Alexandria’s Hoskins verbally commits to Gophers football

Hoskins, a junior receiver this past fall, already had reported scholarship offers from Iowa State, North Dakota State, South Dakota State and Northern Iowa. On Thursday, he got two FaceTime calls from University of Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck. On the second of those, Fleck delivered Hoskins the full-scholarship offer he always wanted.

“That’s the offer I’ve been waiting for,” Hoskins said on Friday, Feb. 19.

Hoskins jumped at the opportunity to join the Gophers’ 2022 recruiting class, giving a verbal commitment to Minnesota.

“I’ve been telling (Minnesota wide receivers coach) Matt (Simon) that when they offer, I’m going to commit. I want to be a Gopher,” Hoskins said. “I want to stay home and have my fans come watch me. It’s the Big Ten, and I told Fleck I wanted to be a Gopher after he offered me.”

Alexandria's Kristen Hoskins lets out a scream and flashes a smile as he crosses into the end zone during a Cardinals' practice on Sept. 28, 2020. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

Alexandria’s Kristen Hoskins lets out a scream and flashes a smile as he crosses into the end zone during a Cardinals’ practice on Sept. 28, 2020. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

Hoskins, a three-star recruit through 247 Sports, becomes the second commitment for the Gophers in the 2022 class. Trey Bixby, a four-star defensive lineman, committed to Minnesota in August.

“I felt connected to coach Fleck,” Hoskins said. “I see him on TV but talking with him was a lot better. It was crazy. I was in shock, and his reaction was full of excitement. He was so happy for me. He said, ‘I can’t wait to get to work with you.’ He said I’m going to have a story to tell, and he wanted it to be with the Gophers. I said, ‘For sure. I’m in.’”

Hoskins caught a team-high 41 balls for 628 yards and nine touchdowns in eight games as a junior. His speed — his most-recently timed 40-yard dash was 4.40 seconds — helped him to average 15.32 yards per reception.

Hoskins joined Alexandria’s varsity team late in his freshman season. He broke out as a sophomore with 74 catches, 1,009 yards and 11 touchdowns.

At 5-feet, 10-inches and 165 pounds, Hoskins wondered if his lack of size would keep him from getting offers from programs in leagues like the Big Ten. He doesn’t have to wonder anymore.

Knowing about Fleck’s playing career as a receiver at Northern Illinois and then during a short stint in the NFL, Hoskins asked him about his size during their call on Thursday. Fleck told him he was 5-feet, 9-inches.

– Kristen Hoskins on his path to Alexandria and now to the Gophers

“Hearing that, it just felt really good knowing the hometown wanted a player like me,” Hoskins said. “He didn’t care about the height at all. He said, ‘Listen, man. I don’t care about none of that. Your athletic ability is off the charts.’ I just said I appreciate it.”

Hoskins is confident that the Gophers will be creative in getting him the ball.

“This stuck with me. (Fleck) was like, ‘I’ve been looking for you the last eight years.’ He told me he’s been looking for a player that’s built like me, the speed,” Hoskins said. “He said I have a chance to be something special using me in the slot and on special teams.”

The commitment to the Gophers is a big moment in what has been quite a journey for Hoskins. He was born in Chicago and moved to Minneapolis for a short time. Then in fifth grade, he came to Alexandria with his two older brothers, his little sister and his little sister’s father.

“We were moving house to house,” Hoskins said. “Moved to Minneapolis for some time. That didn’t work out. It was getting a little violent there as well. Same as in Chicago. From Minneapolis, I don’t know what brought us to Alexandria, but Alexandria it was.”

Hoskins took the opposite path to the big stage than most recruits from a non-metropolitan school do. Instead of moving to a bigger city, he moved from one.

“It truly means a lot. I still can’t believe it,” he said. “I don’t really believe in (the idea) that you have to move anywhere to make an impact or get noticed. Your athletic ability, if you’re like that, it’s going to show and schools are going to find you regardless.”

Hoskins is not sure yet on exactly what his path with the Gophers will look like or if he will redshirt his freshman season in 2022.

“I’ll learn more about that,” Hoskins said. “I committed pretty early. I’m not regretting it. I’m not second guessing it at all. I’m taking it all in, and I’m going to be the best I can be there.”

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