Gophers get valuable opportunity to recruit Texas

Minnesota is going back to the Texas Bowl for the second straight season.

Minnesota running back David Cobb protects the ball from Western Illinois on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, at TCF Bank Stadium.

Daily File Photo, Amanda Snyder

Minnesota running back David Cobb protects the ball from Western Illinois on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, at TCF Bank Stadium.

Nate Gotlieb

On Dec. 27, the Gophers have an opportunity to win their first bowl game since 2004 when they travel to Houston to battle Syracuse in the Texas Bowl.

The weekend also gives Minnesota the chance to gain a recruiting edge in Texas, one of the most prolific high school football states in the nation.

In the class of 2014, 12 of the top 100 recruits hail from the state of Texas, according to Rivals.com. And the Gophers’ presence in Texas for the second straight year could benefit the team.

“It’s great for us in recruiting,” said head coach Jerry Kill.

The Gophers currently have 12 Texans on their roster and have received commitments from class of 2014 recruits Connor Mayes and Everett Williams.

Mayes, a Van Alstyne, Texas, native, is a three-star recruit and the 10th-rated center in his class, according to Rivals.

Mayes stands 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 320 pounds. He helped Van Alstyne High School to a 7-5 record this season. His older brother Alex is a freshman offensive lineman for the Gophers.

Williams, a Mansfield, Texas, native, is a two-star recruit, according to Rivals. He’s a 6-foot-2-inch, 220-pound linebacker who recorded 10 sacks for Mansfield High School this season.

Several other Texans are also considering the Gophers, according to ESPN.

Syracuse, Minnesota’s bowl opponent, draws less heavily from Texas. The Orange has just one Texan on its roster.

Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer indicated that he’ll be focusing more on the game than recruiting while in Houston.

“[Those] people in Texas are probably staying in Texas,” he said. “Those coaches try to keep their kids in Texas if they can.”

Notes

– Kill was one of five Division I coaches selected as a 2013 Regional Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association. Kill earned the Region 3 honor and was the only Division I coach with a program outside the top 10 to receive the award.

– Minnesota will wear white helmets with maroon caging and a maroon stripe down the center during the bowl game. The helmets have the phrase “Brick by Brick” written on the back.

– Gophers junior running back David Cobb is from Killeen, Texas, a city about 200 miles from Houston. He said it’ll be fun to play in front of the home crowd after a breakout season.

– Minnesota hasn’t yet announced when student ticket packages will be available. The University will give priority to students who purchased season tickets, according to an athletics department email sent Sunday.

– While many experts speculated that the Gophers would face Texas Tech in a bowl for a second straight year, the Red Raiders will instead play No. 16 Arizona State in the National University Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30.

 

Jack Satzinger contributed to this report.