–> With no football, hockey, or basketball games being played April can seem like a quiet time for Gophers athletics, but there is still plenty of news to talk about.
Follow @Tony Liebert on Twitter
Elijah Spencer and Zach Evans shine at Spring Game
- Thoughts: The Gophers’ annual Spring Game took place Saturday. For the second-straight year it took place indoors; closed to the general public. Across the country, spring games are becoming less and less of a real contest and more of a showcase for fans to watch their favorite team. This year’s game opened up with a carry from starting LT Aireontae Ersery, a receiving TD from starting safety Tyler Nubin and plenty more hijinks. At the end of the day, it still is a football scrimmage and there were some interesting moments. Charlotte transfer WR Elijah Spencer was one of the stars, catching 9 balls for 120 yards and a touchdown. Redshirt freshman RB Zach Evans also made his presence felt with an impressive 75-yard TD run, which was one of two on the day. Saturday showed the high level of skill position talent Minnesota has on the offensive side of the ball with Le’Meke Brockington also having an impressive day. There is still a serious need at the CB position, which should be addressed in the portal, but this team has a large pool of talented playmakers up and down the roster.
Bryant grad-transfer Charles Pride and others visit UMN
- Thoughts: Ben Johnson hosted two important transfers over the weekend. Bryant grad-transfer guard Charles Pride was hosted specifically by veteran forward Isaiah Ihnen on his visit to Dinkytown. I heard from multiple sources that it went well. Rhode Island is likely Johnson’s biggest competition to land Pride, but it seems like a decision is coming soon. Listed at 6-foot-4, he is the exact type of guard this team needs. Averaging 8.6 rebounds per game in 2021-22 he is an incredibly physical two-guard that will be able to average double digits in the Big Ten. A foursome of him, Mitchell, Carrington and Christie in the backcourt will give them an opportunity to compete every night.
- If they do land Pride, there will be one open scholarship remaining. Montana State transfer guard Darius Brown II will be a potential option, especially as he also visited Dinkytown over the weekend. He averaged 9.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.9 assists last season for a tournament team. He would be the ideal role player for this team, he can give you 10+ points while being a very smart all-around guard. Landing both Brown and Pride would fill the Gophers’ roster needs.
Dinkytown Athletes named official UMN NIL Collective
- Thoughts: The University of Minnesota announced Dinkytown Athletes as the official NIL collective of the school’s athletic program on Friday. Dinkytown Athletes has existed since 2022, but it has acted independently away from the schools. The collective has been a way for fans to invest directly in Gophers players. It will initially not see a dramatic makeover, but this gives them the opportunity to use official University marks, logos and images. It will also now just be easier for athletes to get more advertising and marketing in general. I believe that this move was long overdue and it will only help Minnesota in the NIL arms race. There is still a long way to go to become a national power in the NIL sector, but this move is a step in the right direction.
2024 FB recruiting class ranked No. 13 nationally
- Thoughts: The Gophers’ 2024 recruiting success continued Wednesday when the No. 2 ranked player in the state Koi Perich (Esko, DB) committed to Minnesota. With Perich, Minnesota now has 11 commitments in the class, which ranks 13th-best in the country. In general, I think class rankings hold little merit at this point in the process. The Gophers have five more commitments than Alabama, four more than Miami (FL) and six more than Oklahoma, so nationally the rankings are essentially quality over quantity at this point. With that being said, this is still shaping out to be a very fun class for Fleck and the Gophers. Perich gives them commitments from five of the top nine players in the state, while the other four are still uncommitted. It might be a little unrealistic to land Daniel Freitag for football, but No. 1 player Wyatt Gilmore (Rogers) and the No. 3 prospected Emmerson Mandell (Irondale) are still serious options. With a chance to land seven of the top nine players in the state, alongside exciting skill recruits like Zahir Rainer and Riley Sunram, this is shaping up to be a very talented group.
Dylan Wright transfers to TCU
- Thoughts: Former Gophers WR Dylan Wright had a cryptic Twitter post last week and plenty of fans started hypothesizing a possible return to the Maroon & Gold. That was never in the cards, but he officially announced his transfer to the National runner-up TCU Horned Frogs. With Quentin Johnston off to the NFL, TCU has added some talented options from the portal now headlined by JoJo Earle and Dylan Wright. In a very friendly offense, it would not surprise me to see Wright have immediate success. He does still technically need to apply for a waiver, which is something the NCAA has been keen to grant. The Gophers have clearly found talent at WR with Spencer, Crooms and Brockington, but it was a shame Wright was never able to reach his full potential in Dinkytown.