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A Shotgun Look at 2014 Gopher Football Recruiting

Leon Halip

It is early, there are a bazillion offers out there and it is really difficult to tell who the coaching staff is closing in on. But recruiting is in full swing. This month is when there will be several camps on campus, more offers will be given and decisions will start to be made.

To be honest I have paid less attention to recruiting this year than I have in the last several. But below are some notes and opinions on the current process. Your comments are welcome.

Required Reading: Matt's Scholarship Grid (which you can always find by hovering over "Library" at the top of the page)

This 2013 version of the Golden Gopher is going to be lacking in seniors in the starting lineup. Offensively it looks like there will be two seniors starting; Ed Olson and Derrick Engel (who is not currently on scholarship). On defense RaShede Hageman and Brock Vereen are certain starters, Aaron Hill is probably going to be a starting LB and then a few other seniors are expected to be major contributors. This means that there will be fewer available scholarships for the class of 2014. Media Grandpa, Sid talked with Coach Kill...

"With where we're at right now, there's always things that happen, but we'll be probably be right around 14-17 scholarships next year, relatively a small class," Kill said. "Right now we have good prospects and we're looking forward to how recruiting is going. Right now we feel very good about it."

We signed 19 guys a year ago in what was considered a small class. With few scholarships available the hope is that the coaching staff really gets some bang for their buck! To date the staff has received three verbal commitments. One is clearly a highly ranked and sought after recruit, big bang for the scholarship buck. The other two are not as highly ranked but do have some upside.

Jeff Jones - RB - commitment #1 is Washburn's star RB who apparently was very excited to be a Gopher. Jones gave a verbal commitment in February saying, "I wanted to give my verbal that night(Jan 6) and I called Coach Kill and committed then. Coach Kill was really shocked and surprised that I wanted to commit so soon, but he was real excited as well. He asked me a few times if I was sure that this is what I wanted to, and I reassured him that I was sure. He didn't want me to commit then de-commit later on because he was burned like that last class from another in-state kid. I love the state and Twin Cities, I want to be here." Since then there have been persistent rumors about him cooling on his commitment and he is taking other official visits.

Very talented, local kid at a position that always needs depth; but the recruitment is far from over. Jones also has offers from Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Syracuse, Iowa St, Illinois and Kentucky. And he is having a great summer earning these remarks following a Rivals sponsored camp, "St. Paul (Minn.) Cretin-Derham Hall's Jeff Jones is the second-rated running back in the Midwest, but there will have to be discussion about him moving into that top spot after a near-MVP showing at the Rivals Camp. He is a solidly built kid with outstanding top-end speed and a general smoothness to his running style."

Must hang on to this one.

Dimonick McKinzy - QB/ATH - One of the top players in the state of Kansas and he is excited to be a Gopher. McKinzy chose the Gophers over offers from Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. He plays as a DB and QB in high school. The Gopher staff is recruiting him to play QB but that may change eventually. As a kid with versatility and athletic, play-making ability he is the kind of kid this staff likes to recruit.

Steven Richardson - DT - out of the Chicago area and playing along side 4-star DT, Enoch Smith Jr. Richardson is overshadowed a bit by Smith but he may be slightly overlooked due mostly to his 5'11" height. This Rivals eval of "high risers" believes that if Smith were just a little taller he would easily be a 4-star recruit with dozens of offers. But he is what he is, which is a strong DT who gets into the backfield with his low pad-level.

But that leaves a little over a dozen scholarships remaining. There are a handful of very good local prospects, all of whom the Gophers are pursuing.

Frank Ragnow - OT - Chanhassen tackle who has offers from Arkansas, Cal, Florida State, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and a few other BCS level schools. In spite of the impressive offer list he says that Minnesota will be a strong contender till the end and he would love to play at home in front of family and friends. I am not anticipating a ton of offensive linemen getting scholarships but Ragnow has to be near the top of the list for the Gopher staff.

J.C. Hassenauer - OC - Woodbury native who has a ton of high-major schools looking closely at him but only Minnesota and Vandy offering at this point. Hassenauer earned the offensive line MVP at the Rivals regional camp in Chicago and was one of their top offensive linemen.

Andrew Stetler - DE - Owatonna - Do you see a pattern here with the Minnesota kids all being linemen? Stetler has a good frame, very good strength and is a kid with a bright future. An offer from Minnesota, strong interest from Iowa and Nebraska. And then he has offers from schools like Princeton, Duke, Harvard, Army and Yale. Duke, Iowa State and Minnesota are his stated top 3. A year to develop, learn technique and grow into his frame and I believe Stetler will become a good Big Ten end!

Preston Woods - DE - does NOT currently hold a Gopher offer but he is a big kid who is on the radar of a number of Big Ten schools. He has good measurables and will likely earn a BCS scholarship before National Signing Day rolls around.

Reid Travis - QB - I fully expect that Travis is going to be a stud college basketball player but the 6'7" quarterback of De La Salle is also a highly sought after football recruit. He does not have a Gopher FB offer but Boston College, Iowa and Rutgers have pulled the trigger. If he does consider football a viable option, I'd be happy to see him in maroon and gold.

And after those local boys, we always need to supplement with quality players from around the country. The list of offers is incredibly long so the names below is not an exhaustive list of guys the staff is pursuing. They are a few names that I would love to see them land and a few names who seem to have some genuine interest.

Connor Mayes - OC - His brother is a true freshman OT this year. Will the younger Mayes follow his brother? His offer list includes Oklahoma, TCU, Baylor, Kansas State, Texas Tech and a recent offer from Texas A&M so the competition for his LOI is going to be tough. Mayes has the size and skills to move to guard eventually or stay as a true center. That stuff works itself out but getting a highly rated and talented kid into the program like the younger Mayes would be a big get for Coach Kill and staff.

Colton Moskal - LB - Chicago area linebacker, former teammate and friend of Jack Lynn. Cincinatti and Syracuse have offered with schools like Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri and Stanford keeping a sharp eye on him.

Gaelin Elmore - TE - from Wisconsin and at one point Elmore was very interested in moving West to Dinkytown. Elmore is the #3 prospect in Wisconsin and he holds a Badger offer so

Deron Thomspon - RB - Wichita back who took an unofficial visit to the Gophers in April (he is of no relation to Daryl Thompson). He is a very fast back who has earned offers from Kansas State and feels like he is close to getting offers from Nebraska and Kansas.

Andre Maloney - CB - sticking with Kansas prospects, up next is the 6'2" corner from Overland Park. Maloney has "high" interest in Kansas, Missouri and Minnesota. One of my personal favorites on this list due to his size and athletic ability.

Dorian Baker - WR - Cleveland native and high school teammate of De'Niro Laster's. Baker has above average speed and good size at 6'2", 200 lbs. Indiana, Pitt and Vandy are the only other BCS level offers at this point for Baker. Very talented, maybe a bit raw.

Tyre Brady - WR - 6'3" and a Florida native who has one of the Gopher's biggest cheerleaders in his ear. Brady was a work-out buddy with Jordon Hinojosa. He is a 3-star recruit with offers from the big knockers in his own state. Florida, Florida State and UCF have offered along with SEC teams Kentucky and Mississippi State. Those are some pretty good teams to beat out but maybe we have shot.

Rohan Blackwood - DE - 3-star DE out of Florida with good size. Blackwood has a high school coach who is a Minnesota grad and he plans on taking on of his official visits to the Twin Cities. If we get him on campus we'll have a shot over other offers from Louisville, Miami, NC State, Purdue, Miss St, Rutgers, Virginia, Wisconsin and others. Good frame and athleticism make him a great candidate for a red-shirt followed by a long and productive career in maroon and gold.

Craig James - CB - Illinois corner who is holding 6 BCS scholarship offers.

Khari Blasingame - S - Alabama safety who only has a couple of offers at this point, with Minnesota being the only BCS school. 6'1" and 200+ pounds, Blasingame has some explosiveness and strength. One of the top 25 players in the state of Alabama.

Those were 10 names that were somewhat cherry-picked but they are all guys who have at least some public mention of the Gophers. My completely subjective group of players I want to see signing their name to a Minnesota Letter of Intent would be...Mayes, Maloney, Baker, Thompson and Blackwood along with all three of the Minnesota kids listed who have actual offers. Priority #1 is keep Jeff Jones in the fold. #2, keep your identified local kids home. #3 get a few high impact recruits in this small class. Easy right?

This recruiting update is more focuses on getting some names out in front of you with a tiny bit of information. At some point I or Matt will come back with something a bit meatier, but the process is early and right now there is a very wide net being cast. The names will come into focus over the next couple months and then we can all make signs for our favorite recruits as they come to town on official visits.