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Gopher football recruiting update ahead of National Signing Day

SB Nation logo SB Nation 12/11/2020 GopherNation
P. J. Fleck et al. standing in a room

Christmas for Gopher football fans and the football staff is next Wednesday. December 16th is the beginning of the early signing period when most of the 2021 recruiting class will sign their national letter of intent to be a part of the Gopher football program.

In this final week before the early signing period, players can still sign in February if the aren’t ready now, there is always a last minute scramble by other teams to steal those expected to row the boat. And the Gopher staff is doing the same with players they have prioritized throughout the process who may have verbally declared to another school.

Below is list those who are expected to sign their name next week and pledge to play for Minnesota. We may lose a couple and very likely will add some, but this is what we know as of today.

The Offense

Quarterback (1)

Athan Kaliakmanis

Offers: Boston College, Iowa, MAC schools

Illinois 4-star quarterback who verbally committed to PJ Fleck nearly 2 years ago and has never wavered. Kaliakmanis is 6’4” and ranked as the 2nd best player in the state of Illinois. His offer list is very light, which likely has much to do with the fact that he committed to Minnesota so early and was steadfast.

Other QBs - do not expect the Gophers to sign anybody else at this position.

Running Back (1)

Mar’Keise Irving

Offers: Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, TCU, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Maryland, Nebraska, VaTech, Boston College, Duke, Cincy and more

Irving is another Illinois native and ranks as the 5th best player in the state. Had over 1,700 yards and 22 TDs as a junior. But this kid projects to be a really nice college back. Very excited to land Irving.

Other RBs - with Ky Thomas last year and Irving in this class, I don’t expect more RBs added in this class but it is possible if the right guy wants to RTB.

Wide Receiver (3)

Lemeke Brockington

A Georgia kid who ranks in the top 50 players within the state. Brockington is 6’0” and 185 lbs and the highest rated receiver on the current commit list.

Brady Boyd

Boyd is a Texas native who played his high school ball for Southlake Carrol, one of the top football programs in Texas. Boyd brings great straightline speed and a 6’1” frame. Boyd was a part of a Southlake Carrol team that made it to the 6A quarterfinals in 2019 and they begin their 2020 playoff run this weekend hosting Fort Worth Haltom.

Dino Kaliakmanis

Brother to Athan and is one of the top 25 kids in Illinois. Kaliakmanis is 6’2” and will bring some excellent size to the position next year.

Other WRs - this staff loves bringing in receivers. Three big names a year ago, three names above for this year and if they found a gem who wants to sign, I’m sure they’ll take him.

Tight End (1)

Jameson Geers

The one and only in this particular class, Geers is another snag from Illinois and held a number of quality Big Ten offers.

Other TEs - pretty certain that the Gophers are done at TE.

Offensive Line (2)

Cameron James

A big 6’8” tackle who also is out of Illinois. James is one of the guys I’m most excited about in this class. A really big frame, long arms and a bit raw. Will need some coaching and reps, but there is a ton of talent and athleticism here.

Logan Purcell

Minnesota kid out of Annandale. Purcell had a light offer list but committed to the Gophers last January. Another raw, athletic offensive lineman but Purcell will need some time to develop.

Other OLs - This is an area that concerns me and we need more lineman in this class. If there isn’t another high school kid added, pay close attention to the transfer market.

Defensive Line (4)

Devin Eastern (DE)

A Shakopee kid who has seen his recruiting stock rise dramatically this year. A big kid who is also very athletic. Coming into the program around 6’6”, 280 lbs and chose the Gophers over Missouri and Nebraska. Eastern will be a big defensive end. This is a really nice addition to the class.

Jacob Schuster (DT)

A Washington native defensive tackle coming to Minnesota over offers from Washington, Washington St, Stanford, Arizona, BYU and others. Schuster is 6’ and 300 lbs with the proverbial high motor. I’m envisioning a Steven Richardson type of a career in maroon and gold.

Austin Booker (DT)

Defensive end out of Indiana who’s high school team just finished 14-0, winning the state 6A title. Booker was named to the Indiana Football Coaches Association top 50 players in Indiana and was ranked 10th in the state according to 247.com.

Luther McCoy (DT)

A defensive tackle added to the verbal class just this week. was previously considered a Florida State lean with Baylor also a strong possibility. Coming in at 6’4”, 290 lbs and is also a basketball player. Seems like a really solid addition even if he currently ranks as the lowest rated recruit in the class.

Other DLs - The staff has added quite a few DEs over the last couple classes but there is one more that might be added to the 2021 class. Davon Townley is a 4-star end from Mpls North who will make his announcement very soon. He’s expected to be a Gopher over Michigan State and Penn State.

Linebacker (1)

Devon Williams (OLB)

Ohio linebacker who makes plays without being someone who wows you with athleticism. Williams committed to Kentucky last January and flipped to Minnesota in April.

Other LBs - the last 2 classes were heavy on linebackers so taking just Williams wouldn’t be a huge shock. Jaydon Hood (4-star ILB) is a Michigan commit who very well may be a last minute flip, but nothing is certain.

Cornerback (3)

Avante Dickerson

The highest rated defensive recruit since Carter Coughlin and 2nd highest ever. Dickerson is the 8th highest rated corner in the country. Now...rumors are swirling that he may be wavering on his verbal commitment, as high school kids occasionally do. Cross your fingers and make whatever ritual sacrifices you need to do to help keep Dickerson until he signs next week.

Steven Ortiz

Also an incredibly high ranked corner. But unlike Dickerson, Ortiz is rock solid and will be signing with the Gophers on Wednesday. He has been a recruiting warrior for Fleck and staff. He’s a special talent and appears to be as committed to the program (all aspects of the program) as much as Rashod Bateman was coming out of Georgia.

Justin Walley

Mississippi kid who is coming to the Gophers over some SEC offers. Helped his team to the Mississippi 6A state quarterfinals. Also a track athlete, bringing sprinter speed to the defensive backfield.

Other CBs - I doubt you’ll see 4 corners taken in this class, but if Dickerson drops, perhaps there is a backup plan in place. If these three remain, this is a group to be extremely excited about down the road.

Safety (1)

Darius Green

A physical safety from Georgia who appears to be solid towards Minnesota.

Other Safety’s - Possibly. Just 1 is a little light, so if the right name is ready to row the boat, I’m sure they’ll take him.

Overall

This is a smaller class but if all of the above names end up signing with the Gophers, this is a special class.

There are really three defensive names to keep an eye one, leading up to the early signing period on Wednesday. Dickerson’s final destination is a potential loss and then the potential additions of Hood or Townley.

On offense there is need for more help on the OL and I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see a wide receiver added.

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