This weekend is going to be a huge weekend for Minnesota Football. Clearly they didn’t make a bowl game and nothing significant is happening on the field until Spring Practices. But this weekend Gopher Football is hosting somewhere in the neighborhood of 25-30 recruits on campus for their official visits.
More common is for programs to have official visitors throughout the fall, attending home football games and getting to experience the entire atmosphere of what college football is all about if they were to be a part of that particular program.
But Coach Fleck is changing the script a little bit this year and with the advent of the early signing period in just a couple weeks, he has decided to bring in almost the entire 2018 recruiting class along with a few key potential last minute additions.
This eLITe18Palooza! really accomplishes 2 things.
1 - It bonds the currently committed class together. Incoming recruits from all over the country come together and get to have fun for the weekend together. The value of these shared experiences should not be diminished. Not to mention what it does for the few kids who are not yet committed. They’ll come hang with what will essentially be the entire freshman class next fall and this may very well be a catalyst to get them to finally commit, or flip from another university.
2 - It diminishes the likelihood that any of these kids will be a last minute flip to another school. Partly because of point one and partially because the visit will be so fresh in their mind and the excitement level will be high just days before the day they fax in their signed letter of intent.
Who is going to be there this weekend?
Here are the kids currently commited who will be coming. Just a quick little note on each of them, more to come on December 20th when all (or most) of these kids sign their letter of intent.
- QB - Zack Annexstad - a preferred walk-on, but Annexstad is important in that he spent his senior season as the starting quarterback for the uber-talented IMG Academy team. Began the season as the back-up, worked his way into a starting role and the Mankato native wants to come Row the Boat.
- RB - Nolan Edmonds - talented running back out of Georgia, expected to contribute behind the current pair of Georgia backs.
- RB - Bryce Williams - This back is from Florida and should be ready when there are ample openings for playing time in the backfield.
- WR - Rashod Bateman - Georgia wideout who had a monster seniors season and was recently bumped up to a 4-star.
- WR - Jornell Manns - Ohio native who projects to be a slot receiver for Minnesota.
- WR - Erik Gibson - Detroit area receiver who will be on the outside and comes into the program at 200 lbs.
- TE - Brevyn Span-Ford - St. Cloud tight end who stands at 6’6”, the only tight end in this class.
- OC - Nathan Boe - Lakeville lineman giving some position flexibility along the OL.
- OG - Austin Beier - Ohio lineman. Offensive line was a challenge in this recruiting class but Beier is a good one to hold on to.
- OT - Grant Norton - Missouri lineman who is getting late offers and visits from other schools. He’ll be a nice one to hang on to.
- OT - Jack York - The only Texas kid, currently committed to this 2018 class.
- DT - Elijah Teague - Chicago area kid who was one of the first to commit to Fleck’s 2018 class.
- DT - Logan Richtor - raw but huge tackle from Perham.
- DE - Alex Reigelsperger - flipped from Kentucky, big Ohio end who should be playing early for the Gophers.
- DE - Abi Okonji - Good speed for this Georgia kid.
- DE - Mayan Ahanotu - Committed in June while here unofficially, not this Florida kid gets to experience Minnesota in December.
- OLB - Braelen Oliver - Georgia linebacker who had a great senior season and is getting a lot of attention late from other programs.
- OLB - Thomas Rush - Ohio linebacker with good speed.
- MLB - Mariano Sori-Marin - from the SW burbs of Chicago and our only middle linebacker in this class.
- CB - Terrell Smith - Another Georgia corner, one I’m particularly excited about in this class.
- CB - Benjamin Sapp III - Eden Prairie corner who tore up his knee during his senior season,. He will certainly redshirt next year and get his body ready to compete at this level.
- CB - CJ Smith - 6’1” corner from Florida with good speed.
- S - Josh Aune - St. Paul kid who may end up at outside linebacker eventually.
There are a handful of targets coming this weekend who are not yet announced. These kids are currently committed to other schools and don’t want it out there quite yet that they are giving Minnesota look. When these names surface, they will be added.
OT - Curtis Dunlap - recently decomitted from Florida. Dunlap is a 4-star tackle who was roomates with Annexstad his season at IMG. This is a huge potential commit and would really boost this overal class (that is already quite solid).
OT - Daniel Faalele - sit down for this one. Faalele is 6’9”, 400 lbs with agility and lean muscle mass. Faalele is from Australia and played the last 2 seasons as IMG (he only practiced as a junior while learning the game of football). He has offers from everybody (Bama, Michigan, Georgia, Auburn, etc) and is visiting this weekend. More on him if/when he commits.
OT - Jason Dickson - JUCO tackle who would fill a huge need for 2018. Also has offers from UCLA, Arizona State, Colorado and Iowa State.
First, is that this weekend solidifies all decisions, builds relationships and means that this class remains intact through to the early signing period.
Secondly, that they snag Dunlap and maybe another key target that is yet to be named. Or the massive Faalele, I kind of want him.
Every verbal commitment, with the exception of one, will be on campus this weekend. Victor Viramontes, the JUCO quarterback commit, has already taken his official visit so he would have to pay his own way if he wanted to be here this weekend.
But everybody else will be here, plus a few more. It is going to be a huge weekend and hopefully we are celebrating a few new verbal commitments Sunday or Monday.
Currently this class ranks 6th in the Big Ten and is the highest ranked class in the Big Ten West with a total score of 193.02 accoring to 247. This is the best class score and highest rank in many years. Here are some of the recent recruiting classes.
- 2018 - 192.01 - 6th
- 2017 - 171.4 - 12th
- 2016 - 182.2 - 8th
- 2015 - 167.0 - 13th
- 2014 - 172.8 - 11th
So you can see that this is a very solid class and if another 2 or 3 kids jump into the boat, the numbers only get better.
Big weekend ahead for Gopher football.