So the Big Ten needs to improve its recruiting. Urban Meyer says it, Adam Kramer says it, Michael Felder says it, we're saying it, it's true. The Big Ten isn't doing what it needs to do to keep it on the level of the SEC—and whether it's on the level of the Pac-12, Big 12 or ACC remains to be seen.
And yet the scene isn't completely bleak, even aside from the stellar classes Michigan and Ohio State put together. One of the most remarkable recruiting victories for the Big Ten happened with one Donovahn Jones, a QB/WR prospect from Hampton, Ga. Jones was offered by several SEC teams and spent nearly five months committed to Missouri, and yet a Big Ten squad went down down to Georgia and got Jones to sign.
And more amazingly, that Big Ten team that flipped Jones from the SEC was Minnesota.
Here's more from the Star-Tribune:
Terry Herrod, Dutchtown's basketball coach and associate football coach, said Jones has a 39-inch vertical, runs the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds and can throw a football 70 yards.
Herrod said Jones had offers from 28 FBS (Division I) schools, including five from the SEC -- Missouri, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Kentucky. He plays quarterback, but most schools recruited him to play wide receiver.
"He could probably step on the field right now [for Minnesota] and start at receiver," Herrod said. "That's how athletic he is. But with the proper coaching, he can be a dual-threat quarterback of enormous potential."
The Gophers promised Jones a shot at quarterback, knowing wide receiver is a fallback option. The relationship he formed with Anderson and Kill convinced him they have his best interests at heart. Jones threw for 1,609 yards and rushed for 634 yards last fall, earning honorable mention All-State honors. He made a verbal commitment to Missouri but flipped to Minnesota on Tuesday, one day before National Signing Day.
Jones' highlight reel is actually kind of light, for whatever reason, but we did come across this—and you can see the athleticism his coach was talking about, coming through loud and clear:
This is obviously a recruiting coup for Kill, who just 15 months ago was mired in a season that saw home losses to the likes of South Dakota State and New Mexico State. Yes, Minnesota improved substantially in 2012, even with remarkable instability at quarterback, but it's still Minnesota we're talking about.
The key to Minnesota landing Jones was obviously Kill's openness to letting Jones play QB, but in reading that article, Jones also indicates that he's in turn open to falling back on wide receiver if quarterbackin' doesn't get him on the field soon enough. And wide receiver is where the SEC schools wanted to see Jones play.
In other words, the rigidity of the SEC schools to insist that Jones come in as a WR and not a QB—even as he's acknowledging that WR may be the place for him in the long run—means that he'll be playing for Minnesota instead. The only difference was Minnesota's willingness to indulge Jones' ambition to be a signal-caller, at least in the short term. And that's hardly a bad thing for a program to do.
That's smart recruiting by Kill and Minnesota. Maybe it gets the Gophers their next quarterback of the future. Maybe it gets them a talented wideout. We'll see.