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Minnesota Football Recruiting: JoJo Garcia Commits

The Gophers land their first 2016 prospect, a 4 star local prospect among the best at his position over the last decade.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Getting 2016 started off proper.

That's where Garcia fits in: a naturally strong hand-fighter who plays with effort and flashes good athleticism for 6'3", 270.

Woodbury (MN) East Ridge junior defensive tackle Jovanny "JoJo" Garcia verbally committed to Minnesota tonight, becoming the first member of the Gopher 2016 recruiting class. Garcia is a 4 star prospect according to 247Sports' Industry Composite, choosing Minnesota over Michigan State, along with interest from Ohio State, Penn State and other Big Ten programs. If his current composite rating holds all the way through National Signing Day, JoJo would be just the second 4+ star player of the Jerry Kill era and the highest rated defensive player to sign with Minnesota since Michael Carter (or Ra'shede Hageman).


Garcia with 247Sports' Steve Wilfong on the status of his recruitment back in June ($):

Saint Paul (Minn.) East Ridge Top247 2016 defensive tackle JoJo Garcia has a dream offer.

"I already got it, Minnesota."

"I feel that Coach (Jerry) Kill, what I like about him is he doesn't beg you to come. It's more if you like it, if you're comfortable, you'll be there. He also takes care of his players. I've asked his players and he said he takes care of all of them. Those guys, that was the main thing they see in Coach Kill and that's what I love."

The four-star Garcia loves the direction Kill is taking the program.

"It's going to be great. There is so many in-state kids that are going to be good, if we can start something and stay there."

GopherHole recruiting article from Chris Monter echoing much of the same sentiment:

If I could play for my home state school, that would mean everything. I would be "the man" in my hometown. There is nothing better than that, playing for them. It would mean a lot. It would mean that a lot of kids could come and watch. My family and my friends. That is the best thing I like about being a Gopher that I could play close to my friends and family and they could watch.

ESPNU eval ($) -- Garcia is currently ranked #276 in their Junior Top 300 for what it's worth:

STRENGTHS: Garcia is a hard working lineman who doesn't stop playing or pursuing the ball until the whistle is blown. Good wrap up tackler who can bring ball carriers to the ground violently. Can do a good job of pushing the pocket and finding open holes in pass blocking schemes. ... AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: Needs to watch pad level and work on getting off blocks quicker at times. Needs to work on taking on the double team. ... BOTTOM LINE: Garcia has the ability to be a productive defender at the next level. With the development of his strength and speed, he should see his value rise.

(Likely Fraudulent) Measurables**

** The section title is a bit. It's intentionally facetious comment on how recruiting sites (and even some college coaches) notoriously exaggerate traditional combine measures -- especially the 40. No offense is meant.

Height: 6'2"-6'3"
Weight: 259-270 lbs.
Fake 40 Time: No such Animal


Junior Year vs. Cretin

Sophomore Year:


Absurd Comparisons

The last "classic" 3-technique defensive tackle Minnesota had was probably Brandon Kirksey, though Garcia is better in high school than BK was. JoJo is unique among Minnesota DTs over the last decade or so; strong and uses his hands well but more athletic and with better motor than the typical brutes local preps are used to churning out. He's more Andrew Stelter than Beau Allen, if that's how it you choose to visual things.

Scheme Fit

The Gopher defensive braintrust loves defensive linemen who are disruptive in their gaps and can get upfield to generate pressure on the quarterback. Claeys runs a one-gap, Teerlinck style pressure defense up front that requires athletes along the line who can do just that: pressure. However, this is the Big Ten and offensive linemen aren't just going to let you into their base and steal all their guys; you need to use strength and hand fighting to maintain your position, get off blocks and tackle the ball carrier.

That's where Garcia fits in: a naturally strong hand-fighter who plays with effort and flashes good athleticism for 6'3", 270.

JoJo has the frame to blossom into a 295+ enforcer in the trenches by the time he's done. The current crop of first year players will be juniors by the time he hits campus, yet he has the tools and skills to contribute along the defensive tackle rotation right away when he arrives. He's every bit as talented as Steven Richardson, Stelter and Gary Moore.

Impact on Other Prospects?

Garcia won't open the 2016 floodgates all by himself, though it's nice when a foregone conclusion like his pledge is finally verbalized so other talented players - like Eden Prairie's Carter Coughlin - can envision themselves playing together. Barring a complete change in strategy, one in which Kill embraces the expedited recruiting timelines rather than continuing his notoriously measured pace, I don't suspect a rush of '16 in-state prospects to hop on board just yet.

However, with arguably the second best in-state prospect of the class already wrapped up, Kill could turn to JoJo and have him put on a recruiting cap of his own. I'd expect a few more in-state names to pop by the spring, ramping up all the way to camp season in which several more players could earn themselves offers. The highly acclaimed 2016 crop is right around the corner, and Kill has already secured on of its biggest prizes.