Jerry Kill has done an amazing job with the Gophers this year. An 8-4 record corresponded by a 4-4 mark in the Big 10 exceeded everyone’s expectations, the future seems pretty bright, but a big concern does remain and that’s recruiting.
This past week, Kill landed three recruits. Alabama safety Khari Blasingame, JUCO linebacker Cody Poock, and Wisconsin offensive tackle Luke Rasmussen. While it’s nice to see recruits coming in, none of these guys holds more than a three-star value. To compete for a Big 10 title, Minnesota needs to land at least a few four and five-star recruits every year.
That statement above sounds obvious, but look at the teams at the top of the Big 10, each ranks at least in the top-50 nationwide in recruiting each year.
In years past, the Gophers have ranked towards the bottom of the Big 10 in recruiting and the previous coaches have never gotten the team more than nine wins in a season with the players they recruited.
Recruiting could end up being Kill’s best friend or become his biggest problem. I do believe that he is a far better coach than Tim Brewster or Glen Mason, but the quality of players in the Big 10 are among the best in the country and solid coaching with average Big 10 players might not be enough to get the Gophers a Big 10 title. They need a few showstoppers.
It’s not easy to get the best to commit to Minnesota. The practice facilities are among the worst in the country, and the prestige of other teams in the conference such as Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Penn State draw in the biggest recruits.
One has to wonder if Kill can land big time recruits or not. If he fails to only land two and three-star recruits, can the team compete or will they be over-matched by the best in the Big 10?
The latter seems to be the route for the Gophers, who struggle against the Big 10′s best and have failed to reach a major bowl in many years.
I am confident that the Gophers team we see now can win nine games in the coming years, but getting to the 10, 11 and 12 win mark while playing in the Big 10 starts by putting some big time recruits on the field. Look at guys like Braxton Miller, Ohio State’s quarterback and five-star recruit coming out of high school. That caliber of player alone has the ability to put any team in the BCS talks.
In order to evaluate Kill, is settling for nine wins a season enough, or should the Gophers strive for more?