With National Signing Day a day away, the Minnesota coaching staff is trying to fill up the remaining open scholarships with some raw talent.
The Gophers have swung and missed on a lot of big prospects this season, including a slew of in-state talent but coach Jerry Kill has snatched up 16 players for his current class.
As a whole, the class looks lackluster without any instant stars and high-rated recruits. The lone commitment from the Gopher State is inside linebacker, Chris Wipson.
However, Wipson, a two-star recruit, tore his ACL during his senior season at Eden Prairie and is unlikely to be fit for practice in August.
The program is hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with its final rounds of recruits. Two seasons ago, Kill added five players to the end of his class, including Cedric Thompson.
Thompson, a two-star recruit with offers from FCS programs, visited campus the weekend before National Signing Day. He received an offer and is now a starting safety.
Last season, Minnesota got back into favor with Andre McDonald in the last two weeks of recruitment. By adding McDonald, Kill was able to show off his recruiting aptitude in the Big Ten.
Who will it be this time around?
The list of 10 targets below include current commits from other programs, players who have Minnesota listed as their favorite, and others just waiting for an offer to come their way. The four bolded are the predicted quartet to sign with the Gophers.
- Jalan Coleman (linebacker)
- JJ Green (wide receiver)
- Keyshawn Henderson (wide receiver)
- Donovan Jones (quarterback)
- Daletavius McGhee (defensive back)
- Reggie Spearman (linebacker)
- Isaac Tanner (linebacker)
- Tedric Thompson (defensive back)
- Raphael Webb (running back)
- Marquez White (wide receiver/defensive back)
The name that stands out on the list is White, who is currently committed to Florida State. The defensive back visited the Twin Cities at the end of November and really enjoyed his time. Inking White would prove to be invaluable for the program, especially with the departure of three cornerbacks already during through the recruiting process.
The same could be said for Spearman. The linebacker out of Chicago has hopped on and off multiple commitments over the past year. Spearman has a final four of Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Syracuse. While he has the talent to break the rotation next season in Maroon and Gold, it would be shocking if the coaching staff could pry him from the claws of the Hawkeyes or the Fighting Illini. He will announce his decision on Tuesday.
If there is a prospect that the Gophers could steal, it would be Jones. The athlete appears like he wants to stay at quarterback, and Minnesota is pledging to keep him there. The current Missouri commit has wavered within the past few weeks, with the Gophers ready to pounce on the current Tiger. Expect Jones to chose Minnesota on Wednesday.
The next commitment will come from Thompson. Cedric’s younger brother has been slow-played by the coaching staff in the last few months. With several of the defensive backs leaving the program, Thompson can snatch one of the remaining spots. Fresno State would be closer to home in California and Colorado is in the Pac-12, but the chance to play with his brother is something special that he may now want to pass up.
The final two additions to the class are two names that were added on Thursday to the final weekend of visits and it appears likely that McGhee will enter the program. The defensive back originally committed to Memphis in October, but he flipped to Louisiana Tech last week. The Georgia prospect enjoyed his visit and fits a need in the secondary.
Finally, the surprise comes with Henderson. The wide receiver has had a lot of interest from programs such as Wisconsin and Texas Tech, but it is uncertain if he can qualify with his grades. The big receiver from Texas would top off a trifecta of receivers in the class as a trio of Henderson, Eric Carter, and Drew Wolitarsky would make a solid group as Minnesota continues to seek improvement at that position.
As for the rest of the recruits, they may not fit the Big Ten bill. Webb is likely to go to Vanderbilt after the news broke about 2014 running back Jeff Jones committing to the Gophers. Green, Coleman, and Tanner do not have the talent that Kill is looking for in the back end of his recruiting class.
If the coaching staff gets the four players predicted to sign with the Gophers, Minnesota will end up with a fine class with a lot of players that will likely end up contributing. It may not be a group full of All-Big Ten studs, but it fills needs and adds depth to the program.