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Minnesota Football Recruiting: Post-National Signing Day Exit Survey

The Gophers got themselves some ‘croots for next year

NCAA Football: Miami (Ohio) at Minnesota Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

So a bunch of 18-year-olds decided where they want to at least start their college careers on Wednesday. Nearly two dozen of them have decided to go to Minnesota and play for the Golden Gophers, which is pretty neat. So we’ve got that going for us.

Here are our thoughts on another National Signing Day under head coach P.J. Fleck.

Another whirlwind college football recruiting cycle is over. How did you manage to resist the urge to Tweet at recruits?

GopherNation: What do you mean resist the urge? Why would I do that? I am certain that I am directly responsible for six of the current recruiting class because of my Tweets. Do you think Jacob Clark made his decision in a vacuum? C’mon!

GoAUpher: I’m not 12.

gopherguy05: How do you know I didn’t on my multiple burner accounts? If it’s good enough for the GM of the Philadelphia 76ers and Kevin Durant, it may be good enough for me.

Iowa Gopher: Whenever a recruit “committed” to Minnesota, I wrote a post for The Daily Gopher and then returned to my normal life.

Ustreet: I read Blake’s post.

Now that these recruits have all been signed, caring about them is slightly less creepy. Which of the signees is your top prospect of the recruiting class?

GopherNation: I’ll pick two. I really like Jacob Clark on offense. He has the size, arm, pedigree and I guess I’m buying into the excitement of recruiting a true pro-style quarterback. And defensively I love the prospect of M.J. Anderson. Again, it is the size/athleticism combination at a position where we really need someone to be a dominant force.

GoAUpher: I’m excited to see if the Gophers finally landed a more heavily recruited QB option who will pay off sometime in the future. Otherwise I’m very impressed by the late push Fleck and co. executed on the defensive side of the ball, hopefully the late defensive tackle commit from Tennessee signs and then I can dream about a class anchored by future All-B1G defensive tackles.

gopherguy05: I’m really excited about Tyler Nubin. Amazing size and speed. If he pans out, he could be the first true shutdown corner the Gophers have had in.... a very, very long time. Like Willy Middlebrooks long.

Iowa Gopher: How can you not be excited about the addition of a defensive tackle like Rashad Cheney? Minnesota has struggled to recruit defensive linemen for as long as I can remember, and this class feels like Fleck’s attempt to rectify that. And it starts with Cheney, who has all the physical tools to be an elite defensive tackle for the Gophers.

Ustreet: Brady Weeks. Punting is winning, and you can’t punt without a long snapper.

Which of these incoming recruits do you expect to make the biggest impact on the field next season?

GopherNation: I feel like I’m cheating here but I’ll go with the JUCO cornerback. Kelvin Clemmons was highly sought after, he plays a position of great need and he has the best opportunity to contribute right away.


Probably one of the wide receivers.

gopherguy05: Keonte Schad. The JUCO defensive lineman should start immediately and hopefully will provide as big of a spark, if not bigger, than O.J. Smith did this season.

Iowa Gopher: Long snapper Brady Weeks. I’m not kidding. Payton Jordahl is graduating after four seasons as the Gophers’ starting long snapper. If the name Payton Jordahl doesn’t ring a bell for you, it probably means he was a very good long snapper. Let’s hope this is the last time you hear the name Brady Weeks.

Ustreet: Punting is winning, and you can’t punt without a long snapper.

Is there an unheralded recruit whom you think will outperform the arbitrary rating assigned to them by recruiting services?

GopherNation: I like Jason Williamson as one of those guys that “they say” can’t really play running back at this level but then watch him dominate. Defensively I like both of the linebackers but I’ll go with Gordon as a guy who becomes a 2 or 3 year starter.

GoAUpher: Um....

/rolls dice

I’ll go with Mike Brown-Stephens because wide receivers and Fleck go well together.

gopherguy05: I’ll go with Cam Wiley. His athleticism is off the charts... almost literally. His Nike Sparq score was in the top 1 percent of all recruits this cycle. He doesn’t have a true position right now, but you can guarantee P.J. will find some way to get him on the field to make an impact.

Iowa Gopher: I’m very interested to see where Jason Williamson ends up. I know he’ll start the spring at running back, which makes sense when you consider he rushed for more than 3,000 yards as a high school senior before being named Minnesota’s Mr. Football. I guess this is more of a wish than an expectation, but it would be cool to see Williamson develop into a key contributor at Minnesota. The competition is stiff at running back, but if he finds himself buried there, he is the kind of athlete who can find a home at another position.

Ustreet: Brady Weeks. Punting is winning, and you can’t punt without a long snapper.

How would you grade the recruiting class as a whole? Especially considering this is P.J. Fleck’s second full recruiting class at Minnesota.

GopherNation: B+. This is a really good class and one we should be thrilled about. Room to grow, which I think will happen after a winning season or two.

GoAUpher: I’ll go B+/A-. It’s one of the best classes we’ve ever had and it’s essentially indistinguishable from last year’s class in terms of rating (and folks were rightfully quite pleased with last year’s class). I continue to be impressed with Fleck and Co’s ability to close strong and grab a couple of higher rated recruits right before signing day. It’s also impressive to me how they’re able to lock down recruits they want early and hold almost all of them through NSD, while also identifying multiple guys who ultimately get ratings bumps as they continue to improve their senior year.

gopherguy05: I’ll give it a solid B+. There were a few people who weren’t in the class who you wish would have joined, and there are still a few open slots for another potential impact player or two in February, but overall you have to be pretty happy with who the Gophers have coming in.

Iowa Gopher: Somewhere between a B and a B+. It’s certainly one of the best recruiting classes at Minnesota in the internet era, so it is clear to me that Fleck and co. are taking recruiting to a new level here. But the Gophers’ class still ended up in the middle-of-the-pack in the Big Ten, so there is room to grow. I do think there is more meat on the bone in the midsection of this class, especially compared to previous recruiting classes. It feels like the floor of this class was the ceiling for the previous coaching regime.

Ustreet: A+. Punting is winning, and you can’t punt without a long snapper.

(Editor: UStreet, be serious)

Fine, Blake. B+. The class fills positions of need and brings in monsters on the defensive line at the hardest position to recruit. This year’s class is statistically indistinguishable from last year’s class, and the staff still has a few spots to potentially fill in the spring period or bank for the class after.