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Marcus R. Fuller / St. Paul Pioneer Press, Published February 05 2014

Four-star RB helps make for Kill's best class with Gophers

MINNEAPOLIS – University of Minnesota football coach Jerry Kill made his third full recruiting class his best yet.

The Gophers on Wednesday signed 20 scholarship players, including the state’s No. 1 recruit – running back Jeff Jones of Minneapolis Washburn – plus other high-potential prospects who added depth at wide receiver, tight end and on the defensive line.

“When you are building a program, that (third) class is the one that turns the tide,” Kill said at his signing day news conference at TCF Bank Stadium.

The presence of Jones, a four-star running back, helped Kill’s class move up from the bottom of the Big Ten Conference, where it ranked the past two years.

The Gophers were ranked as high as eighth in the Big Ten by Rivals.com and 49th nationally by recruiting guru Tom Lemming. Previously, Kill’s highest-ranked class was ninth in the Big Ten and 52nd nationally, both by Rivals.com in 2011.

“Jerry Kill is a great evaluator and developer of talent,” said Lemming, who works for CBS College Sports. “He was able to land the best player in the state. And he added some great pieces to have this program headed in the right direction.”

Lemming’s three favorite recruits other than Jones are Somerset (Wis.) tight end Gaelin Elmore, Mount Carmel (Ill.) defensive lineman Steven Richardson and Wyandotte (Kan.) quarterback Dimonic Roden-McKinzy, who already is enrolled at Minnesota.

“The Elmore kid from Wisconsin is a big-time ballplayer with a potential NFL-type body,” Lemming said. “(Richardson) had a phenomenal year at Mount Carmel in Chicago with 17 sacks. I saw McKinzy throw at our camp in Los Angeles last January. He was really more of an athlete, but he’s got a great arm.”

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.