The Minnesota Golden Gophers season ended in late December with a loss in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, but head coach Jerry Kill and his coaching staff have been hard at work securing the future of the program since.
Recruiting is a never-ending process and Kill knows it.
Kill inherited a defensive line that could not get to the quarterback on a consistent basis.
He is continuing the rebuilding process with four commitments in this year's class.
Hendrick Ekpe from Lewisville, Texas is the younger brother of current Gopher sophomore-to-be Scott Ekpe. He is considerably smaller than his brother. Scott is a 300-plus pound defensive tackle and Hendrick is listed as a 225-pound pass rushing defensive end. He was unranked by Rivals and ESPN, but received a two-star ranking from Scout.
Defensive tackle Jordan Hinojosa from Coffeyville (Kansas) Community College appears finally be headed to Minnesota. He committed to last year's class out of Miami, Fla., but did not make it to campus. He is now eligible to play three seasons in four years for the Gophers. Rivals gave him a three-star ranking and ESPN and Scout both gave him a two-star ranking. ESPN lists his key trait as pursuit.
The other defensive tackle in the this year's class is Damaris Peppers of Memphis, Tenn. He is a three-star ranked prospect by Rivals and ESPN, but Scout gives him a two-star ranking.
The other defensive end is Owen Salzwedel of Beaver Dam, Wisc. Rivals, ESPN and Scout all give him a three-star ranking. ESPN lists his key trait as run stopping ability.
Rivals lists seven uncommitted defensive linemen as having an offer from the Gophers, including four-star junior college defensive tackle Toby Johnson.
Other recruiting tidbits:
- The Gophers have received two verbal commitments in the last week; 6-foot-3-inch, 215-pound Canyon County, Calif. wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky and 6-foot-9-inch, 255-pound Greenwood, Ind. tight end Nate Wozniak.
- Wide receiver/defensive back/athlete Nate Andrews of Fairhope, Ala. de-committed from Minnesota and changed his pledge to Florida State.
- According to Ryan Burns of GopherIllustrated.com (the rivals wed site devoted to the Gophers), Minneapolis Washburn running back Jeff Jones became the first Gopher commitment for the class of 2014 Saturday. He is a four-star prospect and the top recruit in the state of Minnesota for his class.