Seems as though Coach Jerry Kill wasn't kidding around when he stated there would be surprises come Wednesday. Now, what qualifies as a surprise to the general football viewing public versus the hardcore recruitniks of the world is a completely different thing. This would qualify under the latter.
Still, nabbing more defensive line prospects is not a bad strategy at all.
Mobile (AL) Murphy HS defensive tackle Gary Moore committed to Minnesota this afternoon, switching his verbal commitment from Southern Mississippi. Moore was an early defensive line target of the staff and a prospect they were able to bring up on official visit last weekend. The Gophers had always held Moore in high esteem on their board, though with 3 other defensive line commitments in the class (including 2 potential tackles), finding room for a player like Moore was the primary concern.
Gary is rated as a 3 star prospect according to 247Sports' Industry Composite, flipping from Southern Mississippi and listing offers from Northern Illinois, Arkansas State, Troy, Western Kentucky and others. Moore is the second prospect to have signed with Minnesota out of Murphy HS under Coach Kill; K.J. Maye inked with the Gophers out of the Mobile HS back in 2012 as an athlete.
Gopher247's Kyle Goblirsch with a quick commitment piece ($) and quotes from Moore's head coach:
"He is a very special talent. He is roughly 6'4 285lbs and runs a 4.7 forty. He is an exceptional athlete especially for his size. Gary is also first and foremost an outstanding human being and has been an absolute joy for our coaching staff"
More quotes from Murphy HC Rick Cauley to AL.com:
"He said he loved it up there. (Former Murphy star K.J.) Maye is up there so I think it will help to have a familiar face around. He should be a good fit for them."
Former Murphy coach Ronn Lee said earlier this year that Moore's size and quickness would make him an imposing threat at the next level.
"Gary has a unique ability to find the football," he said. "It's almost second nature to him. He also obviously has great height and reach. He can stand in one place and cover a lot of ground."
Gary is apparently really, really strong:
Wow! New #Gophers DT commit Gary Moore can reportedly squat 680lbs!!! That's like four Jerry Kill's on his shoulders!!— GopherHole.com (@GopherHole) February 3, 2014
ESPNU Evaluation ($):
Flashes a quick first step along with the upper body playing strength to collapse the pocket with a straight on power move; must improve hand use along while developing a repertoire of moves. We like is up-field surge and ability to contain and pressure the quarterback with a closing burst. Although seemingly out of position at times this prospect moves through traffic efficiently, showing the desire to chase down the football; is a strong wrap tackler who doesn't allow leaky yards after contact.
(Likely Fraudulent) Measurables
Weight: 270-285 lbs.
Fake 40 Time: 4.75s (lolwut) - 5.19s electronic
You have to give the Minnesota staff credit here on multiple accounts. One, they stick to their guns if they like a prospect early on in the process. Two, they keep diligently pursuing recruits down to the wire. Three, they have specific recruiting hot spots they love to target. Four, they are not shy about adding another player if they believe said commitment can help out the team, even if they're already landed several other prospects at that position.
Moore is a culmination of all four.
It's easy to see why the staff was so intrigued by Moore; athletic defensive linemen with good initial pop and a great build are hard to find. Bill Parcells famously crafted his "Planet Theory" as a guiding philosophy behind his construction of successful NFL teams, and the Gophers are largely following their own version by landing prospects like Moore. That sort of natural strength, athleticism and frame make defensive linemen among the most highly coveted players on the trail; Gary's raw measureables are reason enough to bring him on board.
Moore fits what the Gophers like to do on defense since he can drive back offensive guards with his powerful initial punch and disrupt plays in the backfield with penetration. He's also got a solid motor to move down the line and track ball carriers laterally, not the easiest task for a tackle. He plays a 4-3 end in high school, though he'll slide down inside once he gets on campus and learn the finer points of the position: namely, hand placement/fighting and learning to play against double teams.
Even more exciting is the mix of players Kill and Claeys are bringing in on defensive line. Along with Andrew Stelter and Steve Richardson, Minnesota has 3 potential defensive tackles in this class if they opted to go that route. Of course, Stelter could stay outside with Julien Kafo and provide Coach Phelps with that "big" defensive end to anchor the run defense, something this staff hasn't quite recruited for to date. This is without even mentioning a Gaelin Elmore or Jerry Gibson, two prospects with the right athletic and physical abilities to move over to defense if the staff chooses to.