Minnesota adds Watson, Kelly, Gousby and Pyburn to 2022 recruiting class

June 20, 2021: The Gophers continue to construct their 2022 recruiting class, adding a trio of three-star CBs; Tariq “Trii” Watson, Rhyland Kelly and Aidan Gousby on Sunday morning.

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Philip John Fleck Jr. was back to his recruiting ways Sunday morning. In a span of just a few hours, the Gophers received commitments from three different three-star cornerback recruits. 5-foot-10-inch Harvey, Louisiana native Tariq “Trii” Watson was the first to announce. He chose Minnesota over top offers from Purdue, Virginia and Washington State. Rhyland Kelly a three-star prospect according to 247sports was right behind Watson. The Canadian prospect chose the Gophers over offers highlighted by Kansas State, Purdue and Liberty. Aidan Gousby, a heavily recruited DB/WR from Lehigh Acres, Florida was the final player to announce his commitment. Gousby chose the Maroon & Gold over a plethora of top-level offers, most notably Miami (FL), Wisconsin and Penn State. Then 6-foot-3-inch Jacksonville, Florida EDGE defender Jack Pyburn joined the party, handpicking the Gophers over top offers from Georgia Tech, Memphis and Wake Forest.

Tariq “Trii” Watson

Who is Tariq “Trii” Watson?:

Tariq Watson is a 5-foot-10-inch student-athlete who attends Helen Cox High School located in Harvey, Louisianna. When he’s not dominating on the gridiron, Watson is an elite-level track athlete. In early May he ran a 10.49 100m and a 21.40 200m, at the Louisiana Class 4A state track and field championships which earned him third place and second place, respectively, in those events. Earlier this month the Gophers reportedly clocked him at a hand-timed 4.34 40-yard dash at the SMU camp. Watson has been a fast-rising name on the recruiting scene having earned his first division one offer on May 9 of this year.

  • Scouting Report:

Track speed doesn’t always show up on the football field, but for Watson it certainly does. You can quickly notice how fast he plays all over the field. He is a natural cornerback with fluid hips and a solid overall feel for the position. He has great ball skills for someone at his age and experience. He also shows the willingness to come down and make tackles. The biggest hole in his game might be his over-aggressiveness from time to time, but that has the chance to be corrected in Minnesota’s system. Watson has all of the traits to be a Big Ten cornerback, and I would imagine that the Gophers are happy they got an early commitment from a player that will only get better.

**High School (Hudl) highlights: http://www.hudl.com/v/2FPyZ2

Rhyland Kelly

Who is Rhyland Kelly?:

Rhyland Kelly is a Canadian-born student-athlete who attends Clearwater Academy International (CAI) in Clearwater, Florida. CAI, a small private school has grown into one of the best football programs in the area, churning out division one talent year after year. Kelly had originally committed to the Northern Illinois Univeristy on March 21 until decommiting from the school on June 4. After being offered by Minnesota only two days later — a friendship with fellow Candian Benjaim St-Juste and the Gophers’ coaching staff led to Kelly committing less than a month after being offered.

  • Scouting Report:

Kelly, a 6-foot-2-inch 185 cornerback has elite level size for the position. He has room to grow when it comes to overall feel for the position, but he has size that you can simply not teach. He has Big Ten level strength and athleticism, while showing great ball skills for the position. Fleck, Joe Rossi and the rest of the Gophers staff have shown the ability to develop players at the cornerback position and there is no reason why Kelly can not do the same and develop into a starting-level Big Ten cornerback.

**High School (Hudl) highlights: http://www.hudl.com/v/2Ecv9X

Aidan Gousby

Who is Aidan Gousby?:

Aidan Gousby is a 6-foot-2 inch WR/DB who attends Lehigh Senior High School in Lehigh Acres, Florida. Gousby was heavily recruited having a serious amount of power five offers headlined by Miami (FL), Wisconsin, Penn State, Nebraska, Kentucky and Louisville. The Gophers were able to land his commitment after he totaled 13 tackles and an interception on defense, while adding 194 yards of total offense with a touchdown on offense in only three games last season.

  • Scouting Report:

Gousby has the skills to play both wide receiver and cornerback at the Big Ten level, but he projects more as a cornerback. Much like Kelly, Gousby has elite-level size for the position. 6’2″ cornerbacks do not grow on trees and the Gophers now have two in their 2022 class. Gousby has terrific feel for the game and football IQ. He might have the highest ceiling out of any of the three cornerbacks, and I fully expect him to find his way onto the field early in his Gophers’ career.

**High School (Hudl) highlights: http://www.hudl.com/v/2EfDxA

Jack Pyburn

Who is Jack Pyburn?:

Jack Pyburn is a 6-foot-3-inch student athlete who attends The Bolles School located in Jacksonville, Florida. The Bolles School is a a private prep school with just over 1,600 total students. Charles “Corky” Rogers has coached the school’s football team since 1989. Rogers is the all-time winningest Florida high school football coach with 465 wins, on top of winning a record 10 state championships at the school. Last season a junior, Pyburn played linebacker, finishing with 121 total tackles, 17 tackles for loss and seven sacks. When he’s not playing football, he’s an accomplished wrestler. Pyburn took third in the most recent state tournament at 220 lbs and he is viewed as the No. 1 wrestler at that weight heading into his senior campaign.

  • Scouting Report:

Pyburn played more of an inside linebacker position last season and he has Big Ten size at 6-foot-3 250 pounds. His instincts are the strength of his game having serious feel from the position. You can tell that he has a wrestling background based on his strength and aggressiveness while shedding blocks and bringing down tackles. He has the chance to remain on the inside at the next level, but I belive his speed could lead to him transitioning to the outside. Either way you can tell this guy is a football player, he plays with a different level of nasty and should be able to contribute wherever he ends up playing.

**High School (Hudl) highlights: http://www.hudl.com/v/2EF0wn

What is Next?:

After having only five commitments for their 2022 class less than two weeks ago, the Gophers now have 12. Watson, Kelly, Gousby and Pyburn join a recruiting class that is beginning to seriously take shape:

Heading into the day the Gophers ranked as the No. 38 recruiting class nationally, a position that I am sure will increase following the busy day that Fleck and the Gophers have put together. In 2021 Minnesota had 18 total commitments and currently have 12 in their class of 2022 now has 12, so we are far from done.

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