For the Big 10 Conference to have a successful season of recruiting for 2011, all 11 schools must go national. Why? Every state in the Midwest lacks football talent this year. Ohio is good but not up to its usual standards. The Chicago area is down, too, not at all comparable to the class of 2010.
Take Minnesota, for example. It's a down year. The best player is 6-4, 290-pound offensive lineman Tom Olson of Mahtomedi. The best center in the Midwest and one of the top two or three centers in the nation, he is committed to Minnesota. As a sophomore, I rated him as a future All-American. But he is the only player in the state who has made a commitment.
The only other player who has been offered is 6-3, 215-pound tight end Peter Westerhaus of Minneapolis. He has been offered by Minnesota.
There are some other players who have big-time potential but they haven't received much attention to date because most college recruiters don't come to Minnesota until the May evaluation period. Some of them got exposure at the U.S. Army combine last January in San Antonio, Texas.
One player certain to command some attention is 6-4, 220-pound Ernie Helfort of Bemidiji. Helfort is very athletic. He plays tight end and linebacker and, perhaps most importantly, he is the best punter in the state, one of the best in the Midwest.
Others to watch are 6-3, 210-pound wide receiver Jameer Jackson of Osseo, 6-4, 190-pound quarterback Alex Kreuser of Totino, 6-6, 250-pound tight end Dave Mast of St. Paul and 5-8, 170-pound running back Reggie Gandy of Mineapolis.
Also 6-3, 290-pound guard Josh Colville of Minnetonka, 6-2, 230-pound linebacker Jesse Reemtsma of Blaine and 6-6, 310-pound offensive lineman Ross Windfeldt of St. Cloud.