Carter Coughlin Shows His Love for MN; We Show Our Love for Legendary 2016 MN Recruiting Class

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Good morning Gopher family! With smiles on our faces and bragging rights in our pockets, we’re all walking back into work today watching all of the postgame videos and reading all of the articles we can find on our historic victory yesterday over Auburn, just trying to hold onto this feeling for a little bit longer. Carter Coughlin is no different except… he’s the reason it happened.

Before P. Jesus Fleck came to Minnesota and rose this program from the ashes it had laid in for 60 years, Carter Coughlin led a massive class of ELITE Minnesota High School Seniors who acted as “John the Baptist” did in the bible,  preparing the state of Minnesota for the moment their savior would arrive. The commitment this 2016 MN recruiting class made, to make Minnesota Football great again, hasn’t been mentioned nearly enough…. even though it’s incredibly unheard of in recent years.

Let’s take a closer look. Here is the commitment list for the Gophers back in 2016, from the home state of Minnesota (via 247Sports.com):

  1. Carter Coughlin (#1 – MN) | 4-Star OLB (.9566) | Eden Praire, MN
  2. Seth Greene (#62 – TX) | 3-Star ATH (.8813) | East Ridge, MN (thru JR yr)
  3. Tyler Johnson (#5 – MN) | 3-Star ATH (.8643) | Minneapolis North, MN
  4. Sam Schlueter (#6 – MN) | 3-Star OL (.8603) | Mayor, MN
  5. Kamal Martin (#7 – MN) | 3-Star ATH (.8518) | Burnsville, MN
  6. Phillip Howard (#8 – MN) | 3-Star ATH (.8509) | Robbinsdale Cooper, MN
  7. Drew Hmielewski (#9 – MN) | 3-Star WR (.8470) | Marshall, MN
  8. Conner Olson (#11 – MN) | 3-Star OG (.8441) | Monticello, MN
  9. Thomas Barber (#12 – MN) | 3-Star ILB (.8425) | Robbinsdale Armstrong, MN
  10. Antoine Winfield Jr. (#162 – TX) | 3-Star S (.8285) | From MN – Played HS at “The Woodlands”, TX

This list is so incredible. Almost everyone on here blew up their recruiting profile. Carter Coughlin was the only recruit who had the stars to go with the production he ended up providing throughout his career. Tyler Johnson became one of the best receivers in the nation and broke just about every school receiving record imaginable. Kamal Martin and Thomas Barber will both be NFL linebackers, along with Carter (LB or DE). Conner Olson and Sam Schlueter ended up being the veteran presence that was badly needed in order to raise a young, but incredibly talented, offensive line over the last couple of years.

Obviously Seth Greene has been invaluable in the Wildcat game, the Gophers have relied on for many stretches over the last couple of seasons, in short yardage scenarios. His time isn’t up yet either. We’ll see what role he plays next year, now that Tyler Johson is out of the WR picture. Obviously, nobody is going to forget about Antoine Winfield Jr, who struggled with injuries throughout the last four years, but was by far the biggest playmaker on the field, when he was able to go. He still has two years of eligibility but I’d be surprised to see him return, given the NFL opportunities presenting themselves to him, after this season.

Phillip Howard struggled to find a position, between WR and DB once he got onto campus but either way, he was on the field for a lot of his time here and definitely contributed greatly to where the program is now. His unselfishness was apparent as the staff struggled to find what worked best with his abilities. I’m not sure exactly why Drew Hmielewski left the football program after the 2018 season but he definitely contributed while he was here and his career as a student athlete wasn’t over at that point. He still plays Outfield for the Minnesota Gopher baseball team and has two years of eligibility remaining.

Let’s not forget, either, that this 2016 class went through some serious controversy, involving an alleged sexual assault that engulfed the program in 2017 and got the coaching staff that they committed to, fired. But thanks to their incredible dedication and love for this state and school (plus the arrival of P. Jesus), they all stayed… thank god/aliens.

So, as we enter into a new future of Minnesota Gopher football under PJ Fleck, the sky is the limit. Our future is much brighter than the last 60 years of our past BUT we as fans can never forget, nor will we, what this 2016 class meant to the turnaround. For that, I think I speak for all of Gopher Nation when I say, “Thank You”.

Because before there was PJ Fleck… there was the 2016 MN recruiting class.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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