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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Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 14 2nd Qtr 13:00
Dallas 7
Seattle 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 7:00 PM
Nashville
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 51 2nd Half 7:28
Georgetown 55
FIU 42 2nd Half 4:28
USC Upstate 62
Long Island 31 2nd Half 15:59
Stony Brook 45
San Diego 31 2nd Half
Xavier 39
Illinois 20 1st Half 14:33
Indiana State 8
Western Ky 5:00 PM
Saint Josephs
Cal State Fullerton 5:00 PM
Wright State
Michigan State 5:30 PM
Rider
UCLA 6:00 PM
North Carolina
Marquette 7:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Long Beach State 7:30 PM
Western Mich
Stephen F Austin 8:00 PM
Prairie View
UAB 8:30 PM
Florida
Rice 8:30 PM
Mercer
San Jose St 10:00 PM
Washington
Washington St 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Baylor 10:59 PM
Memphis
LSU 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 58 2nd Half 3:13
Washington 70
Wichita State 30 2nd Half 4:36
Fla Gulf Coast 53
Wisconsin 18 2nd Half
(1) South Carolina 31
BYU 5:00 PM
BYU-Hawaii
Charlotte 5:00 PM
Montana
Illinois 5:00 PM
(9) Kentucky
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
Central Michigan 7:00 PM
Richmond
Oklahoma 7:15 PM
South Florida
Princeton 7:30 PM
Wake Forest
(19) Oregon State 8:00 PM
Butler

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