Three B1G Things: Minnesota lands big-time CB, Northwestern's AD chimes in on empty stadiums & B1G history at the NFL Draft?
Three B1G Things is a daily weekday update on some of the most unique and interesting stories from across the B1G. It ranges from recruiting to coach press conferences, funny anecdotes to serious situations. We provide our commentary, analysis and opinions on a few topics every day.
Minnesota’s prowess on the recruiting front is growing
In 2019, P.J. Fleck took Minnesota’s football program to a level it hasn’t visited in decades. The Gophers finished 11-2, defeated Auburn in the Outback Bowl and is now considered one of the favorites in the B1G West in the 2020 season.
That success on the field has translated well to the recruiting trail. Late last week, The Gophers received a pledge from four-star cornerback Avante Dickerson, a native of Omaha. It was a huge addition to Minnesota’s class and the highest-ranked prospect to commit to the program in the Fleck era.
Dickerson is the No. 93 overall prospect in the 2021 class, according to 247Sports. He chose Minnesota over offers from Nebraska, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Iowa, Ohio State, Oregon and Penn State, among many other programs. That’s a huge deal for Fleck.
In three seasons, Fleck has already demonstrated the ability to turn Minnesota into a contender in the B1G West, even with a few not-so-highly ranked recruiting classes. Grabbing top 100 prospects raises the ceiling in Minneapolis exponentially, especially if the Gophers can do it with more frequency.
It will be interesting to see if there’s a domino effect now that Dickerson has committed.
No fans in stadiums = No college football games
Maybe that’s not officially the ruling in mid-April, but it seems unlikely that the college football season will be played in front of empty venues. Northwestern Athletic Director Jim Phillips was the latest to scoff at that notion.
“It isn’t appropriate for us to play college football without fans,” Phillips told Paul Finebaum late last week. “If that were the case, it would mean there would be major reservations about group gatherings.”
That comment echoes what Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith has said recently, stating that if it’s unsafe for fans to attend, it’s not safe for student-athletes to participate in events. Penn State AD Sandy Barbour also said that there will be no athletic contests unless students are permitted back on campus.
Playing in front of vacant stadiums hasn’t been completely ruled out, but it seems incredibly unlikely that it will be a viable option.
Will the B1G make NFL Draft history?
In the 50-year history of the modern NFL Draft (1970), the B1G has never produced three of the top four picks. That could change on Thursday, though.
NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah has Chase Young (Ohio State), Jeff Okudah (Ohio State) and Tristan Wirfs (Iowa) projected to be picked in slots No. 2 through No. 4 on Thursday night. Having that many draft picks in the top four spots hasn’t happened for the B1G since the 1967 NFL-AFL Draft.
Producing three of the top four picks is incredibly rare for a conference. In the modern draft era, it’s only happened twice — the Big 12 in 2010 and the SEC in 2011. Could we see it happen again?
We’ll find out on Thursday.