Camp offer season is upon us, which means commitments were sure to follow. Hey, that's Rickey Foggie's music!
Red Wing (MN) offensive tackle Nick Connelly committed to Minnesota today. Nick is the 5th member of the Gopher 2015 recruiting class and 3rd offensive linemen. Rated a 3 star prospect according to 247Sports' Industry Composite, Connelly lists an FBS offer from Wyoming in addition to Minnesota. A recent attendee at one of Kill's summer camps, the staff moved quickly to secure Nick's pledge.
GopherHole goes behind the curtain on the staff's in-state philosophy with a recruiting update (free):
"I have heard that Minnesota only has six or so Division I players that they will offer each year and that if Minnesota does not offer a player that they might not be good enough to play Division I. I have heard that before and that when Minnesota does offer, that especially with this coaching staff. I have heard that they are very, very thorough in what they do instead of going off the offers that they have already. I wouldn't be surprised if schools started jumping on just because it usually seems like that is what happens when you get a big offer, but we'll have to see."
Gopher247's Kyle Goblirsch after Connelly received his offer ($):
"If feels amazing" Connelly told Gopher247. "That's the offer I've been waiting for to be honest. It's the home-state and feels great. ... I'm going to let this settle in a little bit and see if any other programs offer too, but they're definitely the offer I wanted."
Emphasis mine, more on this later.
(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.
Weight: 255 lbs.
Fake 40 Time: 5.16s
Mostly defensive line, with scatterings of OT play.
Going strictly off height and frame, Connelly's current Gopher analog is Ben Lauer. If I could broaden the list of comparables, however, I'd say Nick's set of circumstances in the recruiting game remind me some of Taylor Lewan.
Hey, come back here! and quit laughing.
Back in 2008, Lewan was a nonexplosive Arizona prep defensive tackle who played too tall for the position and didn't have any offers despite a Big Ten bloodline. It wasn't until his prep coaches noticed during spring practice of his junior season (hint hint, MSHSCA cough) that Lewan was a way better offensive linemen and suggested that he not only make the switch permanent, but camp for AQ offers at the spot. Well, Lewan immediately went on to earn offers on consecutive days at Arizona State and Minnesota camps before blowing up as one of the nation's fastest rising prospects for the 2009 cycle.
Connelly has a similar frame, combine measureables and prep background, though Lewan was the more athletic and physically developed prospect at this stage in their respective arcs. Likewise, the Red Wing native didn't receive much attention from AQ programs... until he camped as an offensive linemen. Not that I'm saying Nick is going to turn into a 3 time All-B1G standout. I'm just saying.
With that length, athleticism and frame, Connelly is a tackle all the way. Hell, he may well be Lauer's eventual replacement at left tackle after a few years of seasoning. From the very limited information on hand, he appears to get up the field well and can move his feet, which is a big factor for Matt Limegrover. He'll need to work on his knee bend, along with his overall run blocking technique, before he can make a serious push for playing time. Likewise, his overall strength and punch will need to improve (Lewan had similar issues, by the way), as he gets by on length and athleticism at the high school level; his level of competition at Red Wing is not great, despite playing on both sides against future Arkansas Razorback Frank Ragnow.
Quick Trigger Stipulation?
It's been floating around the various Gopher recruiting sites that Connelly's offer had a due date attached. With the opaque nature of recruiting site dissemination, it's rare that such a clause would even see the disinfecting light of the sun; it's not in a recruit's best interest to state the conditional nature of offers, even if such conditions are quite common in practice.
There's a few ways to spin this, going with Occum's Razor first: such a power move benefits the program more than the prospect.
Kill wanted him to pledge quickly. Do the Gophers have another linemen on the verge of committing? No. Is this a Fritz Rock type scenario where limited spots remain for a specific position, thus the "take it or we give it to another guy" offer? No, not that I know of. Why, then, such a rush to secure his place?
Well, it could have something to do with that absurd comparison I made earlier: Kill and co. want Connelly to shut it all down before he blows up.
The alternative is a scenario I already laid out: the staff has a number of linemen, specifically tackles, ready to pop. In such a case, there's 1) a higher rated prospect than Connelly ready to commit, which seems unlikely or 2) there's an out-of-state equivalent to Connelly ready to pounce. Given politics with the local high school coaches and how early we are in the 2015 cycle, I highly doubt the staff would risk burning bridges by taking a non-Minnesota linemen who more than likely has never visited campus over Nick.
Which leads me back to the simplest conclusion with the least assumptions, a protectionist move from Kill. The poison pill worked in this case, and for that we should consider landing Connelly a bigger catch than ratings would suggest. I'd say it speaks to how highly Kill and the staff think of Nick that they'd want to move quickly to secure him, especially when Drayton Carlberg is no sure thing to stay in-state.