With the summer now in full swing and Gopher camps wrapped up for the month, GopherDigest takes a look at our projected class for the Gopher Football team for offense.
Quarterback: One projected (one committed in Michigan's Tony Poljan)
As things stand right now, Minnesota will only take one quarterback from the 2016 cycle and they've already got their guy in Poljan. Word that GopherDigest heard following the Sound Body Sound Mind camp where Poljan participated in is that the Gopher staff is very happy with the Michigan's quarterbacks development over the last few weeks and months. He's still raw, but they'd rather have it that way in where quarterback coach Jim Zebrowski can tinker with things and habits that Poljan may have not set in stone. The Gophers plan is to have Poljan be there quarterback for the 2016 cycle, but he is athletic enough to play tight end or an assortment of other positions. All that being said, there has been some internal discussions on potentially taking another quarterback this cycle. The prime candidate is Laurel (Miss.)'s Keon Howard who the staff has maintained constant contact with over the past few weeks. There could be others, but Howard would be the top guy to GopherDigest as he has family in Minnesota and rumor is he wants to get out of Mississippi as well.
Who does Minnesota get? Tony Poljan
Running back: Zero projected (zero committed)
With five freshmen running backs on scholarship for Minnesota this fall, a running back for this class is definitely on the back burner for this class. GopherDigest has heard that the staff doesn't plan on taking a running back this class, UNLESS he's a freak and they can't pass up on that kind of talent. A few names to watch over the next few months heading into the fall and winter are Texas' Kene Nwangwu, Michigan's Martell Pettaway and Missouri's Tre Bryant.
Who does Minnesota get? Gophers take zero.
Wide Receiver: Two projected (One committed in Minnesota's Phillip Howard)
Top Target: Texas wide receiver Bubba Ogbebor
It was very tough for GopherDigest to choose a top target as things are pretty open for Minnesota at the wide receiver spot with only one spot remaining. Howard is more than likely going to replace the role that K.J. Maye has provided for the Minnesota offense the last year or two, and we'd argue that Howard may be more explosive. Ogbebor received an offer from Minnesota about a month ago now and he fits very well into the mold of receiver that the Gophers are looking to take after a few classes of bigger wide receivers. Ogbebor excels at getting separation and making plays on the ball, which is ideal for Minnesota. I'd look for Coach Pat Poore to try and get Ogbebor on an official visit this fall and try to close the deal then.
Other top options
1) Eden Prairie (Minn.) wide receiver J.D. Spielman
2) Chelsea (Mich.) wide receiver Bailey Edwards
3) Covington (Ga.) Newton wide receiver DeAndre Huff
Between these four options, I feel confident at this stage of the game that the final commitment for wide receiver will come from this group. Spielman has three other Big Ten offers besides the Gophers and a source told GopherDigest that Minnesota is currently in his top three. With teammate Carter Coughlin pushing hard to get Spielman in the fold, it'll be interesting to see how things play out over the next few months. Edwards' is the younger brother of current Gopher running back Berkley Edwards and Minnesota is his best offer to date after camping at Wisconsin and Michigan in the last week. The younger Edwards visited for the Gophers spring game and it wouldn't be surprising if a commitment came before the end of the summer. Huff will be visiting Minnesota in July for the annual recruiting BBQ next month and word is he's down to the Gophers and Rutgers. It wouldn't be out of the question to think a decision could come before the end of the summer if Huff wants a spot at Minnesota.
Who does Minnesota get? Phillip Howard and Bailey Edwards
Tight end: Two projected (Zero committed)
Top target: Illinois athlete Albert Okwuegbunam
Minnesota was Okwuegbunam's first power five offer and he's been on the top of the tight end wish list ever since. The Illinois tight end has visited the Twin Cities twice so far in his recruitment, once last December and one time in April for the Gophers spring game. After recently picking up a Michigan State offer, it'll be interesting to see where he goes from here as he told GopherDigest last week he's trying to make a decision by the end of the summer. Okwuegbunam's combination of athleticism and speed at 6'5" will be a very big mismatch in college and the Gophers would love to add another talent like that. One source told GopherDigest that Okwuegbunam is expected at the Gophers BBQ in July and that Minnesota will try and show Okwuegbunam that he could be the next Maxx Williams type player in the Gophers offense.
Other top options
1) Opelika (Ala.) tight end Kyle Fourtenbary
2) Katy (Texas) Cinco Ranch tight end Corey Rau
3) Houston (Texas) Elsik tight end Amorama Noel
4) Atlanta (Ga.) B.E.S.T. Academy tight end Robert Tucker
Fourtenbary picked up a Gopher offer after tight ends coach Rob Reeves saw him live this past spring and the Alabama tight end plans on visiting the Gophers in July for the recruiting BBQ. The Gophers are his biggest offer to this point and it's plausible to think that after he and his family see what the Twin Cities is about, that they'll be back for an official visit in the fall. Rau is one tight end I don't feel very good about as location is a serious issue, but that won't stop Sawvel for pushing hard for a visit this fall. Noel and Tucker and new names to GopherDigest, but word is they could be in line for offers down the line if Okwuegbunam and Fourtenbary go elsewhere.
Who does Minnesota get? Albert Okwuegbunam and Kyle Fourtenbary
Offensive line: Four/five projected (Four committed in Illinois' Sean Foster, Minnesota's Matt Kegel, Conner Olson and Sam Schlueter)
Top target: Mississippi JUCO OG Vincent Calhoun
GopherDigest readers have known for many weeks now that Minnesota plans to go Calhoun or bust with the remainder of this 2016 offensive line class as he's been described to GopherDigest by one source that the Gopher staff sees him as an SEC type guard who would come in and start next year. Calhoun was on an official visit to the Twin Cities the past few days with his father and word is that things went really well and that Minnesota would be surprised if they don't end up getting Calhoun at this stage in the game. Obviously if an SEC school comes in between now and December, things would definitely change, but things look very good for Minnesota at this point to end their 2016 with a bang.
Other top options
1) Wisconsin offensive lineman Cole Van Lanen
Minnesota would love to get back in on Van Lanen as he'd be a definitely home run type because of his play on the field and the fact that the Gophers could steal one of the top few lineman in Wisconsin away from the rival Badgers. Things don't look great for that to happen at this time, but know that Coach Limegrover is working hard behind the scenes to change that.
Another offensive line name could pop up late if the Gophers can't get either of these two linemen, but know that if Minnesota decides to take another, he's going to be an immediate impact type player.
Who does Minnesota get? Sean Foster, Matt Kegel, Conner Olson, Sam Schlueter and Vincent Calhoun
Total projected number on offense: 10-12
GopherDigest Projected Class: Offense
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