Recruits Committing to Fleck and Gophers Early Before Seats on Boat are Gone

Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck talks to his team at football practice in Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex in Minneapolis on Thursday, March 23, 2017. (Jean Pieri / Pioneer Press)

Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck talks to his team at football practice in Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex in Minneapolis on Thursday, March 23, 2017. (Jean Pieri / Pioneer Press)



It was a big weekend for P.J. Fleck and the Minnesota Gopher Football team. With such a big weekend and a lack of local sports topics, I’m a little surprised at the small amount of coverage it had with the major local outlets. Nonetheless, Five 2019 football prospects committed to “Row the Boat” and they are all on defense. The commitments landed the Gophers’ 2019 class in the top-20 nationally. This is impressive but it’s early and we will likely see that ranking fall when all is said and done for the 2019 class. Still, it’s a feat that not many Minnesota coaches have ever claimed, no matter how early in the recruiting season.

Here are the 5 commitments:

Find the details listed in these graphics and all other details on these recruits and others at GopherIllustrated.com

Solomon Brown is the last recruit listed here and the final one to commit on the weekend. He is a rising defensive back who likes to step up in the box and hit people. He seems like a natural guy to develop quickly into a good inside (nickel) defensive back, potentially landing him playing time early. As noted in the Instagram graphic above, 247Sports rates Brown as a .8418. That’s a solid 3-star recruit and someone who, just 3 or 4 years ago, would have easily landed himself near the top of the Minnesota recruiting pyramid.

In fact, if this were the 2014 or 2015 class, Solomon Brown would rank 8th out of the 22 and 24 recruits, respectively. You don’t even have to go that far back, though. In the last recruiting class of the Kill/Claeys era (2017), Solomon Brown would have landed 7th out of 25. In other words, the current high school Junior out of Florida wouldn’t have had to worry about his spot on a Minnesota Gophers roster. His seat would’ve been saved.

Fast forward to the 2019 class with Fleck recruiting, and he told GopherIllustrated.com a much different story on his urgency to jump on board the Minnesota Gopher boat:

“I felt that after talking to my parents about the decision, it’d be in my best interest to secure my spot and commit to Minnesota,” Brown said. “I had a 10/10 experience and would be very hurt if my scholarship spot was taken because I hadn’t taken advantage of the opportunity, so I pulled the trigger on the Gophers. I’m done with visits and camps elsewhere now, but of course schools are going to still try and recruit me, but I’m going to be firm to Minnesota. I want Gopher fans to know they’re going to be getting some Florida speed and I want to make history at Minnesota!”

Clearly, Solomon didn’t see a spot on Fleck’s boat being saved for him. It was “If you move it, you may lose it”.

Recruits who used to be “no-brainer” scholarships can no-longer feel so safe. And the pattern of commitments from the weekend shows that in even more detail. All of the commits over the visiting weekend were players that sat in the .8200 – .8600 in the 247Sports ranking system. These players need to be the foundation to Fleck’s current recruiting classes. These are the guys that will make up most of his classes. He will need to secure and then nurture these guys to be the best players they can be.

Once the foundation is secure, you can build the beautiful part of the house. This is the part that will make the headlines and bring people to see it. Fleck can now reach for the stars and hope to hit with some of his higher targets. But the foundation is now laid, and it’s a foundation that has gotten better and better every year, so far under his tenure.

Here are some of the top-target guys he is looking at right now. Jirehl Brock seems to be at the top of that list currently.

From what I can see, Fleck has about 10 scholarships left and may have just saved one by getting a “Preferred Walk-On” commitment at the much-needed Punter position. If you include who you see above with some of the others Fleck is after, the urgency for guys like Solomon and the others who committed this weekend is clear.

Get in the boat and grab an oar before someone else does.

Late last season was when Fleck scooped up his best recruits as he snagged two offensive lineman (Daniele Faalele and Curtis Dunlap) who ranked at the top of his 2018 class and are expected to produce immediately this season. I’d expect he has some of those same tricks up his sleeve to do the same this season. He’s already secured his highest ranked recruit for MN in the 2019 class.

But, now that Fleck has built his base and solidified his class with the foundation it needs, I’m expecting fireworks to finish. Fleck has the commitments he needs to confidently move on to targets that will push his class into places Minnesota has never gone.

The Top 25.

In order to do that for 2019, Fleck will need some real bombshells over the next few months and possibly longer. But with Fleck, if he doesn’t end in the recruiting top-25 this season, it will be soon after. It’s just a matter of time…

Eric Strack
MinnesotaSportsFan.com @RealMNSportsFan