National Signing Day, The 2012 Golden Gopher Recruiting Class - Outside the Midwest Recruits

And now we move on to the non-midwest kids. These are supposed to be your skill position players from the football hotbeds of Florida and Texas. The game plan is always to keep the best Minnesota kids here and then you have to go out and get some good players elsewhere because there are not enough great players in Minnesota to sustain a winning program.

By state here are the commitments that we have (including the December JUCOs and the midwest kids).

Minnesota - 10
Florida - 5 3
Texas - 5
Wisconsin - 1
Alabama - 1
Delaware - 1
Illinois - 1
Kansas - 1
Missouri - 1
Mississippi - 1
North Carolina - 1
Ohio - 1

So do we have the foundation to build a great Gopher program? Time will tell and here are your non-midwest recruits in the class of 2012.

Jamel Harbison


Position: WR

Measurables: 6-0 /190

Videos: [1] [2]

Rankings:
- Rivals: - #NR WR
- ESPN: - #32 WR
- 247Sorts: - #70 WR

Notes:Harbison is a tough and strong slot receiver out of North Carolina who chose the Gophers over offers from Wake, NC St, Vandy, Virginia and West Virginia. This may be one of the more impressive offer sheets of this class.

Harbison is one of those guys that really grows on you as an explosive, yet thickly built wide receiver that can play on the inside or outside. He has great feet and acceleration skills which may give him the appearance he is slightly faster than he really is. However, he is plenty fast enough for the BCS level.

Harbison, in a GopherIllustrated article talks about how he likes to make big plays.

"I love to make big plays. I love to hit. I love to set up things for other players to make big plays but I also like to score for my team. I just feel like I'm a big playmaker for my team. Kind of like a Wes Welker."

I am thrilled with the addition of Harbison. Be patient with this one and he'll become a Gopher fan favorite.

Roderick Williams Jr
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Position: RB

Measurables: 5-11 /220

Videos: [1], [2]

Rankings:
- Rivals: - #16 RB
- ESPN: - #88 RB
- 247Sorts: - #48 RB

Notes: RW2 is more of a power back than a speed back who didn't appear to play on an outstanding Texas high school team. Williams is also a wrestler which ups my opinion of his toughness.

Has good speed for a bigger back but we do not see long elite speed at this time. Shows good burst to the hole; will get downhill quickly but does not show a lot of wiggle or suddenness. Runs hard and strong particularly between the tackles as he can run through first and second level arm tackles. Keeps legs moving and churning through initial contact, gaining yards on his own.

Not a ton of info or lengthy video of Williams. Sounds like a tough kid who will get yards but isn't going to break off anything game-breaking. I would imagine that he will be a redshirt candidate who can grow to become regular back in the rotation and possibly a bruising feature back.

Damarius Travis


Position: S

Measurables: 6-1 /190

Videos: [1]

Rankings:
- Rivals: - #NR S
- ESPN: - #NR S
- 247Sorts: - #NR S

Notes:2nd team Florida All-State (6A) selection. Travis will come to the Gophers as a safety who feels he has a chance to play immediately.

"It's a great school," Travis said. "They've got great facilities and a great coaching staff. And my first year there, they're not going to redshirt me. I'm going to come in, I could possibly start, and they don't have much depth in their secondary, so it gives me a better chance to play as a freshman."

Travis is planning to be an engineering major and the U's program played a big part in his decision to attend Minnesota. I'm not convinced that he won't end up redshirting, but if he comes in ready to play right away then more power to him.

Jordan Hinojosa


Position: DT

Measurables: 6-3 /265

Videos: [1 post game interview]

Rankings:
- Rivals: - #138 DT
- ESPN: - #NR DT
- 247Sorts: - #81 DT

Notes: Huge position of need and Hinojosa is coming in ready to compete. The teammate of Nicholson had an impressive offer list that included Michigan State, West Virginia and Wake Forest.

Hinojosa is a highly competitive interior lineman who will play through the whistle on every snap. Plays with a good motor and hunts out the ball. Has good height and frame to add bulk. Will need to improve his upper and lower body strength to hold his ground against bigger, stronger blockers in college.

We need help at this position but I still expect that Hinojosa will redshirt to add size, strength and perfect his craft. Hinojosa's interception in the state semi-finals was the clincher that propelled Central into the title game.

Scott Ekpe


Position: DT

Measurables: 6-4 /250

Videos:

Rankings:
- Rivals: - #NR DT
- ESPN: - #147 DT
- 247Sorts: - #84 DT

Notes:Ekpe is already enrolled and on campus, which is a great plus for high school kids who want to compete and play as true freshmen. He is a bit undersized to play DT in the Big Ten at 250ish, but he does have several months to add strength and he will have spring practice to learn the defense.

Given he is only 250, I would assume he redshirts, but also given that he is on campus early and we need help there it is possible that he gets into the rotation this fall.

Lincoln Plsek


Position: DE

Measurables: 6-4 /235

Videos:

Rankings:
- Rivals: - #NR DE
- ESPN: - #103 DE
- 247Sorts: - #105 DE

Notes: Plsek played on both sides of the ball in high school but will likely come in with the intent to play DE.

As a pass rusher he is not a kid that will run by blockers, but will try and attack half-a-man and use his weapons and displays enough savvy to identify and exploit mistakes by blockers. Plsek is not flashy, but he is pretty solid all-around and displays the ability to grow into a physical and steadily productive college defensive end and he probably deserves a little more interest than he has received at this point.

Eared 1st team all-state out of Waco, Texas. Plsek is only 17 so redshirting is very likely so his body can mature while gets stronger. I think he projects to be a solid contributor down the road.

K.J. Maye


Position: ATH

Measurables: 5-10 /195

Videos: [1]

Rankings:
- Rivals: - #NR ATH
- ESPN: - #95 ATH
- 247Sorts: - #192 ATH

Notes: Alabama native and a late commitment to the Gophers. Maye played QB in high school where he threw for 1,400 yards and 14 TDs while rushing for nearly 1,200 yards and 10 scores as a JR. 1,100, 13, 1,000 and 8 as a SR.

He is a good-looking, sleek athlete on the hoof -- built like a wide receiver. We believe he is more polished at quarterback than he gets credit for, but coaches will be tempted to move him to wide receiver or safety where he could develop into a playmaker.

Given our QB situation, I assume that Maye will in fact move to DB or WR. Unless he becomes too valuable as a return man or even on offense I suspect he will redshirt. His quickness and speed should be assets that he will use to be a playmaker for the Gophers.

Yoshoub Timms


Position: DT

Measurables: 6-2 /265

Videos: [1]

Rankings:
- Rivals: - #16 CB
- ESPN: - #83 DT
- 247Sorts: - #48 CB

Notes: Timms is the last Gopher to verbally commit and he is another kid filling an area of need. Also a bit undersized, but what high school senior wouldn't be undersized for a Big Ten program. The weight room is where he'll need to live but he does seem to be a good inside prospect and lifting weights is not a foreign concept to him.

"I think I’m more of a brute strength, powerful (player)," Timms said. "I got some speed, I’m pretty fast, but I’m more of a brute strength guy."

It makes sense that he is a state qualifier in shot put and a member of the weight lifting team as well.

He can be tough against the run. When he engages blockers he looks to deliver a big initial blow. He displays that he is capable of coming out of his stance low and gaining leverage and generating good power on contact. He is able to stand blockers up and hold his ground, but does need to be better with his hands.

Timms played his high school ball in Florida but he is actually from Chicago so the winter didn't exactly scare him away. Syracuse was the only other BCS level offer for Timms.

Likely a redshirt.

Dinero Moss - Moss will be going the JUCO route


Position: CB

Measurables: 5-11 /180

Videos: [1] [2]

Rankings:
- Rivals: - #61 CB
- ESPN: - #34 S
- 247Sorts: - #48 CB

Notes: A nice, big and physical corner.

A sleeper on the recruiting trail, Moss is an explosive defensive back with a good nose for the football and ball-hawk type feel to his game. Plays the position fast and physical and has a good blend of size and speed for the position.

And this from a Miami Herald recruiting analyst...

His ability to stop the run as well as get in the pocket of elite receivers is something that keeps you peeled to his every move. His strength and quickness make him a quick, physical player!


Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/hssports/2010/08/player-dinero-moss.html#storylink=cpy

Based on those brief evaluations you'd think we had to beat away Miami, Florida and FSU for the Miami area. But his only other offers were from Nebraska, UConn and a few other smaller schools. I'm thrilled we landed Moss and hope he develops into a shut-down, Big Ten corner.

Brian Nicholson - Did not sign, not expected to


Position: OLB

Measurables: 6-0/215

Videos: [1]

Rankings:
- Rivals: - #NR OLB
- ESPN: - #120 OLB
- 247Sorts: - #142 OLB

Notes:One of our two Miami-Central products and one of five Florida commitments. Nicholson committed in July and spent his senior season leading his Miami-Central team to the state championship game.

His ESPN eval projects him to end up playing more inside LB, as they question his sideline to sideline ability.

Nicholson is an attack style, standup end we project will make the slide to inside linebacker at the college level. In need of some bulk but has a strong, well-built frame that projects well between the tackles. Shows flashes of solid stacking and filling ability. Can turn and run but demonstrates better short-range burst to the ball than sideline-to-sideline range. Flashes solid downhill strength and short-area power at the point of attack.

Getting guys from football factories is always a good thing. Nicholson looks to be a strong kid who tackles well. Almost certainly a redshirt year is in his future and then look for special teams contributions until he matures and seasons for a year or two.

The highlights of the group for me are KJ Maye and Harbison. I think both of those guys will be playmakers on offense and on special teams.

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