Minnesota does not produce a consistent level of great FBS talent, but like a lot of states it has good years. The North Star State is coming off a nice little streak where it produced four ESPNU 150 prospects over the last three years, with at least one in each of those three classes. The state recently produced talented Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd, who was a top 10 receiver prospect in 2008, and last season produced five-star offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson, who is now at Miami. So while Minnesota is not a state that programs rely on for talent year in and year out, it is a place recruiters need to watch. This year, however, with only one four-star and two three-star prospects emerging at this point in our evaluations, the 2011 class is not one of the state's strongest in recent years.
Tommy Olson (Mahtomedi, Minn./Mahtomedi)
With Minnesota ranked near the bottom of the Big Ten in rushing and scoring offense, Gophers fans are happy see in-state four-star lineman Olson on board. A top 15 guard prospect, Olson, 6-foot-4, 275 pounds, is an aggressive and tough run blocker. He can quickly get into defenders, deliver a pop, and get movement off the ball. He flashes good athleticism for a big man and can block second-level defenders and looks very comfortable pulling and trapping. He is also a tenacious blocker who looks to dominate and finish opponents. Coming from a run-oriented offense he will need work as a pass blocker, but has the tools to develop in that area. With good overall ability and toughness he should be a good addition to the Gophers' offensive line and whoever takes over the program should try and hang onto this in-state prospect.
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James Farrow (Minnetonka, Minn./Minnetonka)
This Virginia Tech commit could offer some production in all three phases of the game, but we think he could help the Hokies best on defense as a corner or, with more physical development, as a safety. Farrow may not be a lockdown man-to-man corner, but he has good height (5-11, 180 pounds) and straight-line speed and closes hard on the ball. He is also a reliable open-field tackler who can limit receivers' yards after the catch. The one-time Minnesota commit can also contribute on special teams as a returner. Not a lot of flash to Farrow, but he could develop into a productive and solid defender for the Hokies and is one the Gophers probably wish they could have held onto.
Taking up residence
Here are the colleges that are doing the best with prospects from Minnesota.
While Tim Brewster struggled to keep some of Minnesota's elite talent at home, he had been active within the state. Minnesota's 2011 class features three in-state prospects, but with the recent dismissal of Brewster the Gophers are now heading into a new era so this class could be in for some changes. Right now, two of the state's top three prospects -- Olson and three-star outside linebacker Peter Westerhaus (Chanhassen, Minn./Holy Family Catholic) -- are committed to the Gophers. Whoever takes over the program won't have a strong crop of in-state talent available to make a splash with this year.
The Cardinal will go all over the nation for talent and this year they landed the North Star State's No. 2 prospect in tough, run stuffing defensive tackle Anthony Hayes (Saint Paul, Minn./Saint Thomas Academy).
The Hokies do most of their damage in the Mid-Atlantic states, but will also venture outside that recruiting base at times for talent. This year, they landed a commitment from one-time Gophers DB commit Farrow, a versatile prospect.
Craig Haubert is the recruiting coordinator for ESPN Recruiting and has more than a decade of coaching experience.