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2 Positions May Top U Recruiting List

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September 19, 2018


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P.J. Fleck has 24 verbal commits for his 2019 recruiting class, per 247Sports, and that could mean his work is all but done. Yet there still could be some big news before National Signing Day in December.

Speculation is the Golden Gophers head coach will hold back a scholarship offer or two to see what develops in the coming months. Recruiting authority Ryan Burns from Gopherillustrated.com will be watching. “Defensive back and offensive tackle look like the two positions that they really want to address with these…remaining spots,” Burns told Sports Headliners.

Defensive backs Omar Brown from Minneapolis North and Jalen Graham from Detroit interest the Gophers, Burns said. So, too, do offensive tackles Joacheim Price of Algonquin, Illinois and Hunter Poncius from Buffalo, Minn.

Burns said Price might be the most highly sought after among players Minnesota is evaluating for a possible final scholarship or two. Price has multiple Big Ten offers but unfortunately tore his ACL earlier this summer.

Burns reported that Gophers offensive line coach Brian Callahan scouted Poncius at his game last Friday night. The 6-foot-8, 255-pound Poncius has verbally committed to North Dakota State but National Signing Day isn’t until December 19.

Under NCAA rules, schools have a hard cap of 25 players that can be signed to scholarships in a single football recruiting class. In the fall of 2017 Fleck also had most of his recruiting class lined up but added two offensive linemen late. They were IMG Academy four-star recruits Curtis Dunlap Jr. and Daniel Faalele.

“It’s always interesting to see what P.J. Fleck does in November-December, when it’s time to really make sure those signatures (Letters of Intent) count,” Burns said. “…With P.J. Fleck and the way he’s able to make a great first impression on kids, I am not really counting anything out.”

If one or more players who have committed changes his verbal pledge, that will open up more scholarships for Fleck’s class of 2019 that currently is ranked No. 30 nationally in the 247Sports composite national rankings.

Ryan Burns

Right now Burns looks at the list of 24 verbal commits and believes four-star defensive lineman Jason Bargy from Momence, Illinois could be the “crown jewel” of the 2019 class. Burns said the 6-foot-4, 255-pound Bargy might not contribute immediately but the prep senior has the highest “ceiling” of any defensive lineman coming to Minnesota since the days of Ra’Shede Hageman who left the program after the 2013 season.

“You can’t teach that size, that athleticism, that speed (of Bargy), and Gopher fans have been searching for that elite pass rusher for quite some time,” Burns said. “Well, once Minnesota is able to get Jason Bargy in here, given a year or two…I think he has the impact to absolutely be an impact player.”

Overall, what has Burns upbeat about the Gophers 2019 class is that Minnesota is going after and winning recruiting battles against other Power Five conference programs. Examples are Texas prep players Jacob Clark and Nnamdi Adim-Madumere. Clark, a quarterback, was recruited “hard” by Iowa and TCU, Burns said. Wide receiver Adim-Madumere turned down Alabama and Texas A&M when he committed to Minnesota.

“…P.J. is winning some recruiting battles that the previous staff wouldn’t even entertain,” Burns said. “If they did entertain them, they wouldn’t win them.”

Worth Noting

Running back and Minnesota verbal commit Treyson Potts from Williamsport, Pennsylvania injured his ACL a year ago but is playing again and he excites Burns. A potential playmaker in multiple ways, Potts might be the successor to Rodney Smith returning kickoffs in 2019 or 2020. “He is extremely electric when he gets the ball in space,” Burns said.

Jornell Manns, a freshman wide receiver from the 2018 recruiting class, is being redshirted but he intrigues Burns who predicts a starting role next season. “That is my bold call. I think he starts over (current redshirt freshman) Demetrius Douglas.

“I think his skillset is very unique. He can be in the slot, (and) in high school he played running back. So you can have him potentially take some carries out of the backfield, but he is a very dynamic player when he gets the ball in space.”

In its bowl projections this week Collegefootballnews.com predicted the Gophers against USC in the December 31 San Francisco Bowl in Santa Clara.

Recent dining options for Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins include Jensen’s in Eagan and Murray’s downtown.

Head-scratcher: why is CBS sending its top NFL broadcast team of Jim Nantz and Tony Romo to Minneapolis for Sunday’s likely mismatch between the 0-2 Bills and 1-0-1 Vikings?

Superstitious: Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau drove the same route to Target Center last season when his team was on a winning streak.

Homecoming: The Minnesota United (versus Portland) will play at TCF Bank Stadium Saturday night in its first home game since August 4.

The United’s last regular season game at the Gophers’ football stadium will be October 22 and ticket sales are expected to go over 40,000 this week. TCF Bank Stadium has a capacity of more than 50,000 and the United is trying to set a new single match attendance record for Minnesota professional soccer.

A record announced attendance of 49,572 was established over 40 years ago at Met Stadium for a Kicks game. The Loons move into their new 20,000 capacity Allianz Field next year. See the promotion #50KToMidway.

Andrew Zimmern

No team in professional sports may eat better quality and tastier meals at its practice facility than the Minnesota Wild, now starting a second season being served by KZ Pro Visioning, the company founded by Minnesota culinary authorities Andrew Zimmern and Gavin Kaysen.

“We know that what you put in your body…is the most vital preventive there is. It’s also the most positive restorative there is,” Zimmern told Sports Headliners.

Zimmern suggested other professional sports organizations in America are more casual in both science and art when feeding athletes. KZ’s goal for the Wild is to hit all the right targets including glycerol, protein and calorie needs.

The food has to be right not only nutritionally, but satisfying. “…We look to food to fill us up many different ways, not just calorie counts,” Zimmern said.

With their knowledge and holistic approach, Zimmern and Kaysen intend to pitch their culinary expertise with KZ Pro Visioning to other American sports organizations within a year or so.

Both Zimmern and Kaysen are James Beard award winners. The connection with the Wild came when a player (Zimmern wouldn’t reveal his name) dined at one of Kaysen’s Minnesota restaurants and suggested how great it would be to have his teammates eat this well.

Zimmern, who lives in Edina, is famous nationally as a TV travel and food host on the Travel Channel. He grew up in New York City and participated in sports. “But then I got into 10th grade and I discovered girls and beer,” he said with a smile. “Otherwise, I would be in the pros right now; sort of like the Gordie Howe playing through five centuries with different teams.”

What would Zimmern eat everyday if he was limited to the same breakfast, lunch and dinner? With no hesitation he answered bagels and smoked fish for breakfast, mussels for lunch and his grandmother’s roast chicken for dinner.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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