The Gophers signed 24 of 25 scholarship spots Wednesday, meaning the 2020 class isn’t quite finished.
Coach P.J. Fleck called this group “unbelievable,” including some late additions that were no-brainers to include but also forced some juggling.
“You’ve got of evaluate everybody,” Fleck said. “… Whether it’s the academics part or whether it’s the character part, you’re evaluating everything all the way to the end.”
The Gophers didn’t sign three players who have committed, all receivers: New York’s Justin Bellido, Georgia’s Dakota Thomas and Texas’ Dylan McGill. McGill tweeted he planned to sign in February, while Bellido is reportedly waiting for SAT scores.
Fleck said because this is a big class — also with two walk-ons — he’s confident in the depth, so he might not have to take a handful of transfers as he did last season.
“We’re very, very close to being done. We’re not done yet, and I don’t know when that’ll happen,” Fleck said. “Could happen soon, could happen in a month, could happen in two months, could happen all the way in the summer. We’ve got a spot left that we’re going to kind of look at who’s ready for that spot and then kind of go from there.”
Eight players will join the Gophers in January for winter workouts and spring ball: Anoka linebacker Cody Lindenberg, Kansas running back Ky Thomas, Ohio defensive end Gage Keys, German defensive end Melle Kreuder, Canadian offensive guard Tyrell Lawrence, Florida linebacker Jaqwondis Burns, Texas safety Abner Dubar and Australian punter Mark Crawford.
The Gophers had 14 early enrollees last season.
The Gophers did not recruit a quarterback this season. They had two in last year’s class, Jacob Clark and Cole Kramer. They have four scholarship quarterbacks in all, including starter Tanner Morgan and injured Zack Annexstad, plus two others on the roster, Johnny Santaga and Samuel Pickerign.
A 2021 quarterback has committed, four-star dual-threat Athan Kaliakmanis from Illinois. He is 6-4, 190 pounds.
Fleck joked Wednesday that offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca is a “luxury recruiter” of only quarterbacks and won’t be on the clock again for three more years. But Ciarrocca actually pointed out Missouri offensive tackle Aireontae Ersery, who signed Wednesday, to Fleck at a camp.
Gophers fourth-year safety Antoine Winfield Jr., is a consensus All-America. He earned first-team honors from The Sporting News and the American Football Coaches Association, adding to his selections from the Associated Press and Walter Camp Foundation. The Football Writers Association of America reveals its team Thursday and could make Winfield a unanimous pick.
Winfield’s father, Antoine Winfield Sr., was a unanimous choice for Ohio State in 1998. The Gophers’ last consensus and unanimous All-American was center Greg Eslinger in 2005.