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Finally locking down the border

Saturday had a lot riding on it.  A big chance to put Michigan in their place and win the Jug to have and to hold for the next few years.  And a big chance to impress an impressive list of recruits who were on on hand for the big game.  Within 24 hours of getting dominated on the field Brewster and his staff secured three more names for the 2009 recruiting class.

The names are good but what is most significant about these verbal commitments is that he has finally locked down the Minnesota boarder.  Over the past six seasons the Gopher staff has been able to secure only 23 of the top 60 players.  While the 38% is a bad number, the success rate of landing players ranked in the top five of MN players is worse landing just seven of the top 30 players over the last six years (23%).

Players lost over those years...

  • WR-Michael Floyd - would help a LOT right now
  • DE-Willie Mobley - jury is still out
  • WR-David Gilreath - would help a LOT right now, current B10 Off Player of the Week
  • DL-Broderick Binns - early but playing on good Iowa def
  • LB-James Laurinaitis - nothing to say here
  • WR-Nate Swift - breaking WR records at Neb
  • OL-Lyndon Murtha - think we could use some OL help right now?
  • TE-John Carlson - now playing on Sundays
  • DT-Trevor Laws - started DT on recent good Notre Dame teams

Players we have kept?... Some good names but we got lucky on most of them as they were not top five kids who happened to pan out. Maybe good, maybe lucky.

  • Adam Weber - #7 in 2006 class, no complaints here
  • Tony Brinkhouse - #7 in 2003 class,
  • Dom Barber - #6 in 2004 class, good pickup
  • Sam Maresh - #3 in 2008 class,  too early to know anything but big name at least
  • Jay Thomas - #8 in 2005 class, injured for career but at least is talented
  • Anthony Jacobs - #1 player in state in 2007 but has accomplished nothing so far
  • Eric Decker - not ranked in top 10, got lucky
  • Marcus Sherels - not ranked in top 10, walk-on, got lucky.

Even in Brewster's first rock star recruiting class we were unable to keep the four of the top five players in the state.  Maresh was a good pickup but not exactly locking the doors to the state as we lost four of the top five kids.  Finally with the 2009 class we have locked down the state with almost everybody we want.  Here are the 2009 top 10 Minnesota kids...

  1. Bryce McNeal - not yet committed but we have a great shot
  2. Moses Alipate - MINNESOTA
  3. Ra'shede Hageman - MINNESOTA (committed this weekend)
  4. Josh Campion - MINNESOTA
  5. Ed Olson - MINNESOTA
  6. Matt Garin - MINNESOTA (committed this weekend)
  7. Fritz Rock - does not hold a MN scholarship offer
  8. Casey Dehn - wisconsin commit
  9. Nick Rengal - MINNESOTA
  10. Derrick Engel - does not hold a MN scholarship offer

If we are able to land McNeal that will makes us 8/9 on players we offered a scholarship to.  This is exactly what we need to see year in and year out.  Brewster has been outstanding landing players from Texas, California, Florida and anywhere else to bring in some speed and overall increased talent.  But the best Minnesota has to offer is the low hanging fruit here.  If we can convince kids from Texas to come here and turn this program around, why couldn't we do that with our local kids?  I know it is much easier to sit here at my keyboard and comment on recruiting than it is to get it done, but it has to be done. 

Last year was mixed results for recruiting as far as I was concerned.  We had a great class but missed the big local kids failing to lock down the boarder.  Brewster has raised this programs profile and getting guys like Alipate, Hageman, Campion, Olson and Garin to stay home is taking another huge step forward.  Obvoiusly Minnesota isn't a recruiting hotbed where we can build out a full roster, but there are capable players here who can really help us out.  Build the base with local kids to provide depth and a few players we can rely on. 


Here are the names we secured this weekend. 

TE - Ra'shede Hageman (6-6, 250)

Hageman was sought after primarily by Wisconsin, Ohio State and Florida.  Then the next teir of schools interested was Oklahoma, Michigan St, Iowa and Nebraska.  This was a big one to get as usually when Ohio State or Wisconsin is involved we lose.  Hageman must be rather intelligent as he said what all Gopher fans have wondered for years.

"Why go to Wisconsin when you have what you want right in front of you?" he said. "So I decided to stay home."

Ra'shede is big and athletic and is our second commit who is also an Under Armor All-American.  He figures to add a new dimension to the passing game, especially near the end zone.  His YouTube highlights are impressive.  ESPN Insider had this to say...

He can be a quarterback's best friend in the sense that the ball can be thrown up and he will go up and get the ball at its highest point. His size and ability to jump make him a tough match-up and a target in the red-zone.

Hageman has the tools to be a solid player and should be able to physically make the jump to the Big Ten right away.

DE - Matt Garin (6-4, 220)

Chose Minnesota over Colorado, West Virginia, UCLA and Arizona State.  Garin is projected to be a good pass rusher at the next level.  Again, from ESPN Insider...

He is quick off the ball, but will likely not be able to rely on speed rushing as a college player and will need to execute pass rush moves. Overall, Garin is a good football player. He plays the game hard and well and displays the tools to be a good productive player in college.

On paper this is a good get for Brewster.  There are mixed feelings on Garin's potential but nobody will know anything for a couple years.  If at the very least he is solid and provides some depth I'll take it.  Not everybody we sign along the defensivel ine is going to be the next Reggie White. Joey_searcy_medium

DT - Joey Searcy (6-1, 275) 

Another recruit from our favorite lone star state.  Searcy plays for the 7-3, South Grand Prairie Warriors.  Searcy had offers from Colorado, Iowa, Utah and a few other non-BCS schools. Good size and hopefully will bulk up to near 300 after a year in the strength program (spend some time with Eric Small and Garret Brown!).

He will flash good quickness off the ball. Displays the ability to fire out of his stance low, generate power from the hips, shoot his hands and separate, and knock a blocker back. He needs to be more consistent in that. He can take on a block and control a gap when he gets off the ball and stays in a "football position", but at times plays high and does not get off the ball with the same explosion.

Some good things in there and a couple things that he'll need to work on.  But we need depth along the defensive line in the coming years and I'm happy we landed Searcy. 

These signings are not as sexy as if the five-star visitor Sheldon Richardson or the four-star cousin of Tyron Carter,  Michael Carter would have committed, but they are all solid and will go a long way towards upgrading the overall talent level.  Ten visitors and three commitments within 24 hours after a loss is a pretty good success rate.