The 2013 Star Tribune Super Preps are a select group of six Minnesota high school Division I college football prospects. They were chosen based on college football potential.
Onwualu discovered early on that he was different than the other football players at St. Paul's Jimmy Lee Rec Center. His elevated play made him the type player that teammates fawn over and opponents talk about with awe in their voices.
He gave up other sports as a freshman in high school, focusing year-round on developing as a football player, including workouts with such notable names as Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald Jr. "I knew I needed to get serious about my future," he said. The 6-1, 205-pound athlete, who has run a 4.5 second 40-yard dash, has flypaper hands and startling acceleration, is projected as a wide receiver at Notre Dame but likely will see some action returning kicks as well.
With the speed to cover receivers out of the backfield and having a prototype linebacker's body - 6-4, 215 pounds --it was obvious that Cottrell would play college football. The question was where. After some digging through recruiting websites, Cottrell found a connection with the coaches at Boston College. His mother attended nearby Dartmouth, and Cottrell was intrigued. "I went out there and I really liked everything about it," he said. "It has great academics, a really good football history and I loved the campus. It was a little more compact. It just seemed like a perfect fit."
Moving from northwest Iowa to Eden Prairie as a freshman, playing college football has been foremost in Reinke's mind. "When we moved up here, we moved to Eden Prairie because of football," said the 6-3, 265-pounder. "It's always been my dream to play football in college." A self-professed individualist, Reinke's square jaw and Mohawk haircut give him a central casting look. He heard from Upper Midwest schools but was determined to forge his own path. "Kent State doesn't usually recruit anywhere close to Minnesota, but I wanted to do things my way and do what felt right for me," he said.
The path to Madison has been anything but smooth for the fleet Brookins. He committed to Minnesota during his junior year, which was cut short by a knee injury. He recovered well enough to win the Class 2A state championship in the 200-meter dash last June. He followed that with a standout performance at the Nike combine in Champaign, Ill. Wisconsin showed interest and, after a visit to the campus with his mother, Brookins decided that Wisconsin was a better fit. Since then, he suffered an injury to his other knee. Despite the departure of coach Brett Bielema, his commitment to Wisconsin - and the school's to him - never wavered. "I'm going there for the school, not the coach," Brookins said.
As the only Minnesota high school player committing to the Gophers, Wipson is well aware and ready, even though he's coming off a season-ending knee injury suffered in early November. The 6-2, 225-pound linebacker is anything but nervous as signing day approaches. He's confident in his ability to come back and excited to get the chance to represent his home state. "The coaches were completely committed to me after the injury," Wipson said. "That give me a lot of confidence. Of all the places I visited, they seemed to be the staff with the biggest vision for the future. Being a Minnesota kid, I want to be a part of that.''
Growing up in North Minneapolis, Rucker watched and dreamed as members of his family went off to play college football. He always believed that one day he would be next. "My cousin played at Iowa State and my brother went to Nebraska before transferring," Rucker said. "I'm from a football family. I always expected I would play college football." Turning heads by running a 4.48 40-yard dash at a camp in Iowa last summer, he was offered a scholarship on the spot by the Hawkeyes. He was projected as a cornerback, with a possible move to safety if he bulks up his 5-11, 165-pound frame. Rucker accepted almost immediately. "I felt comfortable with the coaches and the facilities and the people there,'' he said. "They've got a lot of academic support, too. The only way I can fail is if I want to fail."