FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Jacob Knuth goes portaling, top QB decommitts and ’24 recruiting class thoughts

–> With only 10 days until the 2023 Spring Game and the 2024 recruiting cycle heating up there is no time better than the present to look at some storylines from spring Gophers football so far.

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RS-FR QB Jacob Knuth enters transfer portal

  • Thoughts: Former South Dakota Gatorade Player of the Year Jacob Knuth announced that he will enter the transfer portal Tuesday afternoon. I believe this move is simply driven by the fact that he thought he would be lost in the Gophers’ depth chart through the next few years. Athan Kaliakmanis has three years of eligibility remaining and if everything goes right he could use all three, which would limit Knuth’s playing time. It also seems as if Cole Kramer has taken the No. 2 spot once again this season and he still has one more year of eligibility remaining. It wouldn’t likely be until his RS-JR year that Knuth would’ve gotten the No. 2 spot and at that point, he would still have to fight off Drew Viotto, Max Shikenjanski and any other young players the Gophers add. He didn’t see a path to playing time and in today’s state of college sports players are able to move on.

3-star Georgia QB Aaron Philo decommits

  • Thoughts: The Gophers’ future QB room had a big shakeup this week. Talented Georgia QB-commit Aaron Philo de-committed from the program just over a month after pledging his commitment. As a junior in high school, he finished with 4,598 yards and 54 TDs, he earned Peach State Class A Division 1 OPOY, en-route to a perfect 14-0 record and a State Title. He was an interesting long-term prospect that ranked as the third-highest QB commitment in the PJ Fleck era. Overall, I don’t think this is a significant departure long-term, but it will be important for Minnesota to find a talented QB in this class with Knuth now in the portal. With both players no longer connected to the program it opens the door for talented walk-on freshman Max Shikenjanski from Stillwater, MN. He was a Mr. Football finalist and Mr. Basketball semi-finalist as a senior and has the chance to make some noise for the Maroon & Gold as a reserve option.

Top 2024 ND lineman Riley Sunram commits

  • Thoughts: The No. 1 ranked player in North Dakota Riley Sunram committed to the Gophers Tuesday. Riley Sunram is the No. 481 ranked player in the country and now Minnesota’s highest-ranked commitment for the 2024 class. He held top offers from Miami (FL), Nebraska and Kansas State. Listed at 6-foot-4, 265 pounds he has the potential to play either offensive or defensive line, but the offensive side of the ball seems like a more likely option. He is a very intriguing long-term prospect and a great building block for the Gophers’ 2024 class.

General portal/recruiting thoughts

  • Portal: With Knuth’s departure, the Gophers now have had 17 players enter the transfer portal this offseason. This number might seem like a lot, but it’s relatively just a little above average among most other power conference schools. Players like Dylan Wright, Michael Brown-Stephens and Trey Potts all made sense to move on, but there have certainly been some surprising and tough losses with Trill Carter, Michael Dixon and Beanie Bishop who all could’ve been starters this season. Overall, I don’t think this should be too concerning for the Gophers. This is the new era of college sports and if someone doesn’t like their fit they have the right to move on. It will just be more important for Minnesota to add some more talent this spring. They have lost at least three defensive starters, so adding a few players to replace them should be priority No. 1.
  • HS Recruiting: The high school recruiting game has completely changed with the arrival of the anytime transfer rule. It is still very important to add some talented recruits that will buy into whatever PJ Fleck is selling. Riley Sunram and Jide Abasiri are two players that Gophers fans should be very excited about and the trio of playmakers Corey Smith, Dallas Sims and Jaydon Wright have some fun long-term potential. So far, this class looks to fall in a similar line to an average Fleck group, but there are definitely some fun players that have some serious potential to develop.


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