It's one thing to watch five-star recruits leave Minnesota for national powers, that's pretty much the expectation around here. It just happened last weekend with Tre Jones committing to Duke in basketball.
But it hurts Gophers Nation a lot more when local high school stars don't get recruited by Minnesota and then go off to star for a school in a bordering state.
This is the case for 2013 Maple Grove wide receiver, Jake Wieneke.
As a senior in high school, Wieneke led Maple Grove with 68 catches, 1,330 yards and 13 TD. Yet, Jerry Kill and the Gophers never sought him out, despite the team's lethargic passing attack.
This guy flat out flew under the radar. But South Dakota State noticed him and he's taken the chance and turned into one of the biggest in-state misses by the Gophers in recent history.
He redshirted at SDSU in 2013 and then starting killing opposing defenses.
- 2014: 73 catches, 1,404 yards, 16 TD (14 games)
- 2015: 72 catches, 1,472 yards, 11 TD (12 games)
- 2016: 78 catches, 1,316 yards, 16 TD (14 games)
"Kid is a stud," ex-Vikings linebacker Ben Leber told GoMN. "TCU couldn’t stop him, granted it was a young secondary but even in double coverage they got beat. His game definitely translates but he’s relied on his big body to gain position rather than quickness and route running. But I believe he will have a great chance to be successful in the league."
Kill's Gophers didn't need him, apparently. Instead, Kill's 2013 recruiting class featured two receivers: Drew Wolitarsky and Eric Carter.
Kill and Tracy Claeys didn't do any better finding wide receivers in 2014-16. Here's the receivers they signed.
- 2014: Melvin Holland Jr., Isaiah Gentry, Conner Krizancic, Desmond Grant
- 2015: Hunter Register, Rashad Still
- 2016: Drew Hmielewski
The result, along with an average offensive line and quarterback, was a Gophers passing offense that ranked 12th, 13th, 8th and 12th in the Big Ten the last four years. Hindsight is 20-20, but it's hard imagine Wieneke not helping them.
FCS power North Dakota State knows about all about Wieneke. He burned them for 6 catches, 108 yards and the game-winning touchdown with one second remaining in SDSU's upset win at the Fargodome last year.
With a solid upcoming season, Wieneke could find himself waiting for a phone call on day two of the NFL Draft, which would equate to the second or third round.
Meanwhile, we're six months into the P.J. Fleck era and things appear to be changing for the better, thanks to Fleck's staff finding a potential gem in 2017 recruit, wide receiver Demetrius Douglas.