Gopher Football 2011 recruiting primer and roster matrix

As the 2011 recruiting season is rapidly picking up I though this might be helpful for Gopher fans to get an idea of areas are going to be positions of need in the near future and approximately how many scholarships are available for this year's class.

Here is the roster matrix of scholarship players. It should be noted that this is based on the 2010 September class. So the FR class below is the current class that signed in February and the SR class are those who will be playing this fall as a senior (i.e. Adam Weber). It should also be noted that there may be some slight imperfections. For instance having to guess which spot an offensive lineman will actually play is a bit difficult, especially with the incoming freshmen. So that was a bit of guesswork and then several players are just listed at OL.

FR rFR SO JR SR Total
QB 2 1 1 0 1 5
RB 3 0 0 3 1 7
FB 0 1 0 0 1 2
WR 2 1 1 4 1 9
TE 0 0 0 2 2 5
OT 3 1 0 0 2 6
OG 0 0 0 0 2 2
OC 0 0 0 2 0 2
OL 2 1 0 2 1 6
DE 1 3 1 1 0 5
DT 3 1 0 2 0 6
OLB 2 1 2 0 0 5
MLB 0 1 1 1 0 3
CB 1 2 1 4 1 9
S 2 0 0 2 2 6
K 0 0 0 0 1 1
P 0 1 0 0 0 1
Tot 21 14 7 23 15

Other notes: Lamonte Edwards was put as RB, Ra'Shede Hageman was moved from TE to DE and I verified as much as I could in regards to who red-shirted and who did not last year. Also remember that things change. corners become safeties, defensive linemen become offensive linemen or vice versa and wide receivers move to defensive back or vice versa. This is a fluid situation so don't read the above matrix as anything set in stone.

There is much you can learn from this little exercise. The first thing I tend to look at are positions with several players in the JR and SR classes. These are currently areas of strength that will need to be replaced soon. TE is a great example of a position that is clearly a position of need in this recruiting class as we have 4 scholarship players in the JR and SR classes but nobody behind them. Do not look strictly at the graduating seniors and assume those are the positions we'll need to be filling. One would hope the coaching staff has recruited with more foresight than that unless you are planning on having a true freshman step in to replace departed seniors.

It is also interesting to note how few sophomores we have on scholarship. I'm sure that things will get spread out a little more and we'll be able to sign more than seven kids next year. But even if we are able to sign 10 or 12, that will be a small class and the staff will have to work pretty hard to make sure those scholarships are going to great players. 2011 will be fun, 2012 should be extremely interesting.

2011 recruiting positions of need.

  • TE (2) - I like the current group we have but after 2011 we'll need to replace Lair and Euree. Early in the 2011 process we have reportedly offered three TEs already and I'm sure that number will grow significantly.
  • OG/OC (2/3) - There are a few positions that you need to add bodies with each and every class. I think OT can take a break as we have several young tackles who are rather promising (Gjere, Michel, Lenkiewicz and Ragoo). We have several kids who are listed as OL who will end up filling the guard and center positions, but there are only three kids Sophomore or younger who are expected to fill in these positions. This area needs some bodies. One guard has given his verbal commitment but more are needed.
  • MLB (2) - not exactly a position of strength currently, not much depth and no true MLBs in 2010 class. Landing a couple quality LBs to man the future middle of the Gopher defense would be outstanding tremendous. If the early offers are any indication, the coaching staff also recognizes this an area of need with this class. Seven offers have been reported at ILB.
  • CB (2/3) - Only one corner was brought in last year. There are currently four juniors but most expect the only one you'll get any production out of Chrystyn Lewis. There are some bodies at this position but we desperately need an upgrade in talent.
  • K (1) - if Kip Smith hadn't changed his mind we'd be set here, but instead we have to replace Eric Ellestad.
  • WR (2) - We have only one senior receiver so the corp should be fine through 2011, but at that time we'll need some major help. I'd love to see one highly ranked receiver come in with class, give him a year to acclimate and then really step up production in 2012 when needed most.

The Remaining Positions

  • QB (1) - The staff has said repeatedly that they want to bring in 1 QB per class, I'm sure this year will be no different.
  • RB (1) - There are currently 8 RB offers out there and we have one verbal (that my not stick). So the actions of the staff indicate we are working hard at landing a quality RB. We also just brought in 3 in the most recent class so this will likely be an effort to find quality, not quantity.
  • FB (0) - I know that we have a senior here but there may be players switching to FB from other positions, this is a position that a walk-on could earn a scholly and I'm guessing a scholarship will not be used here. Chances are that Donnell Kirkwood may end up at FB.
  • OT (1) - Like I said we have probably four quality, young tackles who will have a year to develop and then step in for the current seniors. It's very likely we'll sign someone, but this isn't a huge "need" right now.
  • DE (2) - For depth I think we need at least a couple, but I did not list this as a position of need because two of our top three at this position will be a rFR and as Sophomore (Hageman and Wilhite). Matt Garin will also be in the playing time mix. The talent is young at this position but we do need some more depth. Actions speak volumes and we have seven offers out to DEs.
  • DT (1) - I really like our starting tackles, who are both juniors. And we did bring in three freshmen with the 2010 class. I'd like to see one player that is ranked fairly high to add some quality to our quantity.
  • OLB (1) - We have quite a few offers out there, but our current set of OLBs are pretty young. I'm not sure how bad we need to fill this position but if the right player is out there, I don't see why we'd pass on him.
  • S (1) - Off the 2010 class I probably like our safety group the most (maybe RBs first). So I'm not concerned about the future of this group, but we are losing two very good senior starters. We have seven offers out there so this is yet another position that indicates we are making a strong push to land a safety or two in this class.

Those numbers are pure speculation based on looking at the needs on the roster (both needs of depth and needs of playmakers). My numbers have about 20 scholarships offered and that might be a little high considering we are only graduating 15 scholarship seniors.

But we already have a jump on the 2011 class with three current verbal commitments. Tommy Olson (OG) is the early favorite to be the #1 player in Minnesota. He has been committed for quite some time. He fills an area of need and is not someone that I'm concerned will be changing his mind. James Farrow (CB) is the most recent commit, the Minnetonka native seems excited to be a Gopher and will be a top 3 or 4 player out of the state. Calvin Phillips (RB) is the final verbal. Phillips is highly touted but there seems to be a lot of drama surrounding this kid and I'm not sure how committed he truly is.

my personal top 10 wish list after the jump...

A Way too early and arbitrary top 10 wish list...

This is a total guess (actual rankings and better evaluations are not available) and I'm also trying to be fairly realistic. For instance Wayne Lyons is a safety out of Florida. He has 36 offers including USC, Tex, Flor, OSU, OK, ND, etc. I believe in Brewster as a recruiter, but no matter how bad we want him he won't be a Gopher (PLEASE prove me wrong). I love that this early in the game few schools are eliminated and favorites are extremely hard to distinguish. Kind of feels like we have a shot at a lot of very good athletes. So here is my completely arbitrary and speculative guess at a top 10 kids I'd like to see sign with the Gophers (only players with a reported offer).

  1. Anthony Wallace (MLB) - Skyline linebacker with offers from a few "decent schools" like... Tex, OK, USC, Tenn, LSU, Notre Dame and many others highlight the schools who want him. If our Skyline pipeline is ever going to pay off, this would be the time. Wallace is a position of need and will be one of the best at his position this year. Chances are slim, but maybe Reeves, Stoudermire and Cooper can start calling him up.
  2. Jake Keefer (OLB) - western Wisconsin native with a Badger offer. The Badgers have offered only two kids from Wisconsin and Keefer is one of them. I know this is not a position of need but this kid is close to the Twin Cities and would be a steal from Wisconsin. Also has offers from Washington St and Indiana with interest from Iowa, LSU, USC, UCLA, Notre Dame and Illinois.
  3. Nick Vannett (TE) - Listed as one of the best TEs in Ohio this year, Vannett has a very good offer list which included Ohio St, Mich St, Wis and several others. Vannett is a long shot but it is a position of need a very good talent.
  4. Andrew Johnson (CB) - Miami native who has been impressive in a loaded spring 7-on-7 camp. The link provided uses terms like instinctive and a "lock-down corner." The Gophers are currently up against offers from Iowa, Louisville, Texas Tech and others.
  5. Melvin Gordon (ATH/RB) - The other Wisconsin native with a Badger offer. Gordon appears to be favoring Iowa at this point and it comes down to the Hawkeyes want him at RB and the Badgers want him to play defense. I'm not sure we can shoe-horn our way past those schools but it would be nice.
  6. Peter Westerhaus (LB) - Minnesota kid, currently only has a Gopher offer but he will be a Big Ten caliber player as he has interest from Wisconsin, Ohio St, Iowa and others. Westerhaus is likely a top 3 player in the state and is the type of player we have to keep at home. Not a position of need, but don't let him go. My gut tells me that Wisconsin is the school to beat here, but it is early. I deeply hope that he stays, but he is only 6th on the list because I don't believe it is going to happen.
  7. Davonta Sparks (CB) - Texas native with offers from Iowa, KU, UK and TCU. Sparks had 100+ tackles last year as a corner to go along with 3 sacks and 2 picks. 6-0 and 200 lbs, he appears to be a physical corner who also has shown some good speed (though 40 times are SO unreliable).
  8. Kenny Wright (WR) - Michigan native and a big target at 6-4, 190. Currently does not hold a Michigan or Mich St offer but that is expected to change. Wright would be a great fit in our offense and I'd love to see him be the only receiver we land in this class.
  9. Patrick Coyne (QB) - Ohio native who has offers from Wisconsin and Illinois. Coyne has a loose connection to Bryan Cupito who is from a rival school and who's coach was once a teacher of Coyne's. He is excited about the Gopher offer and very well could be the QB of the 2011 class.
  10. Rayshon Williams (WR) - We have a relationship at Mullen and hopefully that will turn into a commitment from Williams. 6-0 and 190 lbs; Williams has offers from Colorado, Col St, Kansas St and UTah with early interest from several other BCS schools.
  11. Mike Moore (DE) - Skyline kid who has no other solid offers yet and reported interest from Baylor. I expect you'll see Moore commit and the Gopher staff will attempt to utilize that to get at Wallace and other Skyline prospects.

That is the list as of March 10th. Surely it will change and if we get more than a couple from that list I probably deserve some sort of medal or something.

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