Good morning to all who celebrate college football's early signing day, which began at 6 a.m. (Central) with players from the Eastern time zone being able to sign their national letters of intent.
For the Gophers, the signatures started rolling in right away, beginning with Aidan Gousby of Lehigh High School in Lehigh Acres, Fla., being the first player announced at 6:04 a.m. Listed as an athlete because of his versatility, the 6-2, 185-pound Gousby projects as a cornerback for the Gophers.
Quickly following with signed letters by 6:25 a.m. were:
* Linebacker Maverick Baranowski of Spruce Creek High School in Port Orange, Fla.
* Safety Coleman Bryson of Rabun Gap-Nacoohee High in Rabun Gap, Ga.
* Wide receiver Ike White of St. Frances Academy in Baltimore.
* Defensive lineman Hayden Schwartz of The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla., who previously was committed to Nebraska.
* And the first of two four-star recruits in the Gophers class, 6-6, 280-pound defensive lineman Anthony Smith of Shippensburg, Pa. Smith is expected to be Minnesota's highest-rated recruit in this class, according to the 247Sports composite ratings of major recruiting services.
That gave the Gophers signed letters from six of the eight players from the Eastern time zone that had verbally committed to the program. Cornerback Rhyland Kelly of Clearwater (Fla.) International Academy was announced at 7:50 a.m. That left only defensive end Jack Pyburn of The Bolles School in Jacksonville as an Eastern commit yet to sign.
By 6:45 a.m., the Gophers announced the addition of transfer cornerback Ryan Stapp of Abilene Christian, the same FCS school that produced highly productive linebacker Jack Gibbens, the leading tackler for this year's team.
The Gophers also announced their first preferred walk-on, wide receiver Cade Conzemius of Minnetonka, whose father, Justin, was a linebacker and captain for Minnesota in the 1990s. Conzemius' announcement was followed by that of preferred walk-on wide receiver Evan Redding of Menomonee Falls, Wis., the brother of Gophers freshman wideout Quentin Redding. Another PWO, running back Max Grand of Ellsworth, Wis., was announced shortly after Evan Redding.
The wave of announcements from the Central time zone – 11 total — started at 7:05 a.m. with offensive lineman Ashton Beers, a 6-5, 295-pounder from Slinger, Wis., who flipped his commitment from North Dakota State.
The first in-state signed letter came at 7:07 from Woodbury linebacker Joey Gerlach, who previously had committed to South Dakota State.
At 7:10, the Gophers announced the signing of the only quarterback in their 2022 class, Jacob Knuth of Harrisburg, S.D. The 6-4, 207-pound Knuth had an official visit to Kansas State over the weekend, but he remained committed to Minnesota and followed through on Wednesday.
Following those three announcements were:
* Columbia Heights tight end Spencer Alvarez, a 6-6, 260-pounder who projects as an offensive tackle for the Gophers.
* Nathan Jones, a 6-5, 240-pound tight end from Brock, Texas.
* Zach Evans, a 5-9, 200-pound running back from Rockwall-Heath High in Rockwall, Texas. Evans rushed for 1,957 yards and 26 TDs this season.
* Tariq Watson, a 5-10, 165-pound cornerback from Helen Cox High in Harvey, La.
* Cade McConnell, a 6-5, 300-pound offensive lineman from Choctaw, Okla., who flipped from TCU.
* Trey Bixby, a 6-5, 250-pound defensive lineman from Eden Prairie and four-star recruit who is the Gophers' top-ranked signee from Minnesota. Bixby was the first player to verbally commit to the 2022 class.
* Tony Nelson, a 6-6, 265-pound offensive tackle from Tracy, Minn.
* Completing the Central time zone announcements at 7:50 a.m. was Alexandria, Minn., wide receiver Kristen Hoskins, a 5-9, 170-pounder who had 83 receptions for 1,185 yards and 15 TDs this season.
The Gophers had no recruits from the Mountain or Pacific time zones, so by 8 a.m. they had 18 of their 19 incoming freshmen signed to national letters of intent, with the early signing period running through Friday.
Gophers coach P.J. Fleck will speak about the 2022 class during the Signing Day Social at noon at Huntington Bank Stadium and during a news conference to follow.