Mason announces signing of 18 recruits

The class includes three players from Brookhaven High in Columbus, Ohio.

Aaron Blake

Minnesota football coach Glen Mason has a reputation as an Ohio high school football aficionado, and his recruiting classes have reflected that consistently during his tenure with the Gophers.

This year, however, he barely needed to set foot off the campus of Brookhaven High School in Columbus, Ohio, to get his yearly fix.

A trio of defensive recruits from Brookhaven that includes sought-after linebacker Alex Daniels headlines an 18-player recruiting class Mason announced Wednesday.

The class includes seven Minnesotans, five Ohioans and six players from six other states.

“We’re very pleased with this class, for the most part,” Mason said. “We met our needs across the board.

“I think we were able to blend size with speed. And, once again, we put a premium on athleticism.”

Mason, who seems to prefer sub-300-pound offensive linemen and started a 205-pound linebacker for the past two years, seems to have found some speed and athleticism in this class.

These things are surely strengths for Daniels. Rivals.com ranks the 6-foot-3-inch, 230-pounder as the 11th-best athlete in the nation, and he reportedly spurned offers from Ohio State and Oklahoma in favor of the Gophers.

The other two Brookhaven recruits – Dominic Jones and Keith Massey – look to shore up a Gophers secondary that has been maligned for years.

Mason said the defense, which is still without a coordinator for next season after the departure of Greg Hudson, was a priority.

“Let’s face it – I’ve made no bones about it – we need to play better defense,” Mason said. “We need to do a better job of coaching defense, and we need to get better players on defense.”

Mason said his next order of business is hiring a coordinator.

The other defensive players signed are defensive back Boyd Coleman of Marietta, Ga.; defensive end Steven Davis of St. Louis; defensive back Michael McKelton of Royal Palm Beach, Fla.; defensive lineman Matt Stommes of Richmond, Minn.; and linebacker Nathan Triplett of Maple Plain, Minn.

On offense, four linemen signed a year after the Gophers’ recruiting class included none.

The ten offensive players are wide receiver Mike Chambers of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio; wide receiver Eric Decker of Cold Spring, Minn.; offensive lineman Otis Hudson of Barrington, Ill.; quarterback Marcel Jones of Shakopee, Minn.; tight end Chris Mensen of Solon, Iowa; tight end Troy Reilly of Plover, Wis.; offensive lineman Ryan Ruckdashel of Apple Valley, Minn.; offensive lineman Jason Sekinger of Columbus; offensive lineman Nedward Tavale of St. Paul; and running back Jay Thomas of Oakdale, Minn.

Though kicker/punter Rhys Lloyd ran out of eligibility, there are no kickers or punters in the class. Mason said kickers Jason Giannini and Joel Monroe and punter Justin Kucek were groomed in practice last year to replace Lloyd.

Soccer signs class of 10

Minnesota’s soccer team announced the signing of 10 players to its 2005 recruiting class Wednesday.

Eight of the signees are from Minnesota, and the class includes two of the region’s top recruits.

Kelsey Hood, a midfielder from Ankeny, Iowa, and forward Elena Fruci from Mahtomedi, Minn., highlight the class.

“Kelsey is one of the most talented midfielders in the nation and is clearly one of the top recruits we have ever had here at Minnesota,” coach Mikki Denney Wright said in a release.

Hood chose Minnesota over Florida, Auburn, Kansas and West Virginia, who were all participants in the 2004 NCAA Tournament.

Fruci was named Minnesota’s Ms. Soccer in 2004 and was a two-time All-State selection while attending Mahtomedi High School.

“This is a great recruiting class,” Denney Wright said in the release. “Our fans will be excited to see this class compete next fall.”

The Gophers were 8-10 overall and finished 10th in the Big Ten last season, Denney Wright’s first as coach.