Gophers could add another back for '09

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Minnesota's 2009 recruiting class might not be complete, as the Gophers hope to add running back Trabis Ward in the coming days.

Ward, ranked as the nation's 27th best running back by ESPN's Scouts Inc., told the St. Paul Pioneer Press' Marcus Fuller that he'll sign with Minnesota as long as he receives a qualifying score on the SAT. Minnesota already has signed one running back for 2009, Hasan Lipscomb of Houston.

"I might sign when I come up on my visit . . . probably on Friday," said Ward, who is also considering South Carolina. "[Minnesota's] a running back school. I think I can do a lot of great things there."

Ward's last statement is important to note because Minnesota really couldn't be characterized as a running back school the last two seasons, when it used the spread offense. Quarterback Adam Weber led the team in rushing in 2007, and the Gophers had the Big Ten's worst rushing offense in 2008.

But Minnesota is taking steps toward returning to its running roots, namely hiring Tim Davis as offensive line coach/run game coordinator and Jedd Fisch as offensive coordinator.

Davis dramatically changed the way the Gophers' linemen block after arriving in late November, and Fisch plans to run a pro-style offense. It might not click right away, but Minnesota wants to get back to the not-so distant days when players like Laurence Maroney, Marion Barber III, Tellis Redmon and Gary Russell put up big numbers.

The message appears to be resonating for prospects like Ward.