MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It was National Signing Day for high school football recruits around the nation, and at the University of Minnesota, it was a relatively enjoyable day for head coach Jerry Kill.
Signed letters of intent started coming into the Gopher athletic department offices bright and early Wednesday morning. When it was all over, 31 players signed to play football at Minnesota. That list includes nine of the top 11 graduating seniors in Minnesota, and eight players are already enrolled in classes.
Of the 31, 25 players are incoming freshman and six are junior college transfers. The Gophers are bringing in 16 defensive players and 11 offensive. The other four are undetermined.
Kill’s local signees are led by wide receiver Andre McDonald from Hopkins, who led the state in receiving touchdowns and yards this year, and quarterback Philip Nelson from Mankato West, arguably the best quarterback in the state. Standout offensive linemen Jonah Pirsig of Blue Earth and Isaac Hayes of St. Thomas Academy also signed Wednesday.
Others include Blaine’s Duke Anyanwu, Lakeville South’s Mitch Leidner, Wayzata’s Ben Lauer, Andover’s Tyler Hartmann, Cedric Dicke of Cannon Falls and Nick Rallis of Edina.
Jamel Harbison, a wide receiver out of North Carolina, was one of Kill’s top signees from outside of Minnesota. Running back James Gillum of Louisiana, a junior college transfer, could also make an immediate impact for the Gophers.
Kill’s recruiting class was ranked by many services as near the bottom in the Big 10 Conference, but only time will tell how they will produce on the field.
“I don’t think you ever know what your recruiting class is until about three or four years from now, whether you’re good or not,” Kill said at a news conference Wednesday. “If we turn the program around, I’ll be able to say we did a good job. I will tell you this, athletically this is the best recruiting class as far as athletic skill level because I’ve watched them run, I’ve watched them jump, that we have recruited.”
Check out the full list of signees:
Duke Anyanwu, WR, 6-4, 230, Blaine (Minn.) HS
Jeremy Baltazar, DB, 6-0, 190, Corona, Calif/Blinn College (Texas)
Briean Boddy, CB, 5-11, 175, Wilmington, Del./Coffeyville CC (Kan.)
Scott Ekpe, DT, 6-4, 260, Lewisville (Texas) HS
Isaac Fruechte, WR, 6-3, 210, Caledonia, Minn./Rochester CTC (Minn.)
James Gillum, RB, 5-11, 208, Pearl River, La./Mississippi Gulf Coast CC
Jamel Harbison, WR, 5-11, 195, Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek HS
Isaac Hayes, OL, 6-2, 275, St. Thomas Academy HS, Brooklyn Park, Minn.
Jordan Hinojosa, DT, 6-3, 275, Miami Central HS
Antonio Johnson, DB, 6-0, 190, Cleveland Shaker Heights HS
Roland Johnson, DT, 6-1, 295, Duncan, S.C./Butler County CC (Kan.)
Alex Keith, DE, 6-3, 230, Columbia, Mo./Hickman HS
Ben Lauer, OT, 6-6, 265, Wayzata HS, Plymouth, Minn.
Mitch Leidner, QB, 6-4, 225, Lakeville (Minn.) South HS
Jack Lynn, LB, 6-3, 210, Lake Zurich (Ill.) HS
KJ Maye, WR, 5-10, 190, Mobile (Ala.) Murphy HS
Andre McDonald, WR, 6-2, 200, Hopkins HS, Minnetonka, Minn.
Eric Murray, CB, 6-0, 178, Milwaukee Riverside University HS
Philip Nelson, QB, 6-2, 220, Mankato (Minn.) West HS
Jonah Pirsig, OT, 6-9, 295, Blue Earth (Minn.) Area HS
Lincoln Plsek, DE, 6-4, 245, Waco (Texas) Reicher HS
Nick Rallis, LB, 5-11, 220, Edina (Minn.) HS
Martez Shabazz, CB, 5-11, 165, DeSoto, Texas/Trinity Valley CC
Yoshoub Timms, DT, 6-2, 265, Fort Walton Beach (Fla.) HS
Damarius Travis, DB, 6-2, 205, Pensacola (Fla.) HS
Maxx Williams, TE, 6-4, 235, Waconia (Minn.) HS
Rodrick Williams, RB, 5-11, 228, Lewisville (Texas) HS
The preferred walk-ons who have signed acceptance of admission forms with Minnesota for 2012:
Cedric Dicke, DB, 6-3, 200, Cannon Falls (Minn.) HS
Tyler Hartmann, DL, 6-3, 245, Andover (Minn.) HS
Ben Holcomb, DB, 6-4, 200, Germantown (Wis.) HS
John McKelvey, WR, 6-0, 190, Hunting Valley (Ohio) University School