QB Recruiting Under Fleck

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Duggan also lost the QB1 job early in the season and only got it back because of a season ending injury to Chandler Morris.
This is only partially true. Morris did win the job, but not definitively as TCU planned to play Morris, Duggan, and Jackson in Boulder. Morris got hurt, Duggan started the next two games while Morris was out, and kept the job. Morris has played since then in relief.
 

Replacement Gopher

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Now that we have six seasons (and seven recruiting classes) with Coach Fleck in the rearview, and with the QB recruit from his first class having used all his eligibility, I thought it would be interesting to revisit our QB recruiting over that time. I’ve compiled details of each class for the purpose of discussion and identifying any broader patterns. I decided to use information from 247 and, while I include star ratings for each player, the purpose is primarily to create context. I apologize for the length (but this was fun!) and any errors you may note.


2017 - Class One

QB Commits - 2+

Rey Estes - ATH
Estes was familiar to Fleck’s staff, having been a WMU commit prior to flipping to MIzzou and Fleck was able to flip him to Minnesota before signing day. Listed as an athlete on recruiting sites, there was some hope he would be part of the QB depth chart as a dual-threat QB. He became a CB instead and transferred out after the 2018 season, stopping at Riverside City College before finishing his collegiate career at Grambling State in 2022.

Neil McLaurin
McLaurin committed to Tracy Claeys and the previous Gopher staff. A three-star recruit from Southwest Mississippi C.C., McLaurin was the 9th rated dual threat QB in the class, and the Gophers were his only high-major offer. A spring enrollee, McLaurin transferred back to Southwest Mississippi C.C. at the end of spring practice despite the lack of a clear short or long-term QB solution on the roster. He would switch positions during his return and finished his career at Southern Miss as a WR, playing 23 games and catching 24 passes.

Tanner Morgan
Morgan was a three-star recruit who ranked 44th among pro-style QBs nationally. Originally a Fleck commitment at Western Michigan, Morgan also held offers from Wake Forest, Louisville, Cincinnati, and two MAC programs in addition to WMU. The non-MAC offers may not have been commitable in his senior year. Morgan was a starter for five seasons at Minnesota and finished his career with the most wins as a QB along with a host of other records.

Other Offers
Per 247, no other QB offers were made by the new staff.

Comments
It remains remarkable that Fleck found so much long-term success with recruits that had originally committed to Western Michigan. In hindsight, it seems that keeping Estes on defense and helping McLaurin find another path were leading indicators of the type of QB Fleck prefers.


2018 - Class Two

QB Commits - 2, 1 scholarship

Zack Annexstad
A legacy, three-star recruit, Annexstad ranked 45th among pro-style QBs nationally and walked on at Minnesota despite holding offers from five programs, including Illinois, Pitt, and Cincinnati. He won the starting QB job as a true freshman, starting the first seven games of the 2018 season and was awarded a scholarship entering the 2019 season. Replaced by Tanner Morgan, Annexstad only played in one more game at Minnesota before transferring to Illinois State. He started the first eight games of 2022 - throwing for nearly 1,700 yards, 11 TDs and 7 INTs before an injury caused him to miss the final three games. He has one year of eligibility remaining.

Victor Viramontes
The saga of Vic Viramontes is the stuff of college football recruiting lore. Originally a four-star ATH recruit, Viramontes held eight P5 scholarship offers and committed to Cal in a flip from Michigan. After a Cal coaching change, he elected to go the Juco route and played one season at Riverside City College where he racked up 3,200 yards from scrimmage and 43 TDs and became the #1 dual-threat QB recruit in the country. At Minnesota, Viramontes was a spring enrollee, but failed to climb above Morgan and Annexstad on the depth chart. As a result, he transferred back to RCC for the fall semester and switched positions, becoming a linebacker. When his recruitment as a LB opened, Viramontes once again had many options and committed to UNLV over offers from seven P5 programs. He featured in 15 games over two seasons and his eligibility expired in 2021.

Other Offers
Per 247, the Gophers offered scholarships to 11 other QBs in this cycle. I’m electing to share the details about the athletes that seemed most likely to come to Minnesota based on recruiting attention and response.

Brennan Armstrong
Armstrong was a three-star recruit and ranked 21st among dual-threat QBs in the class. Originally committed to Minnesota, Armstrong flipped to Virginia - a move that led to some finger pointing between the two parties - and also held offers from Rutgers, North Carolina, Cincinnati, and Iowa State as well as several MAC schools. He appeared in 38 games at UVA and was a starter for three seasons. Armstrong has entered the transfer portal with a season of eligibility remaining and will leave UVA with 15 single-game and career school records.

Artur Sitkowski
Sitkowski attended IMG Academy and was a high three-star recruit, ranking 18th among pro-style QBs in the class. He made an initial commitment to Miami, but flipped to Rutgers after losing his starting job at IMG to Annexstad. Sitkowski won the QB job at Rutgers as a freshman and posted a bad statistical season on a 1-11 team. He would go on to play in seven games over the next two seasons before transferring to Illinois. At Illinois, Sitkowski backed up Tommy DeVito for two years and is planning to forgo his final year of eligibility to support the team in an off-field capacity.

Comments
Armstrong is the first “what if” QB of the Fleck era. Based on the trajectory of his career, it seems likely he would have been competing for the starting job as a freshman and could well have been a four+ year starter at Minnesota. Viramontes is the last QB that was more ATH than dual-threat QB to be signed by Fleck and his staff – another data point on the type of QB he prefers.


2019 - Class Three

Commits - 2

Jacob Clark
Clark was a high three-star recruit out of Texas, and the 16th rated pro-style QB in the class. He committed to Minnesota over offers from seven other P5 programs, including Iowa, Purdue, and TCU. After serving as a backup to Tanner Morgan for three seasons, Clark transferred to Missouri State where he played in one game in 2022 and has two years of eligibility remaining.

Cole Kramer
Kramer was a three-star recruit from Minnesota HS powerhouse Eden Prairie, and the 25th rated dual-threat QB in the class. He held no other scholarship offers, likely due in large part to a commitment made prior to 2018 signing day. Kramer has seen action in 19 games across three seasons and has two years of eligibility remaining.

Other Offers
Per 247, the Gophers offered scholarships to nine other QBs in this cycle. I’m electing to share the details about the athletes that seemed most likely to come to Minnesota based on recruiting attention and response.

Hank Bachmeier
Bachmeier was a four-star recruit and the 6th rated pro-style QB in the class. He committed to Boise State and held offers from 13 P5 schools along with 3 Ivy League schools. Bachmeier started 29 games over four seasons at Boise and threw for 3,000 yards and 20 TDs in 2021. However, he entered the transfer portal after four games this season and will have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Zach Calzada
Calzada was a three-star recruit and the 20th rated pro-style QB in the class. He committed to Texas A&M and held offers from 43(!) schools per 247. Calzada saw action in 2019 and started 10 of 12 games for the Aggies in 2021, including a win over Alabama. He transferred to Auburn, but was ruled out for the season in September due to a shoulder injury and has re-entered the portal this offseason as a grad transfer with two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Max Duggan
Duggan was a four-star recruit and the 4th rated dual-threat QB in the class. He committed to TCU over 20 other P5 offers, including several helmet schools. Minnesota was the last visit he took prior to his commitment. He has had to defend the starting job at various points, but has started 43 games in four seasons and has led TCU to the CFP Championship Game while producing more than 13,000 yards from scrimmage and 100 TDs during his career. He has one year of eligibility remaining, but will presumably enter the draft after the CFP Championship Game.

Maverick McIvor
McIvor was a three-star recruit and the 19th rated dual-threat QB in the class. He committed to Texas Tech - after a brief decommitment - over eight other P5 offers. McIvor suffered a leg injury in preseason of his freshman campaign and never appeared in a game across three seasons with the Red Raiders. He transferred to Abilene Christian where he played in 11 games as the primary starting QB in 2022 and has two years of eligibility remaining.

Comments
Duggan is the second “what if” QB of the Fleck era. His blend of talent, toughness, and leadership would be welcome at QB1 for any program in the country. Kramer was a great early take by the staff given how badly they needed to land two QBs in this class.


2020 - Class Four

Commits - 0

Other Offers

Per 247, the Gophers offered scholarships to eight QBs in this cycle. There were no offers to any QBs that seemed particularly likely to become commitments. It seems the position was not a priority given the presence of Morgan, Annexstad, Clark, and Kramer, and their long-term eligibility.



2021 - Class Five

Commits - 1

Athan Kaliakmanis
Kaliakmanis was a four-star recruit and the 31st ranked QB in the class. He committed to Minnesota over seven other P5 offers, including Iowa, Iowa State, Purdue, and Tennessee. Kaliakmanis took a redshirt in 2021 and saw significant action in 2022, replacing an injured Morgan as the starter at Penn State and again at halftime against Nebraska; he would start the rest of the season. In all, he threw for just less than 1,000 yards along with 3 TDs and 4 INTs in 5+ games and he has three years of eligibility remaining.

Other Offers
Per 247, the Gophers offered scholarships to two other QBs in this cycle. I’m electing to share the details about the athlete that seemed most likely to come to Minnesota based on recruiting attention and response.

Sam Jackson
Jackson was a hotly-recruited four-star and the 32nd ranked QB in the class. He committed to Minnesota, decommitted, and then committed again. The second commitment lasted even less time than the first and resulted in a commitment to Purdue. Unfortunately for the Boilers, Jackson decommitted from them as well, ultimately enrolling at TCU over offers from 16 P5 schools, including the likes of Notre Dame and Oregon. Jackson has remained a QB at TCU - a topic that seemed to drive a lot of his recruiting indecision - but has thrown just six passes while rushing 15 times for 73 yards in seven career games as a backup. He has three years of eligibility remaining.

Comments
While the Jackson decommitment was a disappointment, it is difficult to imagine both he and Kaliakmanis remaining on the same roster and at QB long term. Kaliakmanis is the clear current and future QB1 for Minnesota and it will be interesting to see if Jackson is given the chance to compete for the starting job at TCU with Duggan presumably entering the draft at season’s end. The Jackson recruitment does poke some holes in the idea that Fleck has a QB prototype in mind, but it also seems clear there was a willingness to move Jackson to WR if necessary.


2022 - Class Six

Commits - 1

Jacob Knuth
Knuth was a three-star recruit and the 52nd rated QB in the class. He committed to Minnesota over offers from Iowa and Kansas State as well as Air Force and Army. He did not appear in any games this season, meaning he has four years of eligibility remaining.

Other Offers
Per 247, the Gophers offered scholarships to four other QBs in this cycle. None of the other offers to QBs seemed particularly likely to become commitments. Given the additional year of eligibility granted to everyone on the 2020 roster, there was no need to pursue more than one QB in this class.

Comments
Given Knuth’s size and the fact that many of his other offers (Kansas State, service academies, FCS schools) ask the QB to run, it seems he could be a fit for a Wildcat QB package in the future should Minnesota want to run that as they did with Seth Green.


2023 - Class Seven

Commits - 2, 1 scholarship


Max Shikenjanski
Shikenjanski is a PWO commit and the son of Gopher basketball alum, Jim Shikenjanski. He was a two-star recruit and the 206th ranked QB in the class. Shikenjanski held no other FBS offers to play football, but committed as a walk-on after originally accepting a scholarship to play basketball at The Citadel.

Drew Viotto
Viotto was a three-star recruit and the 57th ranked QB in the class. Maryland and Syracuse were his only other high-major offers. He will enter next season as one of four scholarship QBs on the roster (Kramer, Kaliakmanis, Knuth).

Other Offers
Per 247, the Gophers offered scholarships to six other QBs in this cycle. None of the other offers to QBs seemed particularly likely to become commitments.

Comments
Most of the other offers were to much more highly-rated players, creating the appearance that the staff was either going to add high-end talent or bring in depth that would be satisfied taking a redshirt.
Post of the day!
 

Dakota2

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Great read. It shouldn't be taken as condescending, for Knuth to run a wildcat package.

To create a package in short yardage situations for Knuth to see the field.

To give opposing defenses another thing to prepare for in a given week.

To keep AK healthy, if you want to limit his hits.
Correct. It would be another way to get a great athlete on the field.
 

FredCoxRocks

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I read Ashton Dubose has a twin brother...a wide receiver. Perhaps that factors into where he wants to go? I dunno...
Anyway, I wish the kid luck wherever he lands. If all goes well with him, maybe there's a chance he's in the portal in a couple years going after bigger things. Again, I dunno...
 

SixBySix

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I'll drop a diamond on Gopher fans here. Am watching the San Antonio HS All Star game and Brennan's star QB Ashton Dubose. All this kid has done is break every area passing record, including those of Ty Detmer and Johnny Manziel, on a perennial power program. He's 6'2", 185, runs like a deer, and makes winning play after play. Far as I know UTSA is his best offer but he has more pure talent than anyone the Gophers have on roster.
Are you reading this PJ?
How does he compare to Kristoff Kowalkowski?
 


paulser21

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Thanks! Mertz had a Minnesota offer, but I didn't find much to indicate there was much traction. If you point me towards something that shows there was I'd update the OP.

There was a better chance of landing Mertz than many of the other QBs in this class.
 


btowngopher

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I have been watching QBs my whole life. This kid is going to start FCS somewhere. I would best describe his game like this...put an Alabama uniform on him and he'd look and play like a slightly taller version of Bryce Young.
Oh and like a lot of Texas kids, he's a Christian, which PJ seems to like.
Found these highlights.
I’d take him. Strange he had so few offers.
 




roadrunner

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Aaron is another under the radar kid. I think he's a 3 star with a UTSA offer but he might have gotten a few low Power 5's by now. As you might expect, he and his brother are a lethal combination. He's listed at 6'4", 180 but that's not correct. I think 6'1 or 6'2" is closer.
I'd certainly take the brothers as a package deal.
UTSA is pretty savvy. They're building something special with 2 Top 25 seasons (during the year) in a row, a new practice facility, a fantastic coach, and their best recruiting class in their short history.
 
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roadrunner

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Fun fact: Another San Antonio area standout for Smithson Valley, a kid who got a pick six in a previous All Star game...Gopher Jack Gibbens.
 
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btowngopher

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Sam Jackson, mentioned above, as a Minnesota commit and decommissioned (twice) before eventual ending up at TCU, is on the move again. PJ wanted Jackson as a WR not QB, if I recall.

Not surprising since he committed to 27 different schools before landing at TCU.
 



Tommyboy

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Kowalkowski is doing well, he is over 6'2" around 220 pounds, Straight A student. He will get his chance, probably would have been in the mix this year at STU, they only have two freshman at this time on the roster.
 

MNVCGUY

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Not surprising since he committed to 27 different schools before landing at TCU.
lol....this kid just needs to drop down to a lower level school that will let him play QB, or he needs to accept the fact that he is not a power 5 QB and go play WR. My guess is he drops down.
 


Tommyboy

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I remember watching Jackson at the Iowa camp in high school, he was meant to be a slot/WR. He was a very small and had a below average arm compared to the other QB's. Most guys would jump at being a WR, I do not understand his thinking.
 

MNVCGUY

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I remember watching Jackson at the Iowa camp in high school, he was meant to be a slot/WR. He was a very small and had a below average arm compared to the other QB's. Most guys would jump at being a WR, I do not understand his thinking.
He thinks he is a QB and is determined to be one. Some guys never figure it out. Others like Tyler Johnson accept their new position and thrive in it.
 

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Sam Jackson, mentioned above, as a Minnesota commit and decommissioned (twice) before eventual ending up at TCU, is on the move again. PJ wanted Jackson as a WR not QB, if I recall.

Good on the coaching staff for being candid about their view of Chandler Morris. I would guess that this means he intends to remain a QB, will be interesting to see where he lands. FWIW, Bachmeier entered the portal in September and has yet to sign anywhere.
 

Plato

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PJ should be found lurking near the very crowded WI QB room whispering about playing time.
IA got a QB that way.
 




Plato

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Your definition of "losers" leaves a lot to be desired.
The presumed starter for next year from SMU was in the running twice for the best college QB and the others have been characterized as showing very good skills or being very promising.
But next year whether they are all losers or not will be defined by how they perform.
 

MNVCGUY

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Your definition of "losers" leaves a lot to be desired.
The presumed starter for next year from SMU was in the running twice for the best college QB and the others have been characterized as showing very good skills or being very promising.
But next year whether they are all losers or not will be defined by how they perform.
They all play for the Badgers correct? If so then the use of the term loser would seem to have been properly applied in this case when discussing them.

As a quick reminder this is the Gopher Football forum where the overwhelming majority of us are Gopher fans and not Badger fans so you aren't going to find a ton of love for your new guys here.
 

SonjayLarrick

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From: 247 Sports Wisconsin’s revamped QB room

Once upon a time, it’d take years to turn over a quarterback room. Bad takes at the position could sink a program for years. That’s no longer the case, as evidenced by what Wisconsin's done in about a month under Luke Fickell.

When the Badgers hired Phil Longo as offensive coordinator away from North Carolina, it signaled a shift in offensive philosophy. No longer would they be a plodding, pro-style offensive attack. The Air Raid is headed to Madison, and that required a different type of passer.

So, what did Wisconsin do? It signed THREE transfer quarterbacks. Out went Graham Mertz (Florida) and Deacon Hill (Iowa) and in came Tanner Mordecai (SMU), Nick Evers (Oklahoma) and Braedyn Locke (Mississippi State).

All three of the additions came from Air Raid or veer-and-shoot systems, replacing players who were better suited to the previous scheme. They’re also talent upgrades. Mordecai is among the most productive passers in the FBS, throwing for a combined 7,152 yards and 72 touchdowns the last two seasons. Evers and Locke, meanwhile, were four-star QBs in the 2022 class. They’re young and future cornerstones of the program.

Throw in 2024 QB commit Mabrey Mettauer, and the Badgers have landed a quartet of four-star recruits in a little over a month. Wisconsin had only signed four such QBs in its entire history.
 

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Made updates to the OP for the players that have found new homes:
  • Brennan Armstrong to NC State
  • Zach Calzada to Incarnate Word
  • Sam Jackson to Cal
I only plan to update to make this accurate through final roster movement this offseason, I will not revisit after that.
 

MNVCGUY

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From: 247 Sports Wisconsin’s revamped QB room

Once upon a time, it’d take years to turn over a quarterback room. Bad takes at the position could sink a program for years. That’s no longer the case, as evidenced by what Wisconsin's done in about a month under Luke Fickell.

When the Badgers hired Phil Longo as offensive coordinator away from North Carolina, it signaled a shift in offensive philosophy. No longer would they be a plodding, pro-style offensive attack. The Air Raid is headed to Madison, and that required a different type of passer.

So, what did Wisconsin do? It signed THREE transfer quarterbacks. Out went Graham Mertz (Florida) and Deacon Hill (Iowa) and in came Tanner Mordecai (SMU), Nick Evers (Oklahoma) and Braedyn Locke (Mississippi State).

All three of the additions came from Air Raid or veer-and-shoot systems, replacing players who were better suited to the previous scheme. They’re also talent upgrades. Mordecai is among the most productive passers in the FBS, throwing for a combined 7,152 yards and 72 touchdowns the last two seasons. Evers and Locke, meanwhile, were four-star QBs in the 2022 class. They’re young and future cornerstones of the program.

Throw in 2024 QB commit Mabrey Mettauer, and the Badgers have landed a quartet of four-star recruits in a little over a month. Wisconsin had only signed four such QBs in its entire history.
Will be interesting to see how it works out for them. The 4* part isn't that impressive though as the portal is full of 4* QBs who couldn't cut it at their first school. All comes down to finding the right guy.
 

Gophers_4life

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Made updates to the OP for the players that have found new homes:
  • Brennan Armstrong to NC State
  • Zach Calzada to Incarnate Word
  • Sam Jackson to Cal
I only plan to update to make this accurate through final roster movement this offseason, I will not revisit after that.
UIW has a nice thing going. We got one of our starting DT transfer from there this past offseason (Baugh) and they nearly went to Fargo and upset the Bizon in the semi-finals.

I think someone was saying, largest Catholic University in Texas?
 
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Bob_Loblaw

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Your definition of "losers" leaves a lot to be desired.
The presumed starter for next year from SMU was in the running twice for the best college QB and the others have been characterized as showing very good skills or being very promising.
But next year whether they are all losers or not will be defined by how they perform.
I'd like more granular information about the Wisconsin quarterback room. I'll be back in a little bit, I'm trying to generate conversation detailed conversation about the UCLA quarterback situation on a USC message board right now. It seems like the best place to have that conversation.

As to your point, you might need to read a little closer.
(1)You said, PJ should be lurking around the WI QB room to pick up whatever Badger QB gets beat out by competition and I said we wouldn't want those losers.
(2)It should be pretty clear to you that I was talking about the player(s) who LOST the QB battle not the starter. As far as the QBs who lost the QB battle, we could have one of the following:
  • Chase Wolfe - Puke. He's a loser.
  • Evers - LOST competition at Oklahoma and under this scenario LOST competition at Wisconsin
  • Mississippi State guy - LOST competition at Mississippi State and under this scenario LOST competition at Wisconsin
I'd rather have Knuth than Chase Wolfe or some guy that just keeps losing quarterback competitions.

My definition of a loser is a guy that loses a lot - like every collegiate QB competition they've been part of. I use the harsher language (loser) for people I don't like - you know - our rivals.

The Badger trolls that live on this board are so bizarre. You come here to troll and then are incredibly quick to offend. As a little background, the point of a troll is to get the target to be offended. There is no honor amongst trolls who then play the victim. I'm sorry I called our bitter rivals losers.
 




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