The football season has been an ugly one for first-year Gophers coach Jerry Kill.
As for Kill's recruiting year to this point, it has shown mixed results. And it's here that Kill needs to make a real killing if he hopes to get things turned around.
The positives have been getting commitments from a pair of nationally-recruited offensive linemen, mammoth tackle Jonah Pirsig of Blue Earth and athletic guard Isaac Hayes of St. Thomas Academy.
But the biggest get so far — at least when we look back on it in a year or two — may be the commitment Kill got from Mankato West star quarterback Philip Nelson. Nelson, who can run and pass, is smart, and has a strong arm and a quick release, could eventually be a four-year starter. He would seem to fit Kill's offense perfectly as a guy who can pass and run.
It would be interesting to see Nelson operating this offense right now. My gut tells me that with his accurate arm and ability to read defenses, as well as get out of the pocket, that Minnesota would be scoring more points than it is under first-year quarterback Marqueis Gray. I can't wait to see Nelson under center in no less than two years (probably a redshirt year next season).
While Kill has gotten commitments from three of the top Minnesota prep football players, he had the top in-state recruit get away from him. Wide receiver Andre McDonald (Hopkins) has committed to Vanderbilt. Kill is still waiting on the second-highest ranked Minnesota player, Eden Prairie offensive lineman Nick Davidson, and also another major talent, tight end Will Johnson of Osseo. Minnesota is on both of their lists, but so are a bunch of other colleges with football teams that are actually good.
Kill needs to get at least one of those two to make this recruiting class above average. He also needs to make a splash nationally, bringing in a highly-ranked player or two from outside of Minnesota. So far, there's nobody on his list of commitments from outside of our borders that is a head-turner.
There is still time ramp things up. But so far Kill's class of 21 verbal commitments is somewhat disappointing, except for having landed Nelson, Persig and Harris.
— Pat Ruff