Consider this a bonus Rodent Recruiting (PJS will have more for you on the hoops side on Wednesday and I'll have a rundown of incoming recruits for the Michigan game.
The bad news is we gave away a game and lost to Northwestern. The good news is that we received verbal commitments from two important recruits who were on their official visits this weekend.
The first and one of the biggest so far this year was JUCO wide receiver, Hayo Carpenter. He is a highly recruited and highly rated receiver who fills a big area of need for the Gophers. As we have found this year the Dunbar Spread is hard on new receivers so we are fortunate that Carpenter is on track to graduate in December, enroll in January and be here for spring practice.
Rivals.com has him rated as a four-star prospect and is the 11th best player coming out of the JUCO's this year. ESPN Insider is reporting the following for his current year's stats.
Through eight games this season, the standout has 66 receptions for 1,133 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has averaged 19.9 yards on punt returns (one touchdown) and 27.1 yards on kickoff returns (one touchdown).
Rivals lists him with a 4.4 time in the 40 and says he had official offers from Florida, Arizona State, Oregon State and a few other mid-major level schools. This is a major boost for next year's team as Carpenter has the tools to absolutely be the weapon opposite Decker. I fully expect Green and some of the other young guys to step up but Carpenter will still trump their experience and his speed will make this offense more dynamic.
On the other side of the ball we went back down to Texas and grabbed a defensive back. Kerry Lewis is slightly undersized for a safety but ESPN Insider had some very complimentary things to say about him.
Give Lewis another inch or two of height and he is one of the more sought-after safety prospects in this 2009 class. Aside from lacking great size its hard to find many physical flaws in his game as a high-point player. He can cover, close and is well-balanced supporting both the run and pass. Lacks great height but is long, rangy and well-defined. Quick-twitched burst gives him added strength on contact and he consistently plays bigger than his listed measurables. Very fluid in his hips and turns and is smooth in all of his movement skills. Real reactive, fast-twitched athlete who loses little in transition when opening to turn and run.
They brought up his less than ideal size (5-9, 178) but everything else made it sound like he has the skills to be a very good players in the secondary. When glancing over his profile though the thing that jumps out to me is GPA. Rivals states that his GPA is 3.56 and a Scout article says he is, "Hoping to one day major in aerospace engineering and still be able to excel in football, Lewis is focusing on maintaining his honor-roll status." Getting kids that appear to be locks to get admitted and appear on track to graduate is good for the program that ranks last in the Big Ten in graduation rates. Lewis had offers from Oklahoma State, Oregon, Vandy, Kansas, Kansas St, Arizona and Iowa.
I was expecting a commitment from Carpenter but this one was a pleasant surprise. And from the sounds of it the commitment was a surprise to Lewis as well.
"My visit was great, it was just great. I went in to the weekend with no intention to commit to Minnesota during my visit. My plan was always to take all five of my visits, but I loved everything about Minnesota so I knew that nothing could be better and I committed.
Lewis is Brewster's eight commitment from the state of Texas which unofficially is a pipeline. Landing the Skyline Four last year has paid dividends in this year's recruiting class. Now when kids come up from the Lone Star state they are greeted by a handful of kids who can tell them we made the trip up I-35 and have no regrets.
So on Saturday we lost the game but we took a couple steps towards securing sustianed success in this league and things are only going to pick up in the next 10 days. The Michigan game has been THE game for recruits to take their official visit. Many names with multiple stars next to their name will be in the Metrodome as we battle to take the Jug. This will be a huge week for the current Gopher squad as well as the future.