The linebacker class for 2020 includes possibly the most sought-after recruit from Minnesota – at least on the defensive side of the ball – as well as a handful of athletes who have or will have Division I offers before signing day and one who may end up playing college basketball. While some of the athletes on the list have played and likely will play defensive line as juniors and in their upcoming senior seasons, looking at their style of play and body type, linebacker is the most likely landing space for the guys on this list.
Johnson is one of the most sought after 2020 recruits in the state. He has multiple DI offers, most recently from California, Oregon State, and Michigan State. His quickness, closing speed and agility all stand out right away. He uses his length well to keep linemen off him, and although he is going to fill out his 6’3″ frame, he already has enough power in his upper body to handle offensive tackles. He has a good feel for the game and knows when to attack aggressively and when it is more important to hold back. Right now, he is most effective as a stand-up defensive end.
Zenzen has committed to Iowa State and has visited both Minnesota and Iowa. He has multiple FCS offers including one from NDSU. He has a quick first step and uses good leverage and explosiveness to get past blockers. Zenzen has good sideline to sideline speed and is a physical tackler who – like Johnson – can also put his hand in the ground.
Detavius Frierson Park Center
Frierson has an offer from Northern Iowa. He could end up playing basketball at the next level but as a linebacker has excellent sideline to sideline speed. He uses quickness to beat blockers to the quarterback or to track down a running back. Frierson uses his long arms to keep blockers off his body and get into passing lanes. As he puts on weight, his effectiveness will only get better.
Striggow has offers from Iowa, Northern Illinois, and South Dakota. He played defensive end and linebacker as a junior in the Spartans’ 4-3 defense. Striggow’s build and athletic ability make him a better linebacker prospect. Stronger in the upper body than his build would suggest, the state champion wrestler can throw bigger blockers aside. He is tall and lanky for a defensive end, but his ability to lower his hips make him strong at the point of attack. He also has the speed to run plays down from the backside.
Hall has invites from Minnesota, Michigan St, Iowa St., South Dakota, and South Dakota St. Hall has great lateral movement and can play from sideline to sideline. Being great in space and his length makes his pass coverage skills his strength. Typically, an outside linebacker, like with pass coverage, Hall is best when he can flow to the ball. While he primarily uses his quickness against blockers when blitzing or taking on blockers at the point of attack, his strength allows him to hold his own against the run.
Steinbach has visited USD, NDSU, Iowa, SDSU and UND. Like most of the athletes on this list, he uses his length to his advantage. With a strong upper body, he holds offensive linemen away from his body and uses his hands to shed blocks. When he must, he has the power and leverage to throw blockers aside and get to the football. He scrapes down the line of scrimmage effectively and shows good instincts with his pass coverage skills underneath.
Beffert holds an SMSU offer and has received invites from SDSU, NDSU, UND, and USD. He plays on the outside, almost like a stand-up defensive end. Lining up where he does, Beffert takes on offensive linemen and tight ends all the time. He keeps his hips low and uses his hands effectively to keep blockers away from his body. Once clear of blockers, Beffert has good closing speed to make plays all over the field.
Roques has received invites to Iowa, Iowa St, UND and Winona State. Like many of the players on this list, Roques has a tall, athletic build. He has great closing speed from his outside linebacker position. He is best in space but uses good leverage to get off blocks and to set the edge on outside runs. Once he diagnoses the play, Roques is explosive into the hole and is a solid tackler.
Gabe Johnson Burnsville
Johnson has invites to NDSU, Princeton, Columbia, Bemidji, Crookston, SDSU, Concordia-St. Paul and Moorhead. He is an effective blitzer and often finds gaps in pass protection to get into the backfield. When taking on blockers, he keeps his pad level low and either bounce off blockers or move the offensive player backward.
Sarvie has invites to Iowa St, SDSU, UND, Moorhead, Winona, Bemidji, and SCSU. Sarvie is a classic between the tackles middle linebacker. While he is athletic enough to get from sideline to sideline, he is most effective playing in a phone booth. Sarvie is strong at the point of attack and is one of the more physical linebackers on this list. He uses a low pad level and his lower body strength to take on bigger blockers and take down ball carriers.