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Analysis: Gophers add four new commitments on Saturday

06/15/2019, 8:15pm CDT
By Daniel House

The Gophers had a busy day of recruiting, adding four new commitments during their Summer Splash event. After Saturday’s additions, the Gophers now have 12 commitments in the 2020 class, which currently ranks No. 32 via 24/7 Sports’ rankings. 

Minnesota went international for the first new commit of the weekend. German defensive end Melle Kreuder chose the Gophers over offers from UMass and Buffalo, according to 24/7 Sports. Kreuder was a standout performer at a camp Minnesota’s coaching staff recently attended. They became interested and offered the 6-foot-3, 235-pound defensive end. Kreuder now joins Richard Agyekum as the the second international player to commit in the 2020 cycle. Of course, it’s hard to evaluate film from international games, especially considering the potential gap in competition level. Keuder is an interesting prospect because he is quick and clearly has an ability to turn the corner and bend the edge. The biggest thing will be how much weight he can add and how well he can translate to the American college game. However, defensive line coach Jim Panagos evidently witnessed all of his potential in person and has consistently shown an ability to find these type of prospects, dating back to his time at Temple and Rutgers.

The second commitment for the Gophers was by three-star Florida defensive back Benjamin Onwuzo. The Hollywood, Fla. native chose Minnesota over offers from Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Purdue and others, per 24/7 Sports. Onwuzo ran a 4.59 40-yard dash, a 4.38 shuttle and a 34.2-inch vertical, according to 24/7 data. He ranks in a strong percentile for his vertical, but I think his testing numbers from a quickness standpoint may be slightly high. The 6-foot-0, 195-pound defensive back has the potential versatility to play safety or cornerback for the Gophers. Based upon his film and athletic profile, I’d like to see Onwuzo tested as a safety, but his size may make him best suited to play cornerback. One of the key traits that stood out with him on tape was his physicality and ability to jam wide receivers and make life difficult for pass catchers. Given his physical tackling ability, he could cover the back end and shift to the box and help in run support. We’ll see where he ends up after gaining physical strength at the next level, but there’s certainly intriguing areas for cornerbacks coach Rod Chance to develop in his skill set. 

The third commitment of the evening came from Kansas City, Mo. three-star offensive tackle Aireontae Ersery. He chose the Gophers over offers from Kansas, Kansas State, Kent State, Ball State and others, according to 24/7 Sports. A 6-foot-5, 275-pound offensive tackle, Ersery is a three-star prospect and actually put together a successful career at defensive end. One of the things I like about him is how well he can move. Agility and foot quickness are two of the most important traits for a developmental tackle. He definitely has those traits because of his background as a pass rusher. I was very surprised to notice how powerful he was when finishing blocks. Ersery always plays to the whistle and has some physicality when tasked with down blocking hard or reaching to seal the edge. With room to grow and gain additional strength, Ersery is the type of recruit offensive line coach Brian Callahan can develop over the next two years as Minnesota continues to groom future contributors.

Finally, Saturday’s fourth addition was three-star Florida defensive end Claude Larkins. He chose Minnesota over offers from Baylor, Kentucky, Syracuse, Arkansas and others, according to 24/7 Sports. He visited campus this weekend during the Summer Splash event. A 6-foot-4, 230-pound defensive end, Larkins is an excellent athlete. He displayed his size and quickness, while lining up at tight end during high school. He has a very explosive first step and the wingspan to get his hands into passing lanes occasionally. During a few reps, he kicked inside and could be a candidate to add additional weight and line up at three-technique for pass-rushing downs. When factoring in his body type, there are a few different ways he could be used, most notably at five-technique. Where he ends up on this spectrum will be related to how he develops physically. However, his athletic traits leave the coaching staff with options regarding how to use him in the future. 

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