Remember how excited we all were that Jerry Kill managed to steal the first Wisconsin prep with a Badger offer since Keith Lipka over a decade ago?
That was just an appetizer. The Maryland-I demands massive quantities of fresh chum.
One of the best decisions I've ever made. I am officially committed to the University of Minnesota. #GopherNation— CONNOR (@PuppyloveMayes) June 17, 2013
The floodgates have officially opened in Dinkytown.
Van Alstyne (TX) center prospect Connor Mayes made a verbal commitment to the University of Minnesota today, joining his older brother and 2013 incoming freshman Alex Mayes as current/future Gophers commanding the offensive line in Minneapolis. An Army All-American selection, Connor is listed as the #2 center prospect in the nation according to the 247 Industry Composite and on the cusp of a 4 star ranking. Even more impressive, Minnesota landed the mauling interior line prospect over offers from Texas A&M, Oklahoma, TCU, Baylor, Kansas State, Texas Tech and others.
Mayes is the 4th offensive prospect to join the Gophers' class of 2014 and 5th overall. As an Army All-American -the first Gopher to appear in the bowl since Jimmy Gjere back in 2010- Connor is the second high level commit alongside Jeff Jones, who was invited to Nike's The Opening later this month.
From GopherHole's commitment article:
"I definitely had a strong relationship before I got up here during my unofficial visits, but helping Alex move in and I built a great relationship with the guys and made some great friendships since I have been here and I am just in love with the coaching staff here. The way I seen Coach Kill do things at other schools, I think that Minnesota is going to blow up and do some big things."
Connor is also paying attention to the recruiting scene around Dinkytown, especially with yesterday's Elmore pledge:
"Yes, it is definitely a big commitment for Minnesota. It is just exciting how things are turning around for this program and how bright the future is going to be."
Oh yeah, other recruits are starting to notice too:
(Likely Fraudulent) Measurables
Weight: 320-335 lbs.
Fake 40 time: 5.4s
Scout: #1 center, 4 stars
Rivals:#5 center, 3 stars
247: #9 center, 3 stars
ESPNU: #28 OG, 3 stars
Regardless of whether Connor's brother is already enrolled and on campus, there's nothing to take away from Coach Limegrover and Kill's recruiting haul. On consecutive days, the Gophers have gone head-to-head with Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Wisconsin, TCU, Baylor, Michigan State, Kansas State and Texas Tech for prospects... and won. Recruit ratings aren't everything, as I've said many times in the past, and the entire process is an inexact science. Maybe, just maybe though, a program can start to turn the corner when it can best some of the biggest names in college football for prospects they covet.
While offensive line isn't as flashy a position to make a splash on the recruiting front (quarterback commits and transfers tend to make more noise), it's arguably more important. The linemen Kill and Limegrover have pulled in over the last two years -and now Connor- had offers from every school in the Big Ten, Auburn, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, TCU, Boise State, Oregon State, Baylor, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Kansas, Colorado and many, many more. Don't look now, but the Gophers are starting to amass a deep cache of big, physical and talented offensive linemen.
As a prospect, there's almost zero finesse to Connor's game. He's a big, nasty, road grading mauler. His mission, on every down, is just to kick someone's ass. That's the fierce embodiment of a prototypical interior linemen, though Connor is versatile enough to play just about anywhere along the line. With Mayes, you reel him in first and find a spot later.
Cumulatively, Connor is part of a class that's really starting to shape up nicely from a quality over quantity perspective. Jeff Jones is a legitimate top 150 recruit in the nation, Mayes is one of the best center prospects in the country and Gaelin Elmore was a highly sought after tight end regionally. The pace of commitments has been more measured than other Big Ten programs, though Minnesota's 2014 class is off to a very good start.