Gophers football adds 19 players to 2021 class

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 09: Head coach P.J. Fleck of the Minnesota Golden Gophers and his team take the field against the Penn State Nittany Lions at TCFBank Stadium on November 9, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Adam Bettcher/Getty Images / Getty Images)

It’s National Signing Day for high school recruits, which means seniors in Minnesota and across the country can start putting pen to paper and making their college choice official.

The University of Minnesota football team announced Wednesday it has added 19 players to the 2021 recruiting class. They signed 17 players to National Letters of Intent, a graduate transfer on defense and a walk-on. The 2021 class is ranked No. 22 in the country, tied for the highest-ever in Fleck's tenure at Minnesota. The class is also ranked No. 26 nationally in the composite ranks, which put all recruiting services together.

"This is one the greatest classes ever to come to the University of Minnesota in recent football years, and it’s during a pandemic. I think that deserves a lot of credit for a lot of people," Fleck said.

At least six of the signees are expected to enroll in January and participate in spring football. Fleck has signed six 4-star players, and for the fourth straight year, the Gophers have signed an ESPN 300 recruit in quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis.

The average ranking per recruit is the program's highest in history, and Fleck's four classes are the strongest four-year run in Gophers' history. Four of the 20-highest prospects in the history of the program are also in the 2021 class.

The 2021 class includes players from 10 states, and it was one of the most challenging recruiting years for P.J. Fleck as a head coach, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to restrictions put in place since March, all recruiting was done virtually and many signees have yet to see the campus in person.

"Half of them, I haven’t even shaken their hand or met them in person, or they haven’t met me. Can you imagine not meeting me and then get nine months of me without ever meeting me?" Fleck said. "I give our staff a ton of credit for being able to create that experience for those student-athletes away from the in-person experience, which was incredibly challenging."

The 2021 class is made up of eight position groups, featuring nine offensive players and 10 defensive players. Minnesota signed one quarterback, one running back, one tight end, two offensive linemen and four wide receivers. On defense, the Gophers added three defensive backs, three linebackers and four defensive linemen.

The Gophers added five players from Illinois, three from Minnesota, three from Texas, two from Georgia and one each from Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Mississippi, Ohio and Washington. Here’s a look at who joined the Minnesota program officially on Wednesday.

Athan Kaliakmanis, Antioch, Ill., Antioch High School

Running Back
Mar'Keise Irving, Country Club Hills, Ill., Hillcrest High School

Tight End
Jameson Geers, New Lenox, Ill., Providence Catholic High School

Wide Receiver
Brady Boyd, Southlake, Texas, Southlake Carroll High School
Lemeke Brockington, Moultrie, Ga., Colquitt County High School
Dino Kaliakmanis, Antioch, Ill., Antioch High School
Dylan McGill, Mesquite, Texas, Mesquite High School

Offensive Line
Cameron James, Chicago, Ill., Simeon Career Academy, Offensive Line
Logan Purcell, Annandale, Minn., Annandale High School, Offensive Line

Defensive Back
Darius Green, Covington, Ga., Newton High School
Steven Ortiz Jr., Goodyear, Ariz., Desert Edge High School
Justin Walley, D'Iberville, Miss., D'Iberville High School

Jack Gibbens, Bulverde, Texas, Abilene Christian University / Smithson Valley High School
Eli Mau, Chanhassen, Minn., Chanhassen High School
Devon Williams, Dublin, Ohio, Dublin Coffman High School

Defensive Line
Austin Booker, Greenwood, Ind., Center Grove High School
Deven Eastern, Shakopee, Minn., Shakopee High School
Luther McCoy, Saint Augustine, Fla., Creekside High School
Jacob Schuster, Tumwater, Wash., Tumwater High School