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The key moment in the 2016 Gopher Football Recruiting cycle was clearly when they secured a commitment from Eden Prairie's Carter Coughlin. And it may not be for the obvious reasons.
Yes...he is a four-star recruit by every recruiting service
Yes...he was targeted early and heavily by blue-chip programs like Ohio State and Oregon
Yes...he is incredibly talented/athletic and will be a great asset on the field
Yes...he was a US Army All-
Yes...he a bright kid with a bright future on and off the field
But that is not why he is so valuable to the 2016 class. His commitment, and his early commitment when he had his choice of schools, paved the way for the Empire Class.
It was March 12th when Coughlin gave his verbal to Jerry Kill and staff. His verbal never wavered, not as he moved up recruit rankings, not as schools continued to call him and not even when Jerry Kill was forced to retire. Coughlin not only remained a Gopher but he was a leader in getting other kids to join him. After March 12th we saw a barrage of Minnesota kids give their verbal as well all before Fall Camp started for the Gophers.
- Thomas Barber - Plymouth - March 13
- Phillip Howard - New Hope - March 31
- Sam Schueter - Victoria - April 12
- Conner Olson - Monticello - May 6
- Kamal Martin - Burnsville - July 27
- Drew Hmielewski - Marshall - August 12
At this point 7 local kids, all legit D1 athletes, had committed to play for the Gophers. Seems like this should be normal..but it is not.
After that they kept coming ascommitted on October 11 and Seth Green came back to the fold in December. Moving the total to 9. Seven of the top 11 kids in the state pledged to play for the Gophers.
Getting kids on board was one thing but Coughlin did more, getting many of this crew together over the summer to hang out, form bonds and talk about the impact they plan to make on the Gopher program. Forging the Empire Class.
Coughlin is a talented player. A Minnesota kid with a commitable offer to Ohio State or Oregon in March is nothing to look upon lightly. He wanted to be a Gopher and make a lasting impact on the program. But it his is apparent leadership to go along with this talent that has me excited about his next 4 years in Maroon and Gold.