National Signing Day: Gophers’ 2022 class recap

Dec. 15, 2021: The majority of Minnesota’s 2022 recruiting class put pen to paper today on National Signing Day, ranking as the 38 overall class in the country according to 247sports.

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During a time where the transfer portal is dominating any conversation about roster construction in college football, National Signing Day is still a thing and the Gophers are bringing in (19) scholarship players and (four) preferred walk-ons (as of now).

This Minnesota class is highlighted by the trenches, and specifically the defensive line. Four of the Gophers’ top-five recruits are linemen and three come from the defensive line. 247sports compiles a list of the top recruiters in college football, and Gophers defensive line coach Chad Wilt ranks No. 49 in the country after reeling in a talented group.

Someone’s instant reaction might be, “What? the Gophers only have two four-stars.” But if anything that being a fan of college football has told me, is that you need to take the rankings with a grain of salt. Statisically, I would imagine that low-end 4-stars and high-end 3-stars don’t have that significantly different of a “hit-rate” and the Gophers have at least eight of those players in my opinion. Overall, I would say this class addressed some serious need for talented youth among the trenches, and high-end potential in the secondary, with a chance for some diamond-in-the-rough type of players.

A weird allergy held him out for EP’s preseason, and an ankle injury limited him to very little playing time as a senior, but Bixby is still an elite prospect with elite physical traits and has a chance to contribute for the Gophers very early in his career.

Much like Bixby, Anthony Smith has elite physical tools for his position. Smith reportedly already has a friendship with the only Gophers player from Pennsylvania, running back Treyson Potts.

Evans is obviously going to an RB room that is crowded with talent, but he has the skills to earn playing time. Playing for Rockwall-Heath High School at the 6A level (the biggest level in Texas), Evans had 199 carries amassing 1,220 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior and should have no trouble transitioning to the Big Ten.

Schwartz adds to an uberly talented trio of defensive line prospects. Playing for the winningest high school football coach in the state of Florida Charles “Corky” Rogers at the Bolles School, he totaled 57 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and eight sacks as a junior, and developed into about as close as you can get to a 4-star prospect.

The Gophers clearly attacked the trenches in this class, with four of their top five prospect being linemen. McConnell has everything you want from a Big Ten offensive lineman. After originally committing to TCU, he flipped to Minnesota a week after visiting on Dec. 4.

Ike White was one of the Gophers’ earliest commitments of this class, all the way back on June 16. He plays for St. Frances Academy which is one of the top programs in the entire country let alone Maryland. They began to get serious national attention and eventually got a documentary TV Series on HBO titled “The Cost of Winning” which highlighted their 2019 football campaign.

As one of the most talked-about recruits in this Minnesota class, Jacob Knuth has the chance to be the future of the program at the QB position. All of the skills are there, as he finished with 2,401 passing yards, ran for 507 and accounted for 41 total touchdowns, en-route to being named South Dakota player of the year as a senior.

Gousby is one of the most interesting players in the Gophers 2022 class. Listed as an ATH on most recruiting sites, he has the versatility to play at CB or WR, but likely projects more as a CB. He has an elite 6-foot-2 size for the position, and I believe he is one of the more high-potential players in this class.

Hoskins is the second-highest-ranked MN recruit in this class. He is an absolutely electric playmaker that was one of the most exciting players in the state throughout his high school career and should have every chance to contribute in a Gophers uniform down the road.

At 6-foot-2 Kelly is another big cornerback. He had originally committed to Northern Illinois, before choosing the Gophers. He has the size and potential, and there is no reason why he cants contribute donning the Maroon & Gold.

Watson is one of the best athletes in this Gophers class. 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. He has been clocked in as fast as 4.34 in the 40 and has the potential to be a diamond-in-the-rough type of prospect.

Ashton Beers might be the frontrunner for the captain of the all-name team — he just sounds like he was meant to be an offensive lineman in the Big Ten, and taking him out of the state of Wisconsin makes it all that much better.

Gerlach was the latest of the Gophers six MN recruits in this class. He was one of the most improved players in the state last season for Woodbury playing as a safety. At 6-foot-3, 195 pounds he will likely develop into a linebacker for the Gophers.

During Coleman Bryson’s junior season at Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School in Georgia, Bryson played as an H-Back, wide receiver/running back-hybrid type of offensive player — on top of being one of the best safeties in the state. His versatility and athleticism project well as a safety in the Big Ten.

Competing at a 2A level for the Tracy-Milroy-Balaton football team, Tony Nelson was one of the more underrated players in the state of Minnesota, but his elite size and strength make him an exciting prospect for the Gophers.

Jones turned down the opportunity of being a fourth-generation Abeline Christian football player, before committing to the Gophers. He was all-state in track last spring, throwing 53′ 3″ in shotput and also 151′ in the discus. He also ran an 11.5 100m time and 24.07 200m and could be a steal for Minnesota.

Another elite option for the all-name team Maverick Baranowski just sounds like a Big Ten linebacker. As the only true inside linebacker in this class, he was an All-Area selection with 123 tackles and 7.5 sacks as a junior.

Alvarez tore his ACL as a junior, hindering his ability to play a full senior season. That caused him to go a bit under-recruited, but the Gophers could’ve found something with a very intimidating red zone threat from the tight end position.

Preferred walk-ons (PWOs):

  • WR Evan Redding (Menomonee Falls, Wisc.)

  • WR Cade Conzemius (Minnetonka, Minn.)

  • RB Max Grand (Ellsworth, Wisc.)

  • LB Cade Larson (Harrisburg, S.D.)

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