Gophers recruiting beefs up via Twitter


You have 140 characters to state your case on something, go. The world of Twitter and social media has changed almost every business in some shape or form. It has also taken recruiting in major collegiate sports to a new level.

On Saturday, the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football team received a verbal commitment from an in-state defensive lineman named Andrew Stelter. The Class of 2014 recruit is the top-ranked defensive player in the state of Minnesota and hails from the south central town of Owatonna.

Like many recruits in various college sports, Twitter has become the official platform to announce one’s commitment to a college or university. Long past are the days of the “hat dance” that players would put on during nationally televised HS All-American Bowls. The popular choice in 2013 is to fit your commitment within 140 characters.

Stelter is by no means the first and certainly will not be the last recruit at Minnesota or nationally to use this platform for a decree to the world. Earlier this summer, a couple other co-members of the Class of 2014 attacked Twitter with their commitments to the Gophers and urged fellow high schoolers to follow their lead and join Jerry Kill’s program.

Gaelin Elmore (Somerset, Wisc.) and Connor Mayes (Van Alstyne, Texas) are two offensive recruits for the fall of 2014. They are heading into their senior seasons and have been blowing up Twitter with constant tweets announcing their love for “Gopher Nation”.

In Elmore’s tweet above, he is tweeting at Frank Ragnow, a 2014 offensive lineman from Chanhassen to “Keep thinking Gophs”. Ragnow is still undecided on his commitment and is regarded as the No. 2 overall prospect in the state for the following season. He has received offers from over a dozen schools and is definitely a top target for Kill and the rest of his coaching staff.

The sport of football is not the only co-ed activity to get Twitter attention on the recruiting trail. Basketball may have been the biggest influence on this craze as the number of hoops players on a given squad are far smaller than that of a very large college football program. Top recruits in basketball are harder to get as there are fewer to come by.

Head basketball coach Richard Pitino has been hitting the recruiting trail hard. Jet-setting his way around the country to get a courtside glimpse of top recruits wherever they are playing. Pitino and his staff have not been shy about handing out offers for their program. They understand the need for a wide net of talented recruits to fill their new system at Minnesota.

One recruit they offered recently was Lakeville recruit J.P. Macura. Hidden in the shadows of the local “Big 3” of prospects, Macura would be a very strong addition to the 2014 Pitino squad under a system that is very guard heavy. Like many others before him, Macura was quick to attack Twitter with the announcement of his scholarship offer.

Now this offer is a little under two weeks old, but Macura received over 50 retweets and almost 150 favorites for his nine word tweet. A much different response than a current Gophers basketball player received when he tweeted his actual commitment a little over two years ago.

Remember, Ellenson’s tweet was to announce his verbal commitment and Macura used his tweet to just say Pitino had offered him a scholarship. What a difference a couple years makes with online recruiting. I can’t be sure how many people were following Ellenson on the day he tweeted his commitment, but he had already been on the social media platform for ten months and even a 6-foot-4 man will stick out in cyberspace.

With the free communication at everyone’s fingertips, Twitter and other similar online forums will continue to hold serve in the world of college recruiting. For the basketball and football programs at Minnesota to grow to the upper echelons of the Big Ten, they will hope that the keyboards of high school stars lead them in their direction.

Will Tyus Jones (@Tyusjones06), Reid Travis (@Reid_Travis_22), or Rashad Vaughn (@ShowtimeMr) announce their commitment via Twitter? It would seem like a safe bet at this time to expect just that from at least one, if not all three to do so. Each of them are well versed with the social media platform and in just 140 characters, they could change the future of any program for years to come.

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