This is the big visit weekend for Gopher Football. Gopher Hoops has some key visitors as well, but we will begin this week's recruiting roundup with football. Several of the higher profile football recruits will all be on campus this weekend and taking in the Syracuse game. Remember, we have limited scholarships so we will be accepting commitments from specific guys at specific positions. I believe that many of the visitors this weekend are the guys we are specifically targeting as kids at the top of our recruit board.
Official Visitors This Weekend
RB - Berkley Edwards - This guy might be at the top of my football recruiting wish-list and by "might be" I mean he is. The Gophers needs a dynamic tailback to balance out the offense. Edwards might be that guy. He is the brother to Braylon Edwards and most of the other schools want the younger Edwards to come in as slot receiver. But Jerry Kill and Co. are promising Edwards the opportunity to play running-back, which he prefers. This, that I cherry-picked from his ESPN recruiting eval.
Will get through tight creases with quickness and by warding off closing tacklers with strength. Low center of gravity aids his balance and power. Shows he can take a hit and keep forward momentum. Spins and bounces off first contact and is difficult to arm-tackle when he gains downhill momentum and runs behind his pads.
Edwards is still planning to visit Cal and Iowa. Let's hope for a great atmosphere and a Gopher win to give Edwards a great impression of Gopher football.
WR - Drew Wolitarsky - we lead the world in WSP and we are pursuing another one. Wolitarsky is on the verge of setting California high school records for receptions and yards. This from GopherIllustrated.com's preview of his visit this weekend.
I'm only 158 receiving yards away from becoming the all-time leading receiver in California and that really means a lot to me," Wolitarsky explained. "I'm also only 47 receptions away from breaking that record as well, so I'm working extremely hard to reach both of these achievements in my senior season here. I think that reaching these two records would show how hard I've worked as a player and how lucky I was with the opportunities presented.
Wolitarsky is listed at 6-3, 210 and would project to be more of a possession receiver at this level.
Knows when to hit top speed and when to tempo routes to get open. Has a great understanding of where he is at on the field relative to the sidelines, uses his body well to shield defenders. Sustains big hits and maintains the catch, tough in traffic and does not shy away from contact. Adjusts well to poorly thrown passes, good body control to make tough catches. Catches the ball away from his body. Makes tough catches in traffic, does not need any separation to make the catch. Does a nice job of coming flat to downhill after the ball on in/out-cuts. Does not possess a great burst to gain separation at the top of routes, must rely more on technique and body position. Has a good stiff arm, finds the crease in the defense and hits it. Very decisive after the catch. No wasted cuts. Runs with some power, but does not have great wiggle to make defenders miss in space. Hard worker with good size and toughness to translate into an adequate blocker.
Of the receivers we are targeting, this is the one I'd like to see us land, and it sounds like he is a pretty strong Gopher lean. We have a number of more dynamic type guys who can stretch the field, I'd love to see a reliable possession type guy who knows how to get open and make the big third-down catch in traffic. Arizona is his only other BCS level offer.
S - Tedric Thompson - the brother of Cedric who has offers from Colorado and Washington State to go along with his Gopher offer but is being pursued most heavily by Hawaii and Nevada. Thompson will likely be a safety at this level but could also transition to OLB down the road. He comes to the Twin Cities this weekend looking forward to spending time with this brother and taking in the whole atmosphere.
WR - Hunter Jarmon - Waco, Texas receiver who stands at 6-0, 190 lbs and runs a sub 4.5 40 (supposedly). Jarmon visited Kansas last week and has the rest of his official visits lined up for Oregon State, Washington State and Texas Tech. I would be surprised if Jarmon commits this weekend. The interesting nugget to Jarmon is that he also wants to play baseball in college. Playing both sports can be tough, but maybe Gopher Football and Gopher Baseball will be a perfect fit for Jarmon.
WR - Eric Carter - Florida native who would add some quickness to the Gopher offense. Carter is 5-10, 175 lbs and has been rather productive in high school with 49 catches a year ago and 6 touchdowns. His ESPN eval likes his ability to get open.
This is not a player that will create big, homerun plays, but he gets open, has consistent hands and is a sharp route runner in the short and intermediate passing game. Surges off the ball and gets to top speed quickly. On the outside he does a nice job setting defenders up with double moves and stutters to create separation and give the impression he is going to break the route off.
Carter has been paying attention to the Gophers this year.
"I have actually watched all three of their games so far this season. Last weekend Shortell came in and got them the win," he said. "I actually asked coach about them running the ball quite a bit. He said they are just working with the personnel that they have right now. It is nice to see them get off to a good start so far this season. I can't wait to watch them live."
Now, he'll get to see them in person.
That is the list for this weekend on the football side of things. Personally, I'd love to see Thompson, Edwards and Wolitarsky commit; the sooner the better. I do find it interesting that we have three receivers visiting when I think it is pretty clear we will only be taking one in this class.
On to Basketball where we have three official visits this weekend. We hosted three guys two weeks ago in Nigel Hayes, Cedric Hankerson and Gavin Schilling. I'll be surprised if we land Hayes, Schilling likely won't commit till the spring and Hankerson has since committed to Boston U. The search for our first (and second and third) commit continues.
Hoops Official Visitors This Weekend
PF - Alex Foster - As I have stated before, we are clearly targeting PF in this class. Foster fits that bill at 6-8, 205 pounds. Like Edwards for football, Foster might be at the top of my wish-list for hoops. Good size, very good rebounder and has the ability to finish in traffic. A lefty who needs to refine his shooting and face-up game. Foster is also a bright kid. Typically I only give you offers from other BCS conference schools but I feel I should point out that Foster has an offer from Harvard to along with this offers from Wisconsin (who recently signed PF-Vitto Brown), Nebraska, Tennessee, Northwestern, Purdue and Illinois. This athletic, big-man who excels in transition would be a great addition to this roster. Marcus Fuller got this quote from Foster's new high school coach.
"Alex has good footwork and good speed in getting to the rim," Seton Academy coach Brandon Thomas told the Pioneer Press. "He can put the ball on the floor a little bit and his shot is improving. The best thing about him is that he takes defending personal. He can defend out on the perimeter if you need him to."
SF/SG - Alvin Ellis - Really a skilled SF who can play off guard or even play point-forward if needed. I like our chances with this Chicago product and I think his skill set would be a nice addition to the roster. Ellis is a scorer.
"He can play both on the offensive side and defensive side," White said. "But he’s a true scorer. He really puts the ball in the basket. In his final game of the year last season, he scored 42 points in the state tournament. He was our leading scorer (16 points a game) this past season. He’s very capable of being a 1,000-point scorer for his career."
If I were a betting man (which I am), I would bet that Ellis ends up signing with the Gophers.
PF - Tory Miller - Yet another power forward coming to the U, but this one is a legit PF. Miller is 6-8 and 245 lbs and is a physical presence in the paint.
Miller is a big bodied, post player with a tremendous amount of upside. He does a terrific job of rim running for lay-ups or post up opportunities. In the post, Tory likes to use power moves over his left shoulder to score. He finishes at the rim right now, but once he gets over his knee injury will be able to finish with above the rim dunks. He has good hands and feet for a guy his size.
Fuller caught up with Miller too, who thinks he would be a good fit to replace the physicality of Mbakwe.
"I just try to be me, and I hope somebody will base their game off me," he said. "Right now, I can see myself stepping into (Mbakwe’s) place and taking over."
I like big, physical kdis. He seems like he'd be a great fit in the Big Ten.
Some of the bigger names on the Gopher recruiting boards will be here this weekend. We'll be sure to stay on top of what happens in the days following what is sure to be a Gopher win Saturday night.