You may or may have not known that Wednesday February 6th is the official National Signing Day for NCAA Football teams. It used to be a major holiday in the college world, but with the recent advent of the early signing period in December it has taken a significant step back in its importance. Yet, as the Minnesota Golden Gophers made their 2019 recruiting class official today, we felt it was important to give you one final look at who will be a part of the Gopher Football program going forward in 2019 and beyond.
So who did we sign already?
As we said, the Gophers signed a majority of their 2019 class during the early signing period back in December. Minnesota signed 23 players in the early signing period. Of those 23, 21 will be immediately on full ride scholarships while two of them, OL Tyler Cooper and WR Peter Udoibok were “Maroon Shirt” players who will technically walk on for the 2019 season but will receive scholarships and count towards the 2020 class.
Of the 21 scholarship players Minnesota signed in December, 12 of them are already on campus enrolled for the spring semester. This will allow them to participate in spring practice and hopefully make an immediate impact this fall. The 12 players enrolled and on campus include—click for links to their signing article from December
The other nine players will come to campus in June after they graduate high school in the spring. They include DB Tyler Nubin, WR Nnamdi Adim-Madumere, LB James Gordon, LB Donald Willis, DE D’Vion Harris, DE MJ Anderson, DT DeAngelo Carter, ATH Cam Wiley, and K Michael Lantz
Here is Coach PJ Fleck’s Press Conference from back in December in which he discusses these players in detail:
I thought we had 25 scholarships? Where are the rest?
You were right, the Gophers can add up to 25 scholarship players each season. There also is a requirement that each team can only have 85 scholarship players on its roster at one time. Minnesota made additions to this list of 85 earlier this winter when they announced the two previous maroon shirt candidates in Jordan Howden and Zack Annexstad were now on scholarship.
Congratulations to @ZackAnnexstad & @jhowden5229 on earning scholarships!! That’s now 10 walk-ons who have earned scholarships in just 24 months at Minnesota in the RTB Culture!! A HUGE part of our program!! #RTB #HYPRR #SkiUMah pic.twitter.com/DGN9iBiMAv— P.J. Fleck (@Coach_Fleck) January 22, 2019
So Minnesota didn’t use its full allotment of 25 scholarships this class—but it did get to 24.
Along with the 21 scholarship players listed above, Minnesota added two transfers this winter. The Gophers added Notre Dame DT transfer Micah Dew Treadway who as a grad transfer will be eligible immediately for the 2019 season and will have one season of eligibility left , and USC wide receiver Randal Grimes who will have two seasons of eligibility left after he sits out the 2019 season.
Finally, it was announced Tuesday that the Gophers had gotten a commitment from Juco All-American safety Gervarrius Owens. He will enroll this summer and have three years of eligibility left.
Walk-ons? I was told there would be walk-ons.
Yes. The Gophers took advantage of a pretty slow NSD to announce ten preferred walk-on signees who will enroll in June and begin practice in August. While the chances of all ten of them breaking out during their time at Minnesota is extremely slim, you never know when you might find the next Blake Cashman or even the next Sam Renner.
Additionally it appears that the Gophers will be announcing additional PWOs at a later date:
So just how does the final class rank out?
As of Wednesday morning the Gophers 2019 class is currently ranked 42nd in the nation and 10th in the Big Ten by 247. Now, some people are going to see just those final ranks and freakout—you know who you are commenters.
But, here is why you should not freak out about how low those numbers are. I’ll let the next few tweets by 247’s Kyle Goblirsch make the argument for me:
That said, some GI members had asked where the class of 2019 ranks if we're just looking at skill players and linemen (as 247/recruiting industry includes all scholarship players); which would rank first all time for Minnesota just ahead of 2018, so that's notable.— Kyle Goblirsch (@GobieMN) February 6, 2019
Below is a trending graph we used last month in the NSD report, now updated with the full class of 2019.@Coach_Fleck's staff hit 90.9% on the five year Composite run-rate, second highest at Minnesota only to the 2018 class, which had a five year Composite run-rate of 96.0%. pic.twitter.com/DDqoChkEFJ— Kyle Goblirsch (@GobieMN) February 6, 2019
So long story short, while the final rank may not look as great, this is the third best recruiting class in the internet era. If you took out our two lower rated specialists, the other 20 players would then make this the highest ranked class in history.
It also shows that recruiting in the Big Ten is a slog that never ends. Minnesota only dropped four spots in total national ranking from 38th to 42 from 2018 to 2019, but dropped from 7th in the Big Ten a year ago to 10th today.
They key will be to build on a bowl victory and an Axe win from 2018 as they enter the 2019 season and continue to improve. As the team continues to grow, the hope is that the quality of the recruits that Minnesota gets will follow. But this team is leaps and bounds ahead of where they were three seasons ago on the recruiting trail, and with two in-state commits already for the Class of 2020 and one verbal commit for the Class of 2021 things are looking positive for Minnesota to continue that trend into the future.