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Minnesota Golden Gophers 2011 National Signing Day Recap

It is always a good day when I can go over to the campus and hang out with my Golden Gopher friends. A huge crowd turnout out for the national signing day event:

Minnesota Golden Gophers TCF Bank Stadium Minnesota Golden Gophers TCF Bank Stadium

Minnesota Golden Gophers TCF Bank Stadium

Emcee for the event was Gopher football alum who as part of the program interviewed four Gopher football alumni: , , and

Minnesota Golden Gophers Darrell Thompson And Rickey Foggie Minnesota Golden Gophers Darrell Thompson And Chip Lohmiller

Minnesota Golden Gophers Darrell Thompson And Marion Barber Jr Minnesota Golden Gophers Darrell Thompson And Ray Hitchcock

It is always cool to hear the stories they have.

Darrell Thompson and Rickey Foggie spoke about playing in the backfield together, Chip Lohmiller about kicking in the Metrodome and getting the game winning kick at then ranked #2 Michigan in 1986 bringing back the to Minneapolis, Marion Barber Jr about his days of playing outside at , his two sons having played at Minnesota and and how he has one left in high school, and Ray Hitchcock about his time on campus.

was introduced to the crowd and received a very loud standing ovation. He spoke about recruiting, what he and the staff have been working on and what is next for the program.

Minnesota Golden Gophers Head Coach Jerry Kill Minnesota Golden Gophers Head Coach Jerry Kill Minnesota Golden Gophers Head Coach Jerry Kill

Coach Kill then took many questions from the crowd. One question was about teaching the basics including blocking and tackling with a short demo (a bit blurry):

Minnesota Golden Gophers Head Coach Jerry Kill

My buddy put a bid on a silent auction item he won:

Minnesota Golden Gopher Football

A few observations from the event:

- Parents and former players speak very highly of Coach Kill and his staff

- There is going to be a return to fundamentals

- Academics are going to be a focus

- I was a bit disappointed when Coach Kill was hired but I was wrong, very wrong to feel that way. I like him and I think he will do well here.

Coach Kill likes to tell stories and has some good quotes. This is my favorite from the evening:

"Talk is cheap. You gotta show people what you can do"

Here is a list of the incoming 2011 class (links to their GopherSports.com page):

DE | 6-2 | 218 | Arlington, Texas/Bowie HS

– LB | 6-3 | 225 | Moorpark, Calif./Moorpark HS

OL | 6-5 | 285 | Rosemount, Minn./Rosemount HS

OL | 6-5 | 270 | Menasha, Wis./Menasha HS

* – OL | 6-5 | 320 | Fergus Falls, Minn./Fork Union Military

DE | 6-6 | 210 | Homestead, Fla./Homestead HS

WR | 6-2 |180 | Edina, Minn./Edina HS

– WR | 6-0 | 190 | Denton, Texas/Guyer HS

TE | 6-5 | 234 | Shawnee Mission,, Kan./Northwest HS

* – WR | 6-3 | 210 | Corona, Calif./Arizona Western College

* – K | 6-4 | 180 | Raleigh, N.C./North Carolina State

* – DB | 5-8 | 170 | Wake Forest, N.C./Rolesville, N.C.

DB | 5-11 | 195 | Eden Prairie, Minn./Eden Prairie HS

– LB | 6-1 | 218 | Delray Beach, Fla./Atlantic HS

OL | 6-5 | 293 | Bloomington, Ill./Bloomington HS

OL | 6-5 | 278 | Bloomington, Ill./Bloomington HS

DB | 5-10 | 184 | Miramar, Fla./Miramar HS

– OL | 6-4 | 275 | Mahtomedi, Minn./Mahtomedi HS

* – TE | 6-4 | 245 | Iowa Falls, Iowa/Ellsworth CC

QB | 6-6 | 215 | Shawnee Mission, Kan./Bishop Miege HS

DB | 6-0 | 180 | Lehigh Acres, Fla./Lehigh HS

LB | 6-3 | 205 | Chanhassen, Minn./Holy Family HS

2011 Recruited Walk Ons

Jon Christenson – OL | 6-4 | 275 | Minnetonka, Minn./Minnetonka HS

Ernie Heifort – TE | 6-5 | 225 | Bemidji, Minn./Bemidji HS

Peter Mortell – P | 6-2 | 193 | Green Bay, Wis./Notre Dame Academy

David Platner – K | 6-0 | 160 | Eden Prairie, Minn./Eden Prairie HS

Luke Trucilla – ATH | 6-0 | 190 | Erie, Pa./Cathedral Prep HS

A new part of national signing day was GopherSports.com teaming up with FanChatter.com to put together 2011 Golden Gopher Football Signing Day Central. They aggregated posts from Twitter and Facebook. A great way to be able to interact with fans and I hope the athletic department makes this a permanent function like the Minnesota Timberwolves have done.

Finally… here the transcript from Coach Kill’s afternoon press conference:

COACH KILL: I appreciate everybody being here this afternoon. I apologize. I think I was right on time, maybe a minute or two late, but I was still scrambling and looking for another player or two.

But certainly excited about with where we're at at this point in time in the process. Feel good about I think the foundation. I do want to make this perfectly clear: This recruiting class, I can't sit here and say, Boy, Coach Kill, you did a great job or anything like that. It's a combination of the old staff and the new staff. We're all a part of Minnesota.

I got a call from Coach Horton. Hey, Coach, how are things going? Did we hold in there? So I think it's been a group effort to try and put a class together in difficult times. Billy Glasscock has come in and done an excellent job for us to kind of pick the pace up.

So I appreciate everybody's help. O.B., certainly Dan has done a great job in the short time being with me getting us in the right direction. We have a lot of people that we can thank in here, and we'll certainly do that this evening at another function.

But from the mission standpoint, from the academic standpoint, everybody that I've worked with has been fantastic. It's been a group effort making sure we chose the right people for the University of Minnesota. That's the bottom line at the end of the day.

So with that, would you like me to go through each youngster or just ask questions?

Q. However you want to do it.

COACH KILL: I think probably the best thing, I'll just give a little brief overview, and then you can kind of go from there.

They did this in alphabetical order. Michael Amaefula is a young man out of Arlington, Texas. He's a 6'2". We get him listed 218. He's probably grown a little bit. He's probably closer to 230. He's a young man I would like to tell you, Boy, Coach, did you a great job. But Pat Poore recruited this young man.

We had a lot have help here at the university. Because if it wasn't for our medical school he wouldn't be coming, because he's a young man that wants to be a doctor. He had ten, eleven offers early in the process. Then it got down to where mom chose it. She was very influential, and wanted to make sure he went to the place that had a good medical school. At the end of the day, it came down between us and Maryland, our people here at the university did an outstanding job. We feel like we got a guy that can rush the passer. He's a young man that we know has 4‑6 speed. Through knowing people in the coaching ranks, he's got great vertical jump. We've been able to visibly see him, so we're excited about him.

Quinn Bauducco from California is a linebacker. 6'3" 225. Young man that's been here on this campus; went to camp; was very impressive. I've got a great deal of trust in the people that were here, and also Jesse Nelson, who's a graduate assistant for us. A very athletic young man. We're very fortunate we could hold him in there.

Joe Bjorkland, a young man from Rosemont, Minnesota right here, hometown.

And I'll tell you what, Joe probably through the recruiting era I think I was here three days, and he was in front of me and we got to know each other. He grew on me. Plus I think he started growing even more since the last month. He's going to be a great player here. Joe is 6'5", 285. This morning I watched him in camp here at the University of Minnesota. Watched his feet and things, and I think it's a really good fit for us.

Foster Bush is a young man I knew a lot about from Wisconsin. We had him in camp at Northern Illinois. Got a chance to see him, work with him. I know what we're getting there. We're getting an athletic young man, tough. He's athletic enough to play tight end also. So he's a 6'5" 270 pound guy. Very intelligent. The one thing I will tell, you know, very, very bright young man. I think Quinn Bauducco is another one that's about a 3.5 student, so feel good about that.

Josh Campion from right here in Minnesota also. I tell you what, he's a young man that was recruited here a couple years ago ‑ ya'll probably know more about that than I do. He went out to Virginia Military School, prep school, and this has been a great get for us. He's already here working out. He is a big time athlete. There's no question. It's yes, sir; no, sir; what can I do for you, sir? I need to send 'em all to military school.

But he's great to be around. It came down and we were fortunate ‑ and this is the grit thing about it ‑ he's here because he want to be at the University of Minnesota. He's gone through a lot of stuff to get here. At the end of rope, he had a chance to go to University of Miami. That's before the coaching change. I thought he was going to go that way, and we were able to get him flipped at the last second. So it's a great get for us. He's working out and he's a great athlete.

Theiren Cochran, I call him T.C. we found out we were going to get him last night at a late hour. It's been a long three weeks. But T.C. is 6'6". He's bigger than 210. I think he's weighing 230 now. Speed rush guy, 4‑5, 4‑6; long, lean, again, can rush the passer and can run. Those two defensive ends ‑‑ you know, I said, We're not taking anything that's not 4‑6 and down that's going to play defensive end. We got to have speed to win. So they both are long, lean, and can run.

Devin Crawford‑Tufts, again, right here in Minnesota. Tremendous speed. Been able to watch him on film, plus on track film and know his track times. One of the fastest people in the state. He's got a lot of great goals. Going to also run track here. A tremendous young man. Family's both athletic background. We feel like he can run by people. He had a great camp here, and are very pleased with that.

Drew Goodger from Shawnee Mission, Kansas. I've had him in camp through our camps where I was at out at Northern Illinois at different places, and Drew is a young man that's big, strong, physical, and plays football, basketball. I've known his high school coach for years and I know exactly what I'm getting there. I think it's a 3.59 student. He's smart. I think he'll be a great player here in due time.

Ge'Shun Harris, a wide receiver who is right here on campus at this point in time. He's 6'3", and, again, I think he's a little bit bigger than 210. Probably 220, 225. Is an outstanding receiver. He's working out with us. You always look when you're working out. You walk out there and you want to see people stand out. He stands out when he's out there right now. I've been through two morning work outs, and it's not hard to figure out who he is, which is a good thing.

Chris Hawthorne is a kicker. He was at Northern Carolina State. He's here; he's kicked in a college game; and he will be eligible next fall. So that's a big get for us because he has experience at kicking at the big time. It's hard to evaluate kickers. So if you get a chance to have them at another school and have that evaluation, it's a good thing.

Marcus Jones, if you think about him, the best way I can say about Marcus is he's like Gillery (sp) at Wisconsin. That's the type of athlete he is. 5'8", 170, and he can fly. Great speed, great athleticism. Very, very quick. He's already here as a high school kid. He came at semester; graduated early. Smart kid, and is doing a good job in the work outs right now.

Quentin Gardener, a wide receiver, 6'1", 195 pounds. Comes off a team that I think had five or six Division I players. You know, he's a great athlete, good receiver. Again, a speed guy. Somebody that we certainly need to help us at the wide receiver spot.

Grayson Levine is right here in town in Eden Prairie. We got a chance to evaluate him when we first got here. I got to meet him. Coach Claeys went out, our coordinator, watched him in basketball. We felt like we got a good evaluation of him. He was one of these ‑‑ again, Jesse Nelson ‑‑ I always rely on guys that are graduate assistants and people out in the camps working. I said, Hey, how did he do in camp, Jesse? He says, Coach, he's probably one of the better guys athletically we had in camp. His film matches up, and that's a tremendous program. So we're excited about him. He's a 200 pound kid, very, very intelligent. Another guy that's a 3.5, 3.6 GPA. Feel good about him. I really feel like he's going to be a great player for us.

Jephete Matilus out of Delray Beach, Florida is a 6'1". When I went down and home visited him, I think he told me he's 235 pounds now. I think we would like to get him a little bit lighter. But he's a big linebacker that can run and cover space. Fortunate to hold in there on him, because once I got the job, KU officially visited him. He was going to commit to KU, and we were able to keep him in here. So that's a great get for us. He'll be a good player.

Kyle and Luke McAvoy, I know a lot about them because I coached their nephew. Their brother started at the University of Michigan. They're twins. Very good athletes. Good kids. Smart young men. We need some size and speed and athleticism in the offensive line.

Steven Montgomery, a defensive back out of Florida. Comes from a great high school program. He can play safety or corner. He's a 10‑600 meter guy. Speed solves a lot of problems, and he's another guy that can run well.

Tommy Olson right here in the great state of Minnesota, which we need to continue to recruit and do even better in. His older brother plays here. I will tell you, I think he's one of the dominating offensive linemen I've seen on film period this year. Very, very physical nasty kid playing up front. I think he's got a chance to do some things early. I told him I was going to put pressure on him in the press conference, but we need him to step up, and I think he can. He's a very, very good football player.

John Rabe, young man that's here, transfer from Iowa Falls. Know a lot about John. He comes from my background. He's an old country kid down the road about two and a half, three hours. Knows how to work. Good athlete, good speeds. Is in our work outs right now and is doing well. So we feel good about John.

Max Shortell, I'm very excited about. I was worried soon as coach got the job at the University of the Michigan, he flew in to see Max and tried to turn him. Jim Zebrowski did a great job recruiting him, a combination between him and Pat Poore. We were able to hold him in there. Also helped us a little bit I had ties with his dad. He's a graduate of Pittsburgh State University where I spent quite a bit my career early. I knew them fairly well, so it helped us a little bit in that. I'm glad he stayed in there with us. 6'6", now he weighs about 230 pounds, and he's a very good, athletic kid. Young man that Coach Horton got on early in the recruiting process, and we're excited about him.

Derrick Wells, a young man out of Lehigh, Florida. A defensive back. He's got length, 6', 180. Know his high school coach. He coached in college. There is a tie there, which helped us a little bit. A very, very good athlete. Again, a guy in the secondary that's got a little length and some speed, which I think we need.

And then Peter Westerhaus, a young man that was player of the year here in Minnesota. Again, theres these kids have all gotten a little bigger and stronger, which is a good thing. I don't know if there's anybody more excited about coming here than Peter. When I called phone and said, Hey, you glad ‑‑ you could hold the phone out here when he talked to you. So he's excited about being here, and he'll be a great player. He lives and dies football, and that's what it's all about.

We list down there as walk‑ones ‑‑ and I don't like doing that, to be honest with you. There are guys that are important to our program. I list will continue to grow because I believe in it. I was a nonscholarship player. These young men have committed to coming to the University of Minnesota. I'm gonna tell you what, they're guys that can be scholarship players, and that's why we're doing what we're doing.

Jon Christenson, a young man from Minnetonka. He is very, very well‑coached. Good football player. Very, very smart. We're excited about getting him.

Ernie Heifort, 6'5", 225; a tight end prospect. They had opportunities to go other places, but they wanted to play at he University of Minnesota. That means a lot to me.

Peter Mortell, a punter from Wisconsin; David Platner, a kicker from Eden Prairie; and Luke Trucilla, a young man from Cathedral Prep in Erie, Pennsylvania, which is a tremendous high school.

Those kids have already been admitted into school. They're coming to school, and we're excited about having them, and very good students on top of that. So we will continue to grow that list. I hope to get that list another six or seven players. I'm working on it.

Also working on a couple more scholarship players as we speak. Hopefully we'll fill some spots in. One thing I want everybody to understand, I've really only truly been with our football team two days, Monday and Tuesday morning work outs. So I'm really just now getting to see our kids physically run, do the things, so we saved some things back for a purpose.

We don't know exactly what we have until you're with 'em. So you don't want to commit everything you got and not have something left over in case you need something later on. And there will be a player or two here that somebody oversigned or something happened that we may work on. That kind of tells you our philosophy. I've talked fast. I've had a business night, afternoon, busy four weeks. Tired, but excited.

With that, I'll answer any questions you may have.

Q. When you're looking to fill out some of those additional scholarships, if you maybe have to grab a kid that's been oversigned, will that be something that you'll have to wait until the summer?

COACH KILL: You know what, some of the best players I've ever coached ‑‑ and I'm not gonna go through all of 'em that are playing in the National Football League ‑‑ we got 'em about a month or month and a half after signing date. So I don't think it has to be to the summer. It doesn't have to be ‑‑ because there will be some kids I can tell you right now ‑‑ I can't mention names ‑‑ but there are some kids that decided not to commit yet because they were holding out for something different and messed up, so they haven't been signed to anything.

So there are kids out there. There are good players everywhere. You never stop recruiting. I told our staff they couldn't come in here. You got to work. We're recruiting next year's class already. Need to get going. With that being said, you'll pick up a player or two that's pretty darn good. We have to be selective on that. We need to pick up another secondary player. There's no question in my mind after going morning work outs that we need another secondary player ‑‑ or two ‑‑ and maybe an outside linebacker.

So those three things we'll continue to search out. We're not gonna sign somebody to sign somebody. Then in the long run ‑‑ I always say this: You can live with the recruiting mistake for 365 days, or you can play against them one time. So we're going to be very careful just going out there and taking somebody to take somebody. We'll make sure they fit at the University of Minnesota. So we don't want to just go out there and grab somebody, and all of a sudden it's a recruiting mistake.

We want to make sure it's the right fit. We're not just going to give a scholarship away. We want it to fit. If we have to wait until next year to do that, then we will. We'll kick it back on the last year's class, and we'll be all right.

We've got several things we're still working on as we speak.

Q. When Joe Bjorkland committed, you said he was going to be a grayshirt. Is that still the plan?

COACH KILL: No, he's a scholarship player. Yeah, we signed him to a scholarship. You bet.

Q. How close are you to your number?

COACH KILL: Right now as we speak, we're probably four away from ‑ maybe ‑ I can't tell you everything that's going on right now. But probably four away, and we can oversign three. And you've get be careful on what you do. There's going to be a high school coach that's going to talk publically about the way I handled something, and I think I proved some professionalism in the deal, because I could've turned a kid probably, but it wouldn't have been the right way to do things.

You get into oversigning and all those kind of things, J.T. and I have talked about it, and you've got to be careful. If you oversign and that kid thinks he's coming on a full scholarship and then all of a sudden you don't honor that and you say, We can't honor it now but we can honor it in December, and that high school coach gets mad at you, you're never going to go back in that school.

So you're seeing stuff with Alabama, you got the Big Ten rules. There's a ton of rules out there. At the end of the day, we have to make sure that we recruit the right way and make sure we're careful at what we do. And we are. Let me tell you something: This thing is not like it used to be. Kids change their mind on the day that they're getting ready to signer, or they put all their hats out there. And when they do that, somebody loses a recruit, and all of a sudden you could think you're gonna sign 30 and you sign 20.

So there's not a whole lot of ‑‑ in the old days when a kid committed, that was it. It's not that way anymore. And in coaching with the oversigning, you know, you have to be careful there. We're all under different rules. The Big Ten is under different rules than Southeast Conference. You can argue it all you want. We're going to follow the Big Ten rules and do what we're supposed to do.

Q. How many have been solely recruited by you and your staff, and how many were already in the works?

COACH KILL: You know, I don't even know. When I got here, we were recruiting them all the same. I think I looked at it. I think there was eight that was recruited, eight or nine.

But at the same time, I think when we were coming in there were a couple on the list. I talked to Coach Horton and we kind of worked through it. There was Coach Hammock, and there is somebody that was on a list from so and so. When I came here, about half the committed list I already knew about because they had been in Northern Illinois at one time or another. So we had already seen 'em in camp.

Most these kids I know something about, which I feel comfortable. I've taken jobs, and I'll be honest with you, I've taken two other programs when I first got the job, you learn as you go. I probably jumped out and made some recruiting mistakes right off the bat because we only had three, four weeks. You just go, Oh, we got to have this; we got to have that. I almost did it here a little bit, but I got to a couple coaches that go, Hey, Coach, no, no, no. Let's be patient. We'll be all right. Don't make major mistakes and roll the dice too many times.

I'm no different than anybody else. I want to win and I want to win right now. But it's going to take time, and we got to do it the right way. Luckily I've got good assistants.

Q. (Question regarding junior colleges.)

COACH KILL: I think so. We have some good relationships. I know some of the guys in the junior college world here in Minnesota. Know 'em in Iowa and so forth. I've talk to our guys in recruiting. Hey, anybody that we feel like that we can't get that we need to help one another local junior college out, we're going to do that. I think that's important.

Just like when we have camps in the summertime. It's not just our state. We've got a lot of good Division II schools, Division III schools. Hey, come watch us. We want to all the kids to stay in the state of Minnesota. So we can help each other, but I think that's a great point. That's necessary.

Believe me, when I got the job, I was hit on that pretty hard. Hey, Coach, if you're not going to take one, place one here and we'll send 'em back to you. I've worked that system being that I'm from the state of Kansas with all the Kansas JCs when I was at Pittsburgh, Kansas, and Southern Illinois.

Now I'm in a different region, so you work a different way. You work with the Iowa and Minnesotas and the junior colleges in this area. That's a very fair question.

Q. (Indiscernible.)

COACH KILL: Well, you know, you say, well, smaller program. Northern Illinois, I mean, recruiting is recruiting. You have to recruit. Is it a lot different? When you're at the University of Minnesota, it puts you in a position to jump in on something that's a little bigger, faster, and stronger.

You look at that, and then you have to look at what the Big Ten is winning with. Our safeties at Northern Illinois were bigger than the ones that Iowa is playing with. Were they as good? I don't know. I haven't played Iowa yet. I played four or five teams in the past two years in the Big Ten , and I think talent is talent. You've got to recruit to your system.

What I look at from this standpoint is we need to recruit a bigger, faster athlete than where we were at. And a smart athlete. One that can make athletic adjustments. I feel like it's more important to get ‑‑ we have to do a good job not only recruiting the kids ‑‑ and I'll tell you all this. They're all paper tigers, okay? I can say that. Every coach in America is going to tell you, This is the greatest recruiting class that's we've ever had. I can say that. It's the greatest recruiting class that's ever happened in Minnesota.

Well, we all feel that way, but you can't judge recruiting classes until two years down the road. I mean, you really can't. You can see rivals, top 100 recruiting classes, you know. I know a lot programs that had top recruiting classes, but where are those kids two years down the road?

So to me, you evaluate recruiting two years down the road. Did we do a good job two years down the road? Are those kids still in the program and playing? I don't know which one of these kids will be able to play as a freshman. We're gonna hope this none youngster does, but he may come in and not be able to make the transformation into college football. I always say an apple is not red right off the bat, it's green. Sometimes an apple turns red faster for one player, the other it's a little slower process. Doesn't mean he's not gonna be a good player, but it's slower for him to become a great player.

So you don't really know in recruiting. I am a biology major. It's an educated guess, hypothesis. The one thing we do do though and we haven't been able to do ‑‑ and next year will be a lot different and a lot more fun for us ‑‑ I believe you got to make yearly evaluations, not three week and month evaluations. We've had to do that, and I don't like it.

I like making a good year evaluation and really know what we're getting. The only way do you that, I want to see 'em in camp; I want to see 'em run. You eliminate recruiting mistakes. If a kid can run and you see him run or you see him hit, it makes you feel a lot better.

About half these youngsters we've been able to do that with; the other half we haven't been able to do that. It's been off film and other people's recommendations. That's just the way the timing period went.

Q. Does that worry you at all?

COACH KILL: It always worries me when you don't have the live evaluation. But sometimes you don't get it. We've had some where we didn't get it, and those kids turned out pretty good. Some states have spring ball. Every state is different.

Usually you like to get 'em in camp. I would tell you ‑‑ I can't go through this one by one ‑‑ but I would say we got more than half we know something about or we've seen in camp. The rest has been through film, watching, trust, coach's relationships, et cetera.

It's not easy coming in in a month and recruiting. It is what it is.

Q. Did you need to have additional recommendations from coaches in order to recruit?

COACH KILL: I think I'm a pretty thorough guy. But as I learn every day, you're never thorough enough. Just like anything, when we go into a school ‑‑ and I can only go out once, which I don't like. I'm responsible for our APR and the character of the kids, and I get to see 'em one time off campus. That doesn't make a lot sense to me.

When I go off campus, I want to go to the school and I want to talk to the secretary and talk to the teacher and I want to know if they've been in trouble. You can do all the research, and they can still hide something from you and you just don't know.

And a coach's responsibility, it's tough on a high school coach right now. The parents are on him about getting that kid recruited. So there's no perfect process. We try to be as thorough as we possibly can and make as least amount of mistakes as we do.

But if you can bat ‑‑ guy named Bobby Proctor used to work at Oklahoma University said if you can bat over 50% in recruiting, you're gonna win a heck of a lot of football games. That's really the truth. It's hard to bat above that because there are just too many elements and things out there. It's more and more ‑‑ as we have more technology and things of that nature, it gets tougher and tougher.

Q. Are you concerned with all the defensive tackles in this class?

COACH KILL: Not really. Again, I think that's a great point. Some people get upset, Hey, Coach, why didn't you take our quarterback? Well, we could only take one quarterback because we're setting the five on scholarship. Would I like to take another two? Yeah, but I can't.

I would like to take seven, eight deep tackles. We got seven or eight on scholarship. I just can't walk in and run somebody off and say we don't want you. We're bringing in somebody else. We are limited on what we can do at certain positions.

Where in the secondary, we've got a lot of scholarship money in the secondary. We've got a lot of scholarship money at receiver. At offensive linemen we had some scholarship money. You can only have so many committed at each position. I think that's tough for everybody to understand.

There may be three great offensive linemen out there, but if we have 15 of 'em on scholarship, we can't afford to have anymore. Can't have 30 of 'em. So you're exactly right. It's a situations where we've got it broke down to how come scholarships go here and how many go there. And at defensive tackle, we got a lot of them on the scholarship at defensive tackle.

So we really couldn't go out and get one. It's going to take us two or three years to get it all balanced out. It's not going to happen overnight. We're overloaded in some areas with youth and overloaded with older people in other areas. We've got to get it balanced out. When you really get the program going, you're pretty much graduating 22 seniors, 22 seniors, 22 seniors. You get it going that way.

But we've got some empty holes in that area. That's not the old coaching staff's fault or anybody's fault. It's just happened that way. It's worked out that way.

Q. (Question regarding the disadvantage of recruiting with a new coaching staff.)

COACH KILL: Well, I think certainly if you've come off and you've won the Rose Bowl or something like that, it's easy. But some kids want to jump in on the challenge of rebuilding and coming in with a new coaching staff. I didn't really feel that hurt us at all.

For the most part, most of the kids we recruited, we got the opportunity to get here at the University of Minnesota. We lost some. You're going to. Everything is public information in recruiting right now. We got guys on the websites and computers. You get a fan from so and so and a fan from another one bashing the University of Minnesota and getting into the kids' website information.

It's just very difficult to get those youngsters to understand, Listen to what we tell you. Trust what we tell you. But it's hard for a kid 18 years old reading all this stuff. You know, he's got to decipher what's true and not true. It's difficult.

If somebody is saying, Oh, we hear about how cold it is. Let me tell you something it's a lot colder in Dekalb, Illinois than it is here in Minnesota. There's snow and my daughter can't get out. Shoot, I drove to work at 6:00 in the morning and didn't have a problem. I was laughing at her. I said, Minnesota is a great place. You guys are down there snowbound in Dekalb.

But you have to fight off those things. People use it against you. People will do anything they can. I'll give a great deal. When I was at Southern Illinois University, I had a coach tell a kid from another school say, Hey, don't go to that guy. He's got cancer. He's not going to be here. He's not gonna be at that school. He's not supposed live. How about that? It happened.

You know what? I confronted the guy. You know what? Boy, he ducked his head. I said, That's all right. You're young. I won't hold it against you, but I'm going to tell you what, I'm going to be around a long time, and I'm going to whip your butt. And we did.

Q. Will you say what school?

COACH KILL: No, I will not. I will not out of integrity.

Q. (Question regarding offensive lineman.)

COACH KILL: I don't think ‑‑ it would be the other way around just because of speed. I take a defensive line and make 'em ‑‑ the reason we did that, we're probably, to be honest with you, gonna have to play a couple young guys. So we'll probably redshirt four and play two freshman. And I don't know which two of those freshman will step up, but somebody going to have to.

Q. (Indiscernible.)

COACH KILL: Well, you know, I spent so many times at so many avenues, to be honest with you, from visiting with the lettermen, to getting to know our department and the university and try not to make mistakes, which I'm sure I made a couple. I know I have. Trying to get used to a new system.

I spent a lot of time in a lot of things. I try to do my best with high school coaches, but understand, we really could only be on the road ‑‑ and you would have to look at it ‑‑ about two and a half, three weeks since I got the job because of the dead periods and all that.

Most of it's been by phone. I couldn't go out. When I did, I had to see the ones we had committed. That will get established much more now than before. I can assure you this: I mean, as head coach, I've tried to call every single person back, e‑mail, follow up on everything. I think we did a good job.

There are a couple guys that I'm not going to mention that's going out of state that I would have liked to have been able to turn. But, again, I trust high school coaches. When I visit those coaches, I talk to them and we did it the professional way. I guess that's the best way to put it.

As we continue on this thing, we've got to continue to do a good job not only here in the state of Minnesota, but in the Midwest. Got to do a good job of Midwest values, gotta get some of those hard‑nosed, tough kids. Right now we did what we had to do to put a class together in a short time.

Q. Minnesota has had some bad luck lately not recruiting (indiscernible) but getting them into school. Is that something that can be fixed?

COACH KILL: I don't think ‑‑ again, you know, I'm not one that ‑‑ I've been here, and we've had a situation or two, but really didn't have anything to do with the school. It's been my call.

To be honest with you, it's been my call. I am one of those, I bring something in, I check 'em out, you got a short time. I've got enough respect in the junior college world because I've coached some great players. But if there is something I find out at the end of the day, I ain't bringing a problem in.

If we have something that ain't going to work out, I'm not going to do that. When we've had JC kids, and you can go back through my career, I think I've only had one not graduate, and that's Jacobs. He's making a lot of money and he is finishing his degree.

So we've had great luck with 'em because we know what we were getting and those kind of things. If we made a mistake or something didn't happen with the transcript ‑‑ because it's a complicated thing in January to get everything in. It has nothing to do with the University of Minnesota. It has every bit to do with school being out in the junior colleges, trying to get all the paperwork, everything solved. They have to have a percentage towards their degree.

It has nothing to do with the University of Minnesota. It has to do more do more so with the junior college system and making sure you work with them. Every year you could sign four or five kids, and there's going to be problem with one of those trying to to get transcripts. It may not work out. If it doesn't work out, it's not because of anybody. That means the youngster hasn't done his darn job in getting things done.

That's kind of a false deal out there sometimes. Everything we've done so far has been straight up and worked great. We got, I don't know, five or six in kids at semester. So I feel good about that. And we did that, you know, late.

Again, I would have liked to have been able to do that ‑‑ again if I had been here ‑‑ next year during that time I'll have a good idea. I'll be able to visit with Len, I'll say, Hey, I got to a couple guys I'm looking at, and get the transcripts in the fall. And then we can track 'em and see where they're at.

But when you get the asking people to do miracles ‑‑ we had people trying to do a lot miracles. People been great to work with. Doing the best they can.

Q. You mentioned some pretty impressive GPAs. How big a factor is that?

COACH KILL: Well, here's being honest. I was a 2.5 kid coming out of high school with a 17 on his ACT. I imagine admissions would look at me at Minnesota and go, I don't know about that guy. But I had a lot of the want to. I ended up graduating with an 3.3 GPA and was academic all‑American. So it's one of those things that you have to figure out who has want to.

You can't recruit everybody the same. I've had some football players that were tremendously smart and great players. When I talk about smart, I'm talking about football smart, academic smart. Some kids are very, very football smart but struggle academically. You have to have a balance in all that. You can't have them all one way or the other. Got to be a mixture.

If you can get one that's a smart, great player, great athlete, all that kind of stuff, that's great. But they aren't all going to be that way now. Are we gonna take some? You bet. We're gonna do that as long as they can make it to the University of Minnesota. Will we make recruiting mistakes? Yeah, we will. I'm not perfect.

I'll roll the dice on some. Will I make a mistake? Yeah. I'm not perfect, guys. But you try to make it balance out the best you can. I will tell you we had the top 10 APR in the country the last three years when I was at Illinois. We had a pretty good balancing act.

I will tell you this: We had four or five of 'em playing for us in that 2.0 range every year. That drove me crazy, but they were pretty good. Pretty good. So you got to balance it out.

Q. The high school players coming in early, is that something you want to see more with your guys?

COACH KILL: Well, I don't know. That's a good question. Probably got to meet with our academic people. I've had good luck with that and not so good luck. I think it's according to who it is, and that's a hard thing. There's more and more of that happening. It's one of those things where I think if it's a youngster that's mature and those kind of things.

But some things don't to lose that senior year. You're only a senior once in high school. From a selfish standpoint, I would like 'em all here. But I also have kids. Some people would like to have their youngers finish their senior year.

So I think there's good and bad in that. A lot of things in college athletics and college football that's going on a fast‑track right now. There's freshman basketball players getting offered, there's eighth graders, there're football platers. It's all on a fast‑track.

Sometimes we don't let these young kids be kids. We don't let them have a high school period, or high school career so to speak. I'm stuck up in it, so I have to get involved and do what you got to do.

So with Marcus' case, I think it's been good. He's handled it pretty good. Now from an academic standpoint, we won't know until the end of the semester. So I think here, for me, it's going to be an experiment. Marcus has got a lot of pressure on him. I want to see how he does.

Some schools may be easier than others. I think it'll be interesting what the NCAA, since we've been allowed to do that, it will be interesting how that's worked.

Now, from a standpoint of getting him a degree and all that, that's certainly good for the kid, too, especially if he has a chance to play in the NFL. The pluses and minuses, I think you got to be careful who you do it with.

Q. You talked about emphasis on academics. How has that message been reiterated to the current players?

COACH KILL: You have to ask them. I don't know. The only thing I would tell about that ‑‑ and, again, I don't want to come in here and say, I'm going to recruit ‑‑ and Joel is standing back there. I may get my pink slip after this. Is that if there's a player out there, 2.3, 17 on the ACT, we meet with the academics, if we ‑‑ you know, you follow certain rules.

You know, our rules aren't any different than Wisconsin, I mean, all of 'em. As long as you have want to and you want to get a college degree ‑‑ here's what I have a problem with. Any time you give somebody $25,000 to go to school and they can't get their butt up to go to class and be on time, I don't understand it.

I was a walk‑on player and I had to pay for my school, so I didn't miss class. When I got here, I've been pretty frank on it. If you come to morning work outs, you're more than welcome to. Some of them run around in brown shirts because they haven't figured it out. They do a little extra running, and I'm a stickler on that.

But I think that a reflection of discipline on and off the field. Do we have to improve academically the football program with the kids that we have right now? You bet we do. That's my responsibility. Not anybody else's fault. That has nothing to do with the last staff. Hey, I'm the head coach. When did you appoint me, Joel, December? Yeah, December 6th.

This is my responsibility. We don't get it done, it should be on me. We have a lot of work to do, but we'll get there.

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