Football Mailbag 8/6

GopherDigest answers your questions in this week's football mailbag...

GopherDigest answers your questions in this week's football mailbag...

lirianofan asks: As of today, lets say the staff had their pick, would they still take Conner Olson over Patrick Kasl? What is the staff's feeling about the whole JoJo situation, about not playing football and his academics situation.

Yes they'd still take Olson over Kasl. I think Olson would have received an offer at camp last year if he was anywhere 260-270 pounds, but he was only 240 lbs, so Sam Schlueter and Matt Kegel were the only ones offered that day. Things ultimately worked out from both Olson and Kasl and Conner was offered in the spring and committed soon after, while Kasl camped at Wisconsin, earned an offer and committed soon after. I believe that were circumstances different and Minnesota had another spot open, Kasl would have camped at Minnesota in June and would have been definite considering for an offer, but the Gophers were full and Kasl knew that.

With Jojo Garcia, the Minnesota staff I believe is in a wait and see mode. They're going to honor his scholarship barring something horrific happening. The question remains to me whether Garcia will be a Gopher upcoming February or if it'll be a couple years. He'll be a Gopher regardless, it's just a matter of when. There's definitely still hope for Garcia to improve on his academics and make it for the 2016 class, but Minnesota will be supporting him the entire way.

billymarekguy asks: Is Jenkins still helping out on staff?

Yes, Giovan Jenkins, former Washburn (Minn.) HS football coach, is still on the Gophers staff. Saw him at numerous camps this past summer helping out.

DLunstad asks: How does it work with redshirts that graduate, don't really play, but still have a year of eligibility left? Does kill and staff tell them to move on or is it the player's choice? I think that happened with the McAvoys and it seems that a player like Wipson at linebacker never gets mentioned for playing time. Is Jay Sawvel the most likely coach to leave for a job promotion? He seems to be really good at his job and upward mobility for this staff seems tough?

It's ultimately up to the player to choose on what he wants to do. More times than not, if a player hasn't played for the majority of his collegiate career at a school like Minnesota, he's not going to come back for a fifth year as there'd really be no point. I'm sure the Gophers staff is honest with them on their chances of playing and if it's slim to none, they don't come back for their redshirt senior year.

I'd be curious to see what Gopher staff members leaves next, but I don't think it'll be Sawvel unless another B1G team throws a defensive coordinator job at him or something like that. I don't think that Claeys, Limegrover or Reeves will ever leave Kill and will follow him if there is another job after Minnesota. From what I've heard, Sawvel is very content on where's he at with Minnesota and may be getting a raise soon with Kill's contract extension expected to be completed soon.

SSGSSV asks: Do you think the staff has a preference between Boyd and Pettaway? Or is it more of a 1a/1b on the board type deal? Also, do you think a Hot Dog is a sandwich?

I'm answering that hot dog question off the bat here. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a sandwich is "two or more slices of bread with a filling such as meat or cheese placed between them, or a partly split long or round roll containing a filling." Thus, bun-plus-Dodger Dog equals a sandwich. So yes it is.

As far as if the staff has a preference between Rakeem Boyd and Martell Pettaway, I'd say it's more of a 1A/1B type deal. Both have commitable offers and ultimately that's the only thing that matters right now and the Gophers would love to have either commit. Looks like Pettaway is definitely the more serious option at this point as he set up an official visit to Minnesota minutes after receiving an offer, so we'll see how things play out, but I actually like the Gophers chances with Pettaway right now. A lot of recent Michigan connections for Minnesota on the roster.

HoneyGopher asks: Last year there was mention of a four star being turned away because we were already full. Is the change of accepting commitments from recruits who have yet to step a foot on campus this year a direct result from that? Which if any true freshmen DBs do you anticipate seeing in the TCU game? Any chance we see a true freshman RB in non conference play?

It has absolutely nothing to do with that. Minnesota would have accepted that four-star's commitment more than likely without visiting, but they were already very full at the position and it didn't make sense to take him at the time. Actually, he would have visited that last weekend on an official visit with his family and then more than likely flipped his commitment, but alas, things played out a different way. I'm as curious as to you are on what changed to where Kill is accepting these commitments, but I think Gophers DC Tracy Claeys is definitely playing a role here. Kill really trusts Claeys evaluations.

I think three of the six true freshmen play opening night against TCU and three days before camp opens here, I believe those three will be KiAnte Hardin, Dior Johnson and Ray Buford. I've heard very good things from people who've worked closely with them this summer and believe them to be the most advanced at this stage. Hardin could also be in contention on special teams in the return game, while Johnson and Buford would provide depth at corner and safely, as well as on special teams.

I can't see a way they play right now, but I have a feeling I'll be wrong about this. Theoretically, Minnesota has four more than capable running backs on the depth chart in Rodrick Williams, Rodney Smith, Berkley Edwards and Jeff Jones ahead of the true freshmen, but here's the caveat. I think they could see the field, but just on special teams. Kill loves to season his freshmen on special teams, so I wouldn't be surprised to see any of the three on a special teams unit in non-conference.

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