Minnesota Golden Gophers

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Jerry Kill to make health-related decision on future as Rutgers’ OC

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Once again, Jerry Kill‘s health could force him to step away from the game.

Citing multiple unnamed sources, nj.com is reporting that the Rutgers’ offensive coordinator “is evaluating his options and is expected to make a health-related decision in the coming days” on his coaching future. The 56-year-old Kill was hospitalized in September of this year after suffering what was described as a minor seizure related to his ongoing battle with epilepsy, although he returned to his coaching duties shortly thereafter.

Ahead of an official decision, the website added, head coach Chris Ash has been informing prospects on the recruiting trail of the possibility that Kill might not be with the Scarlet Knights because of the issues that stretch back years.

In October of 2015, Kill was forced to step down as Minnesota’s head football coach because of health issues related to ongoing epileptic seizures.  Prior to joining the Rutgers staff, Kill spent the 2016 season in a non-coaching role at Kansas State.

In the year prior to Kill’s arrival, RU was 127th nationally in points per game (15.7) and 18th in total offense (283 yards per games).  In Kill’s first season in 2017, they were 121st in the former category (18 ppg) and 129th in the latter (263 ypg).

Minnesota lands commitment from 6-foot-8, 395-pound offensive tackle

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P.J. Fleck is going to need a bigger boat.

Minnesota has landed a commitment from the largest recruit on record, as 6-foot-8, 395-pound offensive tackle Daniel Faalele has committed to the Gophers. Faalele made the announcement on his Twitter page on Saturday night.

A 3-star recruit, Faalele is rated as the No. 29 offensive tackle in the country, according to 247Sports. He listed 20 offers, including from the likes of Alabama, Georgia, Michigan and LSU.

As the story goes, Faalele did not find football; football found him. He was discovered by a recruiter from Hawaii working out at a gym in his native Melbourne, Australia. He attended a Michigan satellite camp in Australia and played this season — his first season in pads — at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

In making the trip from the Land Down Under to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Faalele will be joined by a pair of IMG Academy teammates in offensive lineman Curtis Dunlap, Jr., and quarterback Zack Annexstad, who also committed to Minnesota on Saturday.

Those pledges now give Minnesota the 26th best recruiting class in the country and the sixth best in the Big Ten — but the No. 1 class in the Big Ten West — in the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Minnesota’s class may not be the best in the country, but it’s among the biggest — both in size (the Gophers have 25 pledges thus far) and stature.

Fourth Minnesota player this week transferring from Gophers

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For whatever reason, the transfer train has had an inordinate amount of departures from Minnesota of late.

That attrition continued Wednesday, with Jaylen Waters (pictured, No. 35) announcing via Twitter that he has decided to transfer from Minnesota. “It’s time for me to take my talents elsewhere,” the linebacker said, without giving a reason for his decision or a potential destination.

Waters had played in 27 games the past two seasons, including 10 in 2017.  He becomes the fourth player this week to leave P.J. Fleck‘s program.

Monday, three players — quarterback Demry Croft and wide receivers Hunter Register and Rashad Still — all announced on social media that they had decided to transfer out.   Croft was the most noteworthy of those defections as he started the last six games of the season under center for the Gophers.

Starting QB one of three transferring from Minnesota

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With the regular seasons of dozens of bowl-less teams at an end, it’s time for the transfer train to fire up and head out of the station.

The most recent but certainly not the last to witness personnel attrition is Minnesota, with the Golden Gophers losing a trio of players to transfer — quarterback Demry Croft and wide receivers Hunter Register and Rashad Still. The most noteworthy of the three is Croft.

A university spokesman confirmed to the St. Paul Pioneer Press that Croft, who started the last six games of the 2017 season for the bowl-less Gophers, had asked for a release from his scholarship shortly after Saturday’s loss to No. 5 Wisconsin. Head coach P.J. Fleck granted that request, although it’s unknown what if any restrictions were involved.

Late Monday night, Croft addressed the reports via Twitter.

This season, Croft completed 42 percent of his 122 passes for 674 yards, four touchdowns and seven interceptions. His 87.6 pass efficiency rating is not amongst the top 125 quarterbacks in the country.

Conversely, his 309 yards rushing and four rushing touchdowns were fourth and third on the team, respectively.

As a redshirt sophomore, Croft will have two seasons of eligibility remaining after leaving. Barring something unforeseen, Croft would have to sit out the 2018 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules if he transfers to another FBS program. A move to an FCS (or lower) school would allow him to play immediately next season.

Still caught passes for the Gophers each of the past three seasons.  While he had just two (for 68 yards) in 2017, he had 18 receptions in each of the previous two seasons.  Still’s three receiving touchdowns in 2015 was tied for second on the team that year.

As for Register, he was a three-star member of Minnesota’s 2015 recruiting class. After redshirting as a true freshman, Register caught one pass for six yards in 2016 and then played mainly on special teams this season.

Register, a Louisiana native, announced his decision to transfer on Twitter.

No. 5 Wisconsin blanks Minnesota, 31-0, to complete 12-0 regular season

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No. 5 Wisconsin (12-0, 9-0 Big Ten) put the finishing touches on an undefeated regular season in blowout fashion, defeating Minnesota (5-7, 2-7 Big Ten) on the road by a score of 31-0. Say what you might about the level of competition Minnesota has faced this season, but the Badgers have done everything asked of them to be in the College Football Playoff discussion, and they may be one win shy of reaching the playoff for the first time in school history.

Wisconsin had a straightforward approach to beating Minnesota fueled by steady defense and a good running game. Jonathan Taylor rushed 20 times for 149 yards and a score in the big win to continue a dominant freshman season. Alex Hornibrook passed for 151 yards and three touchdowns for an efficient afternoon when needed.

All that stands in the way for the Badgers now is Ohio State and the selection committee. A win against the Buckeyes to string together a 13-0 record with a Big Ten championship capped by a win against a top 10 team feels like it should be enough on its own to be rewarded with inclusion in the College Football Playoff. And with the top two teams in the nation losing this weekend, it still remains a guessing game how the selection committee will evaluate the situation. Nothing should be considered a given, but if Wisconsin is the last undefeated power conference team standing at the end of the season, then that should be enough if the Badgers can pull it off.

Wisconsin will play Ohio State next week in the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis. Minnesota’s season is now done with a 5-7 record, bringing the first season under P.J. Fleck to a close. There were some positives at times, but the Gophers have plenty of rowing to do to take steps forward in the Big Ten West pecking order and to give Wisconsin a decent run.