Well that didn't take long. After wowing Gopher head coach Jerry Kill at his 7-on-7 passing camp, Lakeville South QB Mitch Leidner was offered a scholarship last weekend, and according to Scout.com Leidner committed to the Gophers yesterday. As we told you Tuesday, before the weekend Leidner was only being recruited by Kill as a tight end, and had not received an official offer from a D-1 program. He had actually participated in a Gopher football camp earlier this year, but as a TE only and didn't get to throw. Well he got his chance at the 7-on-7 tourney and made the most of it, as the 6'4 senior-to-be impressed Coach Kill so much he brought him back to campus Monday:
"Me and coach [Jerry] Kill watched film together on Monday and he thinks it will be a great fit for me because I’m very similar to a quarterback at Northern Illinois that he had. He said we’re pretty much the same exact build and everything. He fit in the offense great and is going to have a shot at the NFL."
The QB he's referring to is Chandler Harnish, who started the last three seasons for Kill at NIU and put up some pretty impressive numbers as a senior in 2010 completing 64.7% of his passes for 2530 yards and 21 TD's, and his 156.14 passer efficiency rating led the MAC and 16th best in the entire country. Harnish also ran the ball well, totaling over 800 yards and 7 TD's on the ground at over 6 yards per carry. If you're looking for the ideal season of what's expected out of a Coach Kill QB, Harnish' 2010 was it. For Leidner to draw that comparison from the coach himself shows you just how highly he thinks of the kid. And for what it's worth, Harnish was rated a 2 star prospect coming out of high school who Kill called "a no risk recruit" meaning if he didn't work out at QB, he could play another position. Sound familiar?
Kill has told us already he doesn't care much about star rating, and it shows here. He's not ranked by any service I've seen, and you wonder if he just wasn't given many opportunities to showcase his skills before the 7-on-7 tourney. He has good size and cleary Kill has no worries about his arm or accuracy, yet before this nobody was offering a kid playing QB with solid numbers at a good-sized high school in the Metro. The Hawkeyes were on him as a QB as well but hadn't offered, so thankfully the kid committed before Iowa even had a chance.
I know Kill still hasn't coached a game here yet, but I trust his instincts and his ability recruit kids that fit his system. Star rating or not, if Leidner is what he's looking for in a QB, then I trust the kid is going to have a chance to be good. The thing is, he's going to face a LOT of competition not just to start someday, but to even stay at the position in his Gopher career. Assuming he and Mankato West's Philip Nelson (a 3 star recruit who committed in the spring) keep their commitments and enroll at the U next year, that will make EIGHT QUARTERBACKS. If you're wondering, yes, that's a lot.
A look at the crowded depth chart...
Barring injury or catastrophe this is your starting QB for 2011 and 2012. Looks perfectly suited to play in Coach Kill's offense and could be the most exciting Gopher player since Marion Barber and Laurence Maroney.
A walk-in in 2008, he got on the field last year as a holder on special teams. Doesn't look like he's on scholarship, and considering his chances of seeing the field as a QB are slim to none, guessing he won't get one.
The cannon-armed Bloomington Jefferson grad enrolled at the same time as Q, but redshirted in 2009, and didn't play last year. With Q holding a firm grasp on the starting spot, Alipate would be looking at just one year as the starter as a senior in 2013; And that's IF he evens wins the job. At 260+ pounds, he doesn't look suited for the style of offense Kill will run, so if he wants to see the field as a Gopher it's likely going to be at another position. If he wants to play QB in college it might be at another school. He's got talent and a big arm, but again, can he be the "dual threat" Kill demands of his QB's?
Ran a spread offense in high school at Sconnie powerhouse Arrowhead, and was neck-in-neck with Alipate for the #2 job this spring. Picked up the offense quickly and runs the ball effectively but can he throw it well enough to satisfy Kill?
INCOMING FRESHMAN 2011
Rivals and Scout rated him a 3 star prospect, and every quote we hear from Kill makes the 6'6 Kansas native sound like some kind of hybrid between Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Chandler Harnish. Or something. Kill LOVES Shortell and still isn't ruling him out of being the starter this fall. Seriously. While the chances of him taking the job from Q this fall (or next for that matter) range somewhere between slim and none, Kill's fawning makes me believe Shortell will be given every opportunity to be the starter in 2013. Of course he'll have to earn it, there'll be plenty of competition from recruits this year and next like...
A late signee from the Lonestar State, Foreman is a serious athlete and will be given the chance to prove he can play QB in the Big Ten. If not, his athleticism should allow him to transition to another position pretty easily if it doesn't work out.
Scout and Rivals both list him as a 3 star prospect, and at 6'2 and already over 210 pounds, the dual-threat QB looks well suited to run the offense. He was one of Kill's first signees for this class, and I doubt Leidner's commitment makes him waiver at all.
So in review, Leidner is getting Harnish comparisons, Nelson looks like a stud, Kill has a man-crush of epic proportions on Shortell, Foreman could be deadly running the spread, Parish is currently vying for the #2 job with Alipate, and Q is...well, just about everything you could want your QB to be. Well except experienced. Lueck's certainly the odd man out but considering how well they practice and how hard they work, the other seven guys have the potential to play QB for Kill. While I think that would be a LOT of roster spots and scholarships to give to quarterbacks for the 2012 season, clearly Kill has a plan and seems just fine letting the competition decides who stays and who goes. He loves Leidner's ability and potential- and you could say the same about at least six of the seven other guys. Let the competition begin!