The Spring Period of football recruiting is usually rather boring. Most program only offer the kids they are sure about and will only accept the commitments of kids they are REALLY-REALLY sure about. For those who casually follow recruiting for their favorite team, this is a time when offers are being made to kids you have never heard of and you have absolutely zero clue what their level of interest is in your favorite program.
Currently the Gophers have 50-60 offers out there to kids (depending on which recruiting service you pay attention to). And it is really pretty hard to have much of a gauge on who is serious about Minnesota or who the staff is really pursuing the hardest. So I turned to Ryan Burns of Gopher Digest to help me get an idea of where the staff is focusing and what we can expect in this 2017 Recruiting Class.
Recruiting Interview with Ryan Burns
My first question was on what are the program's biggest needs this year.
Places like the offensive and defensive line are going to be big area's of focus for Minnesota in 2017. The Gopher lost eight scholarship offensive linemen from the 2015 season and only replaced them with four guys in 2016. That leaves some room from new offensive line coach Bart Miller to work with and he's already off to a great start landing Blaise Andries. Gophers are also sitting well with other in-state offensive linemen Eric Abojei and Eric Wilson, so if Minnesota is able to clean up in-state, that'd be a pretty good start for Miller.
Defensive line is another area where Minnesota has to spend a lot of time and energy as while they will be stacked at defensive tackle this fall, come the 2018-19 season in two years, the Gophers will only have two defensive tackles on the roster in Mose Hall and Gary Moore. They need to get a couple of defensive tackles in this 2017. Gopher fans are also well-aware of the lack of pass-rush from the defensive ends in recent seasons and Minnesota would benefit from potentially going the JUCO route to get some immediate help for the following season.
So a heavy year in both trenches. But what about overall what is the guess at projected commitments by position?
There are 11 graduating, scholarship seniors so bringing in 18-20 factors in that we are currently under the 85 scholly limit and there is always a little bit of attrition. That really means that this year's class could be 50% linemen.
Next we talked about what it is going to take to continue to build momentum and what it will take to recruit another strong class when the in-state talent isn't nearly as deep as it was a year ago.
Win. Win and win in 2016-17. That's going to always be the biggest selling point for Minnesota recruiting kids outside of the tri-state area and even the Midwest. Recruits will likely look at Minnesota this spring and summer as a 6-7 B1G team and may not take them as seriously, but with the schedule change, if Minnesota can put together another season like 2014-15 where they win 8+ games and head to a NYD bowl, that'll certainly get their recruiting targets much more interested in those final two months, which are ultimately the most important.
So where will this class end up in terms of ranking and overall talent?
I also believe that Minnesota will land a class similar to last year's 2016 class, which finished 39th in the country in terms of average star per recruit. I don't know that they'll necessarily be as high, but somewhere in the 40's is absolutely achievable.
This year's class will be a bit smaller and it is lighter on local talent. Fortunately we have secured two offensive linemen who are very talented and local. Position of need and two names are in the fold.
- Blaise Andries of Marshall - (Commitment to Eight)
- Eric Abojei of Robbinsdale Cooper - (Commitment to Eight)
But beyond those two there are quite a few offers outstanding. To help us visualize this, take a look at the interactive map below. Couple notes: If you click on any of the data points you get more detail on that prospect with an offer as well as a link to their GopherDigest profile page. You can also highlight areas and have the map zoom into those areas of more condensed offers.
Interactive Map of Offers
Couple notes: If you click on any of the data points you get more detail on that prospect with an offer as well as a link to their GopherDigest profile page. You can also highlight areas and have the map zoom into those areas of more condensed offers.
South East Flavor
You will notice on the map that there are a lot of offers in the South East. 38 offers in the six furthest SE states with a high concentration in Georgia and Florida. Primarily it is skill position players from that area who have offers. In those 6 states we have 39 offers with 24 of them going to DB, RB, WR or ATH. 11 are still going to linemen but if you look at the Midwest numbers you'll see a different story.
If you look at the Midwest recruits there are 12 offers and 9 of them are out to defensive or offensive linemen.
Certainly a pattern is emerging, at least in this recruiting cycle.
What Comes Next
Next is the summer camp circuit and this is when most of the evaluation and more offers go out. There are quite a few players that the staff probably has on their list. They will be further evaluated this summer at camps and offers will be extended. Early in the summer is when the football staffs wield the power. Kids are waiting on offers and some will jump as soon as the one they want is extended. As the year drags on the power moves to the kids as they narrow down their lists, take their visits on campus during the Fall and make their decisions sometime before NSD in February.
Notable Names to Watch
What recruiting piece would be complete without a lit of favorites and/or names to keep a particularly close eye on.
- Nico Bolden - S - Woodbury - the state's #2 player according to Rivals and one with offers from Syracuse, Washington State and mid-majors. Currently he does not have a Gopher offer but seems like a good candidate to get one during camp season.
- Ricky Floyd - RB - Benilde St. Margaret's - running back who put up crazy numbers last year. 2-star kid who does not have a Gopher offer but may also earn one down the road.
- Demetrius Douglas - CB/WR - Oregon - son of former Gopher WR, Omar Douglas. Currently living in Oregon after spending much of his life in Minnesota. Should be an interesting recruitment to watch with this legacy recruit.
- Kyrei Fisher - OLB - Oklahoma - apparently visiting soon (according to GopherDigest) and is a recruit to keep a close eye on.
Noah Gindorff - TE - Crosby-Ironton - no Gopher offer but keep an eye on that name this summer.
A Call for Help
This map and recruit tracking tool is a challenge to maintain. The problem is really just keeping up with the list of offers and getting them into usable excel/csv format. If anyone is interested in helping out with keeping up with the data, and if you so desire writing some recruiting pieces, please let us know.