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Minnesota Recruiting 2017 - Class reactions and round table

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The TDG staff share what the love (and don’t love) about this year’s class.

Heather Fleck (@hfleck10)

Whew, what a day!

National Signing Day is always a whirlwind, so it’s nice to reach the evening and have time to reflect on what happened, who Minnesota landed, and what we still wish could have gone differently.

We as a staff came up with and then answered a series of questions about the 2017 class:

1) Who are your favorite players in this class?

2) What do you like best about the class?

3) What do you like least (i.e. position group that didn't get enough attention, etc)?

4) What players do you think might see the field as a freshman?

I’m sure you’ll notice some general themes as you read through our answers, but I’m very interested if our community feels similarly to the staff. So I’d encourage everyone to answer the questions for themselves in the comments! Have some additional question you’d like folks to answer? Please share those in the comments too!

1) Who are your favorite players in this class?

Ustreet: Tanner Morgan, Demetrius Douglas, and Kendarian Handy-Holly. Morgan is Fleck's QB recruit and can sling the ball. Douglas is the legacy that Minnesota needed to get. Handy-Holly is a steal from programs in the south. All three of them show that Fleck can recruit at a high level with a short timespan and give me a lot of optimism for the future.

gopherguy05: Demetrius Douglas--Kept a MN legacy with the ability to be a big time receiver or shut down corner depending on the staff's needs. Kendarian Handy-Holly. Huge get in a position of need, and maintained a targeted Jay Sawvel recruit in the secondary. Blaise Andries-Keeping a stud MN kid home who wants to be the next great MN O-lineman.

dvits: Handy-Holly hands down (sorry for the bad pun). ED NOTE: No he’s not. I’m really excited about his upside. I’m also excited about Blaise Andries. He could be the potential anchor that rebuilds this offensive line.

IowaGopher: I like Justus Harris as the next Georgia product to be an impact player for the Gophers. His senior highlights show a ball-hawking cover corner who smothers receivers downfield in press coverage. He'll need to bulk up a bit at the college level, but he reminds me a lot of Eric Murray. I'm also looking forward to seeing where Demetrius Douglas and Ray Estes end up on the field. Both are versatile athletes who can play multiple positions. Estes has been promised a shot at quarterback, but could end up as a defensive back when all is said and done. Douglas is listed at cornerback, but Fleck and Simon recruited him as a wide receiver, where I think he'll have the opportunity to thrive at a position in desperate need of talent.

Gopher Nation: Kendarian Handy-Holly and Demetrius Douglas. Both are going to be very good players for the Gophers. Both could be playing this coming Fall. I'm still curious where Douglas ends up, but he's coming in as a WR.

2) What do you like best about the class?

Ustreet: They went heavy on the defensive line, defensive backs, and WR. Fleck and his staff identified positions of need and were not shy about investing a lot of scholarships. I also like how there are only two JuCos and only one of whom was a Fleck recruit.

gopherguy05: Kept the core group of Minnesota recruits intact after a coaching change. Went out and made great improvements to the previous staff's class in less than a month. Targeted versatile playmakers who can adapt to a variety to roles once they get into the program.

dvits: I like how quickly the staff identified positions of need and then aggressively went to fill those needs. I’ll say this until I am blue in the face. I am amazed at the type of class this staff was able to put together in a month. Especially considering most of the recruits never stepped foot on campus. I am beyond giddy about the types of players they will potentially be able to bring in going forward.

IowaGopher: I like that it covers a lot of ground. This class has multiple players at almost every position -- with the exception of linebacker, where the Gophers are already deepest in terms of talent. Specifically, I like the influx of talent on offense. It's not a national secret that Minnesota is in desperate need of help at every offensive position other than running back (where the biggest concern is depth), and a dynamic offense was the name of the game for Fleck at Western Michigan. So I trust his evaluations on that side of the ball, and I'm excited to see how this staff develops players like Tanner Morgan, Blaise Andries, Chris Bell, and Mohamid Ibrahim.

Gopher Nation: I like the additions of a number kids along the line on both sides of the ball. OL hasn't been a real strength lately and the DL is going to become very thin in the near future. Four additions on offenisve line highlighted by Blaise Andries, a 4-star and local product; landing him was huge. Defensively they added SEVEN kids with an emphasis on athletic ends and big tackles.

3) What do you like least (e.g. what position group didn't get enough attention, etc)?

Ustreet: I don't have an answer to this question. The Gophers definitely need offensive line help, but a single class does little unless 18 year old Orlando Pace is walking through the door.

gopherguy05: Only time will tell but the late recruitment of the DL guys will be something to watch. May have a few studs flying under the radar, or we may have a bunch of kids who will struggle to keep up in the big ten. While not a huge deal due to the depth we have returning, only one LB means Fleck and Co must hit this hard in next cycle to avoid top heavy LB corps.

dvits: This is hard to answer because I do think they addressed a lot of needs. But if I have to choose one group, I would say O-line. The depth of this position group is in such bad shape but to be fair that’s not going to be fixed in one class.

IowaGopher: To be honest, I'm skeptical about the options at quarterback, but the complete lack of depth at that position is also a factor. The fact of the matter is that we need someone to come in and challenge Demry Croft and Conor Rhoda. Neil McLaurin is very raw, especially for a JUCO. Morgan and Estes are intriguing options, but I don't know that either of them will be a viable starting quarterback as freshmen. This will likely continue to be a concern through spring and fall camp, until we see exactly what the Gophers have to work with.

Gopher Nation: Overall I like the mix of positions. If anything I'm bummed by the loss of Trey Creamer. I liked his length at corner. I'm not losing sleep over it, he made his decisions to look around and sign elsewhere. But I liked his abilities.

4) What player(s) do you think might see the field during their freshman year?

Ustreet: Any of the receivers will see the field at some point. Depending on how open the QB competition is, I would not be surprised to see Morgan starting in the fall.

gopherguy05: Depending on the outcome of the hearings, Handy-Holly, Beck, etc may be givens. Douglass or Bell could emerge at WR if they impress in camp. One of the DE as well if they can show a pass rush better than our incumbents.

dvits: I don’t know if Handy-Holly will start or see the field for the opener but I do think he will be an impact player by the end of the season. He can flat out ball. I’d also guess every single receiver will see the field at some point since the receiving group is such a mess.

IowaGopher: As has already been mentioned, depending on the outcome of the appeal hearings for the suspended players, all incoming defensive backs could be candidates to see the field this fall simply out of necessity. Regardless of the appeal hearings, the Gophers are woefully thin at safety, where Kendarian Handy-Holly and Adam Beck are well positioned to contribute early in their careers. I'd also expect Douglas and/or Bell to figure into the rotation at wide receiver. I have a feeling that position, in particular, will be overhauled, considering it was a consistent weak spot under both Kill and Claeys and a position of strength under Fleck at Western Michigan.

Gopher Nation: Handy-Holly on defense has the best chance to play. The defensive backfield is going to be thin and he has the size, athleticism to play quickly. On offense my money is on one of the receivers, likely Douglas. Another position group that isn't all that strong or deep and Douglas can come in and earn his way on the field with this ability.

SKI-U-MAH and ROW THE BOAT!