Well this is something completely different.
The Gophers continue their early period recruiting momentum as Fort Lauderdale (FL) Cardinal Gibbons defensive backs Elisha & Elijah Daniels announced their commitments to Minnesota this afternoon on Twitter, just three days after receiving an offer from defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys. Both Elisha and Elijah are rated as 3 star prospects according to the 247Sports Industry Composite; Elisha lists offers from East Carolina, Bowling Green, FIU, Idaho, Miami (OH). New Mexico, South Alabama, Temple and Toledo, while Elijah holds offers from Pitt, Syracuse, Boston College, Cincinnati and Iowa State in addition. The staff are recruiting Elisha as a cornerback, while Elijah is slotted to play safety.
The brothers share what went into their quick decision with Gopher247's Kyle Goblirsch ($):
"Minnesota feels like, how Coach Claeys was talking and communicating with us, he really just made it sound like I was supposed to be there and it just worked out perfectly with multiple guys graduating and the opportunity to play early. Minnesota was also one of the few schools that wanted both me and my brother. I put Minnesota to the top of my list when they offered, after talking to my coaches this week and my mom and dad today, we just felt it was the best fit and time to join the Gophers."
Elijah was attracted to the success rate Coach Sawvel has had with getting guys to the league recently and projected to have this time next year as well.
"Coach's success with sending guys to the league every year is probably half the reason we committed to Minnesota. We knew that there's been DBs going to the league every single year. We just felt he knows the goal, he knows how to get the guys in place. They have great DBs, a great DB coach and a great coaching staff at Minnesota."
[Elisha] is a two way player and could potentially be recruited on either side of the ball. His explosiveness and ability to make plays after the catch are an asset as a receiver.
[Elijah] is a tough defensive back who can mix it up near the LOS or make plays in the secondary. Quickly will react to the run, comes downhill fast and takes good angles to the ball. Works to make plays even when they are away from him. A good wrap-up tackler who will drive the ball carrier backwards. ... Polishing his man-to-man technique should only make him a more valuable prospect.
(Likely Fraudulent) Measurables**
** The section title is a bit. It's an 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: 180 lbs.
Fake 40 Time: 4.76s (electronic measurement from early 2014)
Big 4 Ratings:
Weight: 187-190 lbs.
Fake 40 Time: 4.77s (electronic measurement from early 2014)
Big 4 Ratings:
247Sports mentioned Elijah in the same breath as WVU standout and All Big 12 safety Karl Joseph, which is a great comparison since Joseph is projected to be taken in the first 3 rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft. Elisha, on the other hand, played receiver his junior year and doesn't have publicly available film as a CB. Could he be another Eric Murray?
Elijah is a thumper, not afraid to quickly fill the lane on run support and stick his hat on a running back. He hits with authority, and is a fundamentally sound tackler that doesn't let ball carriers leak for extra yards. He'll get you on the ground. In that sense, Elijah will fit in very well in Claeys' scheme which requires all DBs, but especially his safeties, to be sure tacklers. He'll need to play man-to-man with receivers since Claeys loves to go Cover 0 a lot, so improving his coverage skills and footwork will be something to develop once he gets on campus. At the very least, he projects to be a good deep safety with an emphasis on run support.
Since we don't know how Elisha will take to the position, we'll have to project a little bit. He's a shorter WR, but possess skills that may translate well to CB like quickness, lateral mobility and good length. Besides, short WRs are becoming more and more rare at all levels of football but especially the pros.
Impact on Other Prospects?
The Daniels' twins were offered just 3 days ago, and committed without visiting Dinkytown and limited contact with their recruiting coaches. Considering Elijah had other Power5 offers and Elisha felt he was on the verge, one could reasonably ask what is it about Minnesota that made them want to shut down their recruitment immediately after they were offered, for all intents and purposes. They're also not a short road trip from visiting campus either, so they can't just pop over to check things out now that they've committed. Now, the confirmation from all the official accounts is there so the pledges are real, but out-of-state prospects committing on the spot (basically) is highly unusual, and especially so for the Gophers.
This is a situation to watch moving forward. Don't expect the staff to quit recruiting defense backs, even if they're technically "full;" I'd suspect Minnesota will take 4-5 DBs this cycle.
On the flipside, this could represent a paradigm shift on the trail for the Gophers -- especially with defensive backs. Putting DBs into the NFL Draft in consecutive years and potentially another 3-4 in 2016 is starting to get noticed by recruits.
In the meantime, the pair of commitments pushed Minnesota backed into the Top 25 national recruiting classes on 247 (#21, 5th in B1G), Rivals (#24, 6th in B1G) and Scout (#24, 5th in B1G). With Kill's series of summer camps starting tomorrow, the commitment list could expand again in short order.