There are only 24 days to Gopher football. Camp is underway, and now under the watchful eye of a completely different Athletic Director.
Rodney Smith and KiAnte Hardin
Our first player is Rodney Smith. Smith is a redshirt Freshman running back from Jonesboro, Georgia. He was listed as the 80th best running back in his class, and is expected to compete at running back this year. As Matt wrote in his Scroll of the Sworn post,
Smith is quicker than fast but hits the gap hard and runs strong with his more compact frame. He's a patient zone runner who will recognize the cutback and run behind his blockers, timing his burst at the right moment to reach the second level. His high school ran a zone based blocking scheme relying heavily on fullbacks, extra tight ends and pulling guards, where Smith displayed good recognition for when to bounce runs outside versus powering through the tackles. In the open field, he runs with good lean and can make defenders miss with quick, decisive cuts. Based upon his skills and experience in a similar scheme, Rodney is a good fit for what the Gophers like to do on offense.
KiAnte Hardin is a defensive back from Webb City, Missouri. Hardin was a three star recruit out of high school. It is unlikely that he will see extended playing time, but will probably compete on special teams this year. Matt's scheme thoughts at his commitment were
Hardin fits the mold of an active playmaker regardless of spot. His role or fit in the defensive backfield isn't well defined from looking at him as a prospect, though it really doesn't matter to secondary coach Jay Sawvel or defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys. They find ways to get disruptive corners on the field with heavy rotation and package plays, whether it be against the slot or in nickel/dime personnel groupings.
Joe Christensen discusses Mitch Leidner's responsibilities this season.
Christensen also has an article about Jerry Kill learning from Coach K. Perhaps this will also translate to recruiting package All-Americans.
Andy Greder and Marcus Fuller write about interim AD Beth Goetz. This article is syndicated from the Dickinson Press because the Pioneer Press's internet team is trash.