Hooray for more camp commits!
Rockford (IL) Boylan Central Catholic HC quarterback Demry Croft committed to Minnesota yesterday, becoming the 6th member of the Gopher 2015 recruiting class and likely lone signal caller of the group. Rated a 3 star prospect according to 247Sports' Industry Composite, Croft lists FBS offers from Northern Illinois, Kent State, Buffalo, Akron and Eastern Michigan. Much like Nick Connelly, Demry was a recent attendee at one of Kill's summer camps, earning an offer the very next day.
247Sport's Steve Wilfong with the commitment article (free):
"Coach Kill is a very smart man. He's a great man and he knows what he's talking about. I can't wait to play for him. I also appreciate how he believes in me and wants me to play quarterback for them. I look forward to playing with a bunch of guys that love playing football and I'm excited about playing on one of the biggest stages in college football."
Croft told Ryan Burns of GopherIllustrated.com that he wants to be better than his favorite NFL quarterback Cam Newton.
"I really try to play like him as much as I can, and I’m going to strive to be a little bit better than him as I keep progressing," he told the local Rivals.com site. "I’m 100% committed to Minnesota, and I won’t be taking any visits to other colleges."
Start warming up that arm kid.
(Likely Fraudulent) Measurables**
** The section title is a bit. It's intentionally facetious comment on how recruiting sites (and even some college coaches) notoriously exaggerate traditional combine measures -- especially the 40. No offense is meant.
Weight: 187 lbs.
Fake 40 Time: 4.66s electronic
Don't make me do it. Please...
[Inverts canister over head, drenches self in volatile liquid]
You take one look at those measurables, that raw athletic ability,..
[Pulls out unbranded book of matches]
That style on the field, you see the similarities with a former inherited Kill quarterback...
[strikes phosphorus to sandpaper]
... MarQueis Gray.
I'm naturally resistant to this comparison for a multitude of reasons I shouldn't have to articulate. It's unfair to either individual, at a minimum: one is an NFL fullback after five years of getting jerked around as a [legitimate] team-first, jack-of-all-trades offensive weapon. The other is a 17 year old one year removed from playing wide receiver who just made the most influential decision of his to-date life. Circumstances are not equivalent, not matter how much one squints with one eye.
Croft is a good athlete with good speed and a legit 6'4" frame for the position. Gray was and still is quicker, based on the eyeball test and comparable combine metrics.Q also blew up during the camp circuit, was invited to the 2007 Elite 11 (but couldn't attend due to Indiana state high school rules) and most famously was selected to play in the 2008 Army All-American Bowl. Gray announcing his decision to play for Minnesota at the Army game may have honestly been the high point of the Tim Brewster era.
Demry hasn't quite made the same splash on the summer camp circuit, having departed Ames the week prior to his stop in Dinkytown without an offer. I think he shares some of the same raw talent for the position that Gray did, though Q was more athletic by far -- MarQueis made it to the NFL on athleticism and frame alone.
This is cut and dry. Kill prefers athletic quarterbacks who can run the zone read/option concepts of the offense, and the former wide receiver who took over at QB midway through the season fits the bill. He is also a football player who can throw the pigskin. Joking aside, he does a good arm despite an awkward throwing motion and release, and appears to have good touch. He reportedly made quite the impression at the Gophers camp on June 22nd, making every throw Coach Z asked him to and earning an offer the very next day. He certainly fits the offense better as a QB who can make throws on the move than James Morgan, a 4 star prospect from Green Bay whom the Gophers didn't offer despite seeing him in person. Scheme fit over star power is kind of the way this staff rolls.
Loved watching Croft live at camp. Has an extremely high ceiling. May be the highest on the roster for QB's when he steps on campus.— Ryan Burns (@RyanBurnsGI) July 1, 2014
I wasn't at that camp, so I can't verify whether Croft has the kind of talent. Those sort of claims make me uneasy: I don't think it's fair to the kid or the fans to set that level of expectation. Croft is good, and he fits what the staff likes at quarterback, but he's still a project at this point. You've got to take the long view with him: to use the crappy comparison I made earlier, if Gray had been working with this staff from day one instead of Jedd Fisch, perhaps his career arc would have projected higher. Croft 3-4 years from now may be a very different player, which is what you're hoping for.
Still, this kind of praise doesn't make it any easier:
Seems legit, though I went and checked it out anyway.
There are 6 dual-threat quarterbacks committed to B1G schools for the 2015 cycle ranked ahead of Croft in the 247Sports Composite Rankings, though only Ohio State's Joe Burrow and Penn State's Brandon Wimbush are head and shoulders above the rest (Minnesota offered Burrow). The Gophers also extended an offer to Tommy Stevens, a current IU pledge and had interest in Iowa's 2015 QB pledge, Ryan Boyle.
Croft is so new to the position that his upside is sort of unknown at this point, which of course earns the dreaded stamp of "potential" that gets NBA GMs fired. His raw ability is on par with other B1G QB commits, though he's certainly among the least polished prospects in the conference.
Another thing to consider is how and when the Gophers came about offering Croft compared to other QBs currently on the roster. That is almost more telling than an arbitrary ranking against other squads:
- Philip Nelson: Immediately tabbed as the QB of the future when Kill arrived back in December of 2010. One of the staff's first offers at Minnesota.
- Mitch Leidner: Brought in to camp the summer of 2011 as a tight end/athlete, the staff offered only after proto-Moose beat Nelson's team in the 7on7 passing tournament at the U -- a performance that Kill describes as one of the best performances by a QB in a camp setting he's ever seen. Mitch forced the U's hand, basically.
- Chris Streveler: Camp offer the summer of 2012, was also evaluated at wide receiver.
- Dimonic Roden-McKinzy: Offered the summer of 2012 as well when he made the trip from Kansas City as a then sophomore and performed at camp.
- Croft: Camp guy.
All but one of them was a camp offer, and only 2 were identified as "the" QB for a particular cycle well in advance. By comparison, Seth Green has held a Minnesota offer since he was a freshman. If anyone would scream "program changer," it's the fellow from East Ridge. Keep that in mind for next year...