Hartman: Kill optimistic about recruiting success

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 31, 2014 - 6:46 AM

With national signing day fast approaching, the U football coach focuses on filling needs, not counting stars.

Next Wednesday is a big day at the Bierman Building — national signing day — when Gophers football coach Jerry Kill and his staff will find out if they’ll get the top players they have been recruiting for months.

“I’d say that recruiting is going pretty good,” Kill said the other day. “I’m sitting here with a family and I need to make it a lot better. I’m right in the middle of a conversation, so that’s how important you are. As long as we finish strong here, it could be really, really good.”

Kill is one of many college coaches who don’t put stock in how many stars a high school player receives from various recruiting services. The Gophers definitely don’t recruit on that basis.

“It’s not football people doing that,” Kill said. “I think everybody does it the way they want to. Winning is the thing that is most important, and character.

“The class that we inherited, I don’t know how many stars were in that class. It was supposed to be one of the top 15 classes in the country, and I think there are seven or eight players left out of that class. I think there’s a lot more to it than that.

“I don’t pay any attention to it. We had guys in the Senior Bowl from other schools and so forth that I coached, so I really can’t explain that. [Former Northern Illinois quarterback] Jordan Lynch, I don’t think had a star and he was in the Heisman [Trophy finalists]. I think that sums it up. Recruiting isn’t over yet, everyone has about a week and a half to get that done. … You’ve seen where we’re at with our program and we’ll keep moving it forward.”

Kill said a lot of the Gophers’ recruiting is for needs at certain positions.

“The big need that we have right now is our class is definitely going in the right direction, and the big key for us is we need to get two receivers landed right now,” he said. “That’s the most critical piece of what we’re doing. We’ve done good at running back, but we need to get more playmakers on the edge and we’re concentrating on offense and doing that.”

What are your thoughts on recruiting teammates from the same high school?

“Sometimes it helps, and sometimes they want to separate out,” Kill said. “We have some of that going on right now. You get a couple of kids at one school, one wants to go one way, one wants to go another, and sometimes they both want to come because it’s more comfortable. I think each situation is different.”

Kill is excited about recruiting two junior college fullbacks from the same school, Riley Oharah and Miles Thomas of Butler County Community College in El Dorado, Kan., who are in school now and will take part in the Gophers’ spring practice.

“They’re really good players,” he said. “The fullback thing, you watch pro football and a lot of teams are going back to having that fullback. Auburn had it in what they did. Those guys are kind of underrated guys and so forth, but they’re the ones that help you win a lot of games. They’ll help us. I know our guys are working out with them right now and feel great about those two kids. That was a big deal for us, we needed that. I know the place they come from and I know they’re tough. They’re tough, hard-nosed kids.”

What are the players doing now?

“Well right now, we had a team meeting a week ago,” Kill said. “We had another one Saturday ’cause we had guys off the road. They’ll be in the weight room. [Quarterback] Mitch Leidner kind of took the bull by the horns and came back a week ago and we had everybody out there working. He jumped all in it with his leadership, and it’s different.

“All I can tell you is that we have kids that after the bowl game [a 21-17 loss to Syracuse in the Texas Bowl], they were embarrassed, didn’t feel good about it. I told them they better be starving when they get back and it isn’t going to happen anymore. I think they’re starving right now. That’s important. I said that after the game. When you get off the plane on Friday afternoon, walk in and you have your guys working out there and they’re voluntarily doing it, it’s pretty neat. I think our kids are very, very serious about where we want to be next year.”

Wildcats could be test

Two underdogs pulled off road upsets in Big Ten basketball on Wednesday, with Penn State going into Columbus, Ohio, and beating the No. 24 Buckeyes 71-70 in overtime and, even more surprising, Northwestern — a team with an 11-11 overall record and 4-5 in the conference, upsetting No. 14 Wisconsin 65-56 in Madison, Wis.

Northwestern, the Gophers’ opponent at Williams Arena on Saturday, had not won at Wisconsin since 1996. The big thing the Gophers have to be concerned about is the improved Wildcats defense.

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New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Portland 0 Postponed
Brooklyn 0
Sacramento 0 Postponed
New York 0
Philadelphia 51 3rd Qtr 7:27
New Orleans 60
Minnesota 48 3rd Qtr 9:17
Oklahoma City 55
Orlando 58 3rd Qtr 8:19
Memphis 75
Boston 13 1st Qtr 2:30
Utah 13
Denver 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Army 68 FINAL
American Univ 66
Wright State 64 FINAL
Detroit 53
Syracuse 83 FINAL
North Carolina 93
Cleveland State 56 FINAL
Oakland 59
Delaware State 54 FINAL
NC Central 55
High Point 63 FINAL
Presbyterian 54
Howard 35 2nd Half 3:40
Bethune-Cookman 36
Coppin State 56 2nd Half 11:59
NC A&T 55
Nicholls 51 FINAL
Northwestern St 80
Hampton 56 FINAL
SC State 65
Gardner-Webb 42 2nd Half 10:15
Campbell 56
MD-Eastern Shore 39 2nd Half
Florida A&M 30
Stephen F Austin 58 2nd Half 11:26
Lamar 43
Central Arkansas 48 2nd Half 12:28
New Orleans 65
Norfolk State 50 2nd Half 8:17
Savannah State 39
TX A&M-CC 45 2nd Half 13:30
SE Louisiana 41
Sam Houston St 60 2nd Half 12:37
Abilene Christian 43
McNeese State 74 2nd Half 6:50
Incarnate Word 63
Milwaukee 35 2nd Half 7:49
Valparaiso 61
Alcorn State 21 1st Half 7:40
Alabama A&M 28
Southern U 26 1st Half 9:36
Alabama State 11
Prairie View 20 1st Half 8:20
Ark-Pine Bluff 25
Texas 14 1st Half 9:53
Iowa State 17
Texas Southern 28 2nd Half
Miss Valley St 32
Long Island 85 FINAL
Bryant 88
Central Conn St 51 FINAL
St Francis-NY 49
Fairleigh Dickinson 0 Postponed
Sacred Heart 0
St Francis-PA 87 FINAL
Wagner 74
Delaware State 59 FINAL
NC Central 66
Howard 53 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 61
Coppin State 49 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 88 FINAL
SC State 53
Norfolk State 54 FINAL
Savannah State 56
MD-Eastern Shore 54 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Angelo State 55 FINAL
Abilene Christian 70
Samford 32 FINAL
(25) Chattanooga 49
Prairie View 83 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Alcorn State 58 FINAL
Alabama A&M 55
Southern U 53 FINAL
Alabama State 49
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 52
(12) Texas A&M 61 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 79
Robert Morris 68 FINAL
Mount St Marys 44
East Tenn St 72 FINAL
Mercer 70
Wofford 56 FINAL
Furman 58
Morehead St 64 FINAL
Tenn Tech 54
Illinois 57 FINAL
Michigan 70
Quinnipiac 0 Postponed
Manhattan 0
Saint Peters 0 Postponed
Rider 0
(18) Miss State 11 1st Half 8:42
Auburn 11
(15) Nebraska 22 1st Half 8:09
(20) Iowa 15

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