The Star Tribune's nine top college football prospects from Minnesota high schools include eight headed to Power Five schools and one with his plans as yet undisclosed.
Totino-Grace, offensive lineman, 6-8, 285, Notre Dame
Alt projects as an offensive tackle for the Fighting Irish. He said his father, longtime NFL standout lineman John Alt, is thrilled to have a son following in his footsteps. His older brother Mark played college hockey for the Gophers after quarterbacking Cretin-Derham Hall to a state football championship in 2009. "My dad really enjoyed my brother's career," Joe said. "but with me, he can coach me a lot more specifically and I think he has a lot of fun with that."
Shakopee, defensive lineman, 6-6, 285, Minnesota
"The first thing about him is his get-off," Shakopee coach Ray Betton said of Eastern. "He has what we call that feather trigger." Quick to start and difficult to stop, Eastern posted 14 tackles for loss and five sacks this fall. His size, long arms and speed (4.8 seconds in the 40-yard dash) remind Betton of former Gophers standout and current NFL free agent Ra'Shede Hageman. "He could add size and still have that ability to get after the quarterback," Betton said.
Wayzata, offensive lineman, 6-5, 260, Syracuse
A right tackle for the Trojans this fall, Magnuson could move to guard or center as needed at the next level. Versatility, technique and a touch of nastiness made him a player who Wayzata coach Lambert Brown will miss. "He plays with a lot of personal pride and positional pride," Brown said. "He wants to do his one-eleventh for the offense by not just blocking but dominating his guy. He's got good hips and feet and uses leverage to just drive guys."
Lakeville South, offensive lineman, 6-8, 285, Wisconsin
Lakeville South coach Ben Burk values more than the big fella's obvious attributes. "With his lateral movement," Burk said, "Riley has the ability to reach block a defensive end lined up several feet outside him." Basketball produced those nimble feet. "I've seen him cut off Division I-recruited point guards to the baseline from his spot on the block during games," Burk said. "Being able to move his body that quickly laterally is a significant skill that a lot of players don't have."
Annandale, offensive lineman, 6-7, 250, Minnesota
Annandale coach Matt Walter lauded Purcell's "prototypical size, strength, and athleticism" and said he could reach the realm of former Gophers standout and NFL player Mark Setterstrom. "Logan's explosiveness and athleticism jump off the film," Walter said. "He is a nasty-minded run blocker who mauls defensive linemen with his size. His speed allows him to get to the second level to pick up game-breaking blocks." Along with tenacity, Purcell employs a "dynamic first step along with a clean technique," Walter said.
Rosemount, linebacker, 6-3, 215, Wisconsin
The Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year said he knew before the season that he was leaning toward football in college, despite a verbally commitment after his freshman year to the Minnesota hockey program. He didn't announce his football plans for Wisconsin until Nov. 30, but his intentions shown in the weeks before thanks to a superb, if abbreviated, senior season. Ratzlaff led the undefeated Irish in tackles, interceptions and punishing hits. "I love football so much," he said after the team's final game. "There's nowhere I'd rather be than on a football field."
Eden Prairie, linebacker, 6-2, 232, Iowa
A high ankle sprain in the season opener kept Sullivan off the field for much of the season. His next step: playing middle linebacker for theHawkeyes. His biggest areas of focus? His flexibility, even going so far as to take a high school yoga class, and the mental side of the game. "I'm sure I'll be able call plays. I've got good football knowledge," he said. "It all comes down to watching film. The more film you watch, the more confident you become. I love watching film."
Edina, offensive lineman, 6-6, 295, California
Edina coach Jason Potts called Swinney a "high-value player" with a full complement of skills. As a run blocker, Swinney "dominates defenders with a low pad level and a good first step, along with a strong punch and motor that never stops," Potts said. "He can set the tone at the point of attack or pull to open up huge running lanes." In passing situations, Swinney's size allows him to "take on blitzing linebackers or physical defensive linemen," Potts said.
Minneapolis North, defensive end, 6-6½, 245
Townley has been the subject of an intense recruiting battle between football and basketball programs wanting his services. On Dec. 9, he made his decision: Football, but with an eye toward walking on to the basketball team. He's not naming the school publicly until Wednesday at the earliest. "It's a secret," he said. "It's going to be hard, but I'm going to do it." He said he committed to the school because of a relationship with the head coach that no other program could match. "He showed me something different that no other coach did," Townley said.
DAVID LA VAQUE, JIM PAULSEN