Will JC DE Eric Small Be Next Gopher Commit?

The Minnesota Gopher coaching staff continues to look hard for defensive help for next season and their efforts could pay immediate dividends. Their recruiting efforts have meant the coaches have looked hard at Joliet (IL) CC as they are recruiting three members and could get a commitment from defensive end Eric Small soon, according to Joliet head coach Tom Minnick.

Eric Small, a 6-foot-3, 275 pound defensive end, has an offer from Minnesota and Joliet head coach Tom Minnick thinks that a commitment could come soon.

"I think that he is going to go to Minnesota. He wants to play in the Big Ten. I'd say it is 95% that he is going to go to Minnesota."

Small is a transfer from Missouri State, who redshirted last season. He was named first-team All-Midwest Football Conference this season as he helped lead Joliet to a 7-4 mark. Their season ended with a 30-19 loss to Iowa Central Community College in the Graphic Edge Printing Bowl Sunday at the University of Northern Iowa.

Small has a scholarship offer from Iowa State and recently picked up offers from Wyoming and New Mexico, according to Minnick.

Minnick said that Small is expected to visit Minnesota December 1st and that assistant coach Tony Peterson will visit the school Wednesday November 22nd.

Minnesota had also been recruiting Mark Dietz, a a 6-foot-4, 250 pound sophomore linebacker. The two players would like to play together, which should help Minnesota's chances of landing the defensive duo. However, the Gophers have yet to extend an offer to Dietz says Minnick.

"They are not going to offer Mark as of now. They don't want to burn any bridges, but he is third on their list. If the other player ended up somewhere else. They might get re-involved."

Minnick said that Dietz has recent offers from Temple and Wyoimng and Division I-AA schools Eastern ILlinois and Western Illinois.

Minnick had previously told GoldenSports.Net that the two had hoped to play together.

"They both want to play in the Big 10. They are both good buddies and would probably room together. Minnesota said that they can come in and play right away, which is appealing to them."

Minnick said that his team practiced at the Minnesota facility earlier this year as they traveled to North Dakota School of Science. He said that Dietz and Small are expected to visit Minnesota once their season is over.

Minnesota had also recruiting Chris Patterson, a 6-foot-3, 210 pounds linebacker, who starred at Chicago Hubbard High School. Patterson transferred to Joliet from Northeast Oklahoma where he earned NJCAA All-America honors after redshirting as a freshman. He had committed to Oklahoma out of high school, but was forced to go the JC route.

However, Minnick said that Patterson can not get into a Big 10, due to the conference's higher academic standards.

"Mississippi is on him hard and Temple is on him."

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