Gophers football recruiting diary

The Gophers are in the mix with a number of highly recruited athletes this summer. Here is what some of them are telling us about their current choices.

by Chad Simmons of, July 6, 2004 at 9:18am ET

Santez Mayes, the OLB/DE that's known for returning a fumble recovery for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter in last year's playoff game to seal the victory for Newnan over three-time defending state champion Parkview. Santez is ready to put that great moment behind him and produce more highlights this year.

Santez is 6 fee tall, weighs 240 pounds, runs a 4.8 40 and has a 4.6 shuttle time. Last year, Santez had 98 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, nine sacks and two fumble recoveries (one TD). In the weight room, he puts up 350 pounds on the bench and squats 515 pounds.

Who does Mayes have offers from?

"I have written offers from Ball State and Jacksonville State so far and Minnesota, Alabama-Birmingham and Tulane have told me they have offers for me when I complete my summer school course. I also feel like Kentucky and Southern Miss may offer me soon," said Mayes.

Mayes is open to most teams right now and plans to take the recruiting process slow. Don't look for a decision in the near future from Mayes. He plans to wait until after his senior season before making his commitment.

Mayes carries a 2.7 GPA and has yet to take the SAT/ACT.

by Josh Clark of, July 5, 2004 at 5:06pm ET

Reports were swirling this past week that Denison, Texas running back Corey Robertson had made a verbal commitment to the University of Iowa. While Robertson does not deny the fact the Hawkeyes are a strong favorite, fans should put the news of the commitment on hold for the time being.

"I'm not ready to make any commitment publicly known yet," said Robertson. "My parents want to be able to check out the campus and visit with the coaches of any school of my choice, and they have not been up to Iowa yet. Right now, I'd say my decision will happen at the latest by sometime during my season."

Robertson, who recently received his fourth scholarship offer from the Minnesota Gophers, named four other schools he'll keep in mind before he makes any further visits.

"After Iowa, I'm considering Arizona, Colorado, Florida, and Oklahoma State. Colorado is the only school to have offered out of that bunch, and the others are just showing a lot of interest right now."

by Johnny Curren of, July 2, 2004 at 3:58pm ET

Standing 6-4 and 285 pounds, Walker Ashley is one of the top prospects in the Midwest region. Playing at both end and tackle this past season, he racked up 74 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, and 10 sacks in earning All-State honors. Not surprisingly, recruiting attention has come from far and wide, and Ashley could boast offers from the likes of Oregon, Ohio State, and Penn State up to this point.

Hoping to make an impression on the Trojan coaches in person, Ashley traveled out west to attend the Trojan Camp this past Monday and emerged as one of the stars while working under the watchful eye of defensive line coach Ed Orgeron. Possessing great quickness to go along with his ideal size, Ashley was dominant in the one-on-one drills. But was it enough to earn him an offer?

"Yeah, they offered," said Ashley who was told he could play at end or tackle at USC. "They offered and they said to think about it, and I have been thinking a lot about it. They're a huge school. I'm obviously very interested. That's about where it stands now."

Ashley has maintained for awhile now that he's wide open in regard to his recruitment, so much so that he's hesitant to name off any leaders, but he did reveal that the newest offer from USC has made quite an impact, "Oh yeah, definitely," he said. "They're definitely in my top-5, and probably will be until the end. The National Champs, you can never count them out. They're doing really big things, and Pete Carroll, Coach O, and Coach Kiffin seem very interested in me, and I'm very interested in the program so I could never count out USC. And it was by far the nicest campus that I've seen."

Ashley, who also took in a camp at Minnesota earlier this summer in addition to the Nike Camp at Penn State, said that he might take an unofficial visit to Virginia later this summer, but other than that he has no plans to attend anymore camps.

"Obviously I want a good education," explained Ashley in discussing his priorities in choosing a school. "I want to get a degree and I want the degree to mean something. Football only lasts so long. After football I plan to work a job, and I want it to say on my job description, ‘degree from USC', and I know that will wow people. So I look for that. Location, you know, I live in the North so I'm kind of sick of the winters so I kind of want to go somewhere hot, maybe down south or out west. And the depth chart, obviously, I want to play. I don't want to just go to college, just sit on the bench and then go to school. I want to get some time and benefit the team. And the coaching staff, definitely."

Although he hasn't set up any official visits yet, Ashley plans on getting to work on that in the very near future, "I know for a fact, definitely I'm going to take one to USC," he said. "I told my coach to print me off a schedule of our games. I'm going to schedule it around that, so once I get that I'm going to start trying to set them up. Miami is another school I want to visit."

Intent on going through the process, Ashley won't be making a decision anytime soon in regards to his college destination, but he did reveal that the college of his choice will know a long time before the public does, "Probably after my trips I'll let the school know because I told a local T.V. station that I'd announce on their show, so I guess I'm not supposed to really make it public, but the school that I'm going to commit to will know long before then," he said.

by Allen Wallace of, June 30, 2004 at 9:32pm ET

OL John Buckner (6-5, 315, 5.4, no offers) from Columbus Beechcroft (Ohio) favors Ohio University slightly over Michigan State, Kentucky, South Carolina and Minnesota.

"Ohio University is very close to home," said Buckner. "I went to visit, met the staff — they were very nice. It's about an hour and a half drive from my house. They've been recruiting me the hardest. (ILB) Coach (Steve) Russ likes how I play the game, how I get after people. He's trying to sell the rest of the coaches on me. I know CB Chip Cox — his brother goes to our school now.

"We went up to Michigan State a few months ago. I liked the campus and the staff — John L. Smith is a nice guy. I liked their athletic facilities and they have a great weight room.

"I don't know much about Kentucky except that they're in the process of rebuilding. I met their coach in charge of recruiting my area and he was nice, but I don't remember his name.

"I think I don't have any (offers) because schools want to see how I do my senior year. Also, I play in the city league, not the suburban league, and I don't think [colleges] respect the city league as much.

"I know my mom wants me to go somewhere close to home so she can watch me play; she'll probably want me to stay in-state."

John camped this summer at Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Ohio State.

by Chris Pool of, June 30, 2004 at 7:09pm ET

Hudson, Wisc., offensive lineman Eric Vandenheuvel camped at a few schools this summer and was offered a scholarship after one of those camps.

"I was offered by Wisconsin after the Badger camp," VandenHeuvel said. "I also have a new 40-yard time and pro agility time. "My 40 at camp was 5.17 and my pro agility was 4.8"

The 6-foot-7, 330-pound VandenHeuvel says that Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Minnesota, Iowa and Northern Illinois are his current favorites.

by Josh Clark of, June 29, 2004 at 1:04pm ET

Talonnie Russell was recently named to National Top 100 coming in as the #99 prospect in all of the country. The exciting two-way performer has compiled many offers but is waiting on one offer that he is hoping to receive later this summer.

"Miami (Fla.) called me during the month of May, and told me they had identified their top five receivers in the country, and I was one of them. My mother and I are trying to finalize plans to make it down there for a visit, and I'm hoping they offer me."

Russell also noted he trying to finalize plans for a visit to North Carolina as well, one of the schools he named in being at the top of his list.

"I don't have any favorite and I'm still wide open, but schools that I have a lot of interest in right now are Michigan State, Miami (Fla.), North Carolina, Tennessee, Minnesota, Iowa, and a couple others in the Big Ten. Michigan told me they will be watching out for me, but they haven't offered me yet."

Any chance that Russell will make a summer decision?

"No, I'm planning to wait until after the season to make my decision. I would like to take some official visits to be able to compare some schools."

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