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Gophers miss out on Charles Pride + Darius Brown II
The Gophers’ top two transfer portal targets Charles Pride (Bryant) and Darius Brown II (Montana State) committed elsewhere over the weekend. So, where does Ben Johnson go from here? Barring a significant material change, i.e. Trejuan Holloman entering the portal and deciding to come home, I see this portal window as a failure for Ben Johnson and his staff.
With Mike Mitchell Jr. (Pepperdine) and Jack Wilson (Washington State) as the only two commitments, they’ve added one significant contributor. Everyone who watched this team last season saw they lost Ta’lon Cooper, Jamison Battle and Jaden Henley to the portal; realize that they needed more than one player. Parker Fox and Isaiah Ihnen are returning from injury and talented freshmen Cameron Christie and Kadyn Betts will start their careers, but there is a lot that has to go right for this team to make any postseason noise. There are names like the son of UMN WBB head coach A.J. Plitzuweit (South Dakota) or Park Center native Leo Torbor (San Jose State) that would make sense to you or me, but the Gophers are a.) not even rumored to be interested in either player and b.) I do not know how much better they would make the roster. The portal options are only getting slimmer and with two open scholarships still remaining, Johnson and his staff will likely need to head to the “break glass in case of emergency” option. The Maroon & Gold have a long way to go if they want to avoid another disappointing season in Dinkytown.
3 Gophers drafted and 6 more sign contracts
Gophers All-America center John Michael Schmitz was a lock to hear his name called in the first two rounds, Terell Smith and Jordan Howden were expected to be day three players, but the outlook was all over the board for Tanner Morgan, Mo Ibrahim, Thomas Rush and Co. Ultimately, JMS was selected 57th overall (2nd round) by the New York Giants, Jordan Howden was drafted 146th overall (5th round) by the New Orleans Saints and T-Time heard his named called 165th overall (5th round) by the Chicago Bears.
It marks the fourth straight season Minnesota has had a player selected in the first two rounds for the first time since 1942-45. From 2010-2019 the Gophers had 12 players drafted and they’ve now had 14 selected since 2020. Since 2020, Minnesota is only trailing Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin and Iowa with players drafted among Big Ten schools. Love him or hate him, you have to admit that P.J. Fleck has transformed Gophers football into a serious national player. Draft picks don’t always translate into wins, but they certainly help a whole lot with recruiting. As for undrafted players, Gophers fans seem to be questioning my Mohamed Ibrahim didn’t hear his name called and the fact that he opted to not run a 40-time, he is 5-foot-8, 200-pounds and has an injury history clearly did not help his cause. It was another successful draft for Fleck and the Maroon & Gold.
Football finds success in the transfer portal
The Gophers added two players from the transfer portal over the week, Miami (OH) LB/S Rowan Zolman and Elon CB Tre’Von Jones, while a third could be coming soon. Zolman is a versatile defensive piece that will have three years of eligibility remaining. Playing at safety last season for Miami (OH), he will likely slot into an extra linebacker, third safety type of role. At 6-foot-4, 213 pounds he is a very impressive athlete that has an intriguing potential. I don’t envision him starting day one, but he could have a role as soon as this season. Jones is a much-needed experience body in the secondary who has 27 games throughout his 4-year FCS career. He too has the versatility to line up at safety, but given the Gophers’ desperate need for corners, I expect him to line up there. He finished his Elon career with 185 tackles, 11.5 TFLs, 2 sacks, 3 INTs and 15 PBUs, as it sits now he could have a great chance to be the No. 2 or No. 3 corner on this football team.
As for other options in the portal, one-time Gophers’ commit Avante Dickerson (Oregon) entered the portal last week and the Gophers have officially offered him. The former 4-star top-150 recruit would be a home-run add for Minnesota and it would turn the cornerback room from a serious question mark into a possible strength. Since entering the portal on April 28, he has not publicly tweeted any other offers and I believe the Gophers have a realistic chance of landing him. If they’re able to land Dickerson and maybe one other defensive lineman, I would see this portal window as a wash, if not a win for Fleck. Every team in the country is losing guys to the portal and while Trill Carter, Michael Dixon and Beanie Bishop were all tough losses, you have to adapt and change in the current landscape of college sports and it seems like Fleck is beginning to do just that.
Gable Steveson wins the U.S. Open
Gophers legend Gable Steveson returned to the amateur wrestling mat for the first time since taking home Gold at the Tokyo Olympics. He competed in the annual U.S. Open which is one of the first steps in qualifying for the USA Wrestling’s Senior world team, a.k.a. competing in the World Championships or Olympics. Steveson dominated outscoring his opponents 44-1 to win the title and he will compete at the Final X event to determine the US Senior World/Olympic Team members. The Final X event or Beat the Streets New York, will take place on June 10 and will be the next step in determining the USA Wrestling Senior world team.
After winning the Gold Medal at the Tokyo Olympics, Steveson was rumored to go many different routes in his professional career, most notably signing a contract with the WWE. There have been some rumblings of his personality not necessarily transitioning to the pro-wrestling circuit, but he is still on 22-years old. I think that door is still wide open, it might just be a longer process than originally expected. The world is certainly still his oyster, he just clearly had some things he still wanted to accomplish in amateur wrestling before getting there.