Amid failure, Gophers pull in a top recruit

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 24, 2007 - 1:10 AM

Less than 24 hours after the Gophers football team suffered perhaps one of its worst losses in program history, cheers filled the football complex Sunday afternoon.

Less than 24 hours after the Gophers football team suffered perhaps one of its worst losses in program history, cheers filled the football complex Sunday afternoon.

"Ask me whether or not my feelings are buoyed," coach Tim Brewster said.

Well?

"Absolutely," he said.

Despite a demoralizing 27-21 loss to North Dakota State on Saturday, Brewster and his staff received a verbal commitment from wide receiver Brandon Green, a four-star recruit from Chicago Robeson who made his official visit this weekend. The Gophers also got a commitment from Green's teammate Johnny Johnson, who is projected as an athlete.

Green is ranked as the 39th-best wide receiver prospect in the nation by Rivals.com. He said he has offers from every Big Ten school except Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State.

Green said that the Gophers' 1-7 record and their loss to NDSU in particular did not discourage him.

"They said they need help at receiver, so I'm here trying to give them help," Green said. "It's a good offense to be in, because they go four and five wide every play. They're trying to throw the ball. They just don't have the receivers. That's why I committed here."

Green (6-0, 167 pounds) said he still intends to take four more official visits. The Gophers now have 16 verbal commitments for next season, including three four-star recruits.

Brewster said he doesn't believe his team's struggles this season will affect recruiting efforts. He said he experienced a similar situation as an assistant at North Carolina.

"We went 2-20 at the University of North Carolina, and probably two of our best recruiting classes were off those seasons," he said.

Running back shuffle

Brewster said that he hasn't gotten a final diagnosis on tailback Jay Thomas but that all signs indicate he tore the ACL in his right knee.

That means extra work for true freshman Duane Bennett and senior Amir Pinnix, who is still limited because of a turf toe injury and a pulled quadriceps muscle.

"I don't think it puts more on my shoulders," Bennett said. "It's just one of those things where you have to step up when the time is right. Right now, with us being low on backs due to injury, I've got to start making plays."

Bennett rushed for 31 yards on eight carries Saturday and caught three passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. Brewster said senior fullback Justin Valentine also will get some work at tailback.

Wait and see

Brewster said the coaching staff will determine later this week whether senior cornerback Jamal Harris will remain a starter.

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