Recruiting is hitting the home-stretch and the Gophers have limited scholarships available in this particular class. The Gophers have only 15 scholarship seniors graduating and they have 13 verbal commitments in the current class. My southern Minnesota, High School math tells me that means we have room to take 2 more commitments in this particular class. Not exactly true because we will oversign by a few to account for any verbals who change their mind, kids who may not qualify academically and/or any current players who will decide to transfer.
My guess is that the Gophers will sign (or try to sign)...
- 1 RB
- 2 WR
- 2 CB
- 1 OL
- 1 LB
That could fluctuate a bit, but I think this is the general direction of the final month of recruiting. For instance, I note that we will try to take 1 more OL commit in this class, but that would really only be if Frank Ragnow decides to be a Gopher. If he picks another school, I don't think you'll see another OL take his place. If we only get 1 true WR to commit, there is a chance that we take another RB particularly a fast one who may end up playing in the slot. Still quite a few moving parts here with 37 days will NSD.
With limited scholarships remaining, below is my personal top 10 wish list.
1 - Frank Ragnow - OT - Chanhassen, MN - Figuring out who should be #1 on my list was easy, it is Ragnow with a bullet. 4-star lineman, he is a Minnesota kid and we are battling with the likes of Florida State, Arkansas and Wisconsin for his services. The Badgers are making late pushes to land Ragnow after it was a consensus two-horse race between Minnesota and Florida State. I've read that FSU plans to take 4 tackles in this year's class. They currently have 3 verbally committed and are in good standing with a few other highly acclaimed OTs. We may end up in the driver's seat by default and that would be just fine with me. According to Ryan Burns of GopherIllustrated.com, Kill will be the last coach to spend time with Ragnow before he makes his decision. This would be a great piece to the 2014 recruiting class as Ragnow would sit near the top of Gopher signed class when all is said and done. Personally, I think Ragnow stays home and plays for Coach Kill.
2 - Craig James - CB - Edwardsville, IL - talented cover-corner who could stand to grow another inch (AFTER he signs with the Gophers). This from ESPN.com eval,
James has the feet and speed to be a highly sought after corner and then, on top of that, should be very successful at the next level. Another inch would make him truly special.
Good speed and athleticism that might make him valuable in the return game. I really like the idea of James and think he would be legit contributor out of this class. Offers from Indiana, Iowa, Iowa St., Kansas, Missouri and Syracuse would also indicate that this would be a very nice get. I think he ends up a Gopher as well.
3 -Melvin Holland Jr. - WR - Ashburn, VA - big receiver with big, play-making abilities. Holland Jr. did not play receiver until this season and he put up impressive numbers. Prior to the Virginia State Championship game Holland had recorded 59 catches, 833 yards and 14 touchdowns. Then in the title game he caught three touchdowns of 78 yards, 7 yards and 73! The third one can be seen here. Total stats in Holland's five postseason games were 31 receptions, 542 yards and seven touchdowns.
He is 6-3, 200 lbs and has good speed. As kind of a sleeper prospect, Holland Jr is getting a lot of late attention. Minnesota may currently be in the driver's seat but Rutgers recently offered while Wisconsin and Purdue offers appear to be imminent. We have him set to visit the weekend of Jan. 17th and I think (hope) he will leave Minnesota that weekend as a Golden Gopher.
4 - Tegray Scales - OLB - Cincinnati, OH - athletic linebacker who appears to have narrowed his choices down to Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota. After a good senior season, Scales made a notable jump up 10 spots in the Rivals ranking of best OLBs in the country. No visits are set up yet but part of that is due to scheduling around his high school wrestling schedule.
This prospect is an instinctive player who rarely gets out of position and takes good angles to the football; is quick off the mark, showing good key and diagnosis reaction skills; is a tough customer who shows the playing strength needed to take on blockers at the point of attack. Moves through traffic well, demonstrating the ability change direction and make plays in tight spaces.
A lot of talk about his upper-body strength and this sure tackling abilities. The ESPN eval quote above also notes his instincts and play diagnosis. All signs point to a very talented linebacker who might be ready to play early at this level. If we get him on campus, I think he is a Gopher but getting him on campus will be the hard part.
5 - Patrick Porter - CB - Alabama - 6-0, 170 lbs and a very athletic corner. The biggest knock I've read on Porter is that he is not very strong; but his athleticism, length, confidence and speed make him a very nice corner prospect. He currently holds offers from Miami and Washington St. Minnesota has not yet offered but will be visiting the weekend of Jan. 24 where an offer just might be extended. One of the top players in Alabama, a three-star prospect and one that very much intrigues me. We technically haven't offered, and may not unless we miss out on James or Martavius Mingo. I don't think Porter ends up a Gopher, but I'd be happy if he did.
6 - Rodney Smith - RB - Jonesboro, GA - the Gopher staff has spent some time in Georgia over the last month and it appears as though Smith is their primary RB target at this point. After tearing his ACL as a junior, Smith wasn't able to make the summer camp trips to move himself up the recruit boards of other teams. All Smith did as a senior was rush for over 1,700 yards and 20 TDs while he helped his team to the state quarterfinals in Georgia. He visited Minnesota in November and is taking one more to Eastern Carolina in January before he makes his decision. I think we land this 2-star back.
7 - Gregory Howell - RB - Miami, FL - One of the most productive running backs in Miami-Dade Country was Howell. He rushed for 1,567 yards and 13 TDs leading his team to the Florida State quarterfinals (in FLs biggest class). He is a strong runner, who breaks tackles and has decent vision. His lack of break-away speed is probably what is holding him back when it comes to recruiting. A snippet from his ESPN eval.
A durable back with the playing strength needed to take on and defeat tacklers for additional yardage. Although we fail to see a burst or second gear, his smooth stride allows him to rip off big chunks of yardage and on occasion he will out run defenders into the end zone
Howell has been very productive in one of the best counties of high school football in the country and he did it on a very talented team. I believe he commits only if we miss out on Smith (above) or if Jeff Jones switches his commitment. I view him as a slightly more athletic version of Donnell Kirkwood. He'd be the bruiser to compliment Berkley Edwards' lightening speed.
8 - Martavius Mims - CB - Muscle Shoals, AL - lengthy and athletic corner, Mims would come to the Gophers standing at 6-2. He and James are the two corners who have offers which indicates to me that they are the top 2 on the board. Mims is taking a visit to Western Kentucky on Jan. 10th and should make his decision then. I would bet that Mims is a Golden Gopher on National Signing Day.
9 - Deron Thompson - RB - Wichita, KS - A back known mostly for his speed. Thompson, at one point, appeared to be very high on the Gopher staff's radar but now I think he is more of a back-up plan should they miss on other backs or if Jones flips. Thompson ran for 17 TDs and 988 yards as a senior after racking up over 2,600 yards over his prior two. This kid is very fast, would likely be a good third-down back as well as a good kick returner. I believe that if the Gophers sign two WRs, one of the RBs listed above and Jeff Jones sticks, then Thompson ends up at Colorado State. I'd like to get this kind of speed on the roster and figure out where to best utilize it at a later date. 50% chance he is a Gopher.
10 - Josh Black - OLB - Tampa, FL - A strong linebacker who reportedly (likely fraudulent, right Matt?) benches 310 and squats 400. Black has taken visits to Arizona and Toledo; and he has two more scheduled for Marshall and Minnesota. My guess is that Black is #2 on the Gopher recruit board but getting Scales on campus may be too difficult.
Those first 4 guys are all ones that I believe would be multi-year starters who potentially could be impact players. After that I'll trust the staff's judgement on the other corner and which RB they land. Keeping Jeff Jones and landing Ragnow will be the biggest victories between now and signing day.
Based on my scoring at home this would be our current roster matrix including the current 13 verbals.