Offense is the name of the game in this region especially in the North Star State of Minnesota. Actually, nine of the top 10 players line up on offense and for the second time in two years, the No. 1 prospect is a wide receiver. Michael Floyd, last year's very best, has been an impact player for Notre Dame and enhances the area's reputation for producing skilled athletes.
The top recruit for the 2009 class, WR Bryce McNeal (Minneapolis/Breck) and two others rank ninth nationally at their respective positions. Under Armour All-American quarterback Moses Alipate (Alexandria, Minn./Jefferson) is a Ben Rothlesberger (Pittsburgh Steelers) clone. He is pocket passer with great size and a strong arm. Alipate has a good over-the-top delivery, a quick release and excellent touch on the football. Besides being skillful, he has poise and a competitive spirit.
Zach Mottla (St. Paul, Minn/Cretin-Derham Hall) is one of the nation's top centers. Even though he is a little short, he is quick out of his stance and can reach a shaded noseguard with little problem. His low center of gravity actually helps him maintain leverage when run blocking.
The other player in the region attracting a lot of attention is Under Armour All-American tight end Ra'Shede Hageman (Minneapolis, Minn/Washburn). This tall, physical athlete has outstanding hands and is a solid blocker at his position. He has attracted Division I offers from around the country.
Bryce McNeal, wide receiver
Breck School (Minneapolis)
Considering: Minnesota, Colorado, Florida, California and Michigan
McNeal is a sleek athlete both smooth and fluid at wide receiver. The No. 9-ranked wide receiver has a ton of offers, especially from the Midwest and Rocky Mountain region. McNeal will really fill out once he is on a collegiate strength program and daily training table.
Once committed to Michigan, McNeal reopened his recruitment in mid-October. Though the Wolverines remain in the mix, he is very much up for grabs; it would be a big-time statement if Minnesota could keep him in-state.
McNeal possesses very good top-end speed and can separate from the defensive back who tries to play him man to man. He is especially impressive when going up for the football in traffic and across the middle. He is a slashing and explosive runner in the open field once he hauls in the pass, and yards after the catch come easy for this gifted athlete.
Recruit under the radar
Fritz Rock, wide receiver
Wayzata H.S. (Plymouth, Minn.)
Considering: Minnesota, Cincinnati, Indiana, Washington State, Western Michigan
We decided to pick another wide receiver as the under-the-radar player because he has different skills than McNeal but can develop into a big-time wide out. Rock is a big receiver who isn't as fast or fluid as McNeal but has a good change of direction. He is a good, sharp route runner who gets excellent separation when breaking out of his cuts.
Rock has huge hands and can snag anything in the neighborhood. He should be an excellent possession receiver at the next level and a big-time playmaker in the red zone. His size makes him tough to bring down once he makes the reception.
On the Trail
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Minnesota, 10 commits (Oct. 24)
Coach Tim Brewster had a solid class for 2008 and is looking to repeat in 2009. Last year's class was slightly heavy on the defensive side while this year is strongly tilted the opposite way. Eight of the verbals are offensive players to go along with one defensive end and a kicker. The Golden Gophers have secured two commitments from Texas, including talented running back Hasan Lipscomb (Houston/Cypress Ridge). Lipscomb will be an asset in the backfield with quarterback Moses Alipate.
ESPNRISE.com Minnesota Game of the Week
Hopkins-Minnetonka (7-2) at Minnetonka (6-3), Saturday, 8 p.m. ET:
A short week in the Minnesota postseason means teams will play two elimination games within five days. Earlier this week, the cross-town rivals each posted lopsided wins in the Class 5A, Section 6 first round, recording season-high point outputs.
The Minnetonka Skippers crushed Chaska 62-14 Tuesday as Sam Alajika rushed for three touchdowns and quarterback Tom Ahrens fired three TD passes. Tight end Taylor Nelson (6-5, 220), an all-state player, is considering Iowa and Minnesota, and running back-linebacker Ismail Karon is the team's top rusher this season. Junior defensive tackle Beau Allen (6-3, 255) is on the ESPNU 150 Watch List.
Minnetonka won the regular season contest between the teams 45-33 on Sept. 12, but Hopkins is unbeaten in three road games. The winner faces two-time 5A state champion and nationally-ranked Eden Prairie (9-0) or Edina (7-2) for the section title Oct. 31. The Minnesota state championships are Thanksgiving weekend at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. -- Christopher Lawlor
Bill Conley is a recruiting coordinator for ESPN Scouts Inc. He previously worked at Ohio State for 17 years as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.