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2019 Gopher Football Recruiting Guide

12/18/2018, 4:30pm CST
By Daniel House

On Wednesday, the Gophers will be officially signing 23 players to the 2019 recruiting class. There are two spots open and those will likely be filled in the coming days. Pending additional moves, P.J. Fleck and his staff will add a second consecutive top-35 class to Minnesota, according to 24/7 Sports’ rankings. The entire cycle will rank eighth among other Big Ten schools. This year, the staff has clearly prioritized injecting defensive line talent and depth. The additions of Rashad Cheney and Kristian Williams brought four-star talent to the Gophers’ defense. At a clear position of need, Minnesota is adding several instant impact players. Talent and ranking-wise, this may be one of the best defensive line classes the Gophers have put together in the past decade.

While doing that, the staff continued to sprinkle depth across other position groups on the roster, too.

To prepare for signing day, here are write-ups on all 23 players who are expected to sign Wednesday. A special thanks to those who helped provide valuable information and insight for these profiles:

Quarterbacks (2):

Jacob Clark, QB, Rockwall, TX.

A strong-armed quarterback in the heart of Texas, Jacob Clark brings more competition to the Gophers’ quarterback room. Many people in the region consider Clark one of the most underrated passers in the state. He completed 66 percent of his passes for 3,287 yards and 31 touchdowns this season. He tossed just seven interceptions and added ten rushing scores. At 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, Clark has shown he can make throws at all levels of the field and has displayed the ability to drive passes to the hashes. This is one of the most valuable traits to look for when evaluating prospective quarterbacks. Clark’s arm strength is what really stands out, especially when he is pushing the ball vertically. Philosophically, many of the concepts he ran in high school will transition nicely to the Gophers’ system. Perhaps he can compete for playing time next season if he develops quickly.

Cole Kramer, QB, Eden Prairie, Minn.

A local product, Cole Kramer made his verbal commitment to Minnesota almost immediately after last year’s signing day. You aren’t going to find many quarterbacks who manage to take care of the football like Kramer. He did not toss a single interception during his final two seasons at Eden Prairie. Kramer completed 69 percent of his passes for 1,795 yards and 13 touchdowns, while averaging 10.3 yards per attempt. He is accurate in the intermediate passing game and has shown mobility as a runner. Kramer will need to continue developing mechanically, but is another player Kirk Ciarrocca and Co. can coach up.

Running Backs (3):

Cameron Wiley, RB, Las Vegas, NV

Cameron Wiley flew under-the-radar after sitting out his junior season due to transferring high schools. Wiley possesses unique physical traits with a 6-foot-2 frame and a 39.5-inch vertical. He is a very physical running back who picks up a high volume of yards after contact. Wiley has great vision to find blockers and runs with patience to set things up in the second level. His speed measurements have varied, but he runs with burst and acceleration to get to the edge. Wiley’s most important traits are his balance, power and ability to fight through arm tackles. He also will use a nasty stiff arm to go through defenders. At the next level, he’ll need to refine his pad level and the technical aspects of his game, such as footwork.

Jason Williamson, RB, Owatonna, Minn.

Jason Williamson has set so many records in the state of Minnesota. He was named the state’s AP Player of the Year and earned Mr. Football honors. Williamson rushed for 3,012 yards during his senior year, the second-most in state history. He scored 46 touchdowns, popping off 30 carries for 441 yards and eight touchdowns in one game. Williamson cemented himself as one of the most dynamic players in the state. He is tough to bring down in space because he is patient, has great balance and excellent vision. He also has a really unique running style and had several highlight reel runs where he ran through defenders to accumulate yards after contact. He also is the type of player who could put a strain on opposing defense by flexing into the slot. I feel like he may be a candidate to move to the defensive side of the ball eventually. However, he is a difficult player to project because of his overall playing style.  

Treyson Potts, RB/WR, Williamsport, PA

Treyson Potts is the pure athlete of this recruiting class. He is someone who could play in the slot, move into the backfield or split out wide. At 5-foot-10, 182 pounds, Potts’ testing metrics include a 4.5 40-yard dash, 30.4” vertical and 4.55 shuttle. Those traits flash when he’s on the field. His lateral agility and open field quickness allow him to break off for big-time plays.

Durability has been a problem in his high school career, but he has been extremely dynamic when on the field. In 2016, he rushed for 2,016 yards and 34 touchdowns, along with 18 receptions for 263 yards and two scores. Potts is a high production player who can create mismatches out of the slot against linebackers. He is an athlete offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca can use creatively in the system.

Wide Receivers (3):

Nnamdi Adim-Madumere, WR, Fort Worth, TX

P.J. Fleck and his staff managed to fend off a serious charge by Alabama and Baylor to land Nnamdi Adim-Madumere. At 6-foot-3, 226 pounds, Adim-Madumere is a big target with a wide catch radius. He has the movement skills of a wide receiver, but the profile of a mismatch tight end. He moves very well and possesses a very unique skill-set.

Adim-Madumere made several acrobatic catches this season, including opportunities with defenders draped all over him. There were several plays where he adjusted to make grabs at the catch point. In addition, overall play strength is an important aspect of his game. As a blocker, he can help set up runs on the edge and is tough to bring down in space because of his size. Adim-Madumere is a player who can stress a defense vertically and up the seam because of his size and ball skills.

Mike Brown-Stephens, WR, Springfield, OH

The thing that stands out about Mike Brown-Stephens is his short range quickness. A 39-inch vertical, coupled with a 4.26 shuttle illustrate all of his athletic ability. At 5-foot-11, 178 pounds, he primarily worked out of the slot and motioned into the backfield for jet sweep action. With development as a route-runner, Brown-Stephens has the athletic traits and ball skills to be a slot threat. This class seems to feature playmakers with unique testing metrics and upside. Brown-Stephens is someone the coaches can work with to unlock his full potential as a player.

Peter Udoibok, WR, St. Paul, Minn. (Cretin)

Peter Udoibok, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound wide receiver from St. Paul, chose the Gophers over offers from North Dakota State, Northern Iowa, South Dakota State and Air Force.

He flashed dynamic ability after the catch to finish routes with splash plays. Udoibok is a big target who can win underneath and over the top. He also showed he he can track the ball to win contested catch battles at all levels of the field, including the red zone.

Offensive Line (2):

Tyler Cooper, OG, St. Croix Falls, WI

Tyler Cooper is a player the Gophers identified within a small conference in Northwest Wisconsin. A 6-foot-4, 310 pounds, Cooper is probably going to move inside to guard at the next level. He finishes his blocks and plays very physical as a run blocker. Cooper will need to continue developing his technique, but has the physicality, movement skills and power to fit the scheme. It’s going to be interesting to watch his development at the next level, especially as he elevates to a bigger competition level.

JJ Guedet, OT, Washington, IL

JJ Guedet had a few big offers, including Purdue, Nebraska and Oklahoma, but chose the Gophers in early March. At 6-foot-7, 281 pounds, Guedet is a developmental tackle who could gain additional weight and become a future left tackle candidate. He moves really well for a player with his size and has the agility to mirror pass rushers and redirect them. Guedet also flashed his skills as a run blocker and even pulled out in space to take out defenders in the second level. He is someone with many of the traits needed to develop at the next level with coaching.

Logan Richter, DT, Perham Minn.

Defensive tackle Logan Richter used a grey shirt in 2018 and is considered a member of the 2019 cycle. His recruiting page recently indicated he is an offensive guard. At 6-foot-4, 291 pounds, the team must feel like he is best suited to develop and provide depth on offense. Considering the defensive line additions, this might make sense.

Defensive Tackle (4):

Kristian Williams, DT, Memphis TN, (4-star)

It is clear the Gophers prioritized the defensive line in this recruiting cycle. They did so in a big way by landing two four-star defensive tackles. Memphis, Tennessee defensive tackle Kristian Williams chose the Gophers over offers from Missouri, Memphis, Indiana, Tennessee and others. At 6-foot-3, 297 pounds, Williams is the perfect candidate to play three-technique defensive tackle in Minnesota’s defense. He will probably continue trying to add weight to peak at around 305 pounds. Considering his current size and 6-foot-3 frame, his player profile aligns with the typical three-technique prototype. 

Out of all the defensive tackles in this class, Williams might be asked to play the most extended role immediately. He flashes the type of power and quick feet that pass rushing specialist Marcus West can develop. When he becomes more nuanced as a rusher, there is enough versatility in his skill-set to occasionally tweak his alignments inside. He’ll need to refine his overall technique, but has the skills to make an instant impact in Minnesota’s defense. 

Rashad Cheney Jr., DT, Ellenwood, Ga.

The Gophers received a commitment from Ellenwood, Ga. four-star defensive tackle Rashad Cheney Jr. He chose Minnesota over offers from Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Georgia Tech and others. Cheney Jr. was originally committed to the Georgia, flipped to Alabama and decommitted from from the Tide in October. 

Minnesota needed to find additional talent at the defensive tackle position and landing Cheney Jr. instantly fills this need. He is a powerful presence inside and displays fantastic hand usage to fight off blocks. Cheney Jr. plays very hard and has versatility as a run stopper and pass rusher. The other characteristics that are most important include his quickness and overall explosiveness off the snap. He could develop into a versatile weapon within the interior of this defense. 

He fits the prototype of an interior defensive tackle within a 4-3 scheme. A crucial aspect of this defensive scheme is to find aggressive, physical and versatile interior linemen. Cheney Jr. checks all of those boxes and immediately fills a recruiting need.

Keonte Schad, DT, Madison, WI (via Ellsworth CC)

JUCO transfer Keonte Schad received plenty of interest from programs like Mississippi State, UCF, Georgia and Tennessee. P.J. Fleck and his staff managed to keep Schad committed despite a late charge by several powerful programs. Schad is really quick and has the strength to handle down blocking inside. He can hold up and pull off blocks at the point of attack.

He has a tendency to play tall at times, but makes plays when he stays low. He has a little versatility in his skill-set and likely could add additional weight to his frame. Schad is someone who can help as a situational rusher and will hold up against the run enough to contribute consistently. At Ellsworth C.C., Schad often lined up as a defensive end and showed off his quick first step and bend to play disruptive. He has a unique playing style, especially considering he is 6-foot-3 and has size. It will be interesting to see how the Gophers align him in spring ball. With a defensive line rotation needed, specifically inside, Schad will likely make an early impact for Minnesota.

DeAngelo Carter (Griffin), DT, Cordele, Ga.

At 6-foot-1, 300-pound defensive tackle, Carter adds additional depth to the defensive line class. Out of all the recruits featured in this cycle, Carter might be the quiet sleeper.

Griffin’s physicality jumps out when you fire up his tape. His upper body strength allows him to shed blocks and throw linemen out of the way. His build reminds me of a very young Maurice Hurst at the defensive tackle position.

He uses his hands really well to engage, pull away and get to the running back or quarterback. Carter is a pure run defender and wins by using his blend of light feet and power. He is quite athletic for a player with his size and has underrated pass rushing skills as well. You’ll notice his pursuit skills when things break down and players get loose in space. Carter could begin at three-technique, but also has enough power in his skill-set to line up within other alignments. He consistently made plays in the backfield, recording a high volume of tackles for loss. Carter will be a fun player to watch develop in the future. 

Defensive End (2):

MJ Anderson, DE, St. Louis, MO.

A defensive end with a 6-foot-4, 270-pound frame, MJ Anderson is an athlete the coaches can refine and develop at the next level. He has experience as a stand-up rush end, but can also put his hand in the dirt as a five-technique. Anderson has the bend, rush angles and athleticism to mold. When he develops his pass rushing moves and refines his hand technique, there Is immense potential. He posted 11 sacks during his senior season and clearly added more physical strength before the year began.

Against the run, Anderson has shown he can fight through blocks and wins with his quick first step. Many of his clips show him getting in the backfield with physicality/quickness to notch a tackle-for-loss. One of the other areas worth watching is how well he maintains edge contain on backside runs. This causes plays either to redirect or get stopped in his direction. The stats echo this observation as Anderson posted 62 tackles this season – 21 were for loss.

D’Vion Harris, DE, St. Louis, MO.

The No. 14 rated player in the state of Missouri, D’Vion Harris chose the Gophers over Florida, Arizona, Illinois and Michigan. At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, he has the traits to potentially line up in the “R” rushing role if he can add additional weight. He was used in this role a few times last year, but played primarily as a defensive end. Harris will need to develop more pass rushing moves as he won mostly off speed to power. He moves well and has the range and pursuit skills to develop into a potential stand up rush end. Harris is very raw as a player and will need to be coached at the next level.

Linebackers (2):

James Gordon IV, LB, Plant City, FL

Out of all the players Minnesota needed to keep in the recruiting cycle, James Gordon IV may have been the biggest priority. Despite a late charge by Florida State and Miami, the Gophers managed to keep him in the class. He recorded 126 tackles this season, including 26 for loss and eight sacks. At 6-foot-1, 214 pounds, it will be interesting to see how he is used. With his strong upper build and physicality, he is a really sound run defender. He can also be used as a rusher because he has the power and strength to shed through blocks. Gordon can read, react and use his quickness to make open field plays. He’s a unique player because he’s so physical, yet has the skills to cover in space. Due to his size, build and unique athletic profile, it’s hard to project where he’ll play in the linebacker corps. However, he already has skill as a pure run defending linebacker.

Donald Willis, LB, Cleveland, OH

Willis is a rangy linebacker with the ability to react and close on long developing plays. He was sent as a blitzer frequently, causing disruptions when rushing the passer. Willis is very physical and will deliver a big hit when he has the chance. He is a versatile player who could be sent off Double A-gap packages because of his athleticism.

He also has the sideline-to-sideline speed one would expect from a projected outside linebacker in this system. Willis showed this when he was asked to pursue plays downfield. There were a few plays where he sprinted across the field to find the ball carrier. It would be interesting to see Willis’ testing numbers, as he certainly would be exceptional in the broad/vertical jumps and 40-yard dash. He is going to be a naturally instinctive player who can read and react better than most. Willis is one of the more intriguing and underrated players in this class.

Cornerbacks (2):

Tyler Nubin, CB, St. Charles, IL.

One of the top players in this recruiting class, Tyler Nubin fills a need in the Gophers’ defense. He’s a big, physical, man-press-style cornerback with above average ball skills. The No. 5 overall player in the state of Illinois, Tyler Nubin was a player on the radar of Lovie Smith and Illinois. He ultimately chose the Gophers and has the traits to develop into a physical press cornerback in the secondary. At 6-foot-2, he has nice length and consistently gets into passing lanes because of his ability to open his hips and play tight to the receiver’s hip. He understands leverage and how he can use it to his advantage.

The most impressive aspect of his game might be his ball skills. Nubin is very disruptive at the catch point, causing pass breakups. There is so much untapped potential with a player like this because of his unique physical traits. This is a switch from past defensive back recruits (particularly 2018) who have been smaller and more speed oriented. According to 24/7 Sports, he is the second-highest rated cornerback the Gophers have landed in the internet era.

Solomon Brown, CB, Largo, FL

Solomon Brown had more than 20 offers, including Iowa, Boston College and Cincinnati. In the end, the race narrowed between the Hawkeyes and the Gophers. P.J. Fleck and Co. won the recruiting battle and landed the talented cornerback. He is a player who features plenty of transition quickness and agility to open his hips and defend receivers out of their breaks.

He also has the physicality to cause disruptions when playing inside leverage for crossing routes. Brown has 4.44 speed at 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, along with versatility to play outside cornerback, nickel and potentially safety. He also shown he isn’t afraid to be active against the run when coming out of the slot. The Gophers needed more team speed and explosiveness in the secondary -- Brown fits this need.

Special Teams (2):

Brady Weeks, LS- Saint Peters, MO

It’s time to find another long snapper candidate to fill the hole left by Payton Jordahl. Brady Weeks is one of the top long snappers in the country and earned a five-star ranking by Kohl’s Kicking. I’ll leave those evaluations up to the Kohl’s kicking guys.

Michael Lantz, K, Fayetteville, Ga.

The staff recently added three-star kicker Michael Lantz. He chose the Gophers over an offer from Washington State. Kicker Camden Lewis was previously committed to the 2019 class, but took a visit to Oregon. Minnesota decided to move swiftly with Lantz, who was on their radar dating back to last year. Lantz, a kicker from Fayetteville, Georgia, made 13 of his 18 field goal attempts during his senior season. 


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