Good morning on early national signing day, the start of a three-day period in which college football recruits can sign their national letters of intent. This is the second year of the early signing period, and the Gophers are poised to sign the bulk of their Class of 2019 today. They also likely will have a few openings for the Feb. 6 traditional signing day.
The Gophers entered the day with 23 verbal commitments, though two were expected to be “maroon shirts,’’ which means they would start their Minnesota careers as walk-ons with a promise to be on scholarship next year.
Minnesota’s recruiting class entered the day ranked 33rd nationally and eighth in the Big Ten in the 247Sports.com composite of major national recruiting services. Last year, coach P.J. Fleck class finished at No. 38 nationally and seventh in the conference after the traditional signing period.
I’ll be updating the blog throughout the day, and you can follow @RJstrib for updates of signees.
The signing period opened at 6 a.m. Central with players in the Eastern time zone putting pen to paper, and the first to do so for the Gophers was defensive tackle DeAngelo Carter of Lee County High School in Leesburg, Ga., at 6:03 a.m.
Carter was quickly followed by outside linebacker Donald Willis of Garfield Heights High in Cleveland, kicker Michael Lantz of Starrs Mill High in Fayettevilla, Ga., all-purpose back Trey Potts of Williamsport, Pa., cornerback Solomon Brown of Largo, Fla., and outside linebacker James Gordon IV of Plant City, Fla.
At 6:30 a.m., Owatonna running back Jason Williamson, who recently was named Minnesota's Mr. Football after leading the Huskies to back-to-back state titles, became the first in-state player to sign with the Gophers. He was recruited as an athlete for the Gophers, though he's expected to get a look at running back.
Soon after, the highest-rated player in the Gophers' class signed his letter of intent. Defensive tackle Rashad Cheney Jr. of Cedar Grove High in Ellenwood, Ga., is a 6-2, 275-pounder who previously gave verbal commitments to Georgia and Alabama.
The Gophers then bolster their secondary with a new commitment. Cornerback Kelvin Clemmons of Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College signed his letter of intent. The 6-1, 205-pounder is the No. 9-ranked JUCO cornerback by 247Sports and was sought by Kentucky. Clemmons, a Tampa, Fla., native, had 34 tackles and 15 pass breakups for Hutchinson this season. He'll have two years of eligibility with the Gophers.
After 7 a.m., the letters of intent from players in the Central time zone flowed in quickly, led by cornerback Tyler Nubin, a 6-3, 190-pounder from St. Charles, Ill. The two quarterbacks in Minnesota's class, Cole Kramer of Eden Prairie and Jacob Clark of Rockwall, Texas, also signed, and grayshirt offensive lineman Logan Richter of Perham, Minn., joined the team.
Wide receiver Nnamdi Adim-Madumere of Fort Worth, Texas, signed, and he'll bring size (6-3, 226 pounds) to that group.
The Gophers also signed Brady Weeks of O'Fallon, Mo., who is the top-ranked long snapper by Kohl's Kicking Camps.
Highlights on defense included tackle Keonte Schad of Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa, and end MJ Anderson of Christian Brothers College High School in St. Louis.
The Gophers also announced the addition of Cretin-Derham Hall wide receiver Peter Udoibok and St. Croix Falls, Wis., offensive lineman Tyler Cooper. Both will begin their Gophers careers as "maroon shirts,'' meaning they'll be walk-ons for a year.
The 7-8 a.m. hour wrapped up with the signing of offensive tackle JJ Guedet of Washington, Ill., who has "play-on-Sunday potential,'' according to Josh Helmholdt, Midwest analyst for Rivals.com.
By 8 a.m., the Gophers had 19 scholarship players signed, plus the two "maroon shirts.''
The final player to sign with the Gophers this morning was Cam Wiley, a 6-2, 195-pound athlete from Desert Pines High School in Las Vegas. That gives Minnesota 21 scholarship players, plus the two maroon shirts who start their careers as walk-ons.