Recruiting is so vital to our favorite programs and it is such a fluid process that it is important to keep up with what is happening on a more regular basis. I'm going to attempt to make this a weekly feature throughout the season. I think this will be especially helpful as we head into the weekends of home games and we can get to know the key recruits visiting those particular weekends. I'll start with football and get to hoops further down the page.
We are a young football team, that is not new news. Only 10 scholarship seniors on the roster and nearly all position groups have the bulk of their scholarship players as sophomores or younger. There are not a ton of positions where we really "need" to be focusing our attention. That is not to say we are loaded with talent at each position. If a 4 or 5 star kid, at any position, wanted to come to Minnesota we would take him. But with so few scholarships we need to be focused on certain position groups with our recruiting efforts. We are not going to focus on landing a top 10 quarterback when we have a number of young quarterbacks and the likelihood of landing a blue-chipper is slim.
So, where are we focusing or where should we be focusing our efforts? (after the jump)
Looking at offers and official visits that have been scheduled, it is clear that the staff is focusing on wide receivers. There are a number of WRs scheduled to visit for the Syracuse game, which is shaping up to be a big weekend. We are young at receiver with DCT, McDonald, Jones, Harbison, Fruechte and Maye all sophomores or younger; but adding one or two in this class will give future depth and spread out the talent. So who are targeting? The following three receivers have all set up official visits the weekend of the Syracuse game.
Drew Wolitarski - as a junior, Wolitarski racked up over 1,600 yards and 21 TDs on 75 catches for Canyon High School in Canyon, California. Arizona is his only other BCS offer and he seems to be a pretty strong lean towards Minnesota. Wolitarski is a big, outside target standing at 6-3, 210. Likely to commit when he visits in a couple weeks.
Eric Carter - slot receiver out of Florida. Carter will be visiting with Wolitarski. Cincinnati, Iowa State, Missouri and Purdue have reportedly offered Carter but Minnesota is working hard to secure his commitment.
Hunter Jarmon - 6-1 receiver out of Waco and he has a pretty impressive offer list. Missouri, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas St, Oregon St and Washington St have all offered Jarmon and he has his five official visits all set up for the season. Jarmon also wants to play baseball in college, so Coach Anderson might pick up an athletic addition to his squad.
Expect us to take two receivers in this class.
After receiver, we still have a lot of spots to fill. In my humble opinion I think that defensive tackle is another area of significant need in this particular recruiting class and should be a priority. I know that we have a "commitment" from Jordan Hinojosa, but that one still has some red flags around it and I'm not sure how that will play out. The Gophers are pursuing Demaris Peppers, a DT from Memphis and he is planning to visit on the Western Michigan weekend. With limited scholarships available, I'm not sure if we will take two in this class but I think there is a good chance that Peppers commits when he visits next weekend.
We will dig into more position groups next week but for now here are a few other names to keep a sharp eye on.
- Tedric Thompson - Safety and brother of Cedric Thompson. Tedric "visited" the Gophers at UNLV and I would guess that he will end up in maroon and gold next season.
- Berkley Edwards - speedy running back out of Michigan and he is visiting Minnesota on the Syracuse weekend. Berkley is the brother of Braylon Edwards, which puts Michigan in the mix if they were to offer. And Braylon's old position coach is now at Iowa, which puts the Hawkeyes in the mix as well (and they have offered). Official visits for Berkley are set for Cal, Iowa and Minnesota with interest coming from Notre Dame and Michigan. We want him the most!
- Hendrick Ekpe - brother to Scott and a good defensive end prospect. Hendrick has an offer from Iowa and Northwestern but he seems more interested in Minnesota and a few Texas schools. We'd love to land him too.
- Malik Rucker - local safety who has committed to Iowa, but recently Rucker has indicated he would like to come and visit Minnesota. Considering the Hawkeyes have a couple other safeties committed, maybe Rucker will re-open his recruiting and end up a Gopher after all.
With five or six verbal commitments (depending on how you view Hinojosa) and only 10 scholarship seniors, there are not very many scholarships remaining. I think we land four or five of the eight names listed above. I doubt we land any more offensive or defensive linemen, we need one running back (that's you Berkley), we need another linebacker (which I didn't talk about today) and you can never have too many defensive backs. But the openings are filling up in what will be a small class.
Moving on to basketball where you cannot talk about 2013 recruiting without also talking about the loaded class of 2014.
2013 - recruiting has been slow and the Gophers are looking for help at both forward positions and maybe shooting guard as well. We have four scholarships available, but this is when I remind you that the local kids in the 2014 class are uber talented and if we signed four guys this year we will be left with only two scholarships available next. One could make the argument that you go ahead and sign four guys now because you never know what will happen in the next year. But based on how slow recruiting has been going I would imagine that the Gophers will end up signing three guys in this class.
Sterling Brown and Cedric Hankerson appear to be the two shooting guards receiving the most attention from the Gopher coaching staff. Hankerson is a newer name on the Gopher radar but the Miami native received a quick scholarship offer over the summer and will be visiting this weekend. He will also be visiting Boston U and Virginia Tech this fall. Brown is an athletic SG/SF who has seen his offer list explode over the summer and we might not even get a visit from Brown.
Alvin Ellis is a small forward and I believe we are pursuing him rather hard. I would love to see us land this wing player out of Chicago. Ellis will be visiting the weekend of Sept. 28th.
Power forward is where we are really working hard to land someone talented, we have at least six power forwards being pursued by the Gopher coaching staff. This weekend (for the New Hampshire game) we are hosting two PFs along with Hankerson. Gavin Schilling is a teammate of Ellis and Nigel Hayes who is a nice forward out of Ohio. Both of those forwards have a nice offer list and I think the Gophers would be happy to land either of them. Then two weeks later (for the Syracuse game) we are hosting two more power forwards. Alex Foster, also a teammate of Ellis, and Tory Miller are coming to officially visit that weekend. Both of these guys have plenty of BCS offers as well and would be nice additions to the program.
We are also pursing Vitto Brown, a defensive minded PF from Ohio, and, a four-star local product with offers from all over. Of the six PFs listed in this paragraph and the last, I could be convinced that I'd be happy with any of them. I think Washington would be at the top of the list followed by Hayes and then maybe Vitto Brown. But to be honest I'd be pretty happy with Schilling or Foster or Miller too. They all bring different things to the table and without being able to see them in person I'm not exactly sure which one or two I would most prefer.
But 2013 is just an exercise of getting ready to recruit (and land) the cream of the local crop in 2014. And the local kids spent the summer really making a name for themselves. We all know about Tyus Jones, the 5-star point from Apple Valley who is a top 5 player nationally. His status hasn't really changed, he is still a stud who could go just about anywhere he wants. Most people assume that won't be Minnesota but you never know.
Next is shooting guard, Rashad Vaughn. When we last looked at recruiting, Vaughn was considered a four-star recruit but after the summer tournaments, he has vaulted up the latest Rivals 150 rankings. He now sits with a five-star rating as the 2nd best SG in the country with an overall rank of 15! ESPN ranks him the #1 SG in the country, also five stars and 12th overall. Vaughn is a huge target for the Gopher staff to land.
But the talent pool doesn't end there, don't sleep on Reid Travis. This PF from De La Salle is also seeing his recruiting stock rapidly rise. Rivals now ranks him as a four-star and the #44 overall player in the country. He now has 10 BCS level offers with more sure to come.
There is a ton of local talent in this class of 2014, imagine a world where the local kids all want to stay home and play for the Gophers. These three guys alone would make for a top 10 recruiting class and a very bright future for Gopher basketball.
Stay tuned, as the visit happen and verbal commitments start to flow, TDG will do its best to update you.