As the premier Minnesota prep football coverage network, Northstar Football News has been your comprehensive one-stop for all things Minnesota high school football. Covering the best players that Minnesota high schools have to offer year in and year out since 2013 is our bread and butter, but what happens when those same MN preps go on to college? In this special six-part series, Northstar will reinvestigate former Minnesota preps at six universities across three levels that heavily recruit Minnesota: the University of Minnesota, North Dakota State University, South Dakota State University, the University of South Dakota, the University of North Dakota, and Minnesota State Mankato . We will update you on some of the Land of 10,000 Lakes boys careers from those schools and what to expect from their upcoming season in 2019. Our first school in this series will be our very own University of Minnesota. The Gophers currently host an impressive 43 former Minnesota preps (including Benny Sapp II-who played a couple games and graduated from Eden Prairie) from as far North as Perham (Logan Richter) and as South as Caledonia (Nick McCabe) and everywhere in-between. With so many former studs to choose from, I decided to narrow my choices to six different players from around Minnesota. These players all differ in age, position, size, and even scholarship, but like their teammates from Minnesota and around the country, they are all trying to bring glory to our beloved hometown Golden Gophers. Let’s see what these players are up to since Northstar Football News covered them in high school.
Tyler Johnson- 6’2, 205lb. WR. Senior. Minneapolis North Class of 2016 #6Credit: Tyler Johnson Hudl
Ranked as the #5 player in Minnesota in 2016 according to 24/7sports.com and the #3 rated prospect by Rivals, Johnson has been tearing up the Big10 since his true freshman season in 2016. Having held offers from Minnesota, Iowa, Iowa State, and Wisconsin, the Gophers were lucky to snag his commitment after his senior season amassed him 2,606 and 36 TDs through the air, while adding 1,100 yards and 20 scores on the ground. The Minneapolis North Polar averaged an incredible one touchdown per six snaps his senior year, and led his then A squad to a state championship appearance at TCF Bank Stadium. He also led the Polars to a state championship victory in basketball that winter. Johnson has made 127 catches in 36 career games in the Maroon and Gold, and his 1,987 yards has him ranked seventh in program history while his 20 touchdowns has him sitting at fourth on the all-time list. Johnson has been gaining traction and notoriety in NFL Draft circles since the end of his junior season, and is Minnesota’s best draft prospect entering the 2019 season as a consensus top-100 pick. He is definitely making MN prep football proud.
Senior Year Hudl: http://www.hudl.com/video/3/1921414/5721d45f90eead5d90dc2721
Carter Coughlin, 6’4, 245 lb. DE. Senior. Eden Prairie Class of 2016 #45Credit: Carter Coughlin Hudl
The #1 recruit in the state of Minnesota his senior year of 2016, the unanimous four-star prospect by Rivals, Scout, ESPN, and 24/7Sports held offers from Ohio State, Oregon, Pittsburgh, and Michigan State among others, but choose the Gophers and has been a quarterback nightmare since he stepped on campus in 2016. After a high school senior season that led him to a AP First Team All-State selection and a captain of his team in the U.S. Army All-American bowl game, Coughlin has shown since his true freshman season that he was ready to play Big10 football. After totaling 25 tackles, four TFL’s and two sacks his first year in Maroon and Gold, Coughlin has steadily improved each and every year culminating in a junior campaign that resulted in 48 tackles, 15 TFL’s, 9.5 sacks, and four FF’s. This has put the Eden Prairie native, who has gained around 33 pounds since his days in Red and White for the Eagles, on NFL teams radars, and after an All Big10 Second Team nod by coaches and media in 2018 the 6’4, 245 lb. pass-rusher is looking to overtake Ohio State’s Chase Young and Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa as the most feared and productive defensive-ends in the conference. Keep an eye out for #45 and how he helps his draft stock this coming year.
Senior Year Hudl (Check out the first two hits): http://www.hudl.com/video/3/2356975/5721e71019a53e2a1887136c
Blaise Andries, 6’6, 325 lb. OL. Redshirt Sophomore. Marshall High School Class of 2017 #77Credit: Blaise Andries Hudl
Universally listed as the #1 recruit in MN in 2017, Andries chose the hometown Gophers over suitors such as Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Miami, Oklahoma, and Penn State. He was the highest rated lineman commit in over a decade, and was a top-10 finalist for Minnesota’s Mr. Football award and the #3 rated OL in the Midwest. In a much different position than before mentioned Tyler Johnson and Carter Coughlin, Andries is still looking to make a name for himself at the U, and has a lot to prove still if he wants the draft hype of his EP and Minneapolis brethren. After his first year starting in 2018, the now sophomore who started 12 games at RG and one game at LT is looking to help the “Minnesota Moving Company” improve on a season in which they rushed for 23 TDs and threw for 20 more. The Marshall native has the size, strength, and footwork to become Minnesota’s first OL draft pick in a long time, but will need to consistently put it together if he wants a chance at getting drafted. Keep an eye on #77 on the OL this year showing out for MN preps.
Senior Year Hudl: http://www.hudl.com/video/3/2886873/5824c0354ba87706948facf7
Brevyn Spann-Ford, 6’7, 270 lb. TE. Redshirt Freshman. St. Cloud Tech Class of 2019 #88Credit: Brevyn Spann-Ford Hudl
One of the most intriguing prospects in Minnesota in 2018, the St. Cloud native holds school receiving records in receptions (176), yards (2,657), and touchdowns (38) which netted him offers from Iowa State, Missouri, NDSU, and West Virgina and a #1 prospect ranking in the state of MN in 2018 by Northstar Football News. The former 3-star recruit has put on more than 40 pounds since Redshirting his first year in the program, and the 2017 Mr. Football Award Finalist is my pick to have a breakout freshman campaign amongst the redshirted players of 2018. The TE is now incredibly big, has retained his athleticism while adding weight, and according to his Coach Clay Patterson, prides himself on his soft hands. With Minnesota trying to run a lot of two TE sets this year with other TE Jake Paulson, look for #88 to get a lot more reps and hopefully become a match-up nightmare for Big10 defensive coordinators. Also different than his before mentioned counterparts of the article, Spann-Ford is looking to prove to himself and Gopher fans that he has what it takes to play in the Big10 and start for the Golden Gophers.
Senior Year Hudl: http://www.hudl.com/video/3/4168020/59ffd2ea420f9a0c98a992f9
Jason Williamson, 6’2, 210 lb. RB/ATH. True Freshman. Owatonna High School Class of 2019 #28Credit: Jason Williamson Hudl
The reigning Mr. Football 2018, Gatorade POTY 2018, AP Press POTY 2018, First Team All-State 2017 & 2018 and the #3 rated prospect out of MN by Northstar Football News running-back broke just about every rushing record in the state as senior. While leading the Huskies to their second state championship in a row, Williamson rushed 313 times for an incredible 3,012 yards and 46 touchdowns. His junior year he ran 311 times for 2,323 yards and 38 touchdowns, making him one of the most prolific running-backs in Minnesota prep history. Looking to establish himself as a Big10 RB for the Gophers after enrolling early in January 2019, Williamson found himself in the incredibly unfortunate situation of tearing his ACL during spring ball that the Pioneer Press quoted as being “eye-opening” in terms of impressing the Minnesota coaching staff. The freshman will have to first rehab his knee before seeing any action as a Gopher, and although there are questions about whether the Owatonna native will remain at running-back, 24/7Sports and GopherIllustrated contributor Ryan Burns stated that sources told him there is no doubt Williamson is a Big10 caliber athlete. Make sure to keep track of the Southern Minnesota native as he longs to join a long line of successful running-backs that have played at Minnesota. Facing a completely different set of circumstances than his already mentioned teammates, I still have little doubt the former MN prep will recover and make his home state proud.
Senior Year Hudl: http://www.hudl.com/v/2Av662
Larry Wright, 6’4, 210 lb. PWO WR. True Freshman. Eastview High School Class of 2019 #20Credit: Larry Wright Hudl
Despite scholarship offers from Missouri Valley and Northern Sun teams, Wright followed the path of many Minnesota preps and chose to represent his hometown Gophers and accept a Preferred Walk-On offer from Coach Fleck and Minnesota. PWO’s have a much more difficult position to succeed in, and Wright will need to work hard and make plays when afforded the opportunity if he wants to see some game action. The 35th ranked prospect of 2019 according to Northstar Football News, the Apple Valley native has the height and the size to separate and high-point the football in the Big10, but will obviously need to prove some things in terms of his route running and overall speed this fall camp and will most likely redshirt. He follows a large company of PWO’s to don the Maroon and Gold, including 5th round 2019 draft pick Blake Cashman, and his MN prep experience is jus as worthy of being highlighted as his peers. If you see #20 out at TCF Bank Stadium in the future, just know he’s earned it.
Senior Year Hudl: http://www.hudl.com/v/2AgdBu
Stay tuned as we check into the South Dakota State University and which MN preps are succeeding or looking to succeed for the Jackrabbits in the next edition of Flashing Forward.