Minnesota Football Recruiting: Julien Kafo Commits

Courtesy - Golden Gopher Gridiron

The Gophers picked up their first commitment from their big recruiting weekend centered around Axe Week. The newest Golden Gopher will arrive on campus already used to playing in cold weather.

Jerry Kill and his staff anticipated the atmosphere for the Wisconsin game would be special, so they set up the biggest recruiting weekend in their 3 year tenure and brought in more prospects on official visit than any previous game weekend.

It didn't take long for the weekend pay to dividends:

Weakside defensive end prospect Julien Kafo hails from Vanier College Prep School in Montreal, making him the first Canadian recruit the Gophers have landed in the Internet recruiting era. Kafo originally caught the attention of the Minnesota staff at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp in Michigan this summer and was subsequently invited to Kill's summer camp. From there, Julien impressed Coach Kill and Coach Phelps enough in person to secure an offer.

Julien is rated as a 2 star prospect according to 247Sports' Industry Composite, with listed offers from Connecticut, Indiana, Pittsburgh and Miami (OH) in addition to Minnesota.

Quotables

Gopher247's Kyle Goblirsch with a quick commitment article ($):

"I had a great time out there!! Just got back home and yes, I will be attending the university of Minnesota!"

Post camp quotes from Kafo on his performance with Coach Phelps ($):

"I felt pretty good. I know I still have a lot to work on, but I really liked it out here. Coach Phelps gave me a really good impression on the entire coaching staff. I think I can only improve from coming here and competing."

ESPNU evaluation ($):

Good height and bulk at this stage with a frame that looks capable of carrying additional good mass with time in a college weight program. Displays adequate playing strength and initial burst. ... Flashes ability to be able to anchor and set the edge and will flash activity with his hands to be able to shed blocks, but needs to continue to develop and be more consistent. Flashes good upper body strength, but pad level can quickly rise and doesn't uncoil and explode into blockers on contact and can give ground and struggle to get off blocks.

(Likely Fraudulent) Measurables

Height: 6'4"
Weight: 245 lbs.
Fake 40 time: 4.65

Highlights

Senior year, via Hudl.

More highlights via YouTube:

Thoughts

As with all camp offers, you place a fair amount of trust in the staff's ability to work with prospects hands on and identify players who can help your program. It especially says something when the head coach and defensive line coach are the one's pulling the trigger on an offer.

There's lots of intriguing aspects about Kafo's recruitment and what he'll bring to Minnesota. First and foremost, he's raw. He has a lot to learn in terms of stance, playing with balance and not getting too upright off the snap. At the same time, he's a project-type prospect that's already 6'4", 245 lbs and 20 years old; Kafo is much more physically developed than your traditional high school prospect. When you combine all of that with five years to play four seasons, the staff sees something about the Canadian prospect that made them pull the trigger.

If I had to speculate, I'm sure Kill likes his frame and natural strength, figuring they can teach the technique points (especially during a redshirt season) and build flexibility through Coach Klein's S&C program. He's not really an edge rusher that the staff normally recruits at the position, though it's certainly possible they're looking to diversify the type of ends in the program to get more size and strength against the point of attack. In that regard, he's more like Hank Ekpe or Owen Salzwedel than Thieren Cockran or Alex Keith. You need to have depth and versatility in your program to match up against all different types of offenses, especially if you're a team that can't "select" recruits that can do it all.

One last thing about Kafo: his size and strength could project at a few other positions if defensive end doesn't work out -- namely, tight end or defensive tackle. I think there's a chance Gaelin Elmore moves over to defensive end; Elmore had 24+ TFLs as a senior, was named First Team All-State at DE (and not TE) and had a number of bigger programs (Michigan, Oregon and Ohio State) that looked at him at DE, though he seems adamant - for the moment - about sticking on offense. If you move Elmore to DE, it's certainly possible to give Kafo a look at TE to see how he fits.

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