The Gophers received a commitment from four-star Country Club Hills, Illinois running back Mar’Keise Irving. He chose Minnesota over offers from Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Purdue, South Carolina, Wisconsin and others.
Irving is a four-star prospect with a 0.8949 composite rating, according to 24/7 Sports. With the addition of Irving, the Gophers have now landed three players who rank in the top-seven among Illinois recruits (Athan Kaliakmanis – No. 3 in IL, Irving – No. 6 in IL and Sam Jackson – No. 7 in IL).
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound running back has excellent balance and stays on his feet in traffic. Irving frequently breaks tackles and picks up additional yardage. He also occasionally uses a fierce stiff-arm and spin move to extend runs. Irving operates very well in crowded spaces and abruptly makes sharp cuts. He often slams on the brakes, lets defenders pass and redirects runs. His agility and ability to change direction might be two of his best traits. When running to the perimeter, Irving executes his initial cut and makes the first defender miss. On a couple runs, I was impressed with how he read the defense and found backside creases. If you take a bad angle against him, it’s over.
Irving also showed flashes as a receiver off swing passes and other routes. With his elusiveness and ability to break tackles, Irving will fit well within Minnesota’s zone-blocking concepts. He is very tough to bring down in space and has all of the skills to thrive off outside zone. His rushing style reminds me of former Clemson and Cardinals running back Andre Ellington.
Minnesota’s 2021 class now ranks No. 4 in 24/7 Sports’ team rankings and No. 6 in the composite rankings. If you look at the team rankings, the only programs ahead of the Gophers are Ohio State (No. 1), Tennessee (No. 2) and North Carolina (No. 3).
Here’s a look at his film: