Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Barren Womb: An Oral History of Golden Gopher Recruiting in Writing

Have you ever really taken a look at Gopher recruiting over the last ten years? Like, really looked at it? I hadn't either until a friend pointed out some information to me that was like whatever the opposite of looking into the face of God is. Probably Nazi dude's face being melted by the Arc of the Covenant in 'Raiders of the Lost Arc' or any scene from the original 'Evil Dead.' Was very, very undank.

I'm not going to go class by class, because that would take forever; rather I'll be looking at the top 25 commits the Gophers have had in the Internet recruiting era and assessing their impact to the program. All data is from 247, so if you hate them, piss off. 

Let's begin!

25. Kerry Lewis, CB, Class of 2009, .8795 rating: Did not play a snap. Transferred in 2010.

24. Bryant Allen, WR, 2009, .8795: Caught 16 passes, including one TD. Transferred in 2011.

23. Lamonte Edwards, RB, 2010, .8813: After redshirting, played RB for three games before moving to LB. Made 25 total tackles before being dismissed from the team in 2013.

22. Hassan Lipscomb, RB, 2009, .8813: Never made it to campus, though I still occasionally ask when he'll be joining the team.

21. Seth Green, QB?, 2016, .8813: Played about five snaps so far after redshirting last season. TBD.

20. Matt Garin, DE, 2009, .8843: Recorded 18 total tackles in two seasons after redshirting. Left the program in 2013.

19. Vincent Hill, WR, 2008, .8854: Never played a snap, as far as I can tell. Transferred in 2009.

18. Blaise of Steel Andries, OT, 2017, .8857: Currently redshirting, but is a giant human with tremendous upside.

17. Ra'shede Hageman, TE, 2009, .8863: Hey, someone that was good! Was a monster at DT. Currently on the Falcons roster. EDIT: He was released last month. Huzzah (h/t @blakeruane)

16. Sam Maresh, LB, 2008, .8887: Had a heart condition that kept him out for a season. Came back, but never played a down before being transferring to JUCO in 2010.

15. Brandon Green, WR, 2008, .8938: Played four years with a medical redshirt in there due to some old-man knees. Caught 63 total passes with 4 TDs in his career.

14. Keanon Cooper, LB, 2008, .8969: Played in 50 games for the Gophers, recording 257 tackles. Super nice guy, too.

13. Brandon Owens, S, 2003, .9000: Looked like a genuine star until having nerves ripped out of his spinal cord in a collision with Penn State QB Michael Robinson in 2005. Never played again.

12. David Pittman, QB, 2008, .9000: Nominally played in two seasons, playing in four games, completing one pass for 75 yards.

11. Paris Hamilton, WR, 2003, .9000: Four catches for 198 yards and two TDs in 2004, the only season he played for the team.

10. Traye Simmons, CB, 2008, .9000: Had a very productive two years at cornerback. Got a couple of cups of coffee in the NFL.

9. Jimmy Gjere, OT, 2010, .9072: After redshirting, started five games at RT before a concussion. Left football  in 2012.

8. Michael Carter, CB, 2009, .9127: After spending three years in the Kill doghouse, had a very productive senior season with that three-play series against Purdue, with two PBUs and an interception that left me with chub.

7. Moses Alipate, QB, 2009, .9134: Was here all four years, never played a down. Helped kill NCAA Football video games by joining the O'Bannon lawsuit. Unforgivable.

6. MarQueis Gray, QB, 2008, .9143: The great hope of the program. Split time between QB, where he was okay, and WR, where he was pretty good. Currently TE for the Dolphins.

5. Alex Daniels, ATH, 2005, .9222: Played a few different positions, standing out at DE before being charged in the 2006 sexual assault case. Transferred after the 2006 season.

4. Clint Brewster, QB, 2007, .9301: Almost certainly benefited from MY DAD RECRUITED VINCE YOUNG rating inflation, but here we are. Never played a down. Left before the 2007 season even started.

3. Hayo Carpenter, WR, 2009, .9444: LOL. The greatest lie the devil ever told was that Hayo was fast. Did nothing of any consequence except get caught from behind by a Wisconsin DT. Remarkable.

2. Carter Coughlin, LB, 2016, .9528: Love him. Holds the line at DE but expect him to shine in his final two seasons when he returns to OLB.

1. Jeff Jones, RB, 2014, .9689: Sigh. Such incredibly high expectations. Such a sad story. Had a brief run at RB before being switched to WR and then S. Left the team in 2016.

That was fun, right?! Feel free to step away and drink some bleach. I'll still be here.

So, of the top 25 Gopher commits, most of whom joined the program in the last ten years, about half never made a meaningful contribution to the program and only two, maybe three if you count BPT, have spent more than a thermos worth of coffee in the NFL. Half of our top ten recruits are absolute flame outs, FFS.

Suffice it to say, this is one of the major reasons we haven't broken through the 8/9-win barrier in the last decade. We don't get much in the way of 4-stars in these parts and, unfortunately, when we do, in more cases than not they provide no value to the team in absolutely spectacular fashion. I suspect it's because we're taking highly-ranked dudes that are borderline with the elite programs given academics, attitude and behavioral issues. So they become paper profits and when it's time to cash them in, you see they left the program two years ago.

It's something that's going to have to change if we ever want to take the next step. Fleck has talked about upping the recruiting game, which is certainly important; perhaps more important, though is retaining those higher-ranked guys we actually do get and, in the case of HAYOOOO, making sure the recruit didn't up the speed of his game tape by 10x to make him look like Usain Bolt.

It'll be worth watching to see what sort of player attrition we see following the season. I'd anticipate it'll be some of the culture apostates who just don't jibe with Fleck for one reason or another. It will be more concerning if we see guys rated in the top ten of the 2017 recruiting class bombing out or jumping ship.

So I guess what I'm saying is, don't drink all the bleach yet.

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