Chad Simmons

Projected Class: With the dog days of August upon us, GI takes our best guess at Minnesota's 2017 recruiting class on defense

With the Gophers fall football camp in full swing now, GopherIllustrated takes our best guess at what Minnesota's 2017 recruiting class will look like on the defensive side of the ball.

Defensive Line

Already committed:

http://www.scout.com/player/200205-joshua-croslen?s=176

Projected signee:

http://www.scout.com/player/200205-joshua-croslen/recruiting?year=2016&s...

http://www.scout.com/player/192665-kendrick-green?s=176

http://www.scout.com/player/201921-ezekiel-ott?s=176

http://www.scout.com/player/208182-boye-mafe?s=176

Reasoning:

The Gophers have five defensive tackles graduating over the next two years, so I'll think they'll be taking two defensive tackles at least in this class. 

Chicago's Kendrick Green is one that received an offer after the Minnesota staff worked with him at a satellite camp in suburbs of Chicago at defensive tackle. Green plans to visit Minneapolis in August, and if and when this visit happens, I like the Gophers to land Green.

I also think that Caledonia's Ezekiel Ott does end up earning an offer this fall at defensive end. The biggest reason he doesn't have one already is he tore his ACL during his junior season last season, and Minnesota wants to make sure he's healthy. Ott was leading the state in sacks before he went down with the knee tear. The Gophers already know what he can do in a camp setting, and if Ott can come out strong again for his senior year, I think he gets that Minnesota offer and shortly becomes a Golden Gopher. 

Another in-state defensive end that has really caught the attention of the Gophers staff is Hopkins' Boye Mafe. Mafe displayed a lot of athleticism and speed at the defensive end spot during one of Minnesota's camps in July, and he's since visited campus again and is absolutely on offer watch. If an offer comes, it could be a quick commitment. 

Another name to mention here is Eden Prairie's Jermaine Johnson, as he's got the athletic talents to be a Big Ten defensive end, but he's got some things to clean up first. If he follows through on his end, he also could be in contention for a Gopher offer.

Linebacker

Already committed: 

http://www.scout.com/player/205846-kyrei-fisher?s=176

Projected signee:

http://www.scout.com/player/205846-kyrei-fisher?s=176

http://www.scout.com/player/206798-jeffery-burley?s=176

Reasoning:

Gophers already have one linebacker committed, who will also be an early enrollee in Oklahoma's Kyrei Fisher. The Union high school standout loved his unofficial visit to Minnesota earlier in the summer and now is a firm Gopher commit. 

Burley is currently committed to Wake Forest, but has told GI that he still plans on taking an official visit to Minnesota this fall. 

Gophers are still very interested in Chinedu Ogbonna, but he's got some academic things to clean up before Minnesota can move farther forward. 

Defensive Back

Already committed:

http://www.scout.com/player/208460-claudin-cherelus?s=176

Projected signee:

http://www.scout.com/player/208460-claudin-cherelus?s=176

http://www.scout.com/player/208638-dewayne-terry/recruiting?year=2016&s=176

http://www.scout.com/player/209017-tre-norwood/recruiting?year=2016&s=176

http://www.scout.com/player/197872-kendarian-handy-holly?s=176

Reasoning:

Minnesota was among the first to offer the Miami speedster and the Gophers are firmly planted in his top group heading into the fall, and Terry is hoping to get on Minnesota's camp here in the fall. Tre Norwood committed to Louisville this summer, but has told the Gopher staff he still plans on taking an official visit. He's the teammate of 2016 DB signee Kiondre Thomas. Scout300 member Kendarian Handy-Holly has quite the offer list, but I don't believe many of those offers are currently commitable right now, and that's just fine with Jay Sawvel. Handy-Holly is arguably Minnesota's top defensive back target and is in a great position to get an official visit this fall. 

Total number for 2017 on defense: 10


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