When P.J. Fleck assembled his 2019 recruiting class during December’s early signing period, the Gophers football coach left wiggle room to delve into college football’s free-agent market — players looking to transfer and jump-start their career with a new program.
So far, so good for Fleck, who added two transfers who visited the Minnesota campus over the weekend.
On Tuesday morning, Notre Dame defensive tackle Micah Dew-Treadway announced on Twitter that he is transferring to Minnesota. The 6-4, 300-pounder will be a graduate transfer, enrolling Jan. 22 for spring semester, and eligible to play this fall.
The addition of Dew-Treadway is timely because Gophers defensive tackle O.J. Smith announced Tuesday afternoon on Twitter that he will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft. Smith, a 6-2, 320-pound transfer from Alabama, played in six games in 2018 after sitting out 2017 per NCAA rules. He had seven tackles, five solo, but missed six regular-season games because of a head injury, returned for the finale against Wisconsin, then missed the Quick Lane Bowl against Georgia Tech.
Dew-Treadway joins Southern California wide receiver Randal Grimes, who on Sunday announced he’s transferring to Minnesota. Grimes must sit out the 2019 season as a traditional transfer and will have two years of eligibility remaining. Because Dew-Treadway has graduated from Notre Dame, he can play this season.
Dew-Treadway played in 11 games for Notre Dame in 2018, making two tackles as the Fighting Irish went 12-0 in the regular season before losing to eventual national champion Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinals. He played in nine games with no statistics as a sophomore in 2017 after missing the 2016 season because of a broken foot and spending the 2015 season as a redshirt.
Fleck focused on defense, and specifically defensive line, in his 2019 recruiting class, led by four-star tackle Rashad Cheney of Cedar Grove High School in Ellenwood, Ga., and three-star tackle Keonte Schad of Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa. The addition of Dew-Treadway bolsters that group and addresses an immediate need. Along with Smith leaving, the Gophers lose starting tackle Gary Moore to graduation.
Dew-Treadway also gives the Gophers insurance in case four-star recruit Kristian Williams of Southwind High School in Memphis doesn’t sign his national letter of intent when the traditional signing period opens Feb. 6. Williams is verbally committed to the Gophers but has official visits scheduled for Tennessee on Friday and Oregon on Jan. 26. He also received an offer from new Kansas coach Les Miles on Monday.
Gophers linebacker Julian Huff and safety Jacob Huff, who both completed their senior seasons in 2018, were teammates of Dew-Treadway’s at Bolingbrook (Ill.) High School. Julian Huff sees an athletic lineman.
“His best qualities as a player begin with both his hands and feet,’’ Julian Huff said. “Everyone notices his size, but his active hands allow him to shed blockers easily and quick feet allow him to make plays in space.’’
Fleck is familiar with Dew-Treadway from his days as Western Michigan’s coach. He offered a scholarship to the three-star recruit, who was the nation’s 29th-ranked strongside defensive end in the Class of 2015 by the 247Sports.com composite of major national recruiting services. Dew-Treadway had scholarship offers from nine Power Five programs, including Indiana, Maryland, Purdue and Wisconsin of the Big Ten.