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Editorial Cartoon: Peace in Gaza
Editorial Cartoon: Peace in Gaza
Published April 19, 2024

Minn. looking forward to talented recruits, most to arrive this summer

This fall the Gophers won’t look much like the team that took the field during the spring.

With spring practice and the spring game now in the past, the Minnesota football team is in a waiting period until official summer workouts begin.

Although the Gophers still feature many of the same players that took part in the program-worst 1-11 season of 2007, the spring game showed promise of an improved defense, consistency at quarterback and depth at offensive line.

But many areas of the offense still showed weaknesses during the spring game, which could be fixed when the full 31 incoming nationally ranked recruits arrive this June for summer camp.

Four of the recruits were already with Minnesota in spring practice: junior college transfers safety Tramaine Brock, linebacker Rex Sharpe, athlete David Pittman and Notre Dame transfer Matt Carufel – who will sit out next season due to transfer rules.

Pittman, whom head coach Tim Brewster praised for his athletic ability at multiple positions and the excitement he will bring to Gophers fans, was sidelined at the spring game because of a minor leg injury the prior day.

With only three new players featured in the game, one of which will not play in 2008, Minnesota displayed a similar team as the one that went 1-11 last season.

But Gophers fans should not expect to see that same product on the field when the team opens its season on Aug. 30 at home against Northern Illinois.

Twenty-seven more high school and junior college recruits – which ranked No. 17 in the nation by Rivals.com – will join Minnesota in June for the start of summer practice and many could see the field early in 2008.

“Coach Brewster has brought in a good class, and if there’s guys that can come in and help us win right now, I’m all for it,” sophomore quarterback Adam Weber said. “Let’s get them here as soon as we can.”

It was easy to see the need for more talent at the receiver position during the spring game, as Minnesota amassed only 120 yards in the air.

Eric Decker, who will be returning from a stint with the Gophers’ baseball team, will help provide depth, talent and a veteran presence at an otherwise young position.

Sophomores Ralph Spry and Trey Herndon, who each played in the spring game, should continue to see the field in 2008, but other than that Minnesota could feature as many as four incoming freshman that receive significant playing time at receiver in 2008.

“Receiver-wise, it is what it is right now,” Brewster said. “We’ve got some really talented kids coming in June and those young kids are going to have to play next season. They are going to have to help us, and they will because they are outstanding players.”

Most notably is four-star speedy receiver Brandon Green, four-star 190 pound Vince Hill II, 6-foot, 3-inch, 200 pound Brodrick Smith and 6-foot, 3-inch Xzavian Brandon.

Add in Pittman, who could also see time at wide receiver, quarterback and even running back, and the Gophers will have an influx of new targets on the outside for Weber.

Although sophomore running back Duane Bennett has all-but locked up the starting spot in 2008, three three-star incoming freshman – Cretin Derham-Hall’s Shady Salamon, Kevin Whaley from Virginia and Deleon Eskridge from California – will give him steady competition.

“We are very thin at the receiver position and very thin at running back, but Duane Bennett showed some very good things,” Brewster said after the spring game.

Questionably the highest profile recruit in the class of 2008 for the Gophers was quarterback MarQuies Gray, who attended this year’s spring game and will arrive for camp in June.

Although the four-star All-American quarterback will most likely red-shirt next season and learn from Weber, the presence of another talented quarterback on the team will do nothing but elevate Weber’s game.

“We are pretty far behind in practice, but that is what fall camp and the summer is for,” Weber said. “We are going to continue getting better and when Aug. 30 comes around; we are going to be a pretty good team.”

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