Previous TDG Recruiting Coverage Posts* 2013 Recruiting Primer - OFFENSE
* 2013 Recruiting Primer - DEFENSE
* Gopher Football Scholarship Grid
* 2014 and 2015 Basketball Recruiting
It is slow, slow, slow in the world of Gopher sports. All of the Big Ten schools share the fact that there is very little happening on the field (with the exception of Purdue and Michigan St who participated in the baseball regionals). But many other Big Ten schools have plenty happening in the recruiting battlegrounds.
In football there are seven Big Ten programs with eight commitments or more. Michigan leads the pack with 18 already, we have one! There are several basketball programs who are completely finished with their 2013 recruiting, we have none committed with up to four available scholarships. I've touched on recruiting in both sports a little bit over the last couple months but the ultimate story is that recruiting seems to be going along at a snail's pace.
As previously mentioned there is likely to be fewer than 15 scholarships handed out this year. We only have 12 scholarship seniors and with a handful of guys lost to attrition I would bet that we see about 14 or 15 signings in February. Right now the Gophers have a single commitment, local defensive back Keelon Brookins.
The staff has been offering a ton of kids from all over the country. In the next few weeks you will see a number of kids attending various camps and committing throughout the summer. Not having many commitments is not very concerning at this point. As mentioned there are a ton of kids with offers and a month from now we should have a better idea of where we stand with many of them. All that to say that it is too early to really gauge what top of the line prospects will end up verbally committing and hopefully signing with Minnesota on National Signing Day.
Too early to tell and far too many to profile so I'm going to cherry pick several of my favorites. These are kids that I think we have a shot at landing and guys that I really hope committing here. This list is very subjective and really is just some of my personal favorites, some for no good reason. Most of them fall into two categories. The local kids and the kids with connections. This list is intended to just get you familiar with a handful of names, this is not in any way a specific list of my favorite targets or guys we are close to landing.
The Local Kids
Malik Rucker - easily the top prospect in the state who has yet to commit (James Onwalu has committed to Notre Dame) and Rucker a lot of offers (Iowa, Iowa St. NC State, Duke, AZ St, Illinois and a number of other big-time schools showing interest). The safety prospect has a family member who enjoyed a nice career at Iowa State so they are certainly in the running but Kill and staff have been pursuing him hard.
Matt Beyer - technically Beyer is from Texas but he grew up in Minnesota, moving before his freshman year because of employment opportunities for his mother. So I'm going to count him as a kid with local ties. He is a 3-star tackle with offers from Miami, Oregon, Baylor, Kansas, Wake, Washington St and more. Looking over the roster I would expect that we will try to land one or two offensive linemen, Beyer is listed at 6-6, 275 and looks like he would be an outstanding addition to the class of 2013. He also ranks on this analysis as the 8th best offensive tackle in the state of Texas.
Kierre Rhodes - St. Paul Johnson's corner who before a couple weeks ago was pretty unknown. Everybody knows you want to fill out your skill positions, particularly CB, with kids from Minnesota right? Well Rhodes earned MVP honors at a camp in Indiana that included ESPN 150 prospects at both WR and other DBs. Then the next day he made impressions at the Nike Football Training Camp in Illinois (where Keelon Brookins earned DB MVP honors). No rankings or stars yet for Rhodes but if he continues to have a big summer those will both come soon enough. The knocks on Rhodes would be the light competition against the St. Paul city schools and the fact that he is only 5-8 or 5-9.
Michael Flowers - another St. Paul city kid, this one plays for Humbolt. Flowers is a raw DT prospect who is getting a lot of interest from most of the Legends division plus Wisconsin and Purdue. No offers yet but after summer camps I'm sure he'll start to see increased interest as many programs just want to see kids in person before pulling the trigger.
Michael Sales - running back from Champlin Park who does not yet have an offer but has interest from Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Count me as interested too, but I'm also not yet willing to offer. This summer will be a huge time for Sales who, like Flowers, will need to prove himself in front of the coaches.
Hendrick Ekpe - brother Scott will be a true freshman this fall for the Gophers. Hendrick is a three-star defensive end (potentially an outside linebacker) and his only other offer on the table is from Iowa. Here he ranks as the 9th best DE in Texas. Based on a February interview, Ekpe says his brother playing for Minnesota helps but he will make his own decision. I believe he will be a Golden Gopher.
Tedric Thompson - safety from California and his brother is Cedric who will be a sophomore corner for the Gophers this fall. Tedric is a run-stopping safety with good speed. ESPN ranks him as the 25th overall safety in the class. Could eventually end up as a linebacker but more importantly I hope he ends up in Minnesota.
Berkley Edwards - not exactly tied to Minnesota but his brother is Braylon (NFL WR, perhaps you've heard of him). He has strong Michigan connections but they may not be offering another RB in this class. Wisconsin and Michigan St are both interested but also are limited at the position. Edwards runs a 4.3 40 and has visited Minnesota, with plans to visit again. He is getting interest from a number of big-time programs but so far us and Cal are the only two to offer a scholarship. I would love to see us land a great RB in this class and Edwards has an NFL pedigree.
Isaiah Williams - we are going back to Skyline for a linebacker and Williams is receiving a lot of Gopher interest. To date we have not yet made an official offer but Colorado, SMU and Kansas St have.
- WR from Illinois and, according to GopherIllustrated.com, both of his parents are U of Minn grads. We have not offered Johnson yet and he currently holds offers from Toledo and Ohio. Johnson is coming to camp here a couple times this summer.
Alex Mayes - is another OT from Texas. While there is no direct connection to Minnesota he has been naming us as one of his favorites and after he commits we will then have a "connection" to his younger brother, Connor who is a 2014 center prospect.
Kamren Lott - is a 2014 CB prospect from First Coast in Jacksonville. If that sounds familiar that is because it was Gary Tinsley's high school. That will ultimately not likely be a major factor in Lott's decision but it can only help that Tinsley would go home and talk up Minnesota to the younger guys like Lott.
Basketball recruiting seems to be moving incredibly slow. Compared to many other Big Ten schools it is moving slow, but compared to the past few years under Tubby Smith things are right on schedule. There are some schools who are finished with 2013 recruiting and can get a head start on 2014. Then there are schools like Minnesota who do not have anyone yet for 2013. As mentioned this is the pace at which Tubby tends to move when it comes to recruiting.
- Class of 2009 - Royce White was in April, nobody else till September
- Class of 2010 - first recruit to commit was in September
- Class of 2011 - first commit was in September
- Class of 2012 - first commit was Wally Ellenson in August
So I don't think we should expect to see a verbal commitment anytime before August.
First we need to look at our needs and available scholarships. We are graduating four seniors and three of them are forwards. So what are our immediate needs? FORWARD. But, it can't be that simple though. First of all you cannot be recruiting for what you need next year unless you are recruiting 5-star, one-and-done kids who will significantly contribute right away. You should really be recruiting to be replacing your junior class. The following year we are losing a backup point guard and a starting SG/SF. Point guard is going to be a major area of concern, specifically depth, starting next fall. But of course it can't be that easy! We are working hard at landing arguably the top 2014 point guard in the country, Tyus Jones. Is landing a good point in this class going to dissuade Jones from coming here?
Before I get too far into hypotheticals here, let's just take a look at some of the guys we are offering and appear to be in the running to land. But lastly it should be pointed out that we have four scholarships to use this year and just two for next year. It is entirely possible that we only use three now and bank one for the following year when there is a very talented group of local kids we will want to secure.
Remember the Skyline-4 for football back in 2008? I'm starting to get hopeful for a Chicago De La Salle-2 (or 3) to sign with Tubby in the class of 2013. This Chicago basketball school has three players who will be playing for BCS level schools in 2013 and Minnesota is pursuing all three of them.
SF/SG - Alvin Ellis - 6-5, 185 and he has been described as a natural scorer. In a late-round playoff game he notched 42 points, including 19 in the 4th quarter. Other offers include Tennessee, Northwestern, Kansas State and Wichita St. I think of the kids we have offered, who have not yet committed, Ellis might be at the top of my personal list. He has good size and can score in multiple ways.
PF - Alex Foster - this is a position of need. After Mbakwe and Rodney Williams graduate we will have the likes of Mo Walker, Eliason and Buggs in the middle but that depth will quickly evaporate and a guy like Foster will be much needed in what would be his SO (or redshirt FR) season. Foster is long, athletic, runs the floor well and is an aggressive rebounder. His shot is developing, but much like Mbakwe, you don't necessarily have to be a great shooter at this position. He has other offers from Wisconsin, Tennessee, Harvard and Nebraska.
PF - Gavin Schilling - 6-9, 205 and has offers from Illinois, Oregon St, USC, Vandy and others. Based on reports I've read, Schilling sounds like a skilled and smart player who can score with his back to or facing the basket.
This three-some led their team to a 17-7 record. All three have Gopher scholarship offers and I'd love to see us land Ellis paired with one of the power forwards. That would be a great start to the 2013 class and we then land a scoring guard to finish with three in this class (banking an extra one for next year). Here are some other names we have offered.
PG/SG - Juwan Parker - this is the four-star point who is one of the top 100 seniors in the class. Parker is a PG/SG from Tulsa who has offers from Oklahoma, OK State, Baylor, Georgia, Mississippi, Miss St, Memphis, Vandy and others. The kid averaged a double-double (16.4 pts and 10.8 reb) as a sophomore and then 20.7 and 9.5 as a junior. Parker has visited and at one point said Minnesota was one of his favorites, but it looks as though Memphis is the school to beat. I'd be thrilled to land Parker, but I'm not holding my breath.
PF -- local kid who went out east to play a year of prep school hoops. Washington has picked up a lot of interest over the past year and has offers from Florida, Baylor, Notre Dame, Wisconsin and a number of other BCS schools. He would certainly fill a position of need and he is a local product so it would be great to sign him. He will take the summer to visit a number of schools and make his decision this fall. He is a top 150 caliber player who has a pretty high ceiling. Landing Washington along with one or two (or three) of the De La Salle kids would make this class VERY heaving on forwards but I really like Washington (who may end up being a center) and we'd be crazy to tell him we don't want him.
PF - Vitto Brown - most reports are that Brown excels defensively and is growing offensively. He is a strong presence in the paint who defends, rebounds and is an efficient scorer. He is 6-7, 205 with long arms. Currently holds offers from Kansas St and a handful of mid-majors.
SG - Sterling Brown - aggressive wing player who would need to improve ball-handling and shooting a bit. Nebraska, DePaul and Illinois have also offered.
PG/SG - Kevin Johnson - has offers from DePaul, Cincy, Seton Hall and a few others. His high school coach has a relationship with Tubby and the Gophers have been recruiting Johnson for about a year now. Seems to have strong and solid build with good athleticism. This prospect is slowly becoming one of my favorites.
PF/C - Maverick Morgan -a three-star, 6-10, PF out of Ohio. Morgan's other BCS level offers include USC, Iowa St, Rutgers, Vandy, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. The Gophers were spending time recruiting Morgan for much of last season so we are a new name on his radar. ESPN ranks him as the #16 center in the 2013 class who can score over either shoulder.
It is pretty obvious that we are targeting forwards with this class. What is not very clear is how many scholarships we plan to use. Based on their track record I would bet that we will use all four scholarships and figure out 2014 in 2014. I have some very high hopes for the class of 2014 so I personally hope that we end up having three scholarships available next year, but I'm not paid the big bucks to make those decisions.