Brewster’s recruits rank among the best

No words needed to be spoken by Minnesota head football coach Tim Brewster after all of the 31 players signed on the dotted line and the official 2008 recruiting class was unveiled.

The wonder and spectacle that comes from a recruiting ranking of No. 17 in the nation by Rivals.com, just months after finishing a 1-11 season, now leaves little question about the recruiting ability of Brewster.

On college football’s national signing day Wednesday, Brewster stepped to the podium in the Bierman Athletic Complex for the first time since early November; first saying he was humbled by the difficulties and challenges ahead, but also proclaiming extreme satisfaction about what he and his staff accomplished through the third-ranked recruiting class in the Big Ten.

“Recruiting is about results, it’s not about hard work,” Brewster said. “There are a lot of guys that go out and work hard, but there are not a lot of guys that get results.”

The results that Brewster is refering to can be seen through the staggering rate of recruits that signed with Minnesota after taking official visits. The Gophers officially invited 45 players to visit Minnesota over the past year, and 31 chose to sign.

That calculates out to a rate of 72 percent, numbers that Brewster said are higher than his days as recruiting coordinator at both Texas and North Carolina.

Brewster’s first official recruiting class is also laced with players from 16 different states around the country, including five from Minnesota and five from Texas.

“This class is phenomenal,” national recruiting adviser for CSTV Tom Lemming said of the Gophers’ new recruits. “I believe Tim (Brewster) is one of the top 10 recruiters I’ve ever seen, and he’s showing why in this class.”

Common characteristics that Brewster said he looked for in his new recruits were toughness, love of the game and versatility.

But the overall talent upgrade this class holds also helps bring Minnesota up from the Rivals.com national ranking of 54 that it averaged from 2002-2007 to the No. 17 national ranking it holds today.

“I’ve been covering recruiting for over 30 years and this is by far the best class Minnesota has ever signed and may be the best ever in school history,” Lemming said.

Key offensive additions

Undoubtedly the most important signing of this Gophers class, and what could be team history, is seen in quarterback MarQueis Gray of Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis.

Gray should fit perfectly into Minnesota’s spread offense, and is ranked as both a four-star prospect and the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the nation by Rivals.com.

“MarQuies is a very special talent,” Brewster said. “He’s incredibly dynamic.”

Another quarterback who Brewster said will add to the competition for projected starter Adam Weber is junior college transfer David Pittman, who is another four-star player with abilities to play anywhere on the field.

The Gophers also finished with the No. 1 wide receivers recruiting class in the Big Ten. This was accomplished through four-star speedy receiver Brandon Green, four-star prep-school recruit Vince Hill and 6-foot-3-inch wide-out Brodrick Smith.

Minnesota added to its running-back depth by picking up a trio of three-star running backs in Kevin Whaley, DeLeon Eskridge and St. Paul native Shady Salamon.

Key defensive additions

After finishing 119th in the nation in overall defense, it’s no secret that the defensive side of the ball was an important area to address in recruiting.

The most crucial recruit in Brewster’s eyes is middle linebacker Sam Maresh of Champlin, Minn. Brewster alluded to Maresh as everything he wants in a defensive player, and the most likely candidate to carry the flag out of the tunnel during the first game at TCF Bank Stadium.

The secondary was an area in need of immense improvement, and the Gophers seemed to have filled it with a pair of four-stars in safety Keanon Cooper of Dallas and junior college cornerback Traye Simmons.

Other key additions to the secondary that could see early playing time are three-star recruits Tim Dandridge, Simoni Lawrence and Tramaine Brock.

Brewster also picked up a couple of 300-plus pound three-star defensive linemen to clog the middle in highly-recruited Jewhan Edwards of Philadelphia and junior college transfer Tim McGee.

Quote-worthy

“Recruiting is just one step of this process,” Brewster said. “Now we’ll take it to the field and coach the heck out of these kids. We’ll take it to the fall and continue to practice and prepare, and then we’ll go win football games. These recruits want to be a part of what we’re doing here, and that’s very evident today.”