Nick Connelly, a 6-foot-6, 270-pound junior defensive tackle/offensive tackle from Red Wing (MN) High, received a scholarship offer from Minnesota Wednesday.
Connelly, who is rated as a three-star recruit by Scout, averaged ten tackles and four solo tackles per game this past season. Connelly attended the Minnesota Gopher home games versus Western Illinois, Iowa, Penn State and Nebraska and Nebraska's home game versus Michigan State.
Connelly talked to Gopher Hole Wednesday evening about the Minnesota offer and the latest on his recruitment.
Gopher Hole: When did you get the offer from Minnesota?
Nick Connelly: I got it today on my visit. I talked to Coach Kill on the phone on Saturday. We just talked for a bit. Just small talk and he said that it would be good for me to come up for a visit sometime this week and see them work out and just talk to Coach Limegrover and stuff. I wasn't really thinking that much of it at all. I didn't figure it was an offer. I just thought it was a visit, just like all the other ones. I talked to Coach Limegrover last night and set it up for today and got there around 12-ish. Me and coach Limegrover talked for close to four hours, just about everything, basically. At the end, Coach Kill came in and they both offered me together.
Gopher Hole: How special was it to get an offer from the hometown team?
Nick Connelly: It was amazing (laughing). It was a dream come true. I grew up liking the Gophers. My dad has had season tickets forever, so I have watched the games and stuff. It is amazing thinking that someday I'll be on that field, maybe.
Gopher Hole: I remember the first time that I met you was at the Gopher camp. If I had told you back then that down the road that you would have an offer from the Gophers, would you have believed me?
Nick Connelly: No, I wouldn't have. Honestly, I wouldn't have. Back then, Mankato was pretty interested in me and I was stoked about that. I was like "Woo-hoo Mankato." Not bashing Mankato or anything like that. I thought that was really good for me and here comes this summer and I am picking up four Division I offers. That is crazy. I never would have thought that.
Gopher Hole: What was it like to get that first offer from Montana State?
Nick Connelly: It was great. Montana State is not a huge school or anything, but it is still Division I and it was still my first offer, so it was an amazing feeling. It was almost like a burden was lifted off my shoulders. Getting that first offer finally and seeing my work pay off just a little bit. It was great. It was a great feeling.
Gopher Hole: You have offers to Minnesota, Illinois State, Montana State and Wyoming. Are you going anywhere this week?
Nick Connelly: I'm going to Iowa tomorrow.
Gopher Hole: Have you been down much to Iowa before?
Nick Connelly: I have been there once this year for a camp and I talked to Coach Reid, who recruits my area last week. He said that it would be good to just come down for another visit to talk, so I set it up for tomorrow, so I am going down there. I don't really know what is going to happen. I am just going down there for a visit and talk.
Gopher Hole: Do you think that now that Minnesota has offered that any school that doesn't offer would be a little bit behind the eight ball?
Nick Connelly: Yes. They could end up surprising me like Minnesota did today, offering me, which would make my decision really hard. When Minnesota offered me, they said that they would like to know in a week, if I'll commit or not, so I kind of have a time frame there. I don't know. We'll have to see how it plays out tomorrow.
Gopher Hole: Had you even thought about committing this early or was it even something you had thought since you didn't have the offers until this week?
Nick Connelly: Yea, I didn't even think of it like I didn't even know that coaches put on a timeline until today. I thought that you just got an offer and you would wait until signing day or whenever it is tendered, but I guess that is not how it works, so I never thought about committing this early
Gopher Hole: What other plans do you have the next couple of weeks? Have you thought that far ahead? Any other trips that you are going to try to make?
Nick Connelly: I am going to Iowa tomorrow and next week, I am flying out to Colorado to see some family and I was also planning on doing the Colorado camp and then visiting Wyoming because it is only a couple of hours from Denver. I'll probably still end up doing that just for the heck of it, even if I do end up committing to Minnesota. That is all I have planned for right now.
Gopher Hole: What has the reaction been with your family and friends so far with the Minnesota offer?
Nick Connelly: They are going crazy, especially my mom (laughing). She is amazed. She is going crazier than anybody else. She is kind of out of the loop when it comes to football, but it is awesome. Everyone is so excited for me. Red Wing kid, coming from a small town. A school of 700 or whatever getting an offer from the state school, the only D1 school in Minnesota for football. It is a pretty big deal. Everyone is happy for me.
Gopher Hole: We have talked before about Red Wing wasn't successful win-wise, but you knew that you had to do the best job possible and worry about yourself. Does that make you appreciate all the hard work you have put into it now that you have gotten these offers?
Nick Connelly: Yes. It sucks that the team has not been very good, but I just have to put in all the work that I can do. I have been working as hard as I can in the offseason. Honestly, I was getting kind of discouraged. It didn't seem that that many schools were too interested, but it has started to pay off and I am glad that I put in all the hard work to get here.
Gopher Hole: What schools are you hearing from the most besides the four schools that have offered you?
Nick Connelly: Iowa and Illinois are probably the next two that are up there as far as FBS schools. Besides them, there is North Dakota State and South Dakota State. A little bit from Wisconsin, but not much.
Gopher Hole: It seems like when a kid gets a big offer that other schools will come out and figure that maybe they know something that we don't. Do you think that you will start hearing from some big schools?
Nick Connelly: Yes, I think so. I have heard that Minnesota only has six or so Division I players that they will offer each year and that if Minnesota does not offer a player that they might not be good enough to play Division I. I have heard that before and that when Minnesota does offer, that especially with this coaching staff. I have heard that they are very, very thorough in what they do instead of going off the offers that they have already. I wouldn't be surprised if schools started jumping on just because it usually seems like that is what happens when you get a big offer, but we'll have to see.
Gopher Hole: What is your timetable going to be like in the next week? Have you even thought that far yet?
Nick Connelly: Not really (laughing). It is kind of surreal right now, but it is a great feeling. I think that I am going to try to go up next week back to Minnesota and the Coach has offered to give me a tour of the whole campus again and all the facilities. I think that I am going to go up there next week and get back with them and see how it goes. Whatever happens.