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Minnesota Football Recruiting: 2015 National Signing Day Review

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What kind of impact did Minnesota's most recent class have during the 2015 season?

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

As we prepare to officially welcome the 2016 recruiting class as Minnesota Golden Gophers, I thought it would be helpful to take a look back at the last Minnesota recruiting class and the impact they had on the 2015 season.

Freshmen on the Golden Gopher Offense

(All weights, and sizes are from the 2015 Gopher Football roster)

Rashad Still
WR, 6'5, 200 lbs.
Stats: Rec: 18 Yards: 184 TD's: 3

Still only played two years of football when he signed with the Gophers last year, and the "experts" gave him a 2 star rating. Well since the off-season the staff saw the talent, and rawness of Still. He is big bodied receiver that can locate the ball, and utilize his body against defenders. He did have one blunder against Kent State that made the game closer than it should have, but later against a good Michigan defense he was able to make big plays. The Gophers need more playmakers on the outside, and as Maye departs there will be a void to fill. Still needs to grow into being a receiver with routes, and run blocking; however, Still has a bright future.

Shannon Brooks
RB, 6'0, 205 lbs
Stats: Att: 119 Yards: 709 TD's: 7
Receiving: Rec: 17 Yards: 167

Shannon Brooks was only a three star recruit from the "experts". He was a steal of a recruit, and the best one in this class. Brooks and Smith made an impressive freshmen tandem that shows the potential future for the next couple of years. Brooks best game was against Purdue as he showed his strength, and quickness rushing for 176 yards. As the line progresses, and matures it will only help Brooks become even more well rounded. Brook's future is so bright I gotta wear shades.

Tyler Moore
C, 6'4, 300 lbs
Stats? Ummm... 326 rushing yards against Purdue in his first start

Truthfully the offensive line was dreadful for most of the year, and you should not blame anyone person. Injuries ravaged the line from the very beginning, and that ultimately led to Moore replacing Bobek. In the Purdue game there is a reason the team rushed for 326 yards, and that was because of Moore's work at center. He is willing to use his attitude to tussle with defenders, but more important willing display his grit. I am excited for Moore's future as a Golden Gopher, and I am willing to bet he will grow into a better version of Zac Epping.


Demry Croft
QB: 6'5, 200 lbs
CMP: 7 ATT: 17 Yards: 34
Rushing: Att: 9 Yards: 38

He is a mystery recruit due to the lack of playing time. However, Croft outplayed the more experienced backups like Strevler, Rhoda, and Perra. Croft was good enough to push Leidner to play somewhat better after a rough early season. His only action came during the blowout against Purdue, and he showed some flashes with his running ability. The passing game was a whole lot of meh..... but that is not an accurate way to define his first year. Last Summer he showed promise with his polished passing, and athleticism. Croft has to gain more strength, and utilize Leidner's absence in Spring camp to acquire more reps.

Green, and Croft make up an interesting QB future for the Gophers.

Redshirt:

Colton Beebe
TE/FB, 6'3, 252 lbs

Quinn Oseland
OL, 6'6, 301 lbs

Nick Connelly
OL, 6'7, 270 lbs

James Johannesson
RB, 6'1, 221 lbs

Ted Stieber
OL, 6'6, 299 lbs

Bronson Dovich
OL, 6'5, 299 lbs

Jonathan Femi-Cole
RB, 6'0, 218 lbs

Bryce Witham
TE, 6'4, 240 lbs

Hunter Register
WR, 6'5, 200 lbs

Freshmen on the Golden Gopher Defense

(All weights, and sizes are from the 2015 Gopher Football roster)

KiAnte Hardin
DB, 5'10, 160 lbs

Kiante played a larger role late in the season with James getting hurt, and depth issues on defense. He was a solid contributor on special teams, and on defense. He was picked on at times by experienced quarterbacks, and that was to be expected due to the difficulty of playing defense back. I trust Jay Sawvel as the new defensive coordinator, and the development of defensive backs.

Antonio Shenault
DB, 5'11, 185 lbs

Antonio was in the same position as Hardin during the 2015. He contributed mostly on special teams due to depth problems from injuries. TRUST IN SAWVEL!

Julian Huff
LB, 5'11, 219 lbs

Julian Huff was a surprise to me from last off-season, and during the 2015 season. It was a pleasant surprise though! He was mainly used in pass rushing situations in the season, and he nearly notched three sacks. During the TCU game his instincts allowed the defensive line to sack Boykin because of Huff covering a bubble screen. He has shown a knack for pass rushing, and pressuring Big Ten quarterbacks. His size helps with getting under lineman's pads, but importantly he can also be used in coverage. Huff needs more playing time, and seasoning to be an every down factor. I am excited to see how he matures.

Jacob Huff
DB, 5'10, 202 lbs

TRUST IN SAWVEL! Also contributed with Shenault, and Hardin on special teams. Playing sparsely on defense.

Ace Rogers
DB, 6'1, 207 lbs

An experience Division I safety that played at Iowa State before transferring to the Juco level. Rogers played early, and often in the 2015 season before his terrible knee injury. Obviously devastating to the Gopher defense due to depth, and redshirts being pulled for bodies. Rogers will give the Gophers a starter with bountiful experience on the back end during the 2016 season, and potentially with Travis due to a medical redshirt. A solid player to help with the transition on the Gopher defense to younger players, and his role will increase in 2016 as well.

Redshirt:

Mose Hall
DE, 6'4, 252 lbs

Ray Buford
DB, 6'2, 190 lbs

Jaylen Waters
LB, 6'3, 228

Alonzo Craighton
DB, 6'1, 189 lbs

Dior Johnson
DB, 6'2, 195 lbs

Winston DeLattiboudre
DE, 6'2, 220 lbs


ilduce Faux MVP Awards!

Freshmen Offensive MVP: Shannon Brooks
Freshmen Defensive MVP: Julian Huff


I am feeling optimistic as the class of 2015 is fully integrated into the roster for the 2016 season. I will not predict their success, failures, or even give false hope; I am not Larry Sabato with his crystal ball! (Please Google, as we're talking a political reference). However, I am excited based on the evidence of the contributions of players like Brooks, Still, Huff, and Moore. Recruiting has not been flashy since the Tim Brewster era error, but we have gotten quality players on the roster. It does not matter if it is depth or starters this class has a chance to accomplish big things. I feel hopeful after a down season with a bowl win for once, and I fully expect the Gophers to compete for years to come.