The Recruiting BBQ has already paid meat dividends. Mmmm, bar-be-que...
Aurora (Ontario, Canada) St. Edwards College Prep running back Jonathan Femi-Cole committed to Minnesota at this afternoon's annual recruiting BBQ, becoming the 7th member of the class of 2014 and first running back. Along with 2014 signee Julien Kafo, JFC is the second player from Canada the current Gopher staff have gone north of the border to land. Jonathan is rated a 3 star prospect according to 247Sports' Industry Composite, choosing Minnesota over listed offers from Buffalo and Nevada, along with interest from Georgia, Arizona State, Syracuse, Rutgers, Tennessee and Michigan State.
Gopher247's Dan Meyer with a pre-BBQ article about JFC's recruitment ($):
"Being a Canadian player does have its difficulties. A lot of coaches see a Canadian running back and they look at the competition level and that's reasonable, but the way I see it is if you can play, you can play. Competition level doesn't make you the player you are and if you have the talent and work ethic you can succeed."
Good attitude, but where do the coaches see him fit?
"Coach Robert Reeves is my main recruiter. He sees me fitting in the Minnesota offense very well being a power back that can run the ball 20-30 times a game without getting beat up as much. I'm also able to catch the ball in the passing game. He says that with the combination of those two things I can really succeed there."
"I also want to prove a lot of people wrong and show them that even though I’m 6-foot and 220 pounds, I am not just a power back and that I do have lateral agility and quickness. I want to put together great film and finish my senior year strong."
"Minnesota’s run-oriented offense definitely plays a factor in my decision. Being a running back, you want to be running the ball. All the schools have great facilities so that’s really not a factor. What I’m really looking for is a sense of brotherhood within the team. A place where I have a great relationship with the coaching staff, somewhere I can trust the coaches and talk to them about my problems and what I need to do to continue getting better."
(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: 200-220 lbs.
Fake 40 Time: 4.56s electronic.
The one name I've seen bandied about in association with JFC is former Ohio State bruiser Carlos Hyde, and I guess I can see that. Both share a similar combine profile and running style, though El Guapo ran with better lean and was much more decisive in his cuts. Femi-Cole can certainly fill out into the 230 lbs. range while maintaining his very good straight ahead speed, though he'll need to work on a few things before he can legitimately compare him to the ex-Buckeye star.
BBQ Rub Recruiting Links
BBQ Rub Recruiting Links
The vision for Femi-Cole is that of a 230 lbs. monster, breaking tackles and wearing down a defense over 20+ carries while possessing the speed to break off longer chunks.
At the moment, JFC is a bit of a project. And that's ok.
Femi-Cole acknowledged his competition level an above listed quote, and it's fair to point out that he's simply a much better athlete than everyone else on the field. As such, he can get away with things that he won't be able to in the Big Ten, such as dancing in the backfield before hitting the hole. Coach Reeves will have to work with him to become more decisive and vertical in his cuts, which is the one thing this staff stresses at running back above all else. He could run with better lean, as he's a bit upright and doesn't get small through the gaps, leaving himself vulnerable to body blows.
Still, the few times on film where he does run through the tackles with authority, you can see the potential this staff is looking for. He can show great burst and power through the line, and at nearly 220 lbs. already, he's just a ridiculous physical specimen. That kind of natural strength and power is tough to find, so the staff will work on the little things like technique and mental preparation.
Impact on Other Backs?
Now that Kill has his power back for the 2015 class, so one could surmise the staff will try and find a different style of runner for their other targeted back for this cycle. A guy like Breck Turner is a more of a slasher than Femi-Cole, while Alex Barnes is a pure athlete with excellent speed (4.44s range during the summer camp circuit). Another prospect to keep an eye on is Jasper (GA) product Shannon Brooks.