MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Minnesota still has trouble competing for talent with the powers of college football, but some experts call this year's class one of coach Glen Mason's best with the Gophers.
Mason announced Wednesday, the national signing day, that Minnesota signed or expects to sign 25 players.
"I think it's going to be an excellent class," said Tom Lemming, a Chicago-based recruiting analyst. "I don't know if it will be Glen's best class, but it should be in the top 30 nationally and fifth or sixth in the Big Ten. That's all you can ask for at Minnesota."
Mason said he was pleased with this year's group but wouldn't speculate on whether it was his best since taking over at Minnesota in 1997.
"Overall we're very pleased with the class. We really felt like we addressed a lot of our needs," he said. "But it takes time to evaluate how everything will work out."
The Gophers are expecting junior college wide receiver Paris Hamilton, who was named the top junior college receiver available by JCFootball.com, to work out almost immediately. Mason said Hamilton and the five other receivers in this year's recruiting class will have plenty of opportunities to impress.
"Certainly wide receiver is a position where we needed some depth, and guys will have a chance to play right away," Mason said.
Along with six wide receivers, this year's class also includes one quarterback, four running backs, three offensive lineman, three defensive linemen, three linebackers and five defensive backs. Along with keeping a handful of Minnesota players at home, Mason said the Gophers came away with several quality players from football-rich states like Texas, Florida and Ohio.
"We're becoming more and more competitive in recruiting every year that I've been here," Mason said. "It seemed this year like more doors were opened up to us."
Local talent Mason managed to keep in state included linebackers Mark Mullaney of Eden Prairie and John Shevlin of Eastview, defensive lineman Tony Brinkhaus of Bloomington Jefferson and offensive linemen Jeff Sundsmo of St. Paul Highland Park and Steve Shidell of Coon Rapids.
Bloomington Jefferson coach Jon Leverenz said it was an easy choice for Brinkhaus to stay at home.
"His natural love is defense, and they have a great program at Minnesota," Leverenz said of Brinkhaus, whom the Gophers recruited as a defensive tackle. Nebraska also came after Brinkhaus but wanted him to switch to offensive line. Leverenz said Minnesota high school coaches have noticed that Mason continues to improve when it comes to keeping in-state talent from leaving.
"I think he's doing a great job," Leverenz said. "They lost three kids to Notre Dame, but hey, you can't blame 'em. Minnesota was recruiting those kids, but Notre Dame is the pinnacle."
As has been the trend in recent years, the state's top Division I prospects went elsewhere. The three that many considered the best -- tight end John Carlson of Litchfield, offensive tackle Ryan Harris of Cretin-Derham Hall and defensive lineman Trevor Laws of Apple Valley -- all chose Notre Dame over Minnesota.
"I'm more interested in the guys we have coming here," Mason said when asked about how he fared in Minnesota. "But I'm like every other coach. I'm greedy. I'd love to keep them all."
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