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High Praise for Gopher DB Recruit

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April 29, 2018

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Coach P.J. Fleck’s 2019 recruiting class has several verbal commits so far with one of the most recent being St. Charles, Illinois cornerback Tyler Nubin who announced earlier this month he wants to play for the Golden Gophers.

Ryan Burns, the recruiting authority from GopherIllustrated.com, told Sports Headliners he’s intrigued by the defensive back who has also been pursued by Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State. “If you were to kind of scope a defensive back from clay, this is how you would want him to look,” Burns said about Nubin who is reportedly over 6-feet and 180-pounds.

“That’s why so many schools have come after him. He was an absolute ballhawk as a sophomore and that’s how he got on the radar of so many teams. Then as a junior nobody threw at him, but he has a lot of physical attributes that Minnesota really needs in their defensive secondary.”

Among other verbal recruits for 2018 is Eden Prairie quarterback Cole Kramer, the grandson of former Gopher football player and athletic director Tom Moe. Kramer might be an undervalued recruit, and Burns said he is “higher than most of our fan base” on the QB who helped the Eagles to the Class 6A state title last fall. Burns added, “I am excited to see what he is going to do at (development) camps here in the next few weeks. …”

Ryan Burns

Burns said Kramer could be the only QB recruit for 2019 now that nationally hyped Council Bluffs, Iowa quarterback Max Duggan said no to Minnesota. Burns referenced that Fleck and the Gophers spent “over a year” pursuing Duggan who earlier this month verbally committed to TCU. Burns heard Duggan prefers the smaller campus of TCU and warmer weather of Texas.

“That (Duggan’s decision) was something that I don’t think anybody was really expecting,” Burns said. “Minnesota, from all indications, was the favorite going into that final (recruiting) visit,” said Burns who also noted TCU head coach Gary Patterson never came north to see Duggan.

It looks like even without a second quarterback in the class of 2019, Minnesota will have a young roster at that position a year from now. The Gophers have no returning quarterbacks from 2017 with game experience.

Asked about expectations for 2018, Burns said, “I don’t think it could be any worse than what they saw last year because Demry Croft graded out as the second worst quarterback in Division I football per Pro Football Focus. Conor Rhoda left a lot to be desired in the running game, and with his decision-making, which ultimately got him benched.”

After the April 12 Spring Game Gopher fans came away disappointed by the performance of Victor Viramontes who completed one of three passes for one yard, and fumbled twice. Viramontes came to Minnesota rated by 247/Sports this winter as the No. 1 ranked dual-threat QB coming out of junior college. After watching Viramontes several times in spring practices, Burns is keeping an open mind about who will be announced as the starter for the first game next August.

“I don’t think this is a race that is close to being shut because I think Vic is going to have a strong summer,” Burns said. “I think he has a bad taste in his mouth…with how hard of a worker (he is) that should be good news for Gophers fans.”

Tanner Morgan, who will be a redshirt freshman next season, and incoming true freshman Zack Annexstad were impressive in the Spring Game. The way Burns sees it, Morgan is the “front runner” coming out of spring practices but Annexstad, who impressed with his poise, is part of the three-man competition. He completed 11 of 18 passes for 186 yards and one touchdown in the Spring Game. Morgan was 18 of 28 for 272 yards and no touchdowns.

Worth Noting

Louis Riddick, talking on ESPN’s NFL Draft coverage Thursday night, said the Redskins upgraded at quarterback when acquiring Alex Smith while seeing Kirk Cousins depart for the Vikings where he will be the NFL’s top paid quarterback.

Quoting GM Rick Spielman last night on his confidence whether the Vikings’ biggest needs were met in the three-day NFL Draft: “I think we had a lot of needs. I think we wanted to go out and just sign the best football players we can and create as much competition at each position as we can create. …We’re very excited not only with what we were able to accomplish in free agency but also the addition of this draft class.”

Among the team’s draft choices are former basketball players. Spielman joked, “We’re going to have a hell of an intramural team coming up, so we’re taking on the media after the season. …”

News media speculation is ongoing Mike Tice, 59, will retire from a coaching career that included leading the Vikings from 2002-2005. Tice, with various assistant jobs in his background, was the Raiders’ offensive line coach last year.

The Twins finish a home series against the Reds today, and 34-year-old Joey Votto who has a lifetime on-base percentage of .427, much higher than any other active MLB player including Minnesota’s 35-year-old Joe Mauer who is at .392.

Canterbury Park’s 70-day live racing schedule begins Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Saturday will also be the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs. The Derby traditionally attracts more wagering dollars at the Shakopee racetrack than any other. Advance wagering is available beginning May 3.

In a letter to season ticket holders last week, Wild owner Craig Leipold praised fired general manager Chuck Fletcher and then said. ..”I feel that it is going to take a new set of eyes, and some new thinking about our roster, to assess things and take the steps necessary to get us to the next level.”

Leipold ended the letter with this: “The fans in the State of Hockey are the most passionate in the NHL. You and other members of the season ticket community have given incredible support to our organization, which we don’t take for granted. And for that we are so grateful.”

While Leipold may come up with a surprise successor to Fletcher, the name that won’t catch anyone off-guard is Predators assistant GM Paul Fenton.

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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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