Minnesota’s football team announced Wednesday that 19 players signed national letters of intent to play for the Gophers next season.
The class is ranked 62nd nationally and ninth in the Big Ten by Rivals.com. Penn State, ranked sixth nationally, pulled in the conference’s top class.
Six of Minnesota’s recruits are from Minnesota, while four come from Ohio and three are from the St. Louis area. Nine states are represented; nine players are set to play offense, nine play defense and one is a kicker.
Two of those from the St. Louis area are defensive linemen. Minnesota signed four defensive linemen in this year’s class, more than any other position.
Coach Glen Mason said that is an indication of an area of need.
“We lost three starters off the defensive line from last year, and we weren’t really deep there to begin with,” Mason said. “So that was a big priority for us.”
Those linemen include Garret Brown (New Haven, Conn.), Sean McWhirter (Maple Plain), Willie Dyson (Ballwin, Mo.), and Robert McField from Normandy High School in St. Louis ” the same high school as freshly departed Gophers running back Laurence Maroney.
“What’s the best endorsement in any sale?” Mason asked. “A satisfied customer. Here’s a guy, Laurence Maroney, and all the sudden he’s made a name for himself. I’m sure that those things were conveyed to Robert and his family.”
Mason also added a kicker to shore up that troubled area, signing Armstrong (Brooklyn Park) High School’s Eric Ellestad.
Mason’s top recruit this year is Mounds View (Shoreview) quarterback Adam Weber, ranked by Scout.com as the nation’s 32nd best signal-caller.
To protect Weber in the future, Minnesota signed a trio of offensive linemen: Dominic Alford (Cleveland), D.J. Burris (Kenton, Ohio) and Bloomington Jefferson High School’s Andy Brinkhaus ” younger brother of current Gophers tackle Tony Brinkhaus.
Minnesota’s offensive line has been noted for paving the way to the NFL for several running backs, most recently the probable selection of Maroney.
Now Minnesota’s backfield will feature another St. Louis-area running back in E.J. Jones ” a 5-foot, 9-inch, 185-pounder who was the St. Louis Post Dispatch’s 2005 Greater Metro Player of the Year.
He’ll get competition from junior college transfer and Lakeville native Brylee Callender, ranked as the eighth-best junior college running back by College Football News.
The other incoming offensive players are running back Terrence Sherrer (Cincinnati) and wide receivers Ben Fischer (Wausau, Wis.) and Jamar Howard (Cincinnati).
Mason said he would have liked to get more defensive backs, but still signed two in Josh Robertson (Harrisburg, Pa.), and R.J. Buckner (Keller, Texas).
Rounding out the list of recruits is a trio of linebackers including Mike Wey (Oak Creek, Wis.), Lee Campbell (Naples, Fla.) and Tommy Becker (Wayzata).
Soccer inks eight
Minnesota’s soccer team announced Wednesday the signing of six players to national letters of intent for the 2006 season.
The class is highlighted by goalkeeper Chelsey Turner. Turner, a native of Rochester, was named Minnesota’s Class A Ms. Soccer in 2005 and is ranked as a national top 75 recruit by Soccer Buzz.
Coach Mikki Denney Wright also reeled in Minnesota’s Class AA Ms. Soccer, Dana Tripp, a defender from White Bear Lake. Tripp is ranked as a top 100 recruit .
The class also features top 100 recruits Kelly Wepking (Kenosha, Wis.), midfielder Sara Clancy (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), and forward/defender Jenny Green (Palatine, Ill.).
“This is a class of true champions,” Denney Wright said in a statement, “and our staff feels honored to have these young women as part of our program.”