GopherDigest's Ryan Burns answers our subscribers questions in this week's edition of the mailbag

Ryan Burns answers your questions in this week's football mailbag...

benthere2 asks: What's the stats for going after committed players from other schools and is this something we will see more even after this season of TC getting the leadership role  later in the recruiting process?

I don't know that there's a stat to see, but from knowing recruiting the way I do, each case is different as each kid is different. I do think Claeys isn't scared to go after recruits just because they're committed elsewhere and you can already see that with guys like Trystan CastilloLloyd Cushenberry and Elijah Battle already. I'm sure more names will pop up of recruits committed elsewhere further on in the cycle, so yes, I think this continues to be a trend.

67go4 asks: Recruiting under Kill was quite boring at times - any chance Claeys adds some excitement or surprises come NSD?

Well five commits in 24 hours hours last weekend was pretty eventful, but as I answered in the question above, I think Claeys will add his own spice to this as he's seriously not afraid to ruffle any feathers by going after recruits committed elsewhere. Yes, I think there may be some more "excitement" with Claeys. 

DuluthGopher asks: If you could pick just one redshirt freshman you're most looking forward to stepping on the field next year, who would it be?

I'd say probably Nick Connelly and I guess it's pretty boring to pick an offensive lineman, but I'm really intrigued to watch him as he's the front runner to be Minnesota's left tackle in 2016. Really interested to see how he moves and bends. I've heard a lot of good things about him during his redshirt season and I want to see for myself during spring ball. 

schumc asks: How are the new facilities coming along? Haven't heard much since they broke ground. Any new donations?

https://twitter.com/Shakes_GopherFB/status/676454890936270848

Looks like they just started actually breaking ground here this week, so always a good sign. I've heard about a few million dollars since the ground breaking , but nothing substantial. Still 100% believe now that the process has started, Minnesota will have their new facilities in a few years and no money issues will arise to stop that. 

gophernutz: Will Jeff Jones be on the team next year?

Truth is I don't know. As I've said for weeks and month's about this, Jeff has to get some things taken care of off the field before he'll make strides on it. I really don't feel comfortable saying anything further than that. 

wonge02: We're looking at two JUCOs starting on the OL next season.  Is that the case for the DL too with Jackson now in the fold?

I think that Vincent Calhoun and Garrison Wright are starting on the offensive line in 2016 and I believe that Merrick Jackson starts alongside Steven Richardson at defensive tackle as well. Gophers lose both of their guards and Calhoun and Wright we're just brought in to provide depth for two years. They were brought in for playing time and same goes for Jackson. 

Since1980: With the perceived need to change the offensive scheme how will the athletic skill set of Claey's recruits differ from Coach Kill's?

Actually a really good question. 

I think what you're already seeing under Claeys opposed to Kill in terms of recruiting is that the recruits athletic ability matters a lot more to Claeys. You see guys like Sean Foster and Matt Kegel, two guys that weren't the most athletic move on to greener pastures and the Gophers try and replace them with more athletic guys in Trystan Castillo and Lloyd Cushenberry. I think Claeys is going to be a lot more analytical guy in terms of combine numbers and then translate it over to film. Yes, numbers mattered before under Kill, but they'll matter even more with Claeys. If you don't test well, your chances of getting an offer are going to be diminished. 

That mindset has already been incorporated to the Gophers defense since Kill was here and that's why a guy like Eric Murray got an offer as he tested well at Minnesota camp and Claeys was able to get a live eval on him. It won't matter whether he's got zero or 20 offers, if Claeys likes what he sees, he'll offer. His strategy has worked as well as you look at Minnesota's NFL draft picks the last few years including this year, they'll have multiple on defense and the only guys to show on offense were David Cobb and Maxx Williams since Kill was here. That needs to change.

21birdman: We always here about guys who decommit or have us in the top two, but go elsewhere. I always wonder what we missed out on. Do you know of any recent recruits that we almost had and really wish we kept?

Guy who always will come to mind under this staff will be Florida State defensive back Nate Andrews. Sawvel and Kill thought they were going to get a major steal, but SEC/ACC schools figured it out in January and he's now at Florida State. 

Other guys that come to mind are Arkansas OL Frank Ragnow, Indiana LB Tegray Scales and Illinois DT Jamal Milan. 

wellz99: Do you expect the new facilities to make a noticeable improvement in recruiting? Will that factor in now or not until completion?

Short answer is yes, but I don't know how big of an impact will be known until they are completed. 17-18 year old kids love the newest and shiniest things and whether they want to admit it or not, it's something that does play a role in their college decision making. The coaches can try to show the recruits the vision of the facilities, but until they're finished or getting close, I don't know how big the impact will be.

billymarekguy asks: You want to guess a number of attrition of scholarship guys for various reasons? last year lost 10 scholarship guys who had eligibility left: Dimonic, Krizancic, Donavahn Jones, Laster. Peppers, Maxx, Matilus, Montgomery, McAvoy, McAvoy....this year, already Lauer, Hayes.

You know I hate to get into specifics right now, but I could see a number between four and ten.

NLGopher asks: Are any of this years redshirts practicing at center? Are there any current commits or targets that project to center? Only know Moore and Matt Leidner at the center position but there has to be more depth than that right?

The only centers I saw working yesterday at the limited open period of practice was Tyler Moore, Matt Leidner and freshman walk-on Noah Kuehn. None of the scholarship freshmen offensive linemen. My guess is that Conner Olson could play some center, but that's a great question that I will ask once Minnesota has an OL coach. 

TAHYDE asks: OF the guys who reshirted this year...who are the ones getting the most Buzz.

  • Defensive tackle Gary Moore
  • Offensive lineman Nick Connelly
  • Offensive lineman Bronson Dovich
  • Wide receiver Adam Mayer
  • Corner Ray Buford
  • Safety Dior Johnson

angryrodent asks: If we get Seth Green, how does he compare to Marquis Gray?  Marquis was also a four star, but didn't really pan out to his star rating.

Both are dual-threat quarterbacks, but I think Green is more of a legit quarterback prospect than Gray was, while Gray to me is the better athlete, hence wise he's playing tight end in the NFL. Green is a special athlete, which is why Oregon wanted him at tight end, but I think Green is more polished as a quarterback than Gray was coming out of high school. I can't really see Green bulking up to 255-260 to play tight end, while I can see him at quarterback as he puts in a ton of work in the off-season at the position and he has for years. Quick summary, Green is the better quarterback prospect, while I think Gray is the better overall athlete. 

gophers19 asks: Would the gophers ever play a game at US Bank stadium?

Would they? Probably. I just don't know what the circumstance would be other than a championship game of some kind. You'd have a hard time selling that else wise to me with a brand new TCF Bank Stadium. 

gophers19 asks: Which offensive player(s) do you feel have been buried on the depth chart, that will make surprising impacts under a new OC and Claeys at the wheel?

Going through position by position in my head, and I don't know that I have too many. Leidner will be the quarterback unless Croft unseats him, you have two freshmen running backs excelling, two sophomore tight ends in Woz and Lingen and not sure I see a lot at wide receiver changing. Gentry can't stay healthy among other things, Holland needs to work on his hands, Gant is still raw as is Register. 

I wish I had a flashier answer, but I don't feel too many buried guys will emerge. 

dlunstad asks: What is the current feeling among teams on green as a qb?  he had a lot of great offers, but if he were to start over now, would IA, WI, Louisville, Mich st., etc still want him for that position?

Not sure it's fair to ask that now because all those teams you've listed already have quarterbacks committed and QB is such a touchy position where you can't just throw out an offer as the current one you have may get offended. I do know that before Green committed to Oregon that Michigan State was a real offer and that excites me knowing that they have a great track record of seeing and developing talent at the position. Michigan State has four former quarterbacks on NFL rosters in Kirk Cousins, Brian Hoyer, Drew Stanton, Nick Foles and Connor Cook will be drafted as well.

If the Spartans thought he could excel at quarterback for them, gives me hope that the new QB coach and offensive coordinator can develop him into that kind of a player.  

corcoran1 asks: Do you know if there are any changes coming in terms of practice helmets with more padding. I know I saw clips of Oklahoma practices 30 years ago where they were using helmets with foam in ridges on the outside of the helmet. The lack of more radical changes in helmets seems to me to be inexplicable.

Haven't heard anything about that at all in terms of changes to practice helmets. 

dalefriesen asks: Any word on how the Canadian kids (kafo and femi-cole) are doing and or viewed?

I believe they're viewed as great athletes who are still adjusting from Canadian high school football to American Big Ten football and that's a transition that takes time. Femi-Cole is a physical freak, but he's still working on taking those abilities and applying them to a football field against top competition. Kafo is farther along in that process and physically is ready, but again, he's still learning how to be an effective defensive end. Physical talent is there, but it's about them continuing to develop as football players overall. 


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