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Ranking Gophers football’s in-state recruits under P.J. Fleck

The Gophers have put 22 in-state high school football players on scholarship since head coach P.J. Fleck’s tenure started in 2017

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Minnesota Gophers defensive lineman Boye Mafe (34) nearly bats down Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan (17) pass in the first quarter of an NCAA football game at TCF Stadium in Minneapolis on Nov. 30, 2019.
John Autey/St. Paul Pioneer Press
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The Gophers have put 22 in-state high school football players on scholarship since head coach P.J. Fleck’s tenure started in 2017. Pioneer Press beat reporter Andy Greder ranks them in a variety of categories.

Seven Minnesotans who have had the best careers in maroon and gold:

1. Boye Mafe — The sixth-rated in-state recruit in the 2017 class developed into a menacing edge pass rusher at the U and was selected 40th overall by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2022 NFL draft. In his first month on the job, Fleck went into Hopkins High School and won this recruiting battle over former U coach Jerry Kill, who was then Rutgers’ offensive coordinator.

2. Blaise Andries — The big offensive lineman from Marshall was the top recruit in the 2017 class. Fleck honored every in-state recruit’s commitment to Tracy Claeys, and this is the one that paid off the most. Andries started 46 games at Minnesota and was an undrafted free agent signing by the Miami Dolphins last month.

3. Brevyn Spann-Ford — The 6-foot-7 tight end from St. Cloud was the No. 2-rated recruit in the 2018 class and has 28 receptions for 325 yards and thee touchdowns in 15 games at the U. He has big goals for his likely final season with the Gophers this fall.

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4. Quinn Carroll — An asterisk goes here. The Gophers lost out when the top-rated recruit in the 2019 class originally picked Notre Dame. But the road led home when the offensive lineman from Edina returned via the NCAA transfer portal after last season. He will plug in one of four vacancies up front in 2022, likely guard.

5. Nathan Boe — The ultimate glue guy. The offensive lineman from Lakeville North was the No. 6 in-state prospect in 2018 and has played in 18 games at the U. He slotted in at all five O-line positions in spring practices in 2022 and will be counted on if a starter goes down this fall.

6. Cole Kramer — The Eden Prairie quarterback was labeled the No. 5 in-state recruit in 2019 and has carved out a role as the U’s wildcat quarterback. While he is now the third-string QB behind Tanner Morgan and Athan Kaliamkanis, he had 36 carries for 165 yards rushing and two touchdowns in 2021.

7. Josh Aune — The St. Paul Highland Park product was the No. 5 recruit in 2018 and has played 20 games at linebacker at the U. He missed 2021 with an injury, but is back healthy for this fall.

Five players who left Minnesota for opportunities elsewhere:

1. Trey Lance — The No. 8 prospect in the 2018 class didn’t have a lot of suitors coming out of Marshall. He picked North Dakota State and blossomed there, becoming the No. 3 pick by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2021 NFL draft.

2. Jermaine Johnson — The 11th-rated in-state recruit in the ‘17 class started his nomadic journey at a Kansas JUCO before popping at Georgia and Florida State. The rise continued when the New York Jets took him with the 26th pick in the draft last month.

3. Jalen Suggs — While he was the second-rated football recruit in the 2020 class, he was destined to play basketball. After a one-and-done season at Gonzaga and being the fifth pick by the Orlando Magic in last year’s NBA draft, the St. Paul native said he established a great relationship with Fleck and theorized he would have been a Gopher — if only former men’s basketball coach coach Richard Pitino had recruited him harder.

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4. Lucas Heyer — Top prospect in the 2022 class, an O-lineman via Hill-Murray, picked Stanford.

5. Riley Mahlman — Top recruit in 2021, an O-lineman from Lakeville South, went to Wisconsin.

Three up-and-comers who stayed home and will be counted on at the U in the near future:

1. Logan Richter — No. 4 recruit in the 2019 class has taken a few years to develop, but the massive Parham native appears ready to be a role player at nose tackle this fall.

2. Danny Striggow — No. 8 prospect in the 2020 class via Orono has been climbing the depth chart at defensive end and has been contributing on special teams.

3. Cody Lindenberg — No. 10 recruit in the 2020 class played as a true freshman during the wonky COVID year and the Anoka product should get some time this fall after missing 2021 with an injury.

Three youngsters likely to carry the torch for the Gophers down the road:

1. Deven Eastern — No. 4 recruit in 2021 from Shakopee was rotating in at defensive tackle in spring practices.

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2. Trey Bixby — No. 2 prospect in the 2022 class is 100 percent after some health issues at Eden Prairie; the four-star D-lineman will enroll at the U in June.

3. Kristen Hoskins — At No. 5 in the 2022 class, the speedy athlete from Alexandria could run past Big Ten opponents — if his size (5 foot 9 and 160 pounds) doesn’t limit his ceiling.

Note: In-state recruiting rankings from 247sports.com’s composite lists.

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This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

Related Topics: MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS
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