PJ Fleck, Gophers Get First 2022 Commit… and It’s a Big One.

Photo: 247Sports.com

We desperately needed some good news as Minnesota Gophers football fans and we finally got it this afternoon with the first commit to the 2022 class. PJ Fleck and Co. couldn’t have gotten a much better start to the new recruiting class than what they got with DE, Trey Bixby.

Bixby is a huge (6’5″, 245lb) Junior-to-be and already has impressed a lot of scouts with what he has been able to do at the varsity level at such a young age. Allen Trieu of 247Sports.com is one of those scouts. He was impressed to see Trey start at such a prestigious high school (St. Edwards – Ohio), then put up the numbers he did.

To add to that, for me, being in the Midwest and having additional context, a sophomore starting at St. Eds alone is somewhat rare and then to have the impact he did is very notable when considering his ranking. When you watch his film, they are playing top teams with Division 1 guys across the line of scrimmage in almost every clip. 75 tackles, 13 hurries, 3.5 sacks, etc. against that schedule as a sophomore is very good.

Allen Trieu – 247Sports.com

The Start the 2022 Recruiting Class Needed

This is exactly how PJ needed to start the 2022 class…. with a BANG! You have to love the long note that Bixby delivered with his commitment. It was cool he took the time to thank all of those people personally.

And you can’t get anywhere in life without a little bit of petty. Everyone needs some petty to drive them. I know better than anyone.

Impressive Tape

What I really like, though… is his tape. It’s obviously the first time I’ve ever seen Trey Bixby play and one of the first times I’ve ever heard of him, period. However, it doesn’t take long to see what makes him stick out.

His first handful of clips aren’t showing monster hits on QB’s or him blowing by offensive tackles. No, his first highlights show patience. He’s holding down the weak side of a play, he’s not getting burnt on counters, he’s not rushing too far up the field and he’s even sniffing out screens.

You can find film on all kinds of athletic freaks that have highlights of them destroying 17 year-old QB’s… but not everyone has the smarts of Trey Bixby. Not everyone is smart enough to include it in their highlight reel.

In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if Trey ends up on the inside of the line as he gets older and grows even more. If that were the transition, it seems as though he would shift inside quite nicely.

RTB Culture Wins Again

Trey also told 247Sports.com why he chose Minnesota and why he feels so good about his decision. Shocker… it’s PJ Fleck’s culture. He loves the openness and honesty displayed inside the program. He likes that Fleck allows players to speak their minds and unite around causes they support.

Like everyone who comes to play for PJ Fleck, Bixby is a smart kid who knows what he wants and what makes great players and even better humans. He’s excited to be a part of everything that is Minneapolis/St. Paul.

He mentioned the way the Minneapolis and St. Paul community came together after the protests and riots, was heartwarming and gave him a sense of togetherness that he hadn’t seen in a long time. He actually spent time with PJ Fleck and members of the Gophers, as they helped out throughout the community at that time.

Quote via 247Sports.com

“The culture of the football program and the community of the Minneapolis-St Paul area” were two items Trey opened with. “The opportunity to be so active and help in the community, the coaching staff embracing and encouraging players to speak freely or supporting various causes in the community all stood out to me.”

“I saw a community really rallying and uplifting each other during that time. Went to the George Floyd memorial site and we saw people of every race and ethnicity donating food and helping support each other. I felt a true sense of community for the first time since I was little,” Bixby explained as what stood out on the trip. “Just being there for one another, I saw a community that stood behind its members. I called Coach Fleck and Coach Wilt while we were in town and we had some very deep conversations on it. I also saw the player’s active in the marches as well. It was the support of the entire community, coaches and players included, that helped push me towards the decision of wanting to be a part of the program.”

Trey Bixby via 247Sports.com

Our Coach

I’ve said it before and I will say it again… PJ Fleck is the new-age coach that is needed to be successful. The structured freedom and family aspect of his program is unmatched. Those are things that today’s athletes take very seriously.

With PJ, that doesn’t come with a lot of off-the-field issues or players who are wanting to butt heads all the time. No, it’s about the freedom to be who you are and expecting your F.A.M.I.L.Y. members to love and support you, no matter what they believe.

That’s what family is all about. Today… we gained another family member and the first one to start off a fresh class of ELITE rowers.

**Note: Trey is the step-son of GopherIllustrated’s Kyle Goblirsch, who actually wrote the article quoted directly above. I don’t think a decommitment is in the foreseeable future (not that today’s futures are ever foreseeable).

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan