Gophers football adds 33 to 2023 class on National Signing Day

Head coach P.J. Fleck of the Minnesota Golden Gophers watches action against the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the third quarter at Memorial Stadium on November 5, 2022 in Lincoln, Nebraska.  ((Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images))

Wednesday marks the start of the early signing period for high school football seniors and college athletes in the transfer portal, and the University of Minnesota has added 33 players to the class of 2023.

PJ Fleck and the Gophers finished the 2022 season 8-4, capped by a 23-16 win over Wisconsin to keep Paul Bunyan’s Axe for the second straight year. The Gophers will play Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 29 at Yankee Stadium.

The Gophers on Wednesday signed a class that features players from 14 states and two countries. Fleck signed 16 offensive players, and 15 defensive players. Every player in the class was signed and official by 10 a.m. Wednesday.

"There’s a combination of a lot of different people in this class, it feels a lot of needs. This is all about selection and fit, it’s not about recruiting, We show everybody what it’s like before they even say yes," Gophers coach PJ Fleck said Wednesday. "They know our standards, that’s what they’re buying. They’re not only really good football players, but hopefully really good men."

On offense, Minnesota signed two quarterbacks, two running backs, two tight ends, five offensive linemen and five wide receivers. On defense, the Gophers added four defensive linemen, five linebackers and six defensive backs. The class features 21 scholarship freshman, seven preferred walk-ons and five additions from the transfer portal.

The Gophers added 11 players from Minnesota, including eight of the top 12 players from the 2023 class. It's the biggest in-state class Fleck has kept home in his six seasons.

"I’m energized by it, I can see the difference when we walk into Minnesota schools, the excitement people have about Minnesota," Fleck said. "There’s a lot more now, and that’s what you want to create as an in-state coach. You want people to dream of being Gophers, and this is the biggest class we’ve had of people who have dreamed of being Gophers."

There are also five from Illinois and two from Florida, Georgia, Indiana and Wisconsin. Minnesota also added Louisiana, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Minnesota also added Canadian Drew Viotto, who played high school football in Michigan.

The Gophers 2023 class features 21 freshmen, and five transfers.

The local talent staying home includes Stillwater quarterback Max Shikenjanski (PWO), Maple Grove tight end Sam Peters, Osseo offensive lineman Jerome Williams, Prior Lake offensive lineman Greg Johnson, Kasson-Mantorville offensive lineman Reese Tripp, Prior Lake defensive lineman Martin Owusu, Hutchinson linebacker Alex Elliott, Shakopee defensive back Garrison Monroe, Ethan Carrier of Detroit Lakes and Jackson Powers of Maple Grove, as well as Eastview punter Caleb McGrath.

Fleck went hard after receivers in the final days leading up to National Signing Day, landing freshmen T.J. McWilliams and Kenric Lanier II, and transfers Corey Crooms Jr. and Elijah Spencer.

The Gophers will have 13 of their 33 signees enroll in January to start spring football. Here’s a look at the 2023 class.

Drew Viotto, Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, Canada, Walled Lake Western High School
Max Shikenjanski, Stillwater, Minn., Stillwater High School

Running Back
Darius Taylor, Detroit, Mich., Walled Lake Western High School
Marquese Williams, Harrisburg, Pa., Bishop McDevitt High School

Wide Receiver
Donielle Hayes, Pensacola, Fla., Pine Forest High School
T.J. McWilliams, Indianapolis, Ind., North Central High School
Kenric Lanier II, Decatur, Ga., Decatur High School
Corey Crooms Jr., Country Club Hills, Ill., Western Michigan
Elijah Spencer, Irmo, S.C., Charlotte

Tight End
Pierce Walsh, Downers Grove, Ill., Benet Academy
Sam Peters, Maple Grove, Minn., Maple Grove High School

Offensive Line
Jerome Williams, Osseo, Minn., Osseo High School
Greg Johnson, Prior Lake, Minn., Prior Lake High School
Reese Tripp, Mantorville, Minn., Kasson-Mantorville High School
De'Eric Mister, Gary, Ind., West Side High School
Phillip Daniels, Cincinnati, Ohio, Princeton High School

Defensive Line
Theorin Randle, Houston, Texas, Shadow Creek High School
Karter Menz, Horace, N.D., Sheyenne High School
Martin Owusu, Prior Lake, Minn., Prior Lake High School
Chris Collins, Richmond, Va., North Carolina

Matt Kingsbury, Chicago, Ill., St. Rita High School
Alex Elliott, Hutchinson, Minn., Hutchinson High School
Drew Wilson, Mequon, Wis., Homestead High School
Zander Rockow, Eau Claire, Wis., Regis High School
Ryan Selig, Western Michigan, Lindenhurst, Ill.

Defensive Back
Za'Quan Bryan, Savannah, Ga., Benedictine Military School
Garrison Monroe, Shakopee, Minn., Shakopee High School
Ethan Carrier, Detroit Lakes, Minn., Detroit Lakes High School
Jackson Powers, Maple Grove, Minn., Maple Grove High School
Kerry Brown, Naples, Fla., Naples High School
Jack Henderson, Mandeville, La., Southeastern Louisiana

Ryan Algrim, Elburn, Ill., Kaneland High School

Caleb McGrath, Apple Valley, Minn., Eastview High School