James Laurinaitis Cancels Minnesota Visit

James Laurinaitis, a 6-foot-3, 231-pound linebacker from Plymouth (Minn.) Wayzata, has decided to cancel his visit to Minnesota this weekend. Laurinaitis committed to Minnesota in April, but decided to visit Ohio State Dec. 10. He committed to the Buckeyes after his visit, but he was expected to visit Minnesota this weekend, allowing the Gophers a last chance to woo him. Laurinaitis was a first-team All-State selection by the Associated Press and led the Trojans to the Class AAAAA state title.

James Laurinaitis had been a regular at most Gophers games and was close friends with Dominique and Marion Barber III. However, the recent move of defensive coordinator Greg Hudson to East Carolina and the Gophers' fade in the second half caused him to look at Ohio State.

Laurinaitis had previously said that many of the people surrounding him were not shocked on his decision to visit Ohio State after committing early to Minnesota.

"My friends were not surprised. They had talked to me about the Gophers' play in the second half of the season. Everyone has an opinion. I'm taking the opinion of my family, who would like me to play close to home," he said. "However, my dream is to play at the next level and Ohio State had 14 players drafted last season. The U coaches were surprised, but, like I told my dad, I'm 17 years old."

Laurinaitis comes from an athletic family. His father, John Laurinaitis, was recently named WWE vice president of talent relations and is a former wrestler who was part of the tag team Road Warriors and used the name "Animal."

His sister, a freshman, plays hockey for Wayzata, and James led the Trojans to the state hockey tournament last season.

Laurinaitis had an outstanding season, leading the Metro area in tackles. He was named first-team All-State by the Associated Press and St. Paul Pioneer Press and All-Metro by KARE 11 and the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Laurinaitis led the Trojans to a 12-2 record, with their only two losses being to Class AAAAA state champion Minnetonka.

Laurinaitis had originally planned to visit Minnesota before this weekend, but Ohio State's involvement caused him to change his travel plans. Laurinaitis previously talked to GoldenSports.net about his-then upcoming visit to Ohio State.

"I was going to visit Minnesota on the 3rd, but they wanted me to come to visit after going to Ohio State. I want to make sure that is where I want to go. I'm going to go to Ohio State open-minded."

Laurinaitis was thought by many observers to have the ability to step in quickly to help upgrade the Minnesota Gophers defense. He is expected to play at the middle linebacker spot in the future. The Gopher will return Kyle McKenzie, this year's starter, next season. McKenzie will be a senior. His backup, Brian Smith, was a senior this season.

Ohio State will return starter Anthony Schlegel, a current junior and backup Chad Hoobler, who was a freshman.

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