MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — P.J. Fleck hit the ground running and has not stopped since he took the University of Minnesota football job.
His first big test? Land a recruiting class. He lost some, flipped some and added some on Wednesday, National Signing Day.
P.J. Fleck sells himself as a salesman. In college sports, that means a recruiter. On Wednesday, he reflected on his first class that will play for the Gophers.
“To me I think we did the best we could’ve possibly done, knocked it out of the park for the time frame we had and the resources we were given,” Fleck said. “And the needs that had to be addressed.”
He got some of the big boys from Minnesota. Nathan Bursch is a tight end from Woodbury High
School. He commited to coach Tracy Claeys last summer, but stayed with Fleck after meeting with this staff this winter.
“Yeah I got to meet with all the coaches and Fleck is real true to what he was saying. He’s got a lot of energy and wants to win a championship,” Bursch said. “That’s what I want to do too.”
Blaise Andries is a 305-pound offensive lineman who helped lead Marshall to a successful season. He too stayed with his commitment to the Gophers, in part because he likes his major.
“I really like math. My mom, when I was in seventh grade, she told me that I would be a good actuary because they do a lot of math. Ever since then it’s been a goal, so I’ve been going after it,” Andries said.
Fleck tried to turn some kids from Minnesota that he wanted to be Gophers and had already committed to other schools, including one at Benilde-St. Margaret’s. He honored his commitment to the Ivy League.
Eric Wilson blocked the Red Knights to a state title. Despite the Gophers efforts, he will wear Crimson next year at Harvard.
“I was able to go out there a few times beforehand and tour the school itself, not just football facilities. It lives up to everything people say about it. I’m really excited.”
Top 25 Class: No.
Best in class: Blaise Andries, OL, Marshall, Minn. The 6-foot-5, 299-pound tackle was widely considered the best prospect in Minnesota, and he chose to stay in-state even after the coaching staff he committed to was fired. The Gophers have struggled with injuries up front for several years, and Andries gives them a top-shelf road grader to build around.
Best of the rest: Tanner Morgan, QB, Union, Ky. Originally committed to Fleck at Western Michigan and followed him to Minnesota. Morgan is a strong-armed, pro-style QB who turned down an offer from Louisville.
Late addition: Demetrius Douglas, WR, Portland, Ore. The son of former Gophers standout Omar Douglas, Demetrius originally committed to Oregon before deciding to follow in his father’s footsteps.
One that got away: Ihmir Smith-Marsette, CB, Newark, N.J. Committed verbally to Minnesota on Sunday, but announced on Twitter on Wednesday that he was headed to rival Iowa.
How they’ll fit in: With a new regime in charge of a team that won the Holiday Bowl despite the drama that played out within the program, this recruiting class will likely have several members who can compete for playing time right away. That could include Morgan, who is part of a muddled quarterback group. Three-year starter Mitch Leidner graduated and three other quarterbacks have uncertain futures at the school as the investigation plays out.
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