Four recruits have decommitted from the Gophers football team since Nov. 22 but, according to sources, only one of those developments stung coach Tracy Claeys.
When Tralund Webber, a junior college defensive end from Texas, flipped to Oklahoma State two weekends ago, the Gophers felt they’d lost a potential All-Big Ten player.
The other three — including consensus four-star offensive lineman Sean Foster, who decommitted Tuesday — probably did what’s best for both sides. Claeys has sent very clear signals that this is his program now, and he’s going to do things his way.
When Andre Polk, a linebacker from Fort Meyers, Fla., flipped to South Florida, he said he wanted to play closer to home. The Gophers would have liked to have him, but they understood.
Then came Sunday, with the sudden news that Claeys had fired offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover and quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski. Within hours, Tony Poljan, a quarterback from Lansing, Mich., decommitted, citing the “ever changing leadership” at the University of Minnesota.
But the Poljan decision was mutual, according to sources. The Gophers think he can be a great college player, but aren’t sure he’d be a good fit under Claeys, who wants quarterbacks with more mobility. The 6-6, 230-pound Poljan has since received an offer from Nebraska, but that’s to play tight end.
One quarterback name to watch is Seth Green, the former East Ridge standout who transferred to Allen, Texas, for his senior year. Green committed to Oregon, but there are rumblings that Minnesota still could land him. Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost is the one who recruited Green, and Frost just left to become the head coach at Central Florida.
No matter who plays quarterback, the Gophers need to improve along the offensive line. That was Limegrover’s domain. He handled offensive line recruiting, since he coached that unit, in addition to his coordinator duties.
This season was a struggle for the offensive line, as a slew of injuries tested its slim depth. The Gophers generated very little push against Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin.
On the surface, it looked like another blow Tuesday, when Foster decommitted. His statement on Twitter said, “After speaking to the coaching staff at the University of Minnesota it is in my best interest to decommit immediately and explore my options. … I am saddened by the recent departures of some amazing coaches.”
But once again, sources described it as a mutual decision. Claeys wasn’t sure the 6-8, 285-pound Foster was the best fit.
The Gophers are much higher on Vincent Calhoun, a 6-4, 335-pound guard from Southwest Mississippi Community College who is expected to step in and start next season.
For now, the Gophers have fallen in the national recruiting rankings. Rivals.com had them at No. 26 in June, but after the Foster decision, they fell to No. 50.
They still have 14 players committed with about 10 more spots to fill before National Signing Day on Feb. 3. The Gophers already have plucked nine in-state players, including Minneapolis North athlete Tyler Johnson and Monticello offensive lineman Conner Olson.
The jewel of their class remains Carter Coughlin, the consensus four-star linebacker from Eden Prairie, who picked the Gophers over Ohio State and Oregon.
“Gopher fans y’all gotta trust the system and trust Claeys,” Coughlin tweeted Tuesday, after Foster decommitted. “He’s making some big decisions, but they are what’s best for the program.”