HUGE news (both figuratively and literally) as massive OT Jonah Pirsig gave his commitment to the Gophers on Saturday. The 6'9, 300 pound product of Blue Earth, MN was one of the top prospects in the state for the 2012 class, and was being pursued by our two biggest rivals Wisconsin and Iowa. It's not often those schools lose to Minnesota either on the field or on the recruiting trail, and those things go hand-in-hand. Sconnie and Iowa usually waltz into our fine state, target Minnesota kids they want, and waltz back on out with them. The Badgers and Hawkeyes build their offenses around their offensive lines, and it starts with kids like Pirsig.
But Jonah wanted Minnesota and will stay in Minnesota, and a big reason why is the coaching staff. Per FBT he LOVED both Coach Kill, and especially OC Matt Limegrover, and they were instrumental in keeping him away from Madison and Iowa City. He's just the type of kid the Gophers have struggled to keep, and yet Kill has now landed TWO of them in less than a month, as he got interior lineman Isaac Hayes of STA to commit a few weeks ago. Kill (and by extension his staff) is a non-nonsense kind of guy who's building his offense from the line out, and the message he's sending recruits is obviously working. They are buying what Kill is selling, which seems ironic considering Tim Brewster talked like a salesmen but failed to deliver (well he delivered the 2008 recruiting class. I do thank him for that one), while Kill shoots straight and honest- and recruits and fans alike love it thus far.
Obviously what will matter are the results on the field, but this is a fabulous start to the Kill Era. As GN mentions in the Nugz, with the additions of Pirsig and Hayes, the Gophers could have an all-Minnesota line as early as next year, which wouldn't be just a source of pride for fans, but could also be the foundation for a very good team.
Because Sophomore Ed Olson and RS frosh Jimmy Gjere should be entrenched as the starting book ends for the next few years, there's no rush to play Pirsig right away. That's the other thing about Wisconsin and Iowa- you don't see them playing true freshmen on the line right away. They build their line with quality and depth, and their prospects get a few years before they start. At 6'9 and 300 pounds, Pirsig is definitely a tackle, but will get a few seasons to improve his strength and play before having to start a game, which is great for everybody. On the interior, freshman Tommy Olson, as well as Hayes, may be forced to jump in right away if they're deemed the best players available, but with the recruiting strategy we've seen thus far, that should become an exception and not the norm. They are building a line that in a few seasons could compare to Wisconsin and Iowa, and it could be done almsot entirely with Minnesota kids.
As a Gopher fan, I mean, what else can you say about Jerry Kill and his staff that haven't been said already? It's been...well honestly it's been baffling to watch because I'm just not used to this from a Gopher staff. Brewster talked the talk and didn't have the first idea how to walk the walk. Mason knew offense and how to run it, but never put much of a defense together and cared more about recruiting Ohio than Minnesota. Kill and his staff know exactly what they're doing, they know the offense and defense they want to run, and they know what kind of kids they need to run it. And they're going out and getting those kids. Not only that, they clearly understand how important it is to recruit the home state and lock up the borders of Minnesota.
Yes, Minnesota doesn't have the best quantity of D1 prospects, but there's quality here every year (although this year is better than normal for quantity AND quality) and when you show a commitment to the high school players and coaches in your home state, it pays off when there's talents like Pirsig and Hayes available (and Tommy Olson last year). The next step is keeping the skill position kids home, and the litmus test will be with WR Andre McDonald, who went from a full commit to a soft when Ohio State came calling. That's the next step in recruiting Minnesota, but with the track record Kill has shown here and in other places, I'm not going to doubt him, are you? In Jerry We Trust.
Welcome to the Gophers, Jonah. We're glad you're here. And we're glad Coach Kill and his staff are here too.