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2013 Gopher Football Recruiting Primer - Defense

I profiled the offense and their recruiting needs a couple weeks ago. Today it is the defense's turn.

Defensive End

Starters: Ben Perry (SO) and Michael Amaefula (SO)
Second String: D.L. Wilhite (SR) and Kendall Gregory-McGhee (JR)
Depth: Thieren Cockran (rFR), Matt Garin (JR) and Leston Simpson (SR)

2012 Recruits: Alex Keith, Duke Anyanwu and Lincoln Plsek - expect Keith to remain at this position while the other two may end up moving to another (LB or TE?). Considering the talent and depth at this position do not expect any of the 2012 recruits to play here this year. They will either redshirt or play another position.

Potential Targets: This area already appears to be a focus of the 2013 class. With four juniors or seniors on the roster this is the year to add a couple guys who can redshirt a year, add depth for a year and then be ready to contribute. Locally one name to keep in mind is Michael Warren who plays at Providence Academy. Warren may end up a DT, but he has early interest from Iowa State, Minnesota and Boston College. Hendrick Ekpe is a Texas product who's name may sound familiar. His brother Scott is a DT commitment for the Gophers and will be a freshman this fall. The younger Ekpe has an offer from Iowa but I think his chances of ending up a Gopher are pretty strong. Alec James is a Wisconsin kid who's father finished his football career as a Golden Gopher. Iowa State, Wisconsin and Michigan State have also offered James. In high school James also participates in track running the 100 and 200, impressive for a defensive end prospect. Matt at FBT also suggests that Michael Flowers, a raw prospect at St. Paul - Humbolt may also end up garnering the Gopher staff's attention. Chikwe Obasih, a DE from Wisconsin has visited Minnesota but does not have an official offer. Finally, James Looney also has a Gopher offer. This Florida prospect also is being pursued by Miami, South Florida and Boston College.

Projected Number of Commitments: 3

Defensive Tackle

Starter: Ra'Shede Hageman (JR) and Roland Johnson (JR)
Second String: Harold Legania (SO) and Eric Jacques (JR)
Depth: Austin Hahn (SR) and Cameron Botticelli (SO)

2012 Recruits: Scott Epke, Jordon Hinojosa and Yoshuob Timms give us three incoming freshmen with this class. None of the three recruits had outstanding offer lists or incredibly high star rankings. Roland Johnson is a JUCO recruit who is expected to play this year. Other than Johnson I think the three freshmen will redshirt. With decent depth above them, and no seniors on scholarship, there is no reason to rush these guys onto the field. All three come into the program in the 260-270 lb range so a year to add some bulk and strengthen their bodies for Big Ten play is best for everyone.

Potential Targets: Considering the top four players at this positions (five if you include Botticelli) all return for next year and we signed three true freshmen, this would appear to not be a huge position of need in the 2013 class. We have offered a few guys who all have very impressive offer lists. Donovan Munger out of Ohio, Darius Latham from Indinapolis and Toby Johnson, a JUCO at Hutchinson CC all have an official offer from Minnesota. This may be a year where we go hard after a few big names and hope we hit a home run.

Projected Number of Commitments: 1 or 2 (my guess is 1)


Starter: Keanon Cooper (SR), Mike Rallis (SR) and someone at MLB (Beal or Hill or Rallis or Grant)
Second String: Spencer Reeves (SR), Brendan Beal (JR), Aaron Hill (JR), Lamonte Edwards (SO)
Depth: Dwayne Mitchell (SO), Ryan Grant (SR), Quinn Bauducco (rFR), Jephte Matilus (rFR), Peter Westerhaus (rFR)

2012 Recruits: Jack Lynn ended up being the only linebacker recruit to sign on NSD. Lynn comes from a very successful program in Illinois but will need a year to put on some muscle mass. Rumor has it that Marceice Jackson, a JUCO linebacker, will be committing to Minnesota. And Brian Nicholson from Miami-Central will end up signing the letter of intent that he intended to sign on NSD. Jackson has verbally committed but nothing is signed and the Gophers have not announced anything yet. If I were betting I would bet on Jackson being a Gopher and contributing from day 1.

Potential Targets: Three seniors and two juniors (possibly three) make this position one that could use a couple recruits in this class. There is a nice set of redshirt freshmen but this would be a class to bring in two or three nice prospects. Cory Vereen (no relation to Brock) is a good sized linebacker out of Florida. Minnesota was the first to offer him but his offer list is growing with a ton of high level offers.

Projected Number of Commitments: 2


Starter: Troy Stoudermire (SR) and Brock Vereen (JR)
Second String: Martez Shabazz (JR) and Micheal Carter (SR)
Depth: Cedric Thompson (SO), Briean Boddy (SO),

2012 Recruits: Shabazz and Boddy are JUCO recruits list above. Eric Murray is the lone true freshman that is certainly a corner, I expect that he will redshirt. I expect that Shabazz and his blazing speed will be an immediate contributor on the field. Boddy might earn his way onto the field but it will likely be in dime packages. This class was heavy on corners but it included two or three JUCOs so more fresh blood will be needed very soon. Dinero Moss was supposed to be an incoming freshman but for whatever reason he is going the JUCO route. It is possible that he was "placed" at a JUCO and will eventually be a Golden Gopher, but that will be officially another recruiting class.

Potential Targets:This current group is a little bit older. The JUCOs and Vereen mean that we will guys capable of playing this year and next, but new talent is necessary at this position every year. The good news is that we already have a committed corner for the class of 2013. Keelon Brookins is a local kid who committed to Coach Kill last weekend. Brookins was on the path to being a big-time recruit before tearing his ACL last spring and only got to play in one football game as a junior. But the Gopher staff saw enough to offer and hopefully they snagged a good one before everyone else sees him healthy and dominant. Marquez White is an athlete from Alabama who was just profiled on with a Gopher offer. We are currently his only major offer. Anthony Covington and Brian Walker are both highly recruited corners who play for Mallard Creek in Charlotte. They were recently teammates with Jamel Harbison so hopefully he will put in a good word for the Gophers. Covington has a nice list of offers from UNC, NC St, Wake, Virginia and Miss St. Walker has a 4-star rating already with offers from Auburn, Tenn, UNC, NC St and South Carolina. More names will certainly surface in the coming weeks.

Projected Number of Commitments: 1 or 2


Starter: If you know, please tell me. Derrick Wells (SO) and Jeremy Baltazar (JR)
Second String: Kenny Watkins (JR) and James Manuel (JR)
Depth: Grayson Levine (rFR) and Steven Montgomery (rFR)

2012 Recruits: Nick Rallis, Damarius Travis and Antonio Johnson have all been told they can come in to immediately compete for playing time. This position is probably the most wide open for playing time and any of the nine names mentioned could all end up starting. I'd be surprised to see Rallis on the field and he is the most likely to redshirt.

Potential Targets: I think we brought in a couple very nice freshmen safeties. This is a position of need, but not necessarily a position of great recruiting need in this cycle. Rivals lists Antonio Allen as our only safety offer at this point. Allen is from Ben Davis high school in Indianapolis and has a number of Big Ten offers.

Projected Number of Commitments: 1

I think that defensive end is where you will be the most work being done in this recruiting cycle. As noted on the offensive side of the ball, there are not a ton of scholarships available this year. By my count there are only 12 scholarship seniors so this will not be a huge class unless there are a number of non-qualifiers from the 2012 class and a handful of transfers already on the roster. I really am only anticipating about 15 scholarship commitments in the class of 2013. Defensive end is a big need and then we could us another guy (a super talented kid of course) at all of the other positions.