So, here's the scene, as told both on ESPN and through flashbacks on local stations. The top recruit in the country, Seantrel Henderson, LT from Cretin-Derham Hall H.S., walks into a locker room. He smiles happily, says a few words that are garbled in his nervousness in front of a camera, then announces he's going to USC...and a nation yawns.
Okay, maybe that's not how it happened, but it might as well have been. Henderson teased Gopher fans about staying in Minnesota, but there was about as much chance of that happening as there was of Paul Walker picking up a best actor nomination, in ANYTHING. The top recruits in the nation do not go to schools like Minnesota unless they're worth going to.
Now, to be fair, the Gophers play in a power conference dominated by OSU, Penn State, and Iowa (last season). But that's the equivalent of handing crutches to a man with no arms. Brewster brought in a good (for Minnesota post-Glen Mason) recruiting class, including J.D.Pride to QB. This isn't really a good thing, but after watching Adam Weber make you yearn for Bryan Cupito, anything would be an improvement. But Brewster, when hired back in 2007, said his immediate goal was to win the Big Ten Championship and "take the Gopher Nation to Pasadena." As what, tourists?
After I finished laughing at this statement three years ago, I analyzed that statement. Minnesota has many good football players...who play out of state because they want to win. The last good team the Gophers had had Laurence Maroney and Marion Barber III running the ballt—and that team went to their usual berth at the Insight.com Bowl. And we all know how that turned out: Badly.
To really fulfill any potential post-season goal, a power conference school must win recruiting battles in-state. This is not ironclad, OSU has won recruiting battles for players on both coasts. But you see, they're OSU. They have a competitive history and in a sport as competitive as College Football, that's the most important thing of all. Not how you run your offenses, how good your defense is. Do you win?
TCU last season came out of nowhere to post one of the best seasons by a college football team in the last five years. Will that help their recruiting? Of course it will. Minnesota didn't do so well, which is why they lost Henderson to another winning team, one that produced the DROTY in the NFL last season, among others.
The Gophers' recruiting efforts this year aren't looking too good. For example, their top recruit for this upcoming season is a 6'7" four-star OT from New Brighton, MN named Jimmy Gjere. (I'll guess it's pronounced "Gere.") Problem: He's only 270 pounds. Since the early 90's, has there ever been an OT that played at 270? And was good?
Henderson has ideal size and power for an OT. At 6'8", 335, he's an Orlando Pace-sized masher (back when Pace was good) who already could project as the 2012 NFL Draft top pick (the year, by the way, the Bears will have a top five draft pick after Jay Cutler is killed in cold blood by various pass rushers in 2011.)
But enough about him. Brewster's recruiting class is filled with two-stars and a smattering of three-stars. A three-star who was listed in some scouting mags as a four-star, James Green, pulled out of a verbal committment to go to...Toledo. That's a bad sign. And don't think other potential recruits didn't pay attention to that. Henderson obviously was not coming here, but how about guys directly below him? Pulling out of a committment to go to a Big Ten (or Eleven, depending how you want to look at it) school to go to TOLEDO speaks volumes.
It's going to be another long season in the land of 10,000 lakes. But look on the bright side, Gopher fans...Brewster signed a two-year extension. Yippie.