Gophers receive verbal from Missouri defensive lineman

David McCoy

Minnesota’s football team landed a verbal commitment from defensive end Willie Dyson after the Kirkwood, Mo., native met with Gophers’ coach Glen Mason on Sunday morning.

Willie Dyson made his official visit to Minnesota two weekends ago when the Gophers played host to the Badgers on Oct. 15.

Willie Dyson liked what he saw, and Mason asked him to commit then. Willie Dyson said he wouldn’t give his pledge until his father had the opportunity to give his approval.

“Me and my dad are pretty close,” Willie Dyson said.

The Dysons paid their own way for the second trip to Minnesota on Saturday. They watched the Ohio State game, took a tour and then met with Mason at 10 a.m. on Sunday.

Willie Dyson is ranked as the 21st-best player in Missouri by Rivals.com. At 6 foot 3 inches and 220 pounds, he is rather undersized for a defensive end. He makes up for his size disadvantage with his 4.67-second 40-yard dash speed.

He could be compared to current Gophers’ freshman defensive end Steve Davis, who is also undersized but has five sacks. Davis, a St. Louis native, was actually Willie Dyson’s host.

“It’s a big motivation,” Willie Dyson said. “I’m about the same size as he is. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but if I work hard, who knows.”

Willie Dyson said he received interest from Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas State and originally favored playing for the Hawkeyes.

In June, he went to Iowa’s camp but was told he wasn’t the guy the program wanted to make an offer to.

Minnesota was the first and only school to offer Willie Dyson a scholarship.

He said Minnesota originally sent him an offer in June, but he never got the letter. He said he realized about a month and a half ago the Gophers had made their offer.

Willie Dyson said he and his father were drawn to Minnesota’s strong emphasis on academics. They were pleased by the fact that the top priority on Mason’s mission statement was graduation.

Ken Dyson, Willie’s father, said he was “impressed a lot” by the photos of Minnesota’s football teams’ graduating classes in the hallway to Mason’s office.

Willie Dyson said he wants to work with children, possibly as a teacher or through a career in medicine.

“Like my dad says, ‘football doesn’t last forever,’ ” Willie Dyson said. “But that degree will take you as far as you need to go. I don’t know how far my football career’s going to go, but as long as I can get a degree from there, that would be good.”