Mason ‘feels good’ about Gophers recruiting class

by Anthony Maggio

Minnesota football coach Glen Mason revealed the incoming freshmen who have signed national letters of intent at a press conference Wednesday.

Mason announced 24 signees – 23 high school students and one junior college transfer – slated to join the Gophers next season.

“I feel good about this class,” Mason said. “The perception out there by the so-called experts is that we had a good recruiting year.”

Minnesota landed eight in-state players with seven more coming from Ohio. The remainder came from all over the country, including Florida, Texas, Georgia, North Dakota, California, Illinois, Missouri, and Michigan.

By position, the Gophers signed one kicker, five defensive linemen, three linebackers, two defensive backs, one quarterback, five offensive linemen, two tight ends, three wide receivers and two running backs.

Headlining the class is Shaker Heights, Ohio, native Greg Pruitt, Jr.

Pruitt is a 5-foot-10, 190-pound running back who also played defense and returned kicks in high school.

During his high school career, Pruitt earned four letters while leading his team to a 37-7 record.

In his senior campaign, Pruitt averaged 9.2 yards per carry and 13.3 yards per catch while amassing 2,014 all-purpose yards.

On defense, the All-American recorded 45 tackles and six pass breakups.

“He’s impressive both ways,” Mason said. “I’m not sure which way I liked him better.”

But Mason added: “We’re going to put him at running back.”

Also high on Mason’s list of recruits is offensive lineman Greg Eslinger.

The Bismark, N.D., native was named AAA State Player of the Year in his senior season. Eslinger is currently listed as an offensive guard, but Mason called him a natural center.

“He has great natural leverage,” Mason said. “He reminds me of (former Minnesota center) Ben Hamilton.”

Mason would not compare this year’s recruiting class with his previous five. He said any predictions would only be guesses anyway, pointing to Marion Barber III and Bradley Vance as examples.

“There was no one jumping up and down last year about those two young men,” Mason said. “I’m jumping up and down about them now. I could not have predicted that.”

Mason believes recruiting has gotten easier since he came to Minnesota in 1997 due to a change in perception.

“(Perception) has changed locally and more on a national scale,” Mason said. “The thought that you can’t win at Minnesota has been taken out.”

Anthony Maggio welcomes comments at [email protected]