Gophers add recruits, strengthen with six walk-ons

The assumption is that walk-ons do not mean anything for a football team.

Yet, it enhances the future and possibility of depth within the program.

Within the past two weeks, six local prep football players pledged to the Minnesota coaching staff, becoming preferred walk-ons.

Walk-ons have been very successful at Minnesota, especially at wide receiver and offensive line. Four of the six are at those positions.

The six commitments are headed by Wayzata wide receiver Jeff Borchardt.

Borchardt made his commitment on Monday.  He will enter Minnesota with a chance to compete for playing time.

Oct 27, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers wide receiver A.J. Barker (82) runs during the first quarter against the Purdue Boilermakers at TCF Bank Stadium. The Gophers defeated the Boilermakers 44-28. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports


The top two receivers this season were walk-ons.  AJ Barker and Derrick Engel were both underclassmen from the Twin Cities area.  Under the coaching staff, the duo combined for 952 yards and eight touchdowns.

Barker left the program in early December.  The final scholarship last season was given to kicker Jordan Wettstein instead of the wide receiver and Engel will be a senior next season.

It’s unlikely that Engel will receive a scholarship this fall.

Borchardt’s teammate, Chandler Wright, committed to Minnesota on Tuesday. The offensive lineman is projected to play either at guard or center.

Brother of backup quarterback Mitch Leidner, Matt, committed on Tuesdsay.  Leidner is an offensive lineman from Lakeville South.

Perhaps the top offensive lineman of the group committed last.  On Thursday night, DeLaSalle lineman, Chad Fahning decided to don maroon and gold instead of taking offers such as Western Michigan.

The South Suburban conference heralded another Gopher.  Nick Hart, a tight end from Prior Lake, committed on Monday.

Conor Rhoda was the first one to commit.  He went to Cretin-Derham Hall and should stay at quarterback.  With Max Shortell transferring, the Gophers will have only four other quarterbacks on the roster.

Many of the walk-ons are taking the Minnesota offer over scholarships from Division II schools (North Dakota, NDSU, etc.).

Topics: Gophers, Minnesota, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Recruiting

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