NSD +1. Time for all of us at TDG to share some thoughts on this class and for you to tell us what you think.
The Day After. A day when fax machines get sorely needed repairs made, when coaches resume calling the next round of recruits, when sportswriters who don't follow recruiting at all act like experts, and when I limit my Twitter access to recover from checking it obsessively (more than usual) for a whole day.
It's also a time for your friendly local bloggers to take stock of the newest Gophers. To do that, I reached out to all of the guys here at TDG to get their #TAKES on the class Coach Kill and his staff just signed. Once you've had a chance to read our ramblings, we'd love to read your responses to the same questions in the comments.
What are your overall thoughts on this signing class?
Matt: I'll add more detail in a NSD postmortem but briefly, I think they addressed some specific needs with this class: namely speed and playmakers on offense, numbers and athleticism at linebacker and more size in the front seven. About the only thing they really missed out on was a big time CB (F off, Florida State).
Overall, a lot of "system" guys and a continuation to build depth on the squad after years of Brewster era attrition. They did a decent job of it despite a really weak in-state crop for this cycle.
Jeffrick: Well being that I'm addicted to Kill-Aid, so obviously I love it. Thought they addressed some need areas well like LB, DL, RB, QB, and WR. The only thing they seemed to miss on was corner, but they should still be ok there at least for this year. SOME people might point at the low overall class rating as an issue, but come on- these coaches have been doing this for a dozen years or more, and know what they're looking for. Not only that, they can actually coach them up once they get here. What a novel concept.
JDMill: As per usual, while everyone who doesn't pay attention to Gopher football thinks the sky is still falling, I'm feeling pretty good about this class. While it's disappointing to not get much in the way of MN kids, much like Jeffrey Lebowski, this staff went out and achieved anyway. It seems to me the staff did a great job recruiting kids that fit what they like to do and filled some needs. At this point in the program's history, that's a win.
Gopher Nation: My gut feeling is that this is a class full of guys like Nate Andrews and Duke Riley (or maybe it is just me desperately hoping). Lower rated kids who once more fully vetted would have received more attention from bigger name schools. Andrews accepted a Gopher offer but near the end of the process was being pursued by Bama and then finally spurned us for Florida State. Riley finally got his LSU scholarship offer but was nearly persuaded to become a Gopher. My hope is that there are more guys like them in this class.
Ultimately this class added depth at needed positions and I believe it is filled with guys who will flourish in Kill's systems. Again, either that is my wishful thinking because we aren't prying 4-star recruits away from other BCS conference schools or there is some truth to it. Time will tell. I do have some appreciation and love the fact that we pried away two recruits from BCS conference schools at the last minute.
GoAUpher: I'm pleased. I've bought into the idea that Kill has a plan and that he's building towards it. Would I love to see more highly rated guys? Sure. Of COURSE I would. But I'd rather that Kill get guys he thinks he can coach up and build off of then go back to the star chasing for the sake of star chasing days of Timmy B. I'm especially excited by how the staff closed out the class strong. There was no fumbling about for last minute plug ins to fill holes.
Which new Gopher are you the most excited about?
Matt: Beside Berkley? Well, it's Berkley.
I also really like what Eric Carter brings to the table. I think he'll play right away and surprise folks by becoming the Brandon Green we all thought Brandon Green would be, before injuries took his knees.
Jeffrick: Definitely RB Berkley Edwards. The longest run from scrimmage last year by someone not wearing #5 was Donnell Kirkwood at just 38 yards. Next non-QB after that was Roderick Williams Jr...at 17 yards. Donnell and Roderick are quality B1G backs who are built to run over defenders, not past them. Hopefully Berkley gives this rushing offense the home-run threat it's been missing.
JDMill: It's hard not to be excited about RB Berkley Edwards, but I think I'm most excited about gaining speed in the linebacker group. "Money" Laster and Rayfield Dixon are just what this defense needs. Fast, athletic linebackers who can shed blocks and get after the ball. Speed is what Kill likes to recruit, and speed is what he gained with these two.
Gopher Nation: I don't know if I have a favorite that I'm REALLY excited about. Edwards has a chance to be a game-breaking back that we haven't had in a very long time. Wolitarsky could be a reliable receiver who can actually get himself open to keep the chains moving. Streveler seems to be a natural leader who just might become a really good QB for a couple years. I think Salzwedel and Ekpe should both be regular contributors for a few years. And I like the Mayes signing both for the chances it gives us with his younger brother and I think he'll be a multi-year starter. We signed a couple much-needed JUCO linebackers to add some experience at this thin position. There are a lot of things that I really like about this class, nothing that has me leaping for joy.
GoAUpher: For me it's Edwards and De’Vondre Campbell. I'm excited to see if Berkley can be a home run back for us and I'd love to see the late addition of Campbell work out huge for the Gophers.
Is there anything you think this class is missing or wish it had (could be a specific player, type of player, specific position, etc)?
Matt: Cornerback. I know they had a guy in the fold (Nate Andrews) who ended up getting poached by FSU but I don't think they adequately replaced the talent level of the departing seniors at that spot.
Jeffrick: Corner, obviously, as FSU stole a legit prospect in Nate Andrews who could have helped immediately. I think they'll be ok there this year with the three JUCO's Shabazz, Baltazar and Boddy, plus perhaps Derrick Wells sliding back to the outside from corner, but depth could an issue and it leaves some holes for the future.
JDMill: Have to agree with Matt on this one that the CB cupboard is probably still left a little bare with this recruiting class. You can't replace Michael Carter production with a true freshman, but it would have been nice to see some future talent that could turn into that type of production, which I don't believe we got.
Gopher Nation: I would have been thrilled to land one, highly rated and highly pursued corner. I don't love our depth at this position, I'm nervous about those stepping into more prominent roles and the DBs we signed do not have me salivating for the day they step onto the field. Some tinkering in the secondary will certainly occur and eventually Donovahn Jones may convert into a corner, but on the surface my one wish would have been a big-time corner.
GoAUpher: Nate Andrews. Because of the corner depth yes. But mostly because I was hoping Kill and Co. could hold onto him and beat out the big guys. I don't think less of the job they did because they weren't able to...just something I wanted (even though I knew it probably wouldn't happen).
Who wins "Best Name" in this recruiting class/which new player will be the first to have his name butchered by El Sid?
Matt: It's a tie between De'Niro and Daletavious. I also appreciate that the Gophers got a double dosage of first names starting with De'
Jeffrick: I like De'Niro, if only because everytime he makes a good play we can do bad Bob Deniro impressions.
JDMill: I'm going with Alex Mayes because... well because I can't think of anything clever since Matt already took the good names.
Gopher Nation: Tyroil Smoochie-Wallace is easily my favorite name in this class. (ED NOTE: GN's joke is funnier when I remember to embed the sketch he's referring to...)
Player you'd most like to see on the field in 2013?
Matt: Other than Berkley? Well, it's Berkley. And Donovahn Jones.
Besides Berkley, I'm intrigued to see if they get Donovahn Jones some snaps, either as QB, WR, or returning kicks. You have to figure they'll find ways to get an ESS-EE-SEE athlete the ball.
JDMill: I also have to go with Jones on this one. The kid just looks like he has so much talent, so much "wiggle," and so much speed, I can't imagine what Limegrover can do with that kind of weapon.
Gopher Nation: The JUCO linebackers. JUCO's are so hit or miss. For every Traye Simmons who was a solid 2-year starter, you have a Hayo Carpenter who was useless. These guys, Campbell and Wilson, need to get up to speed quickly and get themselves on the field. The rest of the class could all red-shirt as far as I'm concerned. I'm sure we'll see Edwards on the field if he has the game-breaking ability we are all hoping for; but the more who redshirt the better in my opinion.
GoAUpher: Not surprisingly it's the 2 guys I'm most excited about, Edwards and Campbell. Beyond that I'll echo GN and say the JUCO LB's since LB production was such a disappointment this past season.
How about you, faithful readers of TDG? What would your responses be?