Two coveted high school offensive linemen have changed the recruiting storyline between the Gophers and Badgers. Minnesota’s recruiting class of 2024 has a verbal commitment from Nathan Roy of Mukwonago, Wisconsin, while Irondale High School’s Emerson Mandell has announced he will play for the Badgers.
For the Gophers and Badgers, trading off the No. 1 ranked recruits in their states is uncommon for sure. 247Sports has Roy as No. 1 in the state of Wisconsin in both its composite recruiting rankings and its own rankings. 247 has Mandell No. 3 in Minnesota in its rankings but No. 1 in the composite.
Although the Gophers have commitments from Roy and two other offensive linemen, they wanted Mandell who announced for Wisconsin a few days ago. The Badgers aren’t used to having the top players in Wisconsin say no to them and receiving a commitment from Mandell is something to crow about even though Roy is the more hyped prospect.
New Badgers coach Luke Fickell and his staff have seen their 2024 recruiting raise eyebrows so far. The 247Sports ranking of the state’s top five players show three commitments to Penn State, with one each to Minnesota and UCLA.
For about 30 years the Badgers have pretty much kept the state’s best players at home, but this year has been different with the program holding only two commitments so far among the 247Sports top 10 Wisconsin natives. The change in coaching staff may have had an impact, with relationships in the state starting over at Wisconsin high schools. Another change is the Badgers are abandoning their old-school meat grinder offense for an Air Raid attack.
Maybe this year is just a fluke for Badger recruiting in the state. Roy reportedly considered the Badgers, but he is relatively new to the state having lived elsewhere growing up. The Gophers, including respected offensive line coach Brian Callahan, capitalized on the opportunity to get Roy who 247 ranks as the No. 9 offensive line prospect nationally for the class of 2024. Mandell is No. 24.
The Gophers and Callahan have recent successes to pitch at recruits. John Michael Schmitz, a 2022 All-American center, was drafted in the second round by the Giants in last April’s NFL Draft. Daniel Faalele, a fourth-round pick by the Ravens in 2022, was the first Gopher offensive lineman to be drafted since 2006 when both Greg Eslinger and Mark Setterstrom were selected.
The pledge by Mandell to become a Badger is the third time in the last five classes that Wisconsin has taken the No. 1 player in Minnesota (offensive lineman Riley Mahlman from Lakeville South in 2021, linebacker Kaden Johnson of Minnehaha Academy in 2020). The Gophers haven’t secured the No. 1 player out of Wisconsin in maybe forever. In 2013 tight end Gaelin Elmore, the No. 6 player in Wisconsin per 247, joined the Gophers and had a successful career but usually Minnesota doesn’t even come close to a Roy or even an Elmore.
The Gophers have won three of their last five games against Wisconsin. More success in the rivalry could mean more recruiting “wins” in Dairyland.
Stewart Mandell recently named his “they’re still playing college football team” for The Athletic. The team has players whose careers started as far back as 2016 and includes Gophers wide-receiver Chris Autman-Bell who has been in Minneapolis since 2017. “He has been at Minnesota for so long that he was part of P.J. Fleck’s first recruiting class.” Mandell wrote.
Fleck, who is taking vacation time this month, speaks July 27 at Big Ten football Media Days in Indianapolis. Watch for coverage of Media Days July 26 and 27 on the Big Ten Network.
Tom Swain, the first academic advisor for athletics with the Gophers, turned 102 on July 4. Happy birthday, my friend.
Sports Headliners has learned that unlike the last two summers The Meadows at Mystic Lake will not host a Legends of the LPGA tournament. The Legends was founded in 2000 and is the official senior tour of the LPGA, showcasing former LPGA Tour players ages 45 and older. LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer Juli Inkster won the first two tournaments at The Meadows in Prior Lake.
“We really enjoyed hosting the LPGA Legends golf tournament in 2021 and 2022. We decided to pause on hosting any professional tournaments this year but are pursuing potential LPGA opportunities for next year.” Mike Luckcraft, director of The Meadows at Mystic Lake, said in a statement to Sports Headliners.
There are many circle the date prep football games this fall and one is October 18 when Rogers plays at Mankato West. The past two seasons, Rogers has lost to West in the state Class 5A semifinals.
It was only six years ago that Miguel Sano, now 30 and out of baseball, represented the Twins in the MLB All-Star Game. In 2017 he hit .264 with 28 home runs and 77 RBI. Last season in 60 at bats with Minnesota his numbers were .083, 1 HR and 3 RBI.
It’s getting to the point where baseball fans may want to tell their grandchildren they saw Shohei Ohtaini. His Angels will be at Target Field once this season, playing a three-game series against the Twins September 22, 23 and 24. Ohtani’s pitching and designated hitting have prompted comparisons with the great Babe Ruth who not only was a fabled slugger but spent part of his career on the mound.
Twins radio voice Cory Provus said on Friday night’s broadcast that Brandon Hyde, the Orioles manager, was a finalist for the Twins’ managerial job in 2018 before Rocco Baldelli was hired. The Orioles play for a three-game sweep of the Twins today at Target Field.
Long time Twins fans will remember the name Johnny Sain who after his post-pitching career was a MLB pitching coach for multiple teams including the Twins. He was outspoken but is regarded as one of the better pitching coaches of all time. Among his students was Hall of Famer Jim Kaat who learned from Sain with the Twins in 1965 and 1966 (won 25 games) and with the White Sox 1974 and 1975 (21 and 20 wins).
“We just were a good fit,” Kaat told Sports Headliners. “He wasn’t a power pitcher during his career, but he really taught me a lot about pitching. Changing speeds, about control, learning to control your fast ball. He meant a lot to me. He’s the one that when the Twins did let me go he sort of suggested I make a change with my motion and all of a sudden that became very effective and I had a couple 20 game seasons doing that.”Comments Welcome