I don't recall the Gophers being this far ahead of the recruiting game. At this time of the year during the last few recruiting cycles have typically been one of two scenarios. Either we have been going through a coaching change and the new staff is scrambling to keep the current class together while they maybe add a few guys here and there (2007 and 2011). Or Brewster and staff were still trying to complete their current class by stealing someone previously committed (Michael Carter-09 and Keanon Cooper-08) or working hard to secure a big name (MarQueis Gray-08 and Seantrell Henderson-10). But rarely do I recall so many visits and offers being made to kids for the next recruiting cycle.
There is a ton of discussion to be had about Kill's first full recruiting class. Are we getting a class full of MAC caliber athletes or is Kill snagging sleeper after sleeper? Are we wasting our time with too many JUCOs or are they a necessary evil?
Say what you want about the 2012 class that will be finalized in early February, but it is basically done as of mid-December and the staff has been able to get a jump-start on the 2013 class. The current class has 24 commitments (either verbal or actually signed). 25 is the max though you are allowed to oversign a few more. There are a handful of guys the staff is still pursuing but I believe the majority of the verbal commitments are safe and this class is largely done. So the staff is spending time visiting schools and the homes of 2013 recruits. As I type this we have reportedly given 15 official offers for the class of 2013.
Here is a brief look at some of the guys who according to GopherIllustarted.com have been offered Gopher scholarships for the class of 2013. I find this list mildly valuable but it will be very interesting to see if offering early has any measurable gain for the final class of 2013. Signing day is still nearly 14 months away but here are a few names worth paying attention to.
LB - Corey Vereen - a linebacker from Winter Garden, Florida is getting plenty of interest by SEC schools but his first and only offer is from Minnesota. Based on quotes from his father he is a loyal kid who claims the Gophers being the first to commit a scholarship to him is something he will not soon forget. I have read nothing that would indicate he is of relation to the Brock Vereen, who as you may recall is from California.
WR/DB - Tedric Thompson - in this case, the wide receiver & defensive back from Valencia, California is related to a current Gopher. The fact that he will have the opportunity to play with this brother, Cedric Thompson, will potentially impact his decision. He has interest from all around the country (Miami, Oregon, Pitt, Wisconsin, AZ St and Cal to name a few) but Minnesota is his only offer.
DE/TE - Jake Butt - the Pickering, OH native already has a bunch of offers. Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, UCLA, several other BCS schools and several MAC level schools. Currently Butt projects to be a very good rush end in college but he could also end up being a TE. With an extensive offer list it may be a stretch for the Gophers to get to the top of Butt's list.
QB - Aaron Bailey - a dual-threat quarterback from Illinois being offered by Iowa, Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue and other smaller schools. With Shortell and Nelson as young QBs I can't imagine that this will be a huge position of priority but if Bailey is a stud then you'd never tell him he can't come. In September he said Illinois was a favorite but a lot has happened since then and his list of favorites has and will change before signing day.
RB - Chris Davis - at the start of his season the Cincinnati, Ohio back was one of the top juniors in the state. In game two of his junior season he tore three ligaments in his knee. The Gopher and Cincy are the two schools who had offered with previous interest from some of the top schools in the country. Maybe this is the kind of kid we take a chance on who turns out to be stud. But he will have to continue rehabing and should be ready for the start of his senior season.
DE/Ath - James Looney - Florida kid was excited to get his first offer and took some time to investigate what Minnesota was all about. In October he broke his ankle but we offered him in November so one would assume that is not going to be a negative factor as far as the Gopher's staff is concerned.
FB - Harold Atkinson - interesting that we are pursuing a full back. Atkinson plays his high school ball in Myrtle Beach, SC and has offers from NC State and South Carolina.
DE - David Kenney - Indianapolis Pike High School is where Kenney plays his high school ball. Iowa, Indiana and Iowa State have also offered with interest from every other Big Ten school and more.
LB - Tim Kimbrough - Another Indianapolis kid, this one from Warren Central. That is the high school of James Manuel but these guys would be three years apart and while that should bring some level of familiarity or a trusted face it isn't like these guys were best friends. The junior recorded 176 tackles on a team that finished 11-1! Indiana, Purdue, North Carolina and Cincy have also offered.
CB - Brian Walker - This past year Walker was the teammate of Jamel Harbison who is a current Gopher commit. Auburn, NC State and South Carolina have also offered the 5-11 corner. There seems to be a real push by the Gopher staff to recruit the Carolinas so I would expect to see us making a push for Walker.
CB/RB - Ross Douglas - Currently the Ohio native has offers from UConn, Tenn and Minnesota. Those are three very different schools so if his recruiting ended today he'd have an interesting decision to make. Douglas is likely a 5-10 corner who has good academics and would be a nice addition. His team was the Div II runner-up in Ohio.
DT - Donovan Munger - offered from West Virginia and a few MAC schools, Munger is a 6-3, 280 defensive tackle. Shaker Heights, OH is where he currently plays and academics appear to be very high on his list of what is important in his recruiting process.
Others with Minnesota offers
RB - Greg Bryant - offers from a ton of major BCS programs
WR - MarQuez North - offers from 10 BCS programs
DE - Elijah Daniel - offers from Florida, Oklahoma, Ohio State and many others.
The last three on the list appear to be guys who will be very highly ranked and likely out of reach for the Gophers at this stage in their rebuilding. I really am most curious to see how many of these guys keep Minnesota as a serious contender throughout the process considering we offered so early. For no great reason I am enamored with Corey Vereen, Tim Kimbrough and Chris Davis. Then I would like to see them land Tedric Thompson to keep that family connection going. Based on position need I'd love to see them land Donovan Munger who is around 280 as a high school junior and could be a nice sized DT by the time he gets on campus.
But that is not the point. Chance are we won't land more than one or two of the guys listed, if that. But it is always fun to speculate.