We do our best here to try and stay on top of Gopher recruiting. Typically you won't see media outlets or even blogs directing you somewhere else for info but if what we provide is not enough I strongly urge you to check out GopherIllustrated.com ($$) or FBT. They both cover recruiting better than we do and I'm OK with that. I see no need to try and recreate what they already do well. We'll give our 2 cents and try to look at bigger picture stuff but I'm not going to be chasing down recruits for inside scoops or spend my days watching video and trying to project players based on a highlight film.
With that said, there has been a lot of action lately and National Signing Day is just a month away. Since the hiring of Jerry Kill the Gophers have added eight new commitments and I believe they have lost only two. I'm more surprised that only 2 have decommitted than I am that Kill has added eight in less than a month.
TE - Matt LaCosse - three-star recruit, committed to Illinois. This three-star athlete would have been nice to have considering how thin we are at TE. But he chose to go away from the Kill staff and instead headed to Champaign. This one is a bit surprising considering LaCosse's hometown of Napervile is 45 minutes from NIU's campus and he was already recruited by Kill's NIU staff. But he is choosing to be an Illini and we wish him the best.
LB - Marquise Vann - three-star recruitn now a UConn Huskie, though they also lost their coach. Maybe he'll end up a North Texas Mean Green if Tim Brewster gets that job. We have four other linebackers committed in this class and we aren't graduating anybody so this one doesn't really hurt us from a depth perspective. LB is one of the few positions that I'm not worried about for the future.
JUCO Commitments - Kill has been hitting the JUCO circuit pretty hard to fill some holes that we have.
WR - Ge'Shun Harris - Arizona CC receiver and three-star recruit. Harris had a lot of offers but we were the only BCS level school offering at this point. Memphis and San Diego State are probably the most notable programs also offering. His JUCO coach had this to say when interviewed over at GI.com.
"He's a big physical kid. If the ball is near him he is going to catach it, he probably only dropped two balls in the two years he was here. He goes after the ball and does a great job with his body. He's got a big body, about 6'3", 215-220 pounds.
He is known for his blocking as well. We are rather thin at receiver so he can only help. I don't get too excited about JUCO receivers after the colossal failures of David Pittman and Hayo Carpenter. If he contributes I'll be ecstatic. He will be here this spring giving him more time to get acclimated and prepare himself to contribute.
DB - Drayquan Crawford - Arizona Western CC safety will help shore up a thin secondary for the Gophers. Crawford had some interest from the likes of Oklahoma, Baylor and Ole Miss but his only BCS offer was from Minnesota. Known as a hitter and tackler Crawford has the opportunity to compete for playing time right away. He has taken care of his academics and will be at the U this semester and will be available for spring football.
TE - John Rabe - position of great need is being filled by this two-star recruit from Ellsworth C.C. We have two senior tight ends on the roster and after that we have non-scholarship players and incoming freshman Sam Rohr. Rabe is nice pickup. The NJCAA first team All-American was offered by a few other MAC schools, including NIU. 6-4, 245 and was used quite a bit in the passing game this past year. The biggest potential problem with Rabe might be his family loyalties to the Hawkeyes.
"I grew up an Iowa fan. My dad was always an Iowa fan and we always cheered for the Hawkeyes. He told me that he is a Gopher fan now. He told me he is very proud of me and has no problem cheering for Minnesota over Iowa now. I really don't think there is anywhere better than Minnesota, it is the perfect place to be."
We'll get them straightened out.
CB - Junior Osunde - This Kilgore J.C. product is a three-star corner who stands at 5-10, 180. Our secondary is thin and we could use his help. The question is how much will he help? Osunde is not lacking in confidence and in at least two different interviews he refers to himself as "big time" and "a ball hawk." I hope he's right cause we need help in the secondary.
The High School Commits - this list is mostly made up of kids previously committed to Northern Illinois. I can only assume that the coaching staff did their best to pick and choose the guys they felt were Big Ten caliber players and worked on them to make a switch to Minnesota.
OL - Josh Campion - but first a former Minnesota commit who had to spend a year in the prep ranks but is not ready to come back to Minnesota. The Fergus Falls native committed to the Gophers early as part of the 2009 class and is finally ready to enroll. Campion didn't wait for Coach Kill to call him he initiated the contact, got the offer and accepted. He'll likely be enrolled in January ready to contribute this fall.
DB - Grayson Levine - three star DB from Eden Prairie. I like bringing in local guys and I like getting players from some of the few big programs in the state. Levine is also a smart kid, I like landing guys who also had offers from schools like Columbia. Can he play Big Ten football? We'll let the coaching staff work that out, but in a year of a coaching transition and Kill's staff trying to establish roots in Minnesota I'm on board with this pickup.
OL - Foster Bush - Now we get to the NIU commits who switched to Minnesota. The Wisconsin native ranks as a top 10 player in the state and is one of six offensive linemen in this class (on top of 5 from the previous class). I don't know much about him other than Kill and staff liked him before and convinced him to come to Minnesota. He was the first to change allegiance from Huskies to Gophers.
DB - Marcus Jones - two star corner who had interest from a number of other BCS schools but his only other actual offer was from Northern Illinois. Jones is a smallish corner who stands at just 5-8. We need depth and future help in the secondary and I don't believe size is a huge issue until the NFL (especially when you have a reported 34" vertical).
CB - Tamani Carter - was once on the Gopher radar but contact with Minnesota died after Brewster was fired. But the Kill staff is back in touch with the three-star corner who is on his way to Minnesota for an unofficial visit. I kind of liked this guy several months ago when the Ohio native was being more heavily recruited by the Gophers. Once again, we need depth here and you can never have too many corners. At Kill's opening press conference he stated what may be obvious but you absolutely need corners who can defend one-on-one, DEs who can get to the QB and then you can pretty much do whatever you want with the rest of your defense. I don't know if Carter is that lock-down corner but the more guys you get on campus the more likely you are to find one. He has offers from Arizona, Iowa, Standford and Minnesota. If Kill and staff can re-establish contact and land a guy who happens to have other BCS offers that would be a good sign.
S - Sean Cotton - a former Northwestern commit who didn't have the grades to become a Wildcat. He still wants to play in the Big Ten and he is getting interest from Kill and staff. Rivals ranks him as the 12th best player in the state of Illinois and he stands at 6-2 and nearly 200 pounds. The three-star recruit has interest from a lot of good BCS schools including Nebraska, Michigan St, Georgia Tech and Illinois. He lists Indiana and Purdue as his favorites but none of them have offered. Once again, I'd be happy to land a secondary player. Considering the Kill staff wasn't able to really get started until mid-December anybody we land is a bonus in my opinion.
DE / TE - Drew Goodger - a very recent addition to the list of interested recruits. Three-star defensive end from Kansas who has no BCS offers yet and was being recruited by Northern Illinois. Goodger is the 11th best player in the state of Kansas, according to Rivals.
We have 21 commitments and I would anticipate we'll land at least a few more guys over the next month. After a few months where recruiting was irrelevant it is fun to have some info to carry us through till National Signing Day.