Another Early Signing Day has come and gone, with head coach P.J. Fleck and co. signing 24 scholarship student-athletes. Now that they've signed with Minnesota, we can talk in more definitive terms about their futures with the Golden Gophers.
Another whirlwind college football recruiting cycle is over. How did you manage to resist the urge to Tweet at recruits?
GopherNation: *deletes Tweets from the past two weeks*
gopherguy05: For some reason they don’t seem to react to my posts about them on MySpace.
IowaGopher: I think most of them have blocked me.
UStreet: I used GopherNation’s twitter account to hide the trail.
Now that these recruits have all been signed, caring about them is slightly less creepy. Which of the Gophers’ signees is your top prospect of the recruiting class?
GopherNation: I’m going with the top rated guy in Itayvion Brown. This guy looks nasty. Coming in with great size and other measurables. Plus he just looks the part of a dominant outside linebacker.
gopherguy05: Aren’t we legally required as a Big Ten blog to say the punter? But in all seriousness, it’s Ky Thomas. The Kansas running back looks like an absolute stud and will be hard to keep off the field as a true freshman next fall.
IowaGopher: Having grown up watching the likes of Laurence Maroney and Marion Barber III in maroon and gold, there are few things I love more than a stud running back. Ky Thomas has the potential to be that stud running back for the Gophers. There are reasons Fleck and co. only took one running back this cycle, and their faith in Thomas is one of them.
UStreet: Jah Joyner because the Gophers need DEs like crazy.
Which of these incoming recruits, if any, do you expect to make an impact on the field next season?
GopherNation: So much of it depends on opportunity. The biggest areas of opportunity are at running back and slot receiver on offense. There are more openings on defense but the likelihood of those being filled by a true freshman are less likely in my opinion. So that leaves us with Ky Thomas or Daniel Jackson. I see Thomas getting an opportunity next season and having a real shot at making an impact immediately. His impact may be splitting carries, much like the running backs did in 2019. But being a part of the regular running back rotation and getting 6-10 carries per game might be the biggest freshman impact of this group.
gopherguy05: I do think Ky Thomas has a good shot at entering the running back rotation next fall, but he will have a lot of bodies to pass. We have seen freshman receivers made immediate impacts to Daniel Jackson will definitely have a chance. I could see one of the defensive backs like a Jalen Glaze or Micheal Dixon also find a way to earn some time in the secondary.
Oh, and obviously the punter I think Mark Crawford is a shoo-in to start.
IowaGopher: As much as I like Thomas, I’m not as bullish as my colleagues on his chances of contributing next season. I’d caution you not to underestimate the level of talent ahead of him. Injuries could certainly be a factor, but let’s hope not. Crawford is the obvious candidate, because he’ll be the starting punter next season, barring disaster. But I could see one of the freshmen defensive ends getting a crack at playing time, with the graduations of Carter Coughlin, Winston DeLattiboudere, and Tai’yon Devers leaving a sizable opening for the underclassmen at that position. They desperately need some dudes to emerge.
UStreet: Mark Crawford, but then Jah Joyner.
Is there an unheralded recruit whom you think will outperform the arbitrary rating assigned to them by recruiting services?
GopherNation: I’m excited about Lucas Finnessy. This guy is 6’3”, 225 lbs and spent his senior season playing corner. Clearly guarding receivers in high school isn’t remotely the same thing as defending receivers in the Big Ten, but he has the tools to be able to cover as a linebacker at this level. He may become an invaluable cover linebacker as he matures.
gopherguy05: I like Cody Lindenberg. The Anoka linebacker has measurables through the roof and was a leader on a high school team that went 1-17 his junior and senior seasons. He just has that tough backer look to him and I think could develop into a tough run stopping linebacker over the next few years.
I’ll also put in a vote for Ohio cornerback Miles Fleming. He played quarterback for his team, just like another Gopher defensive stud in Kamal Martin. Fleming does seem to have some pretty good cover skills and I really think he could become a pretty damn good cover corner for Minnesota.
IowaGopher: Jalen Glaze might be the best defensive back in this class. Over the last two seasons, he recorded 103 tackles, seven interceptions (two returned for touchdowns), two forced fumbles, and a blocked punt. Glaze has played both cornerback and safety, and has shown the ability to play in both zone and man coverages. I won’t go so far as to say he is the next Antoine Winfield Jr., but he could be a difference maker in the secondary.
Danny Striggow is an in-state defensive end with a high motor and the kind of athleticism that has afforded him the versatility to play on the line or at linebacker in high school. He seems like the lunch pail type who can push his way into the rotation through sheer force of will.
UStreet: No. Recruiting services are infallible and point estimates without intervals of uncertainty are the only way to do predictions.
How would you grade the recruiting class as a whole?
GopherNation: B+. It is a good and solid class. I know that everyone is waiting for that Top 20 class that is full of four-stars. But getting into the living rooms of those kids is much easier said than done, and getting them to commit is even harder. I have been pleased with all of Fleck’s recruiting classes, including this one. But after the 10-2 season and more certainty that Fleck is going to be coaching here longer than a minute should make an impact on the 2021 class. This class is good and there is nothing wrong with a good class.
gopherguy05: I’ll give it a B+ as well. P.J. once again closed the class with some successes, getting Joyner and Logan-Redding in the boat late, and both should have chances to make an early impact at defensive end for the Gophers. Would we have liked to see a higher ceiling on this class, sure, but now you can sell 10-2 for an entire year and really try and make an impact on a 2021 class that should be much smaller, but hopefully much higher graded. I do think the floor of this class was once again raised high just like last season and have no doubt we will find some diamonds in the rough that were overlooked by some of the other schools.
IowaGopher: B+ for all of the reasons stated above.
UStreet: Incomplete. Recruiting classes should be graded two years after they are signed. That said, I’ll highlight gopherguy05’s point that success on the field comes a year or two later. 2021 should project to be a strong class, and 2022 should project to be a top class in the Big Ten.