Minnesota official visit primer: Irondale OL Emerson Mandell


HomeHome / News / Minnesota official visit primer: Irondale OL Emerson Mandell

Nov 02, 2023

Minnesota official visit primer: Irondale OL Emerson Mandell

Minnesota heads into a big weekend on the trail sitting on 247Sports No. 16

Minnesota heads into a big weekend on the trail sitting on 247Sports No. 16 ranked recruiting class. Head coach P.J. Fleck and his staff are hoping to add to it as they welcome in a large group of prospects.

"There is so much change in college football right now and it still all comes down to people," Fleck told 247Sports at last week's College Football Showcase Camp held at Wayne State. "We have incredible people. We have an incredible staff. I think one of the things that sets people apart in recruiting do your players recruit for you? The players are always going to be able to tell the truth no matter what and I think we have great players who are great people who care about our ‘Row the Boat’ culture and care about the University of Minnesota and care about each other. I think that's really special. Truly in the day in age where we’re at right now I still think that takes precedent over anything else."

When you look at what's already in the fold for the Gophers you have explosive lineman Riley Sunram and four-star safety Koi Perich who they beat Iowa and Michigan among others to keep at home. Out of Esko (Minn.) Lincoln Secondary, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Perich filled the boxscore as much as any high school player in the country as a junior turning 60 carries into 813 yards and 11 touchdowns, 17 receptions into 353 yards and nine touchdowns with two kick returns for scores, three punt returns for scores, 75 tackles, three interceptions and four forced fumbles.

Minnesota has gone 4-0 in bowl games under Fleck and has finished in the Top 10 nationally one time. They’ve been in the hunt to make the Big Ten title game a few times and this is a class that keeps the Gophers in all those conversations moving forward. The two linebackers committed in Mason Carrier and Brady Pretzlaff are physically ready to play day one with sideline to sideline ability. Carrier is a two-way standout with plus speed at the position and he's a violent tackler. He has electric plays on film. Meanwhile Pretzlaff had 115 tackles as junior Gaylord (Mich.) High, he is an every-down player at the position that also makes things happen as a pass catcher on offense.

Aurora (Ill.) Waubonsie Valley's Julian Johnson has the traits to be one of the Big Ten's top tight ends, and quarterback Drake Fowler had a fantastic junior season for Fayetteville (Ark.) High where he threw for 37 touchdowns and three interceptions. This class has a lot of size, length and speed.

"I think we’ve had a steady climb in every area of changing our best," Fleck said. "I got some great advice when I was a young coach. It's my job is to out recruit everybody on the team. It's the player's job to keep their jobs and that's a how a program keeps excelling. And as long as you can be transparent and say that to everybody and create a blueprint and an environment where everybody can positively grow and get the most out of themselves you can continue to keep taking those right steps."

Fleck believes that Minnesota "selects" more than they recruit, and they’ve selected these prospects in four-star offensive tackle Emerson Mandell, edge rusher Wyatt Gilmore, tight end Jacob Simpson, defensive lineman Jaylin Hicks, running back Da’Juan Riggs, cornerback Samuel Madu and receiver Mike Gerald to take an official visit this weekend.

"First of all it's a life program," Fleck said. "If you’re willing to develop as a person and be a better person you’re going to be a better player. Sometimes when you just want to be a better player you gotta be a better person for that to happen because there's going to be a lot of unrequired work necessary for that to happen. Our players just do a tremendous job of the unrequired work. Recruiting the same way. It's building those relationship constantly and building the right relationships."