He said it: Gophers coach Jerry Kill

Jerry Kill had some fun Wednesday on National Signing Day, reliving the stories of assembling this year’s Gophers recruiting class.

Stop the plane

One of the Gophers’ biggest thrills was landing Dior Johnson, a safety from Southfield, Mich. Johnson is the only player in the class who drew a four-star rating from Rivals.com. Johnson was high school teammates of Ray Buford, another defensive back who signed with the Gophers. Johnson was committed to Wake Forest but switched to Minnesota last week after a visit from Kill and defensive backs coach Jay Sawvel. “Actually, I left [Johnson’s] home and didn’t know what was going to happen,” Kill said. “I was on the runway, literally in this case, on a private plane, and he called to commit. So I had to tell the [pilot], ‘Keep her down right now. Don’t get air.’ That’s a true story. He committed on the runway.”

 

On signing only 24 players

“We’re still not done yet. I always save a couple [spots] to see what happens, and we may take a transfer or two, we’ll see. We’re still working a little bit.”

 

On changes he’d like to see in recruiting

“I think everybody wants to see an early signing day [in December] because if that was the case, you’d stop some of the decommitting. I don’t know if anybody remembers [2013 defensive back recruit] Nate Andrews. He was coming to our school, I mean we had him, and four days before signing day, Florida State comes in and offers him, and he goes to Florida State. If we would have had early signing day, he would have signed, and look what kind of player he is now. He’s a great player.”

 

On the five offensive line signees

“That’s as big a group as we’ve recruited, and as athletic a group as we’ve recruited. … Wisconsin’s had arguably as good of offensive line as there is in the Big Ten, and these guys size-wise are like what they have.”

On keeping Minnesota players here

“This year, four went to power [five] conferences. One [Drayton Carlberg] went to Oregon. One [Jashon Cornell] went to Ohio State, and two [Bronson Dovich and Nick Connelly] went to us. Next year, there’s going to be quite a few more than that. There’s a lot of talented players in Minnesota, and we’re playing with a lot of them. There’s a possibility four of our five [starting] offensive linemen next year will be from Minnesota, so we’ve got to make sure we keep the good ones in state. With that being said, the border schools, we haven’t played against anybody [from Minnesota] that’s playing now at Iowa and Wisconsin. The Martz kid, Tyler [a Wisconsin offensive lineman] — he’d already committed before I got here. So we were trying to lock down those states, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job.”

“There’s a lot of talented players in Minnesota, and we’re playing with a lot of them. … We’ve got to make sure we keep the good ones in state.”

Joe Christensen