GopherIllustrated publisher Ryan Burns is breaking down each Gopher football position group, what they're looking to add at each position in the Class of 2018 and their top targets.
Now, let's look at the offensive line.
What the Gophers have on roster
You'll see that three of my projected starters along the offensive line are listed above in Jared Weyler, Garrison Wright and Vincent Calhoun, but the issue is they'll all be out for the spring recovering from injuries. That's definitely not ideal with a new offensive line coach in and a new system to learn, but it's the reality for Minnesota this spring. Especially with Connor Mayes transferring out, Minnesota's going to need bodies both this spring, and in fall camp.
The only other starter back healthy this spring is left tackle Donnell Greene and Greene will see a ton of reps as he tries to mesh with the Gophers new system. Still very much an upside player.
If there was ever going to be a time for Bronson Dovich, Nick Connelly and Quinn Oseland to take big steps forward, it'd be this spring as all three are going to see all the reps they've ever wanted with only six offensive lineman healthy.
Both Conner Olson and Sam Schlueter are now off their redshirt season as well. Both have high ceilings to reach, but given time, they'll likely be able to do so barring injury. Conner Olson is the one who I'm tabbing to slide in as a starting guard if he continues to progress this spring.
Projected 2017 fall depth chart
LT: Donnell Greene - Nick Connelly
LG: Conner Olson - Quinn Oseland
C: Jared Weyler - Conner Olson
RG: Vincent Calhoun - Bronson Dovich
RT: Garrison Wright - Sam Schlueter
What the Gophers want in 2018
This is a position I expect Minnesota to target at least five guys for in 2018 as injuries have severely depleted the ranks on the offensive line. Minnesota's already off to a great start with a commitment from Michigan's Jalen Mayfield over Iowa and Michigan State.
Minnesota was a little late to the game with Michael Furtney at no fault of their own since P.J. Fleck took over in January, and they've made quite the impression here in the last few months. Furtney and his parents have taken two visits to Minnesota in the couple of months and the Gophers have made up a lot of ground because of it. Wisconsin and Michigan State are the two others teams to really watch here, but if Minnesota's able to get a commitment from Furtney, it'd be a great pairing to go with Mayfield.
Minnesota's also going hard after the second best offensive tackle in the Midwest in Ohio four-star Blaine Scott, and they'll get him on campus early next month. Minnesota made his top list with twelve other schools, but they're got some ground to make up against other schools such as Duke, Miami (Fla.) and Kentucky.
Will Farniok is the fourth brother to go through the recruiting process as his brothers Tom (Iowa State and now with the Vikings), Derek (Oklahoma) and Matt (Nebraska) all went off to division one institutions as offensive lineman. Farniok already has offers from Iowa State, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Virginia, and with the family being from Sioux Falls, the Gophers are working hard to get the Farniok family to travel east-ward to the Twin Cities for a visit. Farniok has told GI that he plans on visiting Minnesota, but no date is set.
Creston (Iowa) offensive lineman Trevor Downing will be visiting Minnesota later this month for the Gophers Junior Day, and he held an offer from Minnesota's old staff. He also has both in-state offers from Iowa and Iowa State, plus Missouri has joined the race as well. Getting Downing on campus is a good start for Minnesota, but they have ground to make up with Iowa and Iowa State.
Minnesota was almost able to get Detroit (Mich.) offensive lineman Carlos Vettorello on campus back in February, but the visit was pushed back until April 15th for Minnesota's spring game. The 2018 Michigan lineman was someone that held a Western Michigan offer while P.J. Fleck was there, and Minnesota re-extended the offer when Fleck came to the Twin Cities. That previous relationship may be able to pay dividends come April for Minnesota.
Another battle that Minnesota's engaged in recruiting is for Ohio's Austin Beier with the likes of Northwestern, Indiana and Boston College. Beier took an unofficial visit to Minnesota back in February that put the Gophers in his top three. Still more time to go for Beier, but Minnesota right in the thick of things.
The final offensive lineman we'll touch on today comes from the state of Michigan, and oh, did I mention he's a Scout300 four-star offensive lineman in Tyrone Sampson? Sampson doesn't have a Minnesota visit date set in stone, but he's working on doing that here very soon.