Of the 20 scholarship signees in this year’s Gophers recruiting class, two are slated to play quarterback for Minnesota: Seth Green and Mark Williams.
Four others played quarterback in high school but will move to other positions for the Gophers. That list includes Tyler Johnson (Minneapolis North), Kamal Martin (Burnsville), Phillip Howard (Cooper) and Ko Kieft (Sioux Center, Iowa).
“Most times that [quarterback] is the best player at a lot of places,” Gophers coach Tracy Claeys said.
The Gophers list the 6-4, 225-pound Kieft as a tight end, and the 6-3, 220-pound Martin as a linebacker.
“When [Martin] first came to camp, he was like 208 pounds, and he went through all the linebacker stuff, and that was our thought all along,” Claeys said. “And you get to January, and I go home visit him, he tells me he weighs 237 or something at that time.
“He’s gotten a lot bigger. Our intentions still are to start him out at linebacker, but the day may come he outgrows that position. And if he does, we’ll be fortunate we picked up a really good defensive end with how athletic he is.”
The 5-11, 175-pound Howard and the 6-2, 180-pound Johnson are both listed as wide receivers. Some have pegged Johnson as a potential safety, but he wants a shot at receiver, after thriving there at the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.
“I’ll never ask a kid to come in here and do something that he doesn’t want to do,” Claeys said. “I’ll let them all start out where they want to and let them figure out where they can get on the field first. … [Receiver is] what we’ll do with him first, but he’s one of those kids who could play a lot of places.”
Fond recruiting memory
Claeys said his visit with Antoine Winfield Jr., in The Woodlands, Texas, was “one of the best home visits I had.”
Claeys enjoyed talking football with Winfield’s father, the former Vikings cornerback, and said the son “has a leadership-type personality where kids gravitate to him.” What else made the visit so special?
“It’s probably the best sloppy joes I’ve ever eaten in my life,” Claeys said. “His mom is a great cook. That is a great family.”
Helmet stickers coming?
Asked in an online chat if the Gophers were considering any uniform changes, Claeys said no, but added that they’re considering adding “game performance helmet awards.”
“I want to try and find a way to reward our kids, not for individual things but for team things that they do during the game that helps the team win,” Claeys said. “I don’t want them so big that they cover up the whole helmet. I’m not into that.
“It’s not something that’s going to be big and stick out and all that, but something that the kids can take pride in. At the same time, if they make mistakes, they’ll lose them.”