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Star Tribune 2018 Metro Preseason Dream Team

By JIM PAULSEN, Star Tribune, 08/28/18, 3:15PM CDT


Headlong into the regular season, staff writer Jim Paulsen lays out his selections from the metro area’s best football players and calls out some talent in the rest of Minnesota.

Wayzata's Billy Riviere is widely regarded as the best tight end prospect in the metro. (Star Tribune file photo by Aaron Lavinsky)



Cole Kramer, Eden Prairie, 6-1, 180, sr.: In two years as a starter, Kramer has thrown for more than 2,000 yards and 30 TDs without an interception. A dual threat with the speed to hurt defenses with his feet as well as his arm. Committed to Minnesota.


Evan Hull, Maple Grove, 5-11, 185, sr.: Rugged between the tackles and blazing in the the open field. Rushed for 2,174 yards, with a high of 397 in a playoff victory over Roseville, and 19 TDs. Uncommitted.


Matt Cavanagh, Edina, 6-1, 190, sr.: Versatile athlete who combines tackle-breaking power with the speed to pull away from defenders. Put up 893 yards and 9 TDs in 2017, added 79 tackles as a safety. Committed to Harvard.


Treyton Welch, Buffalo, 6-3, 195, sr.: Likely the best hands in the state, making difficult catches seem easy. Had an issue with drops last season, yet caught 55 passes for 936 yards, 11 TDs. Offers from NDSU, Northern Iowa.

Jonathan Mann, Rosemount, 6-3, 190, jr.: A combination of size and speed who gets off the line well, presents a big target, runs away from defenders. A home run threat with 52 catches, 895 yards, 8 TDs in 2017. Committed to Minnesota.

Billy Riviere, Wayzata, 6-4, 240, sr.: Far and away the best tight end prospect in the metro. A throwback who is equally as good as a blocker as he is a receiver. Sure-handed. Committed to North Dakota.


Quinn Carroll, Edina, 6-6, 285, sr.: The top-rated recruit in Minnesota boasts excellent footwork, a powerful initial punch and relentless drive. The object of a massive recruiting battle, which ended last spring when he committed to Notre Dame.

Bryce Benhart, Lakeville North, 6-8, 280, sr.: Has the size college recruiters drool over when looking for a true offensive tackle. Strong with his hands and use of leverage, thanks to his wrestling background. Undecided, but reportedly favoring Wisconsin.

Joey Lombard, Anoka, 6-5, 310, sr.: A mauler of a left tackle who specializes in pancake blocks. A three-year starter who has committed to South Dakota.

Bronson Warner, Eden Prairie, 6-2, 305, sr.: Barrel-chested beast (350 bench, 500 squat) who physically overpowers defensive linemen. Devastating initial punch usually subdues defenders. Has D-II offers (MSU, Mankato, Bemidji St.) and FCS-level interest.

Cody Smith, Eagan, 6-4, 275, sr.: From many good o-line prospects, Smith stands out on film for his unmatched quickness off the ball and ability to deliver a blow, and get to the second level. Undecided.


Marlon Wiley, Jordan, 5-11, 180, sr.: Speedster who has won two consecutive Class 1A state meet 100-meter dash championships. Caught 36 passes for 536 yards and 4 TDs in 2017. Also returns kicks and plays DB. Offered by Howard University.



Raphael Orubo, Woodbury, 6-3, 270, sr.: Classic 3-technique interior lineman adept at splitting gaps and collapsing the pocket. Had 32 tackles — 11 for loss — in 2017. Offers from New Mexico, Wyoming, some FCS schools.

2016 photo

Luke Kubesh, Totino-Grace, 6-0, 285, sr.: Disruptive force in the middle of the line who penetrates with surprising quickness. Makes a habit of blowing up plays before they start. FCS offers include one from Georgetown.

DeVonne Harris, Big Lake, 6-5, 220, sr.: Explosive off the edge, blows past opposing linemen. Excels in pursuit, chasing down ball carriers from the back side. Had 13 tackles for loss, 8 sacks in 2017. Multiple offers, including Wyoming, South Dakota St., North Dakota.

Will Mostaert

Will and Eli Mostaert, Lakeville North, srs.: Identical twin lineman/linebacker hybrids who are next to impossible to split up. Intense, physical, effective standing up or with a hand in the ground. Even their 2017 stats are almost identical: Will had 39 tackles (12 for loss); Eli had 42 tackles (12 for loss). Both have committed to North Dakota State.

Kaden Johnson (84)


Kaden Johnson, SMB (Minnehaha Academy), 6-4, 205, jr.: A tackling machine as a sophomore, racking up 118 tackles, 30 for loss, in 2017. Lots of NCAA Power Five program interest, including Minnesota, Iowa, Iowa State, Nebraska and Wisconsin.

Payton Shafer, Park of Cottage Grove, 6-0, 195, sr.: Undersized as a linebacker, makes up for it with a nose for the ball, remarkable closing speed and sure tackling. Had 61 tackles, 11 for loss, and five forced fumbles in 2017. Committed to South Dakota St.

Whitmore (51), 2016 photo

John Whitmore, Benilde-St. Margaret’s, 6-2, 215, sr.: Entering his fourth season as a key cog in the Red Knights’ defense. Playmaker who is always around the ball. Plays with passion and grit. Has an FCS offer from Morehead St.


Omar Brown, Mpls. North, 6-1, 180, sr.: His stock rose with strong showings at Nike and UnderArmor camps. Runs a 4.6 40, has the change-of-direction skills to break on passes. Offers from Indiana, North Dakota State, South Dakota and Northern Iowa.

Craig McDonald, SMB (Minnehaha Academy), 6-2, 185, jr.: Smooth in coverage with well-honed timing and innate ball skills. Size allows him to make plays in run support. Defended 16 passes, had 4 interceptions in 2017. Offers from Iowa, Iowa State.

Marcus Shepley, Burnsville, 6-2, 180, sr.: Natural all-around athlete excels no matter where he plays. Intercepted nine passes in 2017, including two for TDs. Also returned a punt return for a touchdown, even spent time at QB, passing for more than 250 yards.


Hunter Dustman, St. Francis, jr.: Local kicking guru Chris Husby calls Dustman “the best all-around kicker in the state.” Has FG range past 50 yards. Booming punts make him a field-position flipper for the Saints. Has interest from three D-I programs..

The best of the rest of Minnesota

Five players from greater Minnesota who would stand out in any program:

Jason Williamson, Owatonna, RB, sr.: Swift and strong, the 6-1, 190-pound running back ran for more than 2,300 yards and scored 42 TDs for the Class 5A champion Huskies. Committed to Minnesota in December.

Travis Yohnke, Parkers Prairie, TE, sr.: Prototypical tight end at 6-5, 230 pounds. Can deliver a blow as a blocker and stretch the field as a receiver. Caught 46 passes in 2017. Committed to NDSU.

Terrell Hall, Winona, WR/DB, sr.: As shifty and quick as any player in the state, the 5-11, 185-pound Hall is a playmaker on both sides of the ball. Committed to NDSU.

Matt Koshiol, Rocori, RB, sr.: A slasher who accelerates quickly and hits holes with a burst. At 6-3, 185 pounds, he’s strong enough to run through tacklers and fast enough run away from them. Committed to North Dakota.

Aaron Witt, Winona, DE/TE, jr.: Tremendous athlete for his size (6-5, 230) with a 4.8 40 and 33-inch vertical. Had 12 tackles for loss and five sacks as a sophomore. Has offers from Iowa State, Iowa and Minnesota.

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