Numerous Pac-10 schools are showing interest in Blake Renaud, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound middle linebacker from Concord (Calif.) De La Salle but it was a Big Ten team that sent Renaud his first offer last week.
Minnesota offered Renaud, who had about 50 tackles in his junior season, and the northern California prospect is intrigued to learn more about the program. No visit has been scheduled but he's doing some homework.
Renaud was happy to receive the offer but said it was unexpected since he hadn't talked much with the Minnesota staff.
"That was kind of out of the blue," Renaud said. "They said they saw my highlight tape and I gave them a call and they told me they were going to offer me.
"I saw the NFL combine and they had a few linebackers from Minnesota. That always looks good and I saw their schedule and they play some big teams like Penn State and Ohio State and I think they're playing USC next year. That's good football."
Keeping all his options open, Renaud visited California last weekend for its junior day and was struck by the new facility being built in Berkeley and the camaraderie of the coaching staff and players.
"What's cool is they're getting a new facility, a new huge locker room," Renaud said. "What we saw, they're still building it, but it looks like it's going to be pretty big.
"They talked like they were a family there and it seemed like all the players liked each other and are close with each other. The coaches seem nice and it's a real good academic school which is really nice, too. That helps for after college."
Renaud, who is also hearing from Northwestern, and De La Salle teammate Dylan Wynn, a 6-foot-2, 229-pound defensive end with an offer from Washington State, are planning some visits in April. The two are expected to go to Washington and UCLA and Renaud said a trip to Oregon might also happen.
De La Salle traditionally has numerous Division I recruits and the 2011 class is no exception with Renaud and Wynn leading the way. Together this spring they will navigate the recruiting process a little bit and Renaud said it should be exciting to check out some campuses.
"He and I are going up on that trip to Washington and to UCLA," Renaud said. "We're going to do it together.
"We're both competitive, we don't want to get beat by the other person, we've been playing together since we were freshmen and it's fun to see each other doing well and seeing the success we get. It's fun playing with him. He's someone who pushes you."