|Jerry Kill has already impressed Paul Rome.|
Every time we have a guest contribution from Paul Rome we learn a little more about this mystery mad man. Today we learn about his college football recruiting experience's and we learn about the Minnesota Golden Gopher's incoming class. Enjoy!
It was over a decade ago when Paul Rome was wandering the halls of Mahtomedi High School when his football coach approached him and said, “Paul Rome, the head football coach at Hamline is here. He’s here to recruit you.” Paul Rome was shocked, but excited and called Mom and Dad to tell them the news.
Ten minutes later, Paul Rome is in a classroom with five of his senior football teammates listening to Donovan Larson, the head coach of the Division 3 Hamline Pipers (MIAC Conference) try to sell us on his school and team. Paul Rome was wondering why he was even being recruited. Paul Rome was a decent free safety for the Zephyrs and surprisingly earned all conference honorable mention honors for his play, but why was Hamline interested in him? Paul Rome played on one of the top 10 defenses in the Metro area and had ten awesome players in front of him.
Because of this, Paul Rome rarely had to do anything because the 10 guys in front of him never missed a tackle or play. Paul Rome looked like a great player because he played on a great defense, but I had so very little to do with that defensive unit’s success. If you rated the starting defense’s eleven players from 1 to 11, Paul Rome would’ve been lucky to snatch spot # 10 or crack the top 9. I played with some elite defensive players from the front line, linebackers, and the secondary. I will say when it came time to make a play though, Paul Rome usually came through.
Coach Larson told Paul Rome, “I saw how fast you made up ground when the ball was in the air.” Being a track sprinting speed demon, this made sense to Paul Rome. After it was all said and done, Paul Rome was flattered, but declined to play for the Pipers because $80-100,000 in college debt didn’t sound cool, being within 20 miles of Mom and Dad was also lame, and Paul Rome had already committed to St. Cloud State to pursue his broadcasting dreams. Plus, Paul Rome would’ve probably been a bench warmer all 4 years. Had the University of Minnesota and Glen Mason come calling, Paul Rome would’ve probably continued his football career.
Besides being the resident hockey mind for the STOB crew, I have been asked to write about my favorite sports team of them all, Minnesota Golden Gopher football. With national signing day approaching, I thought I’d give you my thoughts on coach Kill’s true first recruiting class.
This class may not initially wow you or draw as much hype as that like that Top 25 class Brewster brought in, but I am thoroughly impressed with this group and think it is the best recruiting class this past decade. To start, how can you not be blown away by Kill convincing lifelong diehard Badger fan Philip Nelson to come to the U? This kid runs a sub five 40 yard dash and is a gifted passer on top of that. He was the top player in the state and is the prized recruit in this class. The future is very bright for this team because they have a star player set to take the reins for the next 4-5 years at the most critical position in football.
I can already here some Badger or Iowa fan saying, “If you don’t have an o-line to protect Nelson, what good will he do you? Good question, except not really. Massive left tackle Jonah Pirsig was practically recruited by every Big Ten school and 2009 National Champion Auburn. The big man from Blue Earth made Paul Rome and Jerry Kill happy by staying put in Minnesota.
Philip Nelson’s blindside covered? Check. How bout a solid interior lineman to go with that? I don’t know if he can cook, but Isaac “Chef” Hayes of St. Thomas Academy is also a 4 start recruit according to ESPN.com and is their 9th rated overall guard. After reading today’s Star Tribune, sounds like the Gophers plan to put him at center. With left tackle and center covered plus last year’s top state recruit in Tommy Olson (Zephyr) already manning a guard spot, Kill has a solid foundation in front of Nelson.
Hey Phil, how bout some play makers to throw to? You want it, you got it. Local Hopkins star WR originally said yes to Minnesota, then said goodbye and said yes to Vanderbilt, and then made a good decision and came back to Minnesota. Compared to Michael Floyd in receiving talent (and we all saw how good Floyd was at Notre Dame), this big receiver has all the tools to be one of the best in the Big Ten. Pair him up with speed man Devin Crawford-Tufts, who won some sprint track titles at Edina high a few years ago, and 4 start recruit Jamel Harbison from North Carolina, the Gophers have three young talented wide outs in their program. Let’s also not forget speedy slot man Marcus Jones, who tore his ACL and missed half the season. He was a stud kick returner and can be quite a difference maker if he can get back to full health.
Rallis joining the U. His older brother Mike is a gritty linebacker for the U and if kid brother Nick is anything like Mike, the Gophers got themselves a solid player in the defensive backfield. Three star Florida safety Dinero Moss has the talent to compete for early playing time from what I’ve read and will work with or compete with Rallis to solidify a position of need with the departure of reliable Kim Royston.
At corner, JUCO transfer Martez Shabazz de-committed from Baylor to come to Minneapolis and wear the maroon and gold. According to Sid Hartman, he is one of the fastest players on the Gopher roster. He may be counted on to play corner right away at the U. The D made strides this season. They weren’t big strides, but with another season Kill’s tutelage, I hope to see the Gophers D to continue to improve in 2012.
My guess is Kill is killing these recruits with his honesty. No BS, no promises. He probably tells them he will make them better football players and better people (Pirsig said that Kill would make him a better person in this past Sunday‘s Star Tribune article), but its up to them to work hard and have the desire to be great. I think recruits respond positively to his nothing’s going to be easy approach.
On top of that, he’s making academic strides with a school that seems to finish at the bottom of the Big Ten in the Classroom Olympics. Good grades=no academic suspensions=everybody is eligible to play. That is a positive equation for a team that currently is dealing with depth issues. Not to mention Mom and Dad will like that too in case little Johnny thinks all he has to do is play football at college.
I like Kill’s approach. When the team plays bad, he won’t put a positive spin on it (cough Tim Brewster). His players have stayed out of trouble since he’s been here and I like that too. 7 of the top 10 Minnesota players are staying home to play for Goldy and that is a good sign of things to come. Remember Brewster letting Seantrell Henderson and Mike Floyd get away or Glen Mason watching James Laurinaitis go to the Ohio State University? Kill got the four marquee Minnesota kids in Nelson, Pirsig, McDonald, and Hayes to sign with Ski-U-Mah with his 1st recruiting class. His track record speaks for itself and I am really excited where this program is headed.
Hell, I’m seriously considering season tickets for the first time ever. I’m feeling that good about what Jerry Kill is doing with this program. I hope his future recruiting classes bring as much promise as this one and I think better days are coming sooner rather than later for the M-I-N-N-E-S-O-T-A, Minnesota, Minnesota, yeaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Gophers!!!
I’m Paul Rome and I am out!