It was mid-October in 2010 when Tim Brewster was finally relieved of his duties as the head coach of our Golden Gophers. Coach Horton stepped in to finish out the season as interim (to be emphatically endorsed by Sid Hartman after beating Iowa!) and eventually Jerry Kill was selected to lead the program. Hired on December 6th, 2010, Kill was not left with nearly enough time to recruit the class of athletes he needed. It was a mad scramble to add a few key pieces and keep the current commits.
Quickly looking over the 2011 class it is pretty remarkable the number of kids brought in by Kill in just a handful of weeks who are not at least significant contributors to the team. And it is even more remarkable when you compare his hit rate to that of Tim Brewter's who had several months to recruit.
|2011 - Brewster Recruits||2011 - Kill Recruits|
|Josh Campion||RS SR||Starter||Foster Bush||RS SR||Starter|
|Tommy Olson||graduated||Starter||Joe Bjorklund||RS SR||Starter|
|Kyle McAvoy||RS SR||little impact||Theiren Cockran||RS SR||Starter|
|Luke McAvoy||RS SR||little impact||David Cobb||graduated||Starter/Drafted|
|Luke McAvoy||RS SR||little impact||Michael Amaefula||graduated||Starter|
|Max Shortell||transferred||little impact||Derrick Wells||graduated||Starter|
|Devin Crawford-Tufts||transferred||minimal||Drew Goodger||graduated||Starter|
|Jephete Matilus||transferred||none||Marcus Jones||graduated||contributor|
|Peter Westerhaus||career end injury||n/a||Grayson Levine||graduated||contributor|
|Quinn Bauducco||career end injury||n/a||Chris Hawthorne||graduated||contributor|
|Quentin Gardener||didn't last||none|
While there were only two "Starter" level players out of the 9 recruited by Brewster, Kill hit on over 50% of his commits with 6 starters coming from the 11 players he recruited (NOTE: JUCO players were ignored). Pretty impressive for a class that was thrown together with Northern Illinois targets, last ditch pitches and walk-ons (Peter Mortell and Jon Christenson tyvm).
Kill and his staff quickly moved on to the class of 2012 where they would have a full 12 months to evaluate and convince kids to commit to Minnesota. While the class of 2012 the first class that was 100% Jerry Kill's, it was still a challenge since 12 months is not even really a full recruiting cycle. But while looking up something else I stumbled upon the list of 2012 commits and was immediately impressed by the number of players from Kill's first full class who are (or were) major contributors and starters for what promises to be one of the best Gopher teams in memory.
(NOTE: JUCOs once again are not included in this list. Not because none of them were any good, rather, I think just think JUCO's require different analysis. I could give you Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Roland Johnson.)
|2012 - Kill Recruits|
|Maxx Williams||left early||Starter/NFL|
|Rodrick Williams Jr||SR||Starter|
|Mitch Leidner||RS JR||Starter|
|Ben Lauer||RS JR||Starter|
|Jonah Pirsig||RS JR||Starter|
|Jack Lynn||RS JR||Starter|
|Isaac Hayes||RS JR||contributor|
|Scott Ekpe||RS JR||contributor|
|Nick Rallis||RS JR||contributor|
|Yoshoub Timms||RS JR||little impact|
|Duke Anyanwu||RS SO (inj)||Starter?|
|Andre McDonald||no longer on team||minimal|
|Jamel Harbison||no longer on team||minimal|
|Philip Nelson||no longer on team||minimal|
|Jordan Hinojosa||no longer on team||none|
Nearly half of this class ended up being multi-year starters, with more potential starters looming in Anyanwu, Hayes, Keith and Ekpe. Additionally, it is likely to be that multiple players from this class will be drafted. Where was this class ranked? Dead last in the Big Ten according to Rivals! The worst recruiting class in the Big Ten is anchoring what could be the next Big Ten West Division champ.
This class was unheralded and unimpressive to the experts but Jerry Kill and his staff told us to be patient and to trust that they knew what they were doing. Who can argue with these results? I think most of us are pretty big fans of what Kill is building here and recruiting is a core component. Given the appropriate amount of time to judge, I think recruiting is going just fine with this staff. Might not be such a bad place and program to be a part of anymore.
2013's class looks to be a little lighter, in part due to Nate Andrews and his last minute switch to Florida State. 2014 still looks like it was a very strong class with several making significant contributions as true freshmen. And it is way to early to make any judgement on the 2015 and 2016 classes (but we can get excited anyway).
It's fun to look back and admire what went well. This 2012 class was the best this staff could do. They were bailing out water and plugging holes on this sinking ship while also trying to look toward the horizon. The result was a job well done with this group of young men and the wins have been there to prove it.