U recruiting: No. 12 with a bullet

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 5, 2013 - 9:31 PM

 Though the Gophers' incoming class is ranked last in the 12-team Big Ten, analysts see an upward swing in the talent level.

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Jerry Kill

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Wednesday is college football's national signing day, and for the second consecutive year, the Gophers have the lowest-ranked class in the Big Ten, according to Rivals.com.

Still, analysts following coach Jerry Kill on the recruiting trail see signs of progress beyond the team's improvement from 3-9 two years ago to 6-7 last season.

Zach Johnson, who runs GopherIllustrated.com, a Rivals.com affiliate, noted that 63 percent of the players in this year's Minnesota class of prep athletes had confirmed offers from other BCS-level schools, up from 30 percent last year.

Wide receiver Eric Carter, for example, picked the Gophers after originally committing to Cincinnati. And quarterback Donovahn Jones flipped from Missouri to Minnesota, according to a report Tuesday in the Henry (Ga.) Daily Herald. Winning those battles helped compensate for the three defensive backs who committed to the Gophers before flipping to other schools -- Nate Andrews (to Florida State), Keelon Brookins (to Wisconsin) and Nate Godwin (to South Florida).

"I don't think Gopher fans expect Minnesota to compete against helmet schools, such as Florida State, Alabama and Texas, to land recruits," Johnson said in an e-mail. "But competing against other middle- to low-level BCS schools is expected, and Minnesota definitely made progress in that area this year."

Nothing will be official, of course, until players send their signed letters of intent to schools Wednesday. This is Kill's third recruiting class with the Gophers and the second that he can call his own, since the 2011 class was announced only two months after he was hired.

Kill's predecessor, Tim Brewster, hyped himself as a top recruiter and lifted Minnesota's profile in the rankings. In 2008, Brewster's first full class for the Gophers was ranked No. 17 nationally and third in the Big Ten by Rivals.com. That class, headed by four-star recruits including MarQueis Gray, Keanon Cooper, Brandon Green and Sam Maresh, didn't produce a single player that went on to become a first- or second-team All-Big Ten selection.

This year's Gophers class has no four-star or five-star recruits. With a smaller departing senior class, the team had only 18 available scholarships after signing 27 players last year. Kill, who declined a recruiting interview last week and can't officially comment on specifics about this year's class until players sign, has said he has little use for the star-rating system. His three recruiting classes at Northern Illinois ranked 119th, 91st and 83rd nationally, according to Rivals.com. Those unheralded players became a big part of the team that reached the Orange Bowl last season.

Kill's first class with the Gophers -- players mostly recruited by Brewster -- ranked 52nd nationally, and last year's class slipped to No. 72. This year's class ranked 63rd, as of Tuesday evening.

"It reminds me an awful lot of how Northern Illinois recruited," said Tom Lemming, a recruiting analyst for CBS Sports Network. "There are a lot of very good athletes that fit Jerry Kill's style of play."

Lemming also said that after Ohio State and Michigan, he doesn't see much separation among the other Big Ten classes this year. Asked which incoming Gophers recruit excites him the most, Lemming pointed to Chris Streveler, a dual-threat quarterback from Woodstock, Ill.

"He's definitely a big-time quarterback with an arm and running skills and could develop, just like last year when they brought in [Philip] Nelson," Lemming said.

Berkley Edwards, a running back from Chelsea, Mich., drew rave reviews from Josh Helmholdt, Midwest recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. Edwards is the brother of New York Jets wide receiver Braylon Edwards and the son of former Houston Oilers running back Stan Edwards.

"I've been around Berkley for a long time," Helmholdt said. "He has the work ethic. He's a very humble, hard-working kid. He's not one of these sons of former NFL players who think they're entitled. On top of that, he's got a number of tools that make him physically elite. Number one is his speed. He's one of the top sprinters in the state of Michigan on the track, and he's also built like a running back."

Will that translate to Big Ten success? On national signing day, anything seems possible, no matter how a class ranks.

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Minnesota 16 FINAL
Buffalo 17
Atlanta 7 FINAL
Baltimore 29
Tennessee 17 FINAL
Washington 19
Seattle 26 FINAL
St. Louis 28
Cleveland 6 FINAL
Jacksonville 24
Cincinnati 0 FINAL
Indianapolis 27
Miami 27 FINAL
Chicago 14
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Detroit 24
Carolina 17 FINAL
Green Bay 38
Kansas City 23 FINAL
San Diego 20
Arizona 24 FINAL
Oakland 13
NY Giants 21 FINAL
Dallas 31
San Francisco 17 FINAL
Denver 42
Houston 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Chicago 6:00 PM
Cleveland
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Washington
Milwaukee 6:30 PM
New York
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Brooklyn
Charlotte 6:30 PM
Atlanta
Sacramento 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Memphis 7:30 PM
Dallas
Tampa Bay 8:30 PM
Edmonton
TX-San Antonio 20 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 27
Syracuse 30 FINAL
Wake Forest 7
Purdue 38 FINAL
Minnesota 39
Western Ky 38 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 45
(12) Baylor 27 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 41
(11) Kansas State 31 FINAL
(17) Oklahoma 30
Iowa 31 FINAL
Maryland 38
So Florida 38 FINAL
Tulsa 30
Tulane 13 FINAL
UCF 20
Virginia 13 FINAL
Duke 20
Akron 20 FINAL
Ohio U 23
Western Mich 26 FINAL
Bowling Green 14
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
Massachusetts 36
Appalachian St 53 FINAL
Troy 14
(25) UCLA 36 FINAL
California 34
Texas A&M 0 FINAL
(4) Alabama 59
Army 17 FINAL
Kent State 39
Kansas 21 FINAL
Texas Tech 34
UAB 22 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 34
Rutgers 17 FINAL
(13) Ohio State 56
(8) Michigan State 56 FINAL
Indiana 17
New Mexico 31 FINAL
Air Force 35
NC State 18 FINAL
Louisville 30
(21) Clemson 17 FINAL
Boston College 13
Ball State 32 FINAL
Central Mich 29
Cincinnati 41 FINAL
SMU 3
(9) Georgia 45 FINAL
Arkansas 32
Oklahoma State 9 FINAL
(10) TCU 42
San Jose St 27 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Miami-Ohio 41 FINAL
Northern Ill 51
New Mexico St 17 FINAL
Idaho 29
Colorado 28 FINAL
(20) USC 56
(23) Marshall 45 FINAL
FIU 13
Southern Miss 30 FINAL
North Texas 20
Georgia Tech 43 FINAL
North Carolina 48
Tennessee 3 FINAL
(3) Ole Miss 34
Utah State 13 FINAL
Colorado State 16
Missouri 42 FINAL
Florida 13
Kentucky 3 FINAL
(24) LSU 41
(16) Nebraska 38 FINAL
Northwestern 17
Georgia State 27 FINAL
South Alabama 30
Washington 20 FINAL
(6) Oregon 45
Iowa State 45 FINAL
Texas 48
(7) Notre Dame 27 FINAL
(2) Florida State 31
Nevada 42 FINAL
BYU 35
Stanford 10 FINAL
(14) Arizona State 26
Hawaii 10 FINAL
San Diego St 20
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19

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