Yesterday was college football’s first Early Signing Period and the Gophers had their entire 2018 class signed within a couple of hours. With this elite class locked up it is time to maybe take one quick breath and move on to 2019.
The 2018 class is really talented and deep. It is particularly strong along both lines, running back, linebacker and wide receiver. On paper, this class is one that will provide major contributors at multiple position groups. But what is really going to help catapult the Gopher program to another level of competition is backing the 2018 class with a similarly deep and talented 2019 class.
I’m here to take a look at what are going to be the primary needs of the 2019 class and a few potential targets.
First of all, we should talk about the upcoming class size. There are likely going to be 15 seniors in the upcoming season. Due to transfers happening and a whole host of other possible attrition scenarios, this does not mean that the class will be limited to just 15 commitments. But I next year’s class will not be hitting 25, it will be smaller.
Position Groups of Need
Typically you will see signed players at all position groups, but some are of more need than others. Good teams need depth and the need natural supplement of talent as players expire their eligibility. The past couple of recruiting classes have been pretty heavy along both lines and at receiver. In particular I would posit that offensive line, defensive end, running back and wide receiver are not going to positions where we will sign multiple kids. Of course we will sign players in those positions, but don’t expect 3 or 4 offensive linemen in this class after signing 10 freshmen along the line over the last 2 years.
These are positions where hopefully we can sign one or two kids who are absolutely elite. But what are the areas of greater need?
Safety - With Ken Handy-Holly playing as a true freshman this year, Adam Beck redshirting and then this 2018 class really only having Josh Aune as a possible safety, the depth at safety is a little thin when you project it a year or two down the road. Safety is a position where players often move to and you may see guys who grow end up from corner to safety, but I suspect you’ll this position group land 2 or 3 kids in the 2019 cycle.
Tight End - Brevyn Spann-Ford and Jake Paulson are the only 2 tight ends signed in the last two recruiting classes. By “need” I think that we end up signing a couple tight ends in the 2019 class.
Defensive Tackle - Technically Logan Richter will be greyshirting and count back to the 2019 class. So this class already has one DT on the books. But there is a pretty big gap between a few seniors this coming season and a few young DTs signed over the last two classes. Landing a JUCO DT is something I wouldn’t be surprised to see along with another DT to pair with Richter as 2019 freshman tackles.
We do know of several targets for the 2019 class. Here are a handful of key targets that would make this class stand out. This is very high level, there are plenty more kids who have offers and who will be key target throughout the process. But it is incredibly early and not much information is known quite yet.
- OT - Quinn Carroll - Edina native who has offers from virtually everybody. He is one of the top offensive tackles in the country and would be a huge get for the Gophers. As mentioned, OL isn’t likely to be a huge priority in this class. I’m guessing only a couple in this class and ideally they’ll be of the highest caliber...like Carroll.
- QB - Hank Bachmeier - this guy has all of Gopher Nation excited. One of the top quarterbacks in the country and he isn’t scared to keep Minnesota in his top group of schools. Bachmeier has some family in the area so he knows what Minnesota is like and he visited unofficially this past fall. His commitment would give the Gophers their highest rated QB commit ever.
- OT - Bryce Benhart - Lakeville North’s next great offensive lineman, Benhart has offers from Wisconsin, OK Stat, Northwestern and UCLA already. It is very early but this appears to be a two-horse race between Minnesota and Wisconsin.
- OLB - Spencer Lytle - California native who was offered by the Gophers in September and he has unofficially visited at least twice throughout the fall. UCLA, Boston College, Indiana and others have also already offered.
- DT - Cooper Beebe - Brother to Colton. Cooper is a big defensive tackle who only has an offer from Minnesota, but he has interest from schools such as Georgia, Kansas, Kansas St, Iowa St and Louisville.
- ILB - Nick Henrich - Nebraska linebacker who was invited up and attended the recruit BBQ in the summer and he took an unofficial in the fall as well. All of the Big Ten West heavyweights (Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska) have offered as has Penn State and some other P5 schools.
And wouldn’t you know it? In a matter of hours the Gophers have 2 verbal commitments for the 2019 class already. Profiled by IowaGopher, but here is a brief list and how their commitment affects the rest of the class.
QB - Cole Kramer - Eden Prairie’s 2-year starter who will be going into his senior season with his college decision already made. I don’t think that this will have any effect on the staff’s effort to land Bachmeier.
ATH - Jason Williamson - Owatonna’s stud running back who led the Huskies to a state title. Williamson could end up at running back, safety or even OLB at this level. No other offers on the table, but the Gophers wanted him and he quickly accepted.