PJ Fleck’s Plundering of Illinois Continues; Latest 4-Star Commit Pushes Gophers’ 2021 Class into Top-5 Nationally

Naperville Central quarterback Sam Jackson throws the ball during the Red Grange Classic 7-on-7 football tournament at Wheaton Warrenville South High School on June 28. — Sandy Bressner - [email protected]

Following PJ Fleck’s virtual recruiting trail for the 2021 class is like living in a dream that you don’t want to wake up from. Sam Jackson is actually a previous commit. He put down his oar momentarily, before realizing there’s nowhere he’d rather be than the University of Minnesota.

Can you blame him? All of his Illinois friends are rowing their boats up the Mississippi…. and more could be on the way. Sam makes twelve commits for the Gophers’ 2021 class, four of them heading from IL. Minnesota and Ohio both trail with two commits each.

For Jackson, the only question now…. is what position he will play. He was a quarterback in high school but most project him as a WR in college and that’s what his 4-star rating is mostly based from. Athan Kaliakmanis (also from IL) has been all but dubbed the QB of the 2021 class already… but Jackson doesn’t seem like one to give up easily. Look at this kid…

The highlights are one thing… but I’ve seen some hint about a completion percentage that could be <50%…. Obviously, that will have to vastly improve if he is going to continue throwing footballs, instead of catching them, at the next level. No matter where he plays though, the Gophers are lucky to have him.

Now, back to PJ Fleck taking over the state of Illinois… and Lovie Smith’s nightmares. According to Ryan Burns of GopherIllustrated.com, PJ has commitments from 247 Sports’ #5, #9, #20, and #27 ranked football players in that state.

Burns says the Gophers are also “in the thick of it” with seven other Illini-based recruits, who are ranked anywhere between #3 and #26, locally. That includes Mar’Keise Irving; an ELECTRIC running back, who Jackson is VERY close with and has openly talked about playing next to in college.

After the Jackson commit this morning, I’d have to make Minnesota the favorite to land Irving too. Even without him yet in the boat, the 2021 Minnesota class now ranks top-5 in the nation and #2 in the Big Ten (according to 247Sports.com), passing Wisconsin today, and now sitting behind only Ohio State… who happens to lead the entire country.

We still have a lot of time yet in this recruiting class, too. Minnesota is the cool place to commit right now. Yes…. I just typed that. Others around the Big Ten and nation are shooketh… especially in Illinois. If you aren’t a subscriber yet at 247Sports.com, I’d recommend changing that just to read this board from their Illinois affiliate. You can probably get a free or discounted subscription to start.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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