Former East Ridge quarterback Seth Green announced Sunday that he flipped his commitment from Oregon to Minnesota, highlighting a Gophers weekend recruiting bonanza.
Besides Green, the Gophers landed commitments from four other players in two days, including Antoine Winfield Jr., the lightning-quick son of former Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield.
The other three pledges came from cornerback Coney Durr (from Geismar, La.), defensive end Taiyon Devers (Atlanta) and offensive lineman Garrison Wright (Butler Community College in Kansas).
The Gophers now have 20 players committed for the Class of 2016, with national signing day coming Feb. 3. New coach Tracy Claeys appears to have found his recruiting footing after recently parting ways with three-star quarterback Tony Poljan and four-star offensive lineman Sean Foster.
“It’s obvious that Tracy Claeys is looking, in general, for a different type of player than the program was under Jerry Kill,” said Josh Helmholdt, Midwest recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. “I didn’t see that coming because they were part of the same staff for so long.
“They parted ways with some very talented players. They obviously see the guys they’re bringing in now as a better fit for what they’re looking to do.”
Helmholdt said the switch from Poljan to Green was definitely an upgrade. Rivals.com has Green ranked as the nation’s 21st-best dual-threat quarterback in this class. He’s on track to graduate from high school early, allowing him to enroll in college next month and participate in spring practice.
“I believe Seth is definitely a top-flight quarterback,” Helmholdt said. “Physically, he’s built like a linebacker. He is an all-around athlete who has the ability to throw the football.
“That’s definitely valuable when you have a quarterback because not only can he do the job through the air, but he can stand in there, take hits, stay on his feet, move outside the pocket, make things happen.”
Green’s father, Bryan, was on the Gophers 1991 roster as a running back. The son narrowed his list of finalists to Minnesota, Michigan State and Oregon before originally picking the Ducks last fall, during his junior year at East Ridge.
The 6-4, 225-pound Green transferred from East Ridge to Allen High School in Texas for his senior season but found himself behind junior Mitchell Jonke on the depth chart. Allen coach Tom Westerberg platooned the two quarterbacks, as the school extended its winning streak to 57 games before losing in Friday’s state semifinals.
“Going down to Allen, which is such a major high school football program, it’s difficult to come in in the middle and unseat guys who have been in the program for a long time,” Helmholdt said. “From my perspective, I haven’t seen anything to think [Green’s] star has faded.
“When I saw him this offseason, I saw definite improvements in his throwing mechanics, in his fundamentals of the quarterback position from where we had seen him the previous offseasons. So he was making strides.”
Still, Oregon appeared to cool on Green. It added two quarterbacks to the recruiting class after he committed — Terry Wilson, of Del City, Okla., and Justin Herbert, of Eugene, Ore.
Green couldn’t be reached for comment again Sunday. When he announced his decision on Twitter, he referenced former Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost’s move to become the head coach at Central Florida.
“With the departure of Coach Frost I am blessed to announce the flip of my commitment from Oregon to Minnesota,” Green wrote.
Four-star Eden Prairie linebacker Eden Prairie linebacker Carter Coughlin was among those who roared their approval on Twitter. And Coughlin got some more good news later Sunday night when Winfield committed, as those two had been teammates in Eden Prairie before Winfield moved to The Woodlands, Texas.
The 5-10, 185-pound Winfield reportedly ran the 40-yard dash in 4.27 seconds last June at an Ohio State camp. The defensive back also had reported offers from Missouri, Northwestern and Purdue.
“I am so excited to be able to play with my bro [Winfield] again!” Coughlin tweeted. “Congrats and welcome to the family. This defense is gonna be mean.”
While much of the public’s attention will focus on Green and Winfield, Wright’s commitment might have the biggest impact on the Gophers next season. The lineman made his decision shortly after visiting TCU.
It’s possible the Gophers could have two junior college transfers starting at guard next year — the 6-5, 325-pound Wright, and the 6-4, 335-pound Vincent Calhoun, from Southwest Mississippi Community College.
And Claeys still has a few spots to fill in what’s shaping up to be a strong recruiting class.