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National Signing Day, The 2011 Golden Gopher Recruiting Class - The Jerry Kill Recruits

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Part II of the Gopher 2011 recruiting class (Part I is here).

Now we look at the crew brought to Gopher Nation by Coach Kill. Kill and staff have had less than 2 months to retain previous recruits as well as add to the class. The first few "new" recruits to commit to Minnesota were guys who had previously committed to Northern Illinois. Then Kill and staff landed a few JUCO players at positions of need and finally they worked to fill out the class with guys who had either previously been on the Gophers or Huskies radar.

I recall at Kill's initial press conference he said that on defense you need ends who can get pressure on the quarterback and corners who can defend on an island, "after that you can pretty much do whatever you want." And wouldn't you know it? The majority of Kill's commitments

Commitments by Position (all recruits)
QB - 1
RB - 0
WR - 3
TE - 2
OL - 6

DL - 2
LB - 3
CB - 2
S -3

K - 1

Below is your 2011 Gopher recruiting class starting with the JUCO commits followed by the incoming freshmen.

Drayquan Crawford - JUCO

Position: S

Measurables: 6-1 /205

Videos: [1]

- Rivals: #NR (3*)
- Scout: #NR S

Notes: A nice sized JUCO Safety who has a chance to come in and play right away. Crawford is quoted on GopherIllustrated as saying the coaches appreciate his nose for the ball and his ability to support run defense. The return of Royston for his senior year still leaves one safety position up for grabs and Crawford may be the guy who earns it.

UPDATE: Crawford has signed his LOI but is not officially listed with the team yet.

Ge'Shun Harris - JUCO

Position: WR

Measurables: 6-3 / 215 / 4.55

Videos: [1]

- Rivals: #NR WR (3*)
- Scout: #NR WR

Notes: A teammate of Crawford's down at Arizona Western CC, Harris is also filling an area of extreme need. He comes in as a big receiver who has a chance to earn playing time immediately. It is always a bonus when guys can enroll in January to participate in spring practices and better prepare themselves for August. JUCO receivers haven't been all that successful as Golden Gophers in recent memory but Harris is a big, possession type guy who is a good blocking receiver and should be able to contribute quickly.

John Rabe - JUCO


Position: TE

Measurables: 6-4 / 245

Videos: [1]

- Rivals: #NR TE (2*)
- Scout: #NR TE

Notes: You should use the JUCO ranks to fill positions of need and once again that is what is happening here. Rabe comes to Minnesota to add depth to the TE ranks. We have the likes of Eric Lair at the top of the depth chart but once he and Tiree Eure graduate there is a huge void that Rabe is expected to fill. Rabe comes to us from Elsworth CC in Iowa, he committed to Northern Illinois and then switched to Minnesota when that offer came from Coach Kill.

Grayson Levine

Position: S

Measurables: 6-0 / 195

Videos: [1]

- Rivals: #NR S (3*)
- Scout: #133 S
- ESPN: #117 S

Notes:One of the first commits to Coach Kill and he comes to the Gophers from Eden Prairie. This is a good move by Kill and staff to keep close ties to a local program that generally turns out prospects every couple years. Levine is not a great athlete but he is a tough kid who may earn his way to the playing field by sheer determination. ESPN had this to say about Levine, "Although lacking great speed this athlete plays with the intensity and instincts which seem to get him in position to make big momentum changing plays. Levine is a boarder line BCS prospect with the toughness and athleticism to play at the next level"

Foster Bush


Position: OL

Measurables: 6-5 / 270

Videos: [1]

- Rivals: #NR OG (3*)
- Scout: #122 OT
- ESPN: #177 OT

Notes: A Northern Illinois commit who was given a Gopher scholarship and took it. Bush is one of the 10 offensive linemen the program has signed over the past two seasons. "We see a tough battler with the nasty finishing attitude we like to see from offensive linemen." I like his toughness but Bush will certainly spend a year redshirting and will be counted on for depth for a couple years.

Marcus Jones

Position: DB

Measurables: 5-8 / 170 / 4.6

Videos: [1], [interview before semi-final game]

- Rivals: #NR CB (3*)
- Scout: #168 CB
- ESPN: #73 CB

Notes: Jones was a Huskie commit before switching to Minnesota when he received the offer. Jones is a talented corner who was likely held back by his lack of size but he is productive. As a junior he recorded 107 Tackles, 15 Pass Deflections, 8 Interceptions (2 for TDs), 3 Forced Fumbles, 2 Blocked FG's. This season Jone's led his Wake Forest-Rolesville team to a 14-2 record and an appearance in the North Carolina state title game. Quick, fast, explosive have all been used to describe Jones but the one thing any analysis comes back to is his lack of size. We'll see how much of a factor that becomes but if he can defend well one-on-one between the 20s he'll have some solid value, we'll see.

Drew Goodger

Position: DE / TE

Measurables: 6-5 / 235

Videos: [1]

- Rivals: #58 DE (3*)
- Scout: #NR DE
- ESPN: #178 DE

Notes: The #10 player in the state of Kansas, and could also end up playing TE as a Gopher. Needs to add some size to his frame and will almost certainly redshirt this fall. Needs to develop but shows some flashes and will potentially end up being a solid contributor over his Golden Gopher career.

Quentin Gardener

: WR

Measurables: 6-0 /190 / 4.44

Videos: none found

- Rivals: #NR WR (3*)
- Scout: #123 WR
- ESPN: #110WR

Notes: XXX Ranked #54 overall and #13 WR in the Dallas / Ft Worth area by HS Gametime. Also ranked by Rivals as one of 5 "Super-Sleepers" in this 2011 class where Rivals had this to say about him, "His ability to create space using his running back-shaped body coupled with soft hands made him a dangerous weapon. And he has the power and strength to break simple arm tackles similar to Hines Ward of the Pittsburgh Steelers." Gardner also plays as a DB but will likely be a receiver to start his Gopher career.

Steven Montgomery

Position: CB

Measurables: 5-10 / 185

Videos: [1]

- Rivals: #49 S (3*)
- Scout: #99 CB
- ESPN: #76 S

Notes:Miramar, FL native who was a late signee for the Gophers and one of my favorite recruits in this class. Montgomery had an impressive offer list from schools like Illinois, Kansas, North Carolina and Wisconsin. "Overall, Montgomery shows flashes of good speed and natural explosion, has the frame to get bigger as well. Needs some time to hone his skill-set but brings a lot of physical tools to the table." (ESPN Eval). Good size, good speed and should be a regular contributor early in his career. May very well redshirt this season but he'll see the field often over his four years of eligibility. Claims he can bench 245, squat 345 and has a 34" vertical.

Joe Bjorklund

Position: OL

Measurables: 6-5 / 285

Videos: [1]

- Rivals: #NR OT
- Scout: #NR OT
- ESPN: #60 OG

Notes: Rosemount lineman who was one of the last to receive an offer and accept. Bjorklund is the 6th OL committed to this class. Will surely redshirt and could develop nicely down the road and be part of an all-Minnesota offensive line (Olson, Olson, Gjere, Bjorklund and Campion, why not?).

Michael Amaefula


Position: DE

Measurables: 6-2 / 220

Videos: [1]

- Rivals: #NR DE (3*)
- Scout: #107 DE

Notes: Amaefula comes to us from Arlington, Texas and chose the Gophers over offers from Iowa, Kansas St, Iowa St and other smaller schools. This appears to be a very nice late addition to the class and on top of his abilities as a football player Amaefula is a smart kid. In life after football he wants to be a doctor which is part of the reason he chose Minnesota. Not great size and not highly ranked despite playing on a higher profile team, I would expect a redshirt year for Amaefula. Earned 1st team defensive end on the Section 4-5A Team.

Theiren Cockran

Position: DE

Measurables: 6-6 / 210

Videos: [1], [2]

- Rivals: #NR DE (2*)
- Scout: #NR DE

Notes: "Another DE added late to the 2011 class. We have several young defensive linemen on the roster but this year's crop of three should be well groomed to replace them in a couple years. Cockran hails from Homestead, FL and had offers from Purdue, Northern Illinois and others but obviously chose the Gophers late. He is rather thin but should have a couple years to grow and develop before he'll be counted on as a pass-rushing end.

Derrick Wells

Position: S

Measurables: 5-11 / 175 / 4.6

Videos: [1]

- Rivals: #NR S (2*)
- Scout: #NR S

Notes: A very late commit, Wells chose Minnesota over Ball State. 75 tackles and 6 INTs as a JR in Lehigh Acres, FL. DB was a huge area of need and emphasis by Kill and staff. Wells will almost certainly redshirt but will add depth in an area where it is very much needed.

Chris Hawthorne

Position: K

Measurables: 6-4 / 180

Videos: [1]

- Rivals: #NR S (2*)
- Scout: #NR S

Notes: Hawthorne is actually a transfer from NC State and will be eligible to play immediately in 2011 because he was not a scholarship player for the Wolfpack. He is a former soccer player who has only been playing football for two years and should have a very good chance to start for the Gophers this fall. Not technically a part of this recruiting class but he is an additional scholarship to the program and I'm listing him here.

This group is based largely on need and is full of guys that Kill and staff were recruiting while at Northern Illinois. Quinten Gardner and Steven Montgomery are the highlights of this group (imo) but this entire group looks more and more like a bunch of guys who will potentially be solid contributors down the road but it is lacking anyone who will rise up to be a difference maker at their position.

Preferred Walk-ons

  • Jon Christenson, Minnetonka (OL)
  • Ernie Heifort, Bemidji (TE)
  • Peter Mortell, Green Bay, Wis.(P)
  • David Platner, Eden Prairie (K)
  • Luke Trucilla, Erie, Pa.(WR/DB)