did not put up great numbers this year at Milford Academy but should be a regular contributor soon.
2008 impact: likely contributor, not a starter

LB - Sam Maresh - the one Minnesota kid who could have gone anywhere and is staying home. Should be a fan favorite from the beginning. Good size and physically may be ready to play immediately.
2008 impact: a real chance to start at MLB

ATH - David Pittman - JUCO recruit who played QB last year. Incredibly athletic and will be an impact player, position is yet to be determined. Could be WR, QB, DB or returner. Pittman is already signed and enrolled at the U in December.
2008 impact: no idea, big wild card, if impact this year I think it will be in return game

CB - Traye Simmons - another JUCO signing. Big Play Traye is a play maker with confidence and the ability to back it up.
2008 impact: starter at CB (pending enrollment)

Pleasant Surprises (8) - 2 or 3 star guys who I think could be impact players

DT - Jewhan Edwards - Big and quick off the ball, Edwards can be a run stopping DT who demands double teams. ESPN ranks Edwards as the #7 DT.
2008 impact: starter at DT

OLB - Spencer Reeves - may be a little on the small side coming in but Reeves is athletic and fast.
2008 impact: should compete for starter at OLB

RB - Kevin Whaley - smallish RB who racked up incredible yards in his high school career (6,300 yds). Had offers from Vir Tech, Penn St and West Virginia.
2008 impact: RB is open for Whaley to compete, should be a contributor

DB - Tramaine Brock - JUCO signee who is potentially a starter at FS. Brock has been clocked at a sub 4.4 forty who can cover and defend the run.
2008 impact: starter at FS

ATH - Troy Stoudermire - explosive athlete who I think will play WR for the Gophers. Could move to DB as well, but the elusive and shifty athlete will be fun Gopher to watch over the next 4 years.
2008 impact: tough to say, could red shirt or contribute as 4th or 5th WR

LB - Rex Sharpe - 6'3", 245 and fast. Sharpe has a nose for the FB and has the size to make an impact right away. JUCO transfer currently enrolled at the U.
2008 impact: could start, will contribute immediately

LB - Gary Tinsley - incoming freshman who will be a LB we will rely on down the road.
2008 impact: I'm guessing red shirt

TE - Eric Lair - big and athletic. I have visions of Lair running down the seem and getting behind the defense having a real impact his last 2 or 3 years as a Gopher.
2008 impact: I'm guessing red shirt

The Rest of the Class (15) - many of these kids will contribute down the road but I expect most will red shirt and help us in a couple years.

WR - Broderick Smith
WR - Xzavian Brandon
Ath - Terrell Combs
Ath - D.L. Wilhite
Ath - John Nance - St. Paul kid
DB - Jonathan Dandridge
DB - Simoni Lawrence
DB - Da'Jon McKnight
DB - Johnny Johnson
RB - Deleon Eskridge
RB - Shady Solomon - St. Paul kid
DT - Brandon Kirksey
DT - Tim McGee
DE - Cedric McKinley
LB - Ryan Grant - Eden Prairie kid

The University's official page has 30 signed athletes (31 if you count Carufel who will sit a year for transferring and be eligible as a sophomore in 2009).

I'll give a little recap of the rest of the Big Ten at a later date, but for now lets enjoy this class and spend tonight dreaming of watching them play in Pasadena!

So now we get to look into the 2009 class!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Check out The Big Ten Network's signing day video segment on Minnesota including an interview with Coach Brewster!