WINONA, MINN. – Putting kids in the NFL and getting players to graduate are major selling points in recruiting for any college coach.
Gophers coach Jerry Kill touched on both subjects Tuesday in a speech before 100 fans at the Garvin Heights Vineyard on the annual Gopher Road Trip.
Seven members of last fall’s Gophers team are currently on NFL rosters. That includes four draft picks (Maxx Williams, Damien Wilson, David Cobb and Cedric Thompson) and three who signed as free agents (Cameron Botticelli, Derrick Wells and Isaac Fruechte).
“I can talk about individuals, but you’re only as good as your team,” Kill said. “We preach that. This day and age, that’s difficult. We tell kids, if you play together as a team, you’re going to get rewarded at the end of the day.
“We had more All-Conference players than we had in a long time -- guys drafted, guys picked up as free agents. When you sell team and those things happen, better things are on the horizon.”
Kill said the Gophers will probably have five more players drafted next year on defense and maybe one on offense. He didn’t mention names but candidates would include Eric Murray, Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Damarius Travis, Antonio Johnson, De’Vondre Campbell, Theiren Cockran, Josh Campion and punter Peter Mortell.
But for Kill, it’s more than putting kids in the pros. He pointed to the seven who just landed in the NFL and said, “Every one of those kids, except for Maxx, has graduated. And Maxx, I mean, I think he has about 10 [credits] left, and he’ll get that in a heartbeat because of the way his mom and daddy raised him. He ain’t got no choice.”
Kill said, as a team, the Gophers posted a 3.08 GPA in spring semester.
“When we got the job [in December 2010], we were 2.2, with 23 people on academic probation and four were not in school. So I’d say we have come a long way where it counts.
“Our goals are pretty simple: earn a degree, win a Big Ten championship and of course, the big one [a national championship].”