Recruiting field a merry-go-round for Gophrers with new coach

MINNEAPOLIS--The Gophers' 2017 football recruiting class continued to shift Monday morning. After new coach P.J. Fleck added 10 new players over the weekend -- including nine who flipped commitments from Western Michigan to Minnesota -- three pla...

MINNEAPOLIS-The Gophers' 2017 football recruiting class continued to shift Monday morning.

After new coach P.J. Fleck added 10 new players over the weekend - including nine who flipped commitments from Western Michigan to Minnesota - three players previously committed to former head coach Tracy Claeys decided to decommit to the U on Monday, according to their messages on Twitter.

Those players were Claudin Cherelus, outside linebacker/safety from Naples, Fla.; Javan Hawes, wide receiver from Tyrone, Ga.; and Jakyle Holmes, a running back/athlete from Ponchatoula, La.

Meanwhile Monday, Gophers starting center Tyler Moore has decided to transfer, he announced on Twitter.

In recruiting, the 10 additions and three subtractions in the Gophers class has been a net gain for Minnesota - beyond just the numbers of players. Fleck's Western Michigan recruiting class and his new group at Minnesota have flipped positions in recruiting rankings. The Broncos, who once were in the top 25 in the nation last spring, are now 87th, according to's composite rankings, while the Gophers have moved up to 54th.


When Fleck was hired away from Western Michigan on Friday, Hawes told the Pioneer Press he was waiting to hear from Fleck. "I'm committed to a college that I really want to go to and now my future kind of rests in his hands," he said.

Come Monday, Hawes' message on Twitter read, "After talking with my family, coach and much prayer I am decommitting from the University of Minnesota."

Holmes committed to the Gophers less than a month ago and then called it off Monday.

"I would also like to say thanks to Minnesota and the old coaching staff and the great fans that have supported me," Holmes wrote. "I will be decommiting from the university of Minnesota."

Cherelus also announced he's moving on. "After all the complications and a lot of thought I have decided to decommit from the University of Minnesota & reopen my recruiting," he tweeted.

Hawes, Holmes and Cherelus join Jimmie Terry, a junior college offensive lineman transfer from Madison, Miss., who wrote on Twitter on Sunday night he was reopening his recruiting "due to the new coaching staff not wanting me."

Among the 10 additions over the weekend, Fleck added recruits at three of the four positions where a previous recruit has vacated. At running back, the Gophers added Mohamed Ibrahim of Olney, Md. At receiver, the U added Chris Bell of Kankakee, Ill. On the offensive line, Minnesota added John Schmitz of Flossmore, Ill., and Kyle Sassack of Pontiac, Mich.

Safety continues to be a position of need for the Gophers before the Feb. 1 national signing day.


With Moore departing, the Gophers will also have to fill a void at center. The 6-foot-4, 305-pound sophomore from Galena Park, Texas, started 20 consecutive games before a back injury kept him out of the 17-12 win over Washington State in the Holiday Bowl.

"I have met some people that I'll never forget and will cherish those memories for the rest of my life. I have been (a part) of such great teams this year and Unfortunately, it has come to an end," Morre said in a message posted on Twitter. I am ending my time at The University of Minnesota and transferring to another school."

As a true freshman in 2015, Moore was thrust into the starting lineup after an injury to starter Brian Bobek before the Purdue game Oct. 10 and held that spot for the final eight games. He played in every regular-season game this season.

Jared Weyler, Moore's backup center in the Holiday Bowl, was also out injured, giving third-string center Matt Leidner the start against the Cougars. Leidner and his older brother, quarterback Mitch Leidner, are graduating this year and are done playing college football.

In the coaching side of things, the Gophers are hiring Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith to fill the same job in Minnesota, with an announcement expected this week, according to ESPN.

New Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck told WCCO-AM on Sunday that he wanted to have his coaching staff lined up by Thursday and have them on campus by Sunday.

Smith, who was mentioned last week in Wake Forest's search for a new defensive coordinator position, concluded his third season at Arkansas. In his first season, the Razorbacks ranked 10th in the nation in scoring (19 points per game) and total defense (323 yards per game). But in the past two seasons, the Arkansas defense has struggled. In 2016, it was 85th in scoring defense (31 points per game) and 76th total defense (426 yards per game).

Smith and Fleck were assistants at Rutgers under Scarlet Knights head coach Greg Schiano in 2010-11. Smith was the special-teams coordinator/cornerbacks coach in 2010 and special-teams coordinator/linebackers coach in 2011, when Fleck was wide receivers coach.

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