+1 〽️ #Gophers— Tony Turnquist (@TonyTQuist) March 31, 2015
Robbinsdale (MN) Cooper HS junior athlete Phillip Howard verbally committed to Minnesota at practice this afternoon, becoming the fourth in-state prospect in the class of 2016 to become a Gopher. Howard is a 3 star prospect according to 247Sports' Industry Composite, choosing Minnesota over listed offers from Wyoming and Western Michigan, plus interest from Wisconsin, Nebraska and Iowa State. Phillip is also the latest recruiting victory for linebacker coach Mike Sherels, who is the primary recruiter for all four current Gopher commits.
Howard with 247Sports' Kyle Goblirsh after the team offered ($):
"It feels great," Howard told our 247Sports team. "I talked with both Coach Kill and Coach Sherels over the phone. They told me they want to offer me as an athlete and that they really like my speed and athleticism."
The 3-star prep added, "It's such a wonderfull feeling to have the offer."
(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: 175 lbs.
Fake 40 Time: 4.40s (may not be much of an exaggeration though)
Easy comp, though not one I want to bring up because reasons. Howard is very similar in stature, speed and acceleration to former Robbinsdale Armstrong star David Gilreath, who went to parts unknown.
2016 Minnesota Commitments
Carter Coughlin Pledges to Minnesota
Jerry Kill and Mike Sherels just won their biggest recruiting battle to date with the commitment of a legacy four star linebacker.
2016 Minnesota Commitments
Personally, I think Howard has the type of wheels, open field vision and quickness that you want in a slot receiver. Phillip is legitimately one of the fastest prospects from the state in years, and while the program prioritizes speed across the board, making the transition from high school quarterback to slot guy is something this staff has already done before, most notably with K.J. Maye. Plus, Jay Sawvel picked up a number of smallish corners in the 2015 class, so they may be looking to add more explosiveness on the offense side of the ball where, frankly, they need the most help.
Impact on Other Prospects?
By the last day of March, Kill and Sherels have landed four of the eight in-state prospects with offers to date. The staff could end up offering more than dozen local players depending on camp performances and senior film. In one of the deepest Minnesota classes in years, the Gopher staff is absolutely killing it; the 2016 haul might end up with more local talent than the similarly deep 2012 class.
Since Howard is an athlete, his commitment won't have any impact on J.D. Spielman, who is also being recruited as an athlete. Both offer the type of scheme versatility to play in the secondary or as a slotback-type player.