Big Ten Signing Day: Gophers keep Jeff Jones in state

Big Ten Signing Day: Gophers keep Jeff Jones in state
February 6, 2014, 6:15 pm
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Vinnie Duber

Big Ten Signing Day

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There are few days as frantic as National Signing Day. And sometimes it can be a difficult enough task to try and keep up with news of one team, let alone 12 of them.

Well, now that all the Signing Day hubbub has died down, it’s a good time to take a look at what happened in the Big Ten. How did the teams do? Who are the big-name recruits coming to the conference next season? And how happy were the coaches with their respective hauls? We’ve broken it down, team-by-team.

Minnesota Golden Gophers

(Rivals rankings: 8th Big Ten, 53rd nationally)

For the Gophers, this recruiting class is all about Jeff Jones. The No. 1 player in Minnesota, the seventh-best running back in the country, Jones is a 6-foot-0, 198-pound back that is the headliner of Jerry Kill’s 2014 group. Jones rushed for 1,525 yards in 10 games during his senior season, adding 34 touchdowns and the title of Mr. Football in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. He was also the MVP of the Under Armour All-American Game. It’s a great pickup for Kill, considering the focus the Gophers seem to be placing on the running game moving forward. It’s so much of an emphasis that it forced starting quarterback Philip Nelson to transfer from Minnesota. If things go as hoped, Jones could be one of the more featured players in the Big Ten down the road.

[MORE: Shot at Northwestern reminds of Illini in-state struggles]

Recruit in Rivals 250:

44. Jeff Jones, four-star running back, (Minneapolis, Minn.)

Coach speak: “He came to camp his freshman year, and in camp we gave it to him about 25 times right up the pipe and I go, ‘Ooh, this is different now.’ We built a relationship for a long time. ... Through my relationship with (Ra’shede Hageman), Jeff goes, ‘Hey that head coach is proven that he’ll work to do everything he can for you if you love football.' And Jeff loves football. ... Bottom line, everybody wanted the kid, and he stayed. It’s hard when you’ve got that many people coming at you and you’re young. We maintained a relationship. I think he would tell you, we maintained that relationship all this time.

“Deep down, all along, he wanted to play in his home state. He told me that when he was a freshman.”