The Gophers have won some key recruiting battles under new coach P.J. Fleck, but they’ve lost some big ones, too.
The latest loss came before the fireworks Tuesday, when Noah Shannon, a defensive tackle from Oswego, Ill., announced his verbal commitment to Iowa.
Shannon had committed to the Gophers in May but decommitted later that month, re-opening his recruitment. Minnesota remained in the mix as Shannon weighed his options. Michigan State had offered, and there was talk Penn State might pounce.
But Shannon wrote on Twitter, “After many conversations with my parents and family, I have finally decided to further my academic and football career at the University of Iowa #SWARM18.”
Shannon is one of four players from the Class of 2018 who have committed to Fleck only to change their minds. Jalen Mayfield, a four-star offensive lineman from Michigan, was committed to Minnesota until he got an offer from his home-state Wolverines. Ultimately, it’s no surprise he picked Michigan.
Minnesota’s other decommitments were both three-star recruits from Alpharetta High School in Georgia – running back Nolan Edmonds and offensive lineman Oyenmwen Uzebu. Edmonds decommitted after visiting Michigan State and getting an offer from the Spartant. Still, he is another one who hasn’t ruled out Minnesota. In fact, he’s still scheduled to attend the Gophers annual summer recruiting barbecue, on July 29.
Back in February, the Gophers landed the top defensive tackle recruit from the state of Illinois, getting a verbal commitment from Chicago Marist’s Elijah Teague. From all accounts, he intends to become a Gopher on signing day (Feb. 7). Teague remains Minnesota’s highest-ranked recruit in the 247Sports Composite, with a 0.8681 rating (three stars).
Fleck has made no secret that he has immediate playing time available at defensive tackle. Steven Richardson, Andrew Stelter and Merrick Jackson are heading into their senior seasons. Gary Moore is a redshirt junior.
Shannon is ranked No. 2 behind Teague on the list of defensive tackles from the state of Illinois. He immediately became Iowa’s highest-ranked commitment (0.8590) in the 247Sports composite. It would have been something to see, with Teague and Shannon playing together for the Gophers as freshmen in 2018. Instead, with Shannon heading to Iowa, the Gophers will have to worry about blocking him each year in battle for Floyd of Rosedale.
The Gophers have 19 commitments, all three-stars, and currently rank No. 25 nationally in the 247Sports Composite. Iowa’s nine commitments are all three-star recruits, as well, and the Hawkeyes currently rank No. 52 nationally. Wisconsin, for comparison, ranks No. 26 with 16 commitments (including one four-star and 14 three-stars).
Fleck had a fast start to this recruiting class, and by Minnesota standards, it’s still a strong list. The mere fact the Gophers were in the discussion with Mayfield and Shannon is impressive. But to finish with a top-25 class, Minnesota will need to win some big recruiting battles down the stretch.