When does protecting your borders become a hindrance to your football program? The answer to that question may be on the Golden Gophers' roster this year.
Gophers fans have for years made it seem important to whomever the coach is that keeping the best talent the state has to offer is important. And while I agree it is crucial to land the best players in the state, this program has shot itself in the foot year after year by heavily recruiting in-state quarterbacks who hardly ever pan out in the Big Ten.
Take, for instance, this year's crop of freshmen in-state signal callers. You've got Mitch Liedner from Lakeville South, Duke Anywanu of Blaine, and Phillip Nelson of Mankato West. Of these three, Nelson was the most recruited by the Gophers' peers and seems to have a real chance to be a difference maker on this squad. The other two guys will battle for playing time and may never see a snap as a Gophers quarterback.
Take, for instance, junior Moses Alipate, from Bloomington Jefferson. Alipate is a very gifted athlete who under both Tim Brewster and Jerry Kill was advertised as the heir apparent. Now with the emergence of Marquis Gray, backup Max Shortel and the three freshmen, Alipate has been relegated to tight end, where he will have to learn a new position. The kid can do it, but learning a position in college is much different than it is in youth or high school football.
Yes, it is a public relations coup if you can keep the best high profile players at the university. However, signing three quarterbacks at a time when you have a logjam isn't the most prudent way of getting better. Kill's hands are tied right now, but in the future this program needs to pick one local kid and do everything to keep him in state. After that, you get the kids that will help this program the most. And if they happen to be from the Land of 10,000 Lakes then it's a bonus.
Blair Reynolds is a lifelong Gophers fan who knew how to sing the Minnesota Rouser before he knew how to count to 10.