While the various recruiting services on the Internet continue to use star ratings in the evaluation of football players, Gophers coach Jerry Kill pays little attention to those ratings.
The Gophers haven't been able to recruit many four-star recruits in the past, but it looks like they might have some this year -- at least by how Kill and his staff rated them. He is very happy with the players who signed with his team on Wednesday.
"The bottom line is what's going to fit for us and who's going to play for us," Kill said of his theory of recruiting.
"Those [ratings] change on a daily basis. I look for what we feel like is going to be best for our program. Very similar to coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots, he takes and puts people into his system. We recruit people that we feel is best for the University of Minnesota. It may not be best for somebody else but it is for us. So we're caught up, we feel very good about our system."
Kill added: "I don't know our recruiting class was ninth or 10th in the conference when I was at Northern Illinois but Northern Illinois has had two back-to-back 11-3 seasons and gone to a bowl game. They have the best athletes in the MAC right now. I think it's what you're trying to do with what you feel is best for your program."
He said every player he thought was going to commit did just that Wednesday with the exception of Raleigh, N.C., linebacker Drew Davis, who decided to stay near home and go to North Carolina State.
Kill said there are a number of players he signed that were recruited by several BCS conference schools and have the ability to be outstanding for the Gophers.
"You take the three receivers with Isaac Fruechte, he's here at semester and I think he's very athletically gifted," Kill said. Then the [Jamel] Harbison kid and Andre McDonald. ... Harbison is probably the best skill player in North Carolina. Then with Andre, I think that everybody knows that everybody in the country recruited Andre and that was a big thing for us at receiver."
Besides Hopkins' McDonald, there were other Minnesotans who Kill mentioned as being in the blue-chip category. "[St. Thomas Academy's] Issac Hayes that Georgia Tech offered, [Blue Earth's] Jonah Pirsig was recruited by everybody in the country and he stayed at home. [Mankato West's] Philip Nelson, his dad played at the University of Wisconsin, and I know his dad kind of mandated the phone, Iowa really wanted to get into that situation and so forth, we were fortunate to get him. There's quite a few guys there that I know we had to wait [on] ... they certainly had choices."
Kill said he was proud of the fact that the Gophers were able to sign every kid in the state they recruited with the exception of Eden Prairie tackle Nick Davidson, who moved here last year and signed with Stanford.
"If we did anything really good we were able to do a good job here in our home state," Kill said. "I feel good about what we did in our home state. I think we got nine or 10 young people coming and I feel like we kept the talent here in our home state for the most part. You're never going to get them all, but I think we did a good, solid job in taking care of our home state and are off to a good start there."
We will have to wait and see how good this class is, but on paper it appears to be one of the Gophers' best in recent years.
• Twins President Dave St. Peter on why fans should get excited about single-game tickets at Target Field, which become available to the public on Feb. 25: "The interleague schedule couldn't be better with the Cubs coming in and the Phillies coming in and of course the Brewers. We're excited about that and obviously opening day April 9th against former Cardinals star Albert Pujols and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Opening Day."
• Twins catcher Drew Butera, who played a lot last year with Joe Mauer injured, will now have to compete for the second catcher position with Ryan Doumit, who signed by the Twins as a free agent earlier this offseason. "I'm still positive," said Butera while in town for the TwinsFest. "I'm going to go in and compete for a spot and hopefully get the job. You know competition is always good. It will bring out the best in some people."
• According to a recent issue of Forbes Magazine, the Timberwolves' Glen Taylor rates ninth among NBA team owners in wealth with $1.8 billion. Rick Adelman is the fifth-highest paid coach at $5 million, with ex-Wolves coach Flip Saunders, who was recently let go as coach of the Wizards, was sixth at $4.8 million. Checking the value of NBA franchises, the Wolves are 27th in value at $272 million while losing $6.8 million in operating income this past season. The only teams behind the Wolves are Atlanta, Memphis and Milwaukee; the Lakers are the NBA's most valuable franchise at $900 million. Forbes reported that ex-Wolves star Kevin Garnett has earned $270 million during his 16-year career, second in NBA history only to Shaquille O'Neal.
• Former Blaine High School standout Dan Johnson signed a minor-league deal with the Chicago White Sox after playing with Tampa Bay last season. He hit .273 last year at Class AAA while dealing with an injured left wrist. He also hit a dramatic home run in the ninth inning of the Rays' final game of the season to help them win the AL wild card.
• Bryce McNeal, the former Breck wide receiver who spent three seasons at Clemson, is now at Connecticut, where he will have two years of eligibility remaining.
• Drake Michaelson, the all-conference Eden Prairie linebacker, signed a letter of intent to play for FCS Wofford in South Carolina. ... Kevin Carroll, an all-state tackle at Edina and the son of former Gophers tight end Jay Carroll, signed with Northern Iowa. Jay's oldest son, Collin, just graduated from Virginia Tech where he was the long snapper for four years.
• Henk Norel, whom the Wolves selected with the 47th overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft, is playing in Spain for Joventut Badalona, where the 6-11 Dutchman is averaging 6.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 16 minutes per game. ... Former Wolves first-round pick Ndudi Ebi is playing in Lebanon this year and is averaging 25.2 points per game.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • firstname.lastname@example.org