Football recruiting diary

With schools either done or near done, top high school football player are thinking about their college choices. The Gophers are in the running for many of those athletes. Find out which top high school football players view Minnesota as a top interest of theirs.

by Jamie Newberg of, June 9, 2004 at 1:08pm ET

Talonnie Russell is an explosive wide receiver prospect from Detroit (Mich.) St. Martin De Porres High School. Russell, 5-11 and 175 pounds, also is a standout cover corner.

As a wide receiver Russell is a scoring threat anywhere on the field with the ball in his hands. He is a yacker – gets "yards after the catch." Russell has super hands, great concentration, is very elusive and has great speed and quickness. He can beat you deep, is not afraid to go over the middle and can take the short pass the distance. Russell can also go up and get the ball in traffic.

He has a medium interest in Minnesota but hasn't been offered a scholarship yet.

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by Chris Pool of, June 9, 2004 at 11:33am ET

Travis Beckum, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound linebacker from Oak Creek, Wisconsin is a "Top 10" Midwest prospect and a national "Top 100" prospect.

Beckum has been on the recruiting radar since 2002 when he was one of the top prospects in the state of Wisconsin as a sophomore.

We asked Oak Creek head coach Joe Koch where he thinks Beckum will end up playing his college football.

"I don't think Travis has a clear-cut leader." Koch said.

"Travis was born in Orange County, California and he moved to Detroit and then Oak Creek, so I don't think going away to school will be a problem for him.

"Wisconsin has offered and Travis does like the Badgers so he may not have to go away from home.

"Everyone has offered Travis a scholarship. Florida State, Miami, USC, Oklahoma, Michigan, Tennessee and the list goes on and on."

Beckum could be the nation's best athlete. He's projected as a linebacker, but there's nothing he couldn't and doesn't do on a football field.

Travis could add weight and play defensive end in college. He could play tight end or linebacker. Beckum is a difference maker type player that's already drawn comparisons to Kellen Winslow Jr.

Beckum and teammate and fellow blue-chipper Raymond Henderson, we asked Joe Koch to tell us the difference between his two star prospects.

"Travis (Beckum) is more gifted and Raymond (Henderson) is more determined. It's that cut and dried. Two different animals but two very good animals if you know what I mean." Koch said.

Beckum has said he has a medium interest in Minnesota and has been offered by the Gophers.

by James Hale of, June 9, 2004 at 10:23am ET

Quinton Wesley is one of those defensive ends that is always very busy. He is always busting off the edge and forces offensive teams to change their plan of attack away from him. Wesley will be a three-year starter at defensive end and he has added 10 pounds each year over the last two years.

"My speed coming off the ball is what sets me apart," said Wesley. "I can make a big difference at defensive end or 'SAM' linebacker depending on how we line up."

Wesley finished last season with 40 solo tackles (30 assisted), seven sacks, six tackles-for-loss, two caused fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Wesley also doubles on offense as a tight end and offensive tackle, and he graded out at 90 percent on all of his blocking assignments at offensive tackle and also added 10 pancake blocks.

Wesley will play both ways this year for most of the game at defensive end and either at offensive tackle or tight end.

"We don't know where I am going to play on offense," said Wesley. "It all depends on how our offensive tackles shape up this season. If they can hold up then I will play tight end, but if they struggle then I will be back at tackle. I also deep snap for us and I play on all special teams. I never come out of the game, which is the only way I want to play."

Wesley can bench 265 pounds, squats 410 and he has posted a 27-inch vertical jump. He attended the MSL camp in Atlanta where he was named one of the "Top Defensive Linemen." Quinton starts in hoops (10 ppg, 14 rpg) and he runs track (4x100, second leg), and he puts the shot and throws the disc.

Mississippi State, Tulane, North Carolina, and UT-Chattanooga are the schools that have already offered Wesley at this point, and he is hearing from a number of other schools as well.

"Right now I am keeping an open mind because I am now trying to get a feel about who really wants to recruit me," said Wesley. "Right now I would say that I like Mississippi State, Auburn, Minnesota and Oklahoma the best.

"Oklahoma has told me that their defensive ends are explosive and can really run. They have told me to work very hard this summer, and if I can improve my speed just a little that they would recruit me. That is exactly what I am doing this summer and I feel that Oklahoma will recruit me during the season."

Wesley just finished up the Clemson camp and also camped at Middle Tennessee. This weekend Wesley is going to camp at Auburn and then he will go on an unofficial visit to Mississippi State.

TheInsiders' Scott Kennedy Contributed to the Hot News Report.

by Duane Long of, June 8, 2004 at 2:00pm ET

Columbus Mifflin WR James Gilmore has been listed among the state's top overall players. He is starting to get some of the attention he deserves.

"I'm getting mail from Notre Dame, Florida, Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio U," he said. "I'm taking my test on June 12 so that should help. I have a 3.3 GPA. I am thinking of taking summer school classes so I can get ahead."

Some of the bigger programs are starting to recruit him a little harder.

"West Virginia wanted me to come up but I had a meet that day," he said. "LSU has started sending me a lot of letters. West Virginia and Minnesota were in recently. Michigan State was in a couple weeks ago."

by Chris Pool of, June 3, 2004 at 2:12pm ET

Ryan Bain, a 6-foot-2, 258-pound linebacker from Bolingbrook, Ill., received several scholarship offers during the May Evaluation Peroid.

Now it's time for Bain to start narrowing things down. Or is it?

"I want you to put this down Chris Pool." Ryan Bain said. "I don't have a top seven. I'm completely open right now. I'm looking at the schools who are recruiting me the hardest. The schools who got in on me the earliest in the game.

"Those schools are Oregon, Nebraska, Purdue, Maryland, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa.

"I like coach (Tom) Bratton at Maryland a lot and I also like coach (Mark) Hagan at Purdue.

"I'm not going to any camps this summer. I'm going to be working on my speed and getting faster. I want to run a 4.6 (40-yard dash) before the season starts."

Is the rumor true that he will definitely visit Nebraska and Oregon?

"No, that's not true." Bain said. "I talk to coach (Kevin) Cosgrove about once a week and Oregon told me that I can come on an official visit after September 1 but I haven't set anything in stone yet."

Ryan Bain finished 2003 with 128 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and five sacks. Look for Ryan to move from linebacker to the defensive line at the next level.

by Bob Lichtenfels of, June 3, 2004 at 2:22pm ET

Philadelphia (Penn.) OL Greg Isdaner (6-4, 310, 5.3) of Episcopal Academy wasn't on most radars a few months back. He attended the Nike Combine at Penn State and was one of the most impressive and consistent linemen there. Impressive, considering he's just five months removed from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. After a late start, he's out to make a name for himself.

"At Nike, I wanted to take on Slocum. He's the man and I knew if I beat him that would open some eyes. They picked David McClain instead, so I didn't get my shot."

Miami, Iowa, West Virginia, and Minnesota all stopped by school and expressed an interest in Greg. All four of those schools, along with Boston College and Virginia, are the early favorites for Isdaner. In 2003, he was named First Team All-League (Inter AC), Mainland Times First Team All-Area, and Philadelphia Daily News 2nd Team All-City.

by Chris Pool of, June 2, 2004 at 5:24pm ET

Things just continue to look up for Minnesota on the recruiting front. The Gophers had a very good class in 2002 and 2003 was just as good.

Judging by the amount of players on the preseason All-Big Ten and top players list it looks like someone in Minneapolis is doing a great job of evaluating talent.

Glen Mason, give or take a few prospects, has done a very good job at keeping his in-state talent home.

Minnesota has a verbal commitment right now from one of the top linebacker prospects in the Midwest, Jim Laurinaitis.

The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder from Plymouth (Minn.) Wayzata looked solid on film and should be a very productive football player for the Gophers in the near future.

Laurinaitis, for his size, is quick and athletic. He has the speed to cover ground from sideline to sideline and he's extremely productive in between the tackles.

You could definitely tell that Laurinaitis was the leader of the defense and his teammates fed off his passion for the game.

Laurinaitis decided to commit to Minnesota because of his love for the Gopher football program and his closeness to the Barber family. Both Marion and Dominique Barber are playing for Glen Mason and Minnesota.

We hope to have film of Jim Laurinaitis up on this site in the very near future.

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