GopherDigest answers your questions in this week's recruiting mailbag...
Q: Bailey Edwards will camp next as Ohio State. If tOSU, Michigan and WI do not offer, will he commit to MN within a few weeks?
I think Edwards waits until the fall after some official visits, and if that's the case, I think he'll miss out on his spot at Minnesota. Edwards received his Gopher offer back in the spring and has since visited the Twin Cities for the spring game. Yes I know there's the whole family connection with his older brother Berkley on roster, but the Gophers already have in-state athlete Phillip Howard committed and he projects at wide receiver, plus in-state receiver Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman received an offer a few days back and I'd be surprised if he isn't committed before the end of July. Minnesota is only planning on take two receivers with only K.J. Maye graduating this fall, so Edwards may miss out on his chance with the Gophers if he waits too long.
Q: What are the plans for taking a RB in this class?
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 as 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, but don't expect to hear much on running backs until the fall or winter, if Minnesota decides to take one.
Q: Does the staff view Lankford as a RB possibility?, Who are the top in-state juniors to keep an eye on this upcoming year and is junior college a possiblity for DT this year? Why is DT seem to be the hardest position for us to recruit?
Alright, a three-part question. Let's do this.
Is Brian Lankford-Johnson a possibility at running back? It's possible, but not likely. The Gophers have a few RB's ahead of him on the list and I think it's disappointing that when he camped at Minnesota, he didn't camp at WR or DB knowing that the Gophers aren't planning on taking a running back this class. Lankford-Johnson has some legit straight line speed, but has other facets of the game to improve on such as his cuts, hands and pass blocking, so I wouldn't expect to hear a lot more about BLJ for a while.
I have four in-state juniors that come to mind and they are East Ridge kicker Grant Ryerse, Eden Prairie defensive end Jermaine Johnson, Lakeville South offensive lineman Eric Rousemiller and Woodbury athlete Nico Bolden. Ryerse already has a Gopher offer after picking one up as a freshman and he told GopherDigest recently that he plans to decide in January, so the Gophers are looking very good to land one of the best legs in the nation for their 2017. Johnson is another name to get to know as he camped very well at Minnesota this past month and word is he may be close to a Gopher offer. At just over 6'3" and 215 lbs, Johnson displayed very good athletic ability and explosiveness for a recruit of his age. Rousemiller came to the Junior Elite Gopher camp as a sophomore last year and more than held his own. He's the top in-state candidate to receive a Gopher OL offer at this point and it may come as soon as next month when Rousemiller will again about with Minnesota. Bolden in the sleeper of this group. Bolden recently picked up his first offer from Illinois State after camping at Iowa State and he really caught the attentions of the Gophers coaches after camping at Minnesota earlier this month. The issue is trying to figure out what Bolden plays as he's right in-between an outside linebacker and safety mold, but he ran well at both camps, so he'll be one to watch down the line.
Lastly is defensive tackle recruiting. I can absolutely see Minnesota taking a JUCO recruit this class and they want to get Walvenski Aime, DT from Fort Scott C.C. in Kansas, on campus this summer for an official visit. Aime was committed to Miami and has since reopened his recruiting and scheduled an official visit to Kentucky for July. He'll be one to watch if the Gophers want to take a JUCO DT. Also, defensive tackle is the toughest position to recruit in all of college football for all teams. There's only a select number of players that are 6'3" 280+ lbs around the country and the ones that are explosive, are more than likely the ones that have 20+ offers. There's just a much smaller pool of big, explosive defensive lineman than skill position players and that's why it's so much more highly recruited. I think Minnesota has done well at defensive tackle though recently as 2014 DT signees Steven Richardson, Gary Moore and Andrew Stelter all played as true freshmen last year and more than held their own. With Mose Hall and potentially Colton Beebe as well in 2015, I think the Gophers future at DT looks bright.
Q: Any word on the potential Drew Hmielewski offer?, Is there any chance Desmon Smith picks the Gophers and would the Gophers take Bailey Edwards, Ramaud, and Drew?
You guys really love your three-part questions.
The latest I heard was last night when talking with a source and he told GopherDigest that Marshall (Minn.) wide receiver Drew Hmielewski is "definitely not out of it", but more of that the Gophers just need to see more of him before moving forward. It sounds like this was Minnesota first time truly getting a chance for a live evaluation and they were very pleasantly surprised. With Chiaokhiao-Bowman receiving an offer and more than likely going to decide before the end of July, the Gophers may be very limited on spots with Howard projecting as a wide receiver. Not saying the offer isn't coming, but things have to fall into place.
I'd say there's a very slim chance that Smith picks the Gophers and Minnesota fans need not to worry. This is the second "reservation" type of commitment for Gopher targets in recent weeks with fellow Texan Edward Hayes "committing" to Louisiana-Lafayette over Minnesota. Know that the staff is more than aware of these situations and that they're not concerned as if they want to bring Smith or Hayes on official visit this fall, that they feel it'll get done. Minnesota has higher targets they're shooting for right now at defensive back, so we'll see what happens this fall and winter.
I don't believe Minnesota can find a way to take Bailey Edwards, Drew Hmielewski and Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman, no. Again, in-state athlete Phillip Howard is projecting to wide receiver right now and even if they move him to defensive back to make room, three receivers is a stretch this class with only KJ Maye graduating. I think it'll be first come first serve for Edwards and Chiaokhiao-Bowman.
Q: I'd love your take on which stud Gopher CB will be drafted first and who will be the better pro ... BBC or Murray? They're very different players, but I think both have a shot to be excellent pros.
I think Murray will be drafted first, as high as the first round and that he'll be the better pro. I know that Briean Boddy-Calhoun has had the more illustrious career between he and Murray and BBC may go down as one of the most productive DB's in Minnesota history, but Murray should be the better pro. He has all the size and tools to be a lockdown corner in the NFL. Fans may not realize how much Minnesota left Murray on an island last season, basically giving him the whole side of the field by himself with no help over the top. Yes Murray has to improve on his ball skills, but he's very advanced at every other facet of the game. Boddy-Calhoun on the other hand is one of Minnesota's best playmakers and he capitalizes off teams not wanting to test Murray, and he makes them pay. I believe both will have good NFL careers, but Murray could be special at the next level.
Q: Can you jot down all the areas each coach is assigned to for recruiting and what is the EARLY thoughts on how deep the in-state 2017 crop is.
Coach Zebrowski: Quarterbacks and Ohio
Coach Poore: Texas
Coach Anderson: Kansas JUCO's and Georgia
Coach Reeves: Michigan and Georgia
Coach Limegrover: Offensive line
Coach Claeys: Florida
Coach Phelps: Illinois, Indiana and defensive line
Coach Sherels: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and linebackers
Coach Sawvel: Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida panhandle and Houston
The early prognosis on the 2017 Minnesota in-state class is that it's nowhere as deep as what the 2016 class is for the Gophers. There are close to 30 recruits who have division 1 AA or A offers in the state, which is a record, so it's very tough for any class to come close to that. The guys who I'm eyeing at the top of the 2017 rankings are Eric Rousemiller, Nico Bolden, Jermaine Johnson and Grant Ryerse.
Recruiting Mailbag 6/23
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