April 15, 2008

Gopher Recruiting

The last year has been an exciting year for Gopher fans on the recruiting front. With new head coaches in place for the two major sports recruiting has gone from middle of the Big Ten to nationally ranked classes.

Basketball - Tubby Smith in place gives this program a level of respect that it hasn't seen in nearly a decade. 4 and 5 star kids now at least listen to coaches from Minnesota. I am no expert but I imagine Dan Monson's phone calls were not as eagerly anticipated as Tubby Smith's.

2007-08 recruiting has been a consensus top 20 class for Tubby Smith and it likely isn't done yet. There are still 2 or 3 players out there who may commit as part of his 2008 class. Scholarships will get interesting as they add anybody else but if bringing us a 3 or 4 star kid means Travis Busch, Jamal Abu-Shamala or Kevin Payton lose their scholarship I think the team will be better for it.

An interesting note is that I personally heard coach Smith say that this was the first time in his career that they basically signed everyone they pursued. I'm sure that means he got the realistic recruits but his early list was headed by Devoe, Sampson and Iverson. All three signed which is a rare thing.

Kris Faber - C - Faber is a 6'11" rebounding machine averaging 17.5 rebounds per game this year (12.5 as a Jr). The big man is kind of a late bloomer who will likely have to develop an offensive game at this level, but as far as defense and rebounding he would be an immediate help. I believe it is always hard to find big men who can actually help you and I am on board with signing Faber. RSIII is coming in as the center of the future and he'll block shots while adding some scoring but he is the finesse to Faber's brute. Faber has been taking visits lately and just finished visiting DePaul. UCLA has also shown interest which may increase if Kevin Love should declare for the draft, but currently Minnesota is the only BCS level school to offer. While it may not come on the first day of the signing period I hope and expect Faber to sign with Tubby to make this a 6 man class.

Verdell Jones - PG - we need a PG and Jones is one of the best remaining but I'm not sold on him. He seems to be holding Minnesota just close enough that they can be his back up school if Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana or another school yet to emerge don't come through for him. So far nobody has pursued him hard enough to land him but I don't know I want him if he doesn't want us. Jones is a 3-star PG who in my opinion is acting like a 5-star. He has been waiting for Tennesse but they didn't come through, he wants to sign with Kentucky but he their back up plan, recently Indiana is interested as Gordon is leaving for the paycheck league and Minnesota is still hanging around with an offer. Personally I'd rather wait a year and make a 4 or 5 star PG a priority for 2009 (Chris Colvin or Johnny Lacy for example). But I also trust this coaching staff's judgment and wouldn't be sad if he signed. But I reiterate that we should want guys who want to be here. At some point we should not be a back up school to anybody.

Trevor Mbakwe - PF - if you have paid attention to recruting in the last year you'll know that Mbakwe is a local product, signed with Tom Crean at Marquette and sat out 2007-08 on a medical redshirt. Obviously Crean is now a Hoosier and there have been rumors that Mbakwe wants to transfer to Minnesota. I would love to see this happen but in the last week these rumors have cooled. Mbakwe is an athletic PF who would add the athletic punch this team has been missing. He would have to sit out a year and would be a part of next year's class for scholarship purposes but those numbers will sort themselves out. Mbakwe would be well worth the scholarship.

2009 recruiting is probably in full swing but with some options out there still for 2008 there isn't a lot of buzz and how many available scholarships is yet to be determined. My best guess is that we'll figure out a way to bring in 3 kids. A quality PG and both of the forwards from Minnesota (Royce White and Rodney Williams).

Football - Coach Brewster didn't accomplish any of his recruiting success by name recognition or on field success. But all of that makes this year's recruiting class that much more impressive. What would happen if we had a couple of Mason bowl game seasons. Or what if we put out an 8 or 9 win season. I'll slow down, but landing what is arguably the Gopher's best football recruiting class in team history in a year when we finished 1-11 is more than impressive.

2009 recruiting is hot and we are heading into the time of year when verbals start flying. Some will get it done before the summer but once kids start heading to team camps verbals will come left and right, hopefully to join Brewster in TCF Stadium.

Football recruiting is kinda crazy because you have to sign so many kids at many different positions. I'm not going to list everyone we are after but I'll highlite few names.

Moses Alipate (committed) - QB - local kid who will likely be the top rated Minnesota player. Who knows when he'll contribute considering we have Weber behind center and MarQueis Gray coming in as the QB of the future, but landing the best in state kid is significant and something we need to see each and every year.

Josh Campion (committed) - OL - another top rated MN kid who has already committed. Offensive linemen are hard to project but again the biggest significance of this commitment is the statement of keeping MN kids at home.

Minnesota Kids

Bryce McNeal - WR - Breck WR who has an early 4-star ranking from Rivals. McNeal would be a great get as we will need speedy receivers and the best of MN each and every year. Considering Michigan, Nebraska, Clemson, Louisville, Iowa and several others. Should be one of our top targets even if he isn't the most talented player we are after.

Ra'shede Hageman - TE - 6'5", 230 big and athletic TE who is also known for being rather physical. He currently only has offers from Minnesota and Iowa but there is significant interest from Wisconsin, Okalahoma Florida, Oregon and LSU. Currently not highly rated but I anticipate Hageman will be a fast riser who becomes a hot name as we go through the summer.

Fritz Rock - Ath/RB - Wazata kid who has offers from Cincinnati, Indiana and N Illinois. I'm not high on Rock but the internet message boards (some of whom have seen him play) think he should be Gopher.

Cole Jirik - DE - Northfield kid who ESPN Insider has on their top 150 watch list. Minn, Wis and Michigan State currently lead the way for Jirik. We need defensive help, I'm not sure he'll be an immediate impact but he's worth brining in and finding out.

Others with Minnesota Offers (by position)

QB - none needed for 2009. Gray came in last year and Alipate is secured for this class.

RB - Eddie Lacy - 1,800 yds and 26 TDs as a sophomore. Neither Rivals or ESPN have him on our radar but Scout has him listed amongst LSU, Miss, Oklahoma, OK State and Tennessee.

RB - Bud Golden - 4-star kid from Ohio. Illinois, Cincinnati, Indiana and Purdue will be the primary competition for Golden.

RB - Hasan Lipscomb - fast kid from Houston (4.38 40). LSU, Tex A&M and Baylor have also offered

RB - Stepfan Taylor - another Texas RB we are after, received 4-stars from Rivals. Offers from Notre Dame, Nebraska, Tex A&M and others.

RB - Calvin Guyton - Lamar high school product (teammate of incoming freshman Eric Lair), Guyton has offers from Houston, Nebraska and the Gophers.

WR - James Green - 4-stars from Rivals, 6'2" who has offers from Ohio State, Auburn and others.

WR - Victor Keise - ESPN Insider says, "unbelievably productive and consistent and he absolutely catches everything." Decent size and speed but gangly and not explosive. We are currently in the lead for Keise and I expect he'll leave Florida for Minnesota.

WR - Terry Hawthorne - Ohio State, Illinois, Kansas, K State and others have offered Hawthorne.

OL - Marcus Hall - 4-star, Ohio native. Highly ranked but with Michigan, Ohio State, Tennessee, Illinois and others on his radar this one might be tough to land.

OL - Patrick Ward - Illinois native, Rivals 4-star who has offers from most Big Ten schools and Missouri, Standord, Vandy and Virginia.

OL - David Barrent - big kid from Iowa (6'8", 290). Offers from Iowa, ISU, Nebraska, Illinois and others.

DT - Randal Dent - big DE, maybe a DT. Dent has offers from OK State, Tex Tech, Kansas, Arizona and Oregon.

DT - Chris Davenport
- one of the key guys we should all be hoping and praying for. Davenport is a 4-star kid who would likely be an impact player right away. Has offers from everybody. Florida, Florida St, Michigan, USC, Tennessee and many others. This will be a tough one but we can all dream for now.

LB - Willie Ferrell - Tallahassee LB with offers from Illinois, S Florida, Ole Miss, S Carolina, Iowa and others. 4-stars from Rivals.

LB - TyQuan Hammock - we are likely the leader for Hammock over Indiana and a few MAC schools. ESPN says, "hard-nosed run plugger with the physical tools and versatility to develop on the inside or outside at the next level."

LB - Frankie Telfort - 4-stars from Rivals and offers from many major schools. Florida, Florida St, LSU, Alabama, Notre Dame, USC and Tennesse are among many others.

LB - Jon Bostic - no star rankings but offers from Florida, LSU, S Carolina, Purdue and others. At this point in the game stars don't mean nearly as much as who is offering actual scholarships to these kids.

CB - Damien Thigpen - 4.34 40, 4-stars from Rivals with offers from West Virginia, Tennessee, Auburn and others. Thigpen's speed would look good in Maroon.

CB - Michael Carter - ESPN has the Gophers as Carter's leader over teams with mascots such as Gators, Seminoles, Hurricanes, Sooners and Tigers (LSU). That is very interesting and makes me want him more.

S - Artice Kellam - not highly ranked anywhere but might be a key to landing the Gulliver Trio (LB-Telfort and S-Crawford). Competing with Connecticut.

S-Frank Crawford - so far has only Duke and Ole Miss offering, the Florida kid has interest from many other top schools.

Ath - Brandon McGee - offers from absolutely everybody (28 offers). This would be a coup.

Ath - Ronnie Wingo Jr. - 6'2", runs a 4.4 from St. Louis. Has offers from Tennessee, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas and Iowa.

This is obviously a long list and it is less than half of the names we have either offered or expressed significant interest in. I can't list everybody but these were some of the names that jumped out at me. Recruiting this summer should be great fun to watch and assuming a few more wins should help us to land a recruiting class at least as talented as this year's incoming freshmen.


Tim said...

Bryce McNeal is going to be rated WAY WAY ahead of Moses Alipate.

Tom said...

maybe, but when rivals came out with their first run at a top 100 Alipate was in there while McNeal was not. This was of course extremely early and Moses is no longer on that list but that was the info I was going with.