that is nice bonus change
What better way to make the most uneventful signing day imaginable for a major college program even more boring throwing a bunch more numbers at you. You already know the narratives, now let’s take a look at the numbers.
Once again, I will be using my personal accumulation of the rating services for the numbers. Players are given a score at each of the four major recruiting sites and. A consensus #1 player gets 99 points all the way down to an anonymous 2 star getting a point or two. No points are awarded for moons, sorry Jordan.
New Members of the Hall of Highly Touted
Last year I created the Michigan Hall of Highly Touted to honor the top Michigan recruits by their incoming accolades and ratings. This year’s class features two players that crack the first team and another 3 added to the second team.
RB Derrick Green narrowly edges Kevin Grady for the running back spot, pushing Grady down to the first team flex spot, Darryl Stonum to the second team and Jason Avant off the board.
OL Patrick Kugler joins 2012 signee Kyle Kalis on the first team offensive line.
OL Kyle Bosch and David Dawson are on the second team. 3 of the top 10 rated offensive linemen Michigan has recruited in the last 12 years are members of the 2013 class.
TE Jake Butt has the fortune of playing at the position that has the lowest bar to entry on the MHHT and enters as the second team tight end.
S Dymonte Thomas was Michigan’s second commitment of the 2013 class and bumps ahead of Demar Dorsey as the top rated safety of the second team.
Position Group Notes
Offensive Line – without a doubt the marquee group of this class. Michigan’s six signees racked up 319 points which was easily the most acclaimed group in this class. Only Stanford’s absurd haul last year and Notre Dame’s class of 2006 were more highly touted entering college.
Running Back – Derrick Green pushed this group from good to great. Michigan’s running back class was a universal third behind Alabama and Ole Miss. Alabama’s loaded class was the best class since Pete Carroll lined up five star running backs year after year (2003, 2006 & 2007 to be precise).
Defensive Back – Michigan’s third strongest group was defensive back where they finished 7th nationally as a group and second in the B1G to Ohio St which signed the fourth highest rated group of defensive backs of the last 12 years.
Quarterback – Shane Morris’s senior year slide wasn’t any fun to watch but as a testament to were he started, Michigan’s one man class still finished 10th overall. Conference rivals Penn State earned the top spot nationally and was the only conference program in front of Michigan.
Wide Receiver/Tight End – The lowest rated offensive group still almost cracked the top 10, finishing 11th. LaQuon Treadwell would have been enough for the Wolverines to crack the top spot, but Ole Miss took Treadwell and the top spot. Notre Dame and Ohio State both edged out Michigan.
Defensive Line – The class of 2012 was a top 6 group allowing Michigan to focus on other areas for this class. The Wolverines finished 17th with LSU leading the way and Ohio State, Notre Dame and Nebraska all exceeding the profile from Michigan.
Linebackers – Like the defensive line, Michigan was in a great position from 2012 on linebackers and focused elsewhere. Michigan featured a Top 10 average player rating but the limited quantity dropped them to 30th overall and near the middle of the conference.
National Team Rankings
As detailed last week, I am using a system that awards points to schools based on how their nth best recruit stacks up against other teams’ nth best recruits. Based on this here is my consensus Top 10 (the method is really only good at looking at the top classes) along with their player point totals using good ole’ fashioned addition.
|Rank||Team||Nth Points||Total Points|
Michigan wraps up the class tied for 5th with LSU, behind rivals Notre Dame and Ohio State, along with SEC powers Florida and Alabama.
Here is the chart for the top 3, Michigan and the two most interesting other classes.
Four of the programs, Alabama, Ole Miss, Notre Dame and USC recruited very well in the top 3-5 players of their classes. Alabama is able to then separate themselves from the field for recruits 5-15. Michigan and Notre Dame hold a consistent trend through the bulk of the class while the Buckeyes and Trojans finished somewhere between Alabama and the rest of the quality programs. Florida and LSU have trends very similar to Michigan.The reason I am not completely sold on Ole Miss’s class is that the depth really drops off quickly. After the top several recruits. There is a major devaluation of the Rebel recruits versus the other top programs.
The Rest of the Big Ten
If you follow recruiting much at all this year you’ve seen multiple mentions of the huge gap between the Big 2 and everyone else. Here is how the Future Big Ten teams fared in total recruit points accumulate in 2013.
|National Rank (Pts)||Team||Points|
You can oversign all you want and not get anywhere with totals like this. There is nothing about this arrangement that says the Big Ten is heading towards real depth.
The Accelerated Timeline
I haven’t been able to go back and add old signing dates, but based on BCS programs for the 2013 cycle, no team could compete with Michigan in terms of the speed at which this class was assembled. The average commit date for Michigan for the 2013 class was May 9th, nearly 9 months before signing day. Virginia Tech and South Carolina were the only other major programs to have their average commitment come in May. Of the top 20 programs, the five programs with the most late decision were all in the 11-20 range. Auburn was the king of late decisions with an average commitment coming two days before Halloween, which makes sense given the tumultuous season and coaching change they went through in 2012.
The biggest advantages for a fast developing class would seem to be the low drama signing day and a head start of the next season’s class. The no drama signing day was nice but hopefully the expeditious manner in which this class was assembled can yield some gains in 2014 and beyond. Otherwise, it might be worth it to go after a few more high end, late deciders, the only real gap between Michigan and the very top classes in 2013.
The Ole Miss Narrative
I don’t know if I felt like this got more traction around these parts due to losing long time Michigan lean LaQuon Treadwell and his instagram of Benjamins or just that the Rebels pulled in two really high profile recruits on signing day, but what originally looked like a whole lot of smoke seems a lot less suspicious to me after looking at the numbers. Aside from Treadwell’s quickly deleted picture, there are a number of signs pointing to Ole Miss being a legitimate player in the national recruiting scene.
Evidence #1: Their class isn’t as exceptional as its been billed.
ESPN called them a top 5 class and the top end is as good as anyone, but as good as the top was, as noted above, they very quickly return to their historical norms. So it then becomes a question of what happened with the top five or so recruits in the class. While back door dealing wouldn’t surprise me (it’s college football, nothing should surprise me) there did seem to be to be some genuine fluky connections surrounding some of their top signees.
Evidence #2: Hugh Freeze is a good recruiter
I don’t track assistants and recruiting, and with only full season as the head coach at Arkansas State, it’s difficult to track what he should be credited for. With that said, the class that signed as he was heading to Ole Miss, the class assembled during his only year at the helm was far and away the best class Arkansas State has had. The standard was low but the results do matter in context.
Evidence #3: Ole Miss’s class wasn’t as big of a deviation as has been claimed
Again, the top end is what is unique about Ole Miss’s class. Here is Ole Miss’s historical classes using the same format as the national leaders chart:
That is definitely a big gap. With that said, the Rebels’ 1,107 points were about 410 points higher than the average excluding this class. This ranks as the 19th largest spread in the last 12 classes and third largest of this year, behind Texas A&M and Alabama.
In fact the largest outlier of a class actually resides in the state of Michigan. Michigan State’s 2004 class was worth 1,072 points over 500 points higher than their historical average.
My personal take from all of this information is that I am less certain that Ole Miss had an unfair advantage in this recruiting cycle but still think it’s more likely that it happened than it didn’t. The class is unusual in its ability to draw elite level recruits and it is not easy to get 3 of the best 4 and 4 of the best 7 recruits your school has gotten in the last 12 years. Plus, its college football and college football in the southeast. If you don’t start with suspicion you haven’t been paying attention.
What is this? Folks who cover the USMNT drop lists like this projecting the 23 guys who end up on the next World Cup team. I have appropriated it. Regarding the number of tickets: 22 starters on offense and defense + 2 kickers + nickelback + FLEX TE + fullback.
This is the Signing Day Update. Certain recruits are added, NFL departures (or returns) are accounted for, and bowl performances are taken into account. Next update is after spring practice, which should see more significant movement.
PACK YOUR BAGS
Jake Long wannabe took second-to-last step to full clone by forgoing sure first-round status in this year's draft to return for senior year. Upside: shut off Clowney in bowl game, gives Michigan second returning starter, was All-American last year. Downside: has reportedly sold his twosie.
The Barbarian is Michigan's best defensive player and a lock for preseason first-team All Big Ten. Can change direction in a flash; consistently shocks opponents with his explosive acceleration.
Schofield came into his own midway through last year. Getting some NFL draft buzz now; shut down a talented SoCar bookend in the bowl. Could move to guard if necessary; ideally remains outside.
Groza semifinalist and hair enthusiast has turned his career around after early struggles. Hit 52-yarder last year en route to record accuracy for Michigan kicker. Likes brunettes and Keystone Light.
Should break out for real after a year to bulk up and work on his routes. Frequently targeted a year ago without effect, will need some outside threats to develop to truly annihilate defenses.
Former Rodriguez slot-dot is Michigan's leading receiver and should be again. Still a somewhat awkward fit as an outside receiver; a threat on end-arounds and screens. Punt return job may be up for grabs.
7. QB Devin Gardner, Jr.* [Last time: 12]
Late-season rankings slide of Shane Morris and solid bowl performance move Gardner from very likely to be Michigan's starter to a holy lock. No true freshman is supplanting him.
Safety attached to notorious six-pack has been a steady performer and a major contributor to Michigan's extreme lack of big plays allowed in the Mattison era.
Season surprise emerged into upper-echelon Big Ten nose tackle out of nowhere. Has the physical ability to be an NFL player. Requires your head, sorry, nothing personal.
Filled in admirably for Countess. Avery won't pass him, and it's doubtful any freshman will. Still needs to tighten up his zone coverage but has excellent size and athleticism for the position. Likely to move to boundary corner.
UNLESS SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENS
Most college-ready OL out of the Midwest in years probably could have—probably should have—started last year. If he does not ascend to starting job will have been beaten out by a classmate, freshman, or walk-on. Not happening; cue Imperial March.
Sticky-fingered Louisiana gnome proved his mettle in 2012. If a pass is physically reachable by him, will be brought in. Feet will motor afterwards. Lacks top gear.
Converted OL Michigan's best bet at inline blocking TE sort; needs to work on his technique in a serious way. Could near 300 pounds after an offseason in the weight room. Fears no fish.
Pressed into service as a started his freshman year before settling into perpetual third-best-corner-on-rosterdom. Will see half of the defensive snaps, covering slots and the like.
Major drop from last time out; was overranked to begin with since Bolden is pushing from behind. Excellent frosh play in bowl game puts job under a bit more threat. Realistically it'll be hard to move out of the MLB spot.
Kugler buzz sees Miller slide a bit as his competition will come in far readier than most to start from day one. Still seems unlikely a guy with a labrum injury can find the strength as a freshman to displace him.
FAIRLY SAFE BET
With Courtney Avery seemingly comfortable in the slot, Countess is likely to reclaim the field corner job he locked down midway through his freshman season… as long as he isn't hampered by lingering effects of his injury.
Early enrollee groomed as the Kovacs heir apparent as soon as he arrived, playing in certain nickel and dime packages as a freshman. Has not appeared on The Price Is Right, that's 'shopped, rookie. Marvin Robinson may challenge.
The only thing keeping Ross so low is classmate Joe Bolden; the two freshmen split snaps with veterans and played well. Ross seemed more instinctive and gets the nod here; had a great day against Northwestern and just needs 20 pounds to be a quality option.
IN A BATTLE
Yep: making the switch here, as Fitzgerald Toussaint now has to deal with not only DeVeon Smith but a 220 pound slab of muscle coming in with as much hype as it is possible to garner. Tailback is an immediate-impact spot.
Beyer has nosed ahead of Frank Clark and Mario Ojemudia since he's a better run defender. Recruiting sites liked him best, too. Likely to split time with the other two contenders here even if given the green light as a starter.
Mountain-sized guard missed 2012 with a broken leg; will return for spring practice. Has to fend off freshmen and walk-ons, mostly. The non-Kalis guard spot will see a lot of intrigue.
Started to rack up meaningful snaps late in the year; will have to fend off challenges from Tom Strobel and possibly Chris Wormley and Jibreel Black, if he's not at three-tech. Injury-enforced retirement of Nate Brink means he's at least going to reprise his role this year.
Nominally in line to replace Will Campbell at starting three-tech but will be pushed hard by trio of redshirt freshmen, and may move out to SDE. May not have the size to start at his current position.
Someone large and leapy will have to pick up where Gardner and Roundtree(?) left off. Darboh did nothing as a freshman but seems likely to move in front of Jeremy Jackson and others to claim the other spot outside.
Stephen Hopkins' departure makes Kerridge the leader at fullback when face-smashing is called for; the additions of Khalid Hill and Wyatt Shallman may move Kerridge to the bench for periods of time when Borges wants pass-catchers at the spot. Houma?
Bowl suspension has Will Hagerup on thin ice, thin enough that it seems 50/50 he returns, at best. If Hagerup is out the door, Michigan won't miss much of a beat with Wile, who averaged 48 yards a kick in the bowl game. Picture may be slightly old.
PUSHING FROM BEHIND
QB Shane Morris—hopefully he redshirts.
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint—worst. year. ever.
RB DeVeon Smith—most likely to fit what coaches want at RB spot
RB Dennis Norfleet—MOVE HIM BACK MOVE HIM BACK
OL Erik Magnuson—third option at tackle.
OL Ben Braden—rumor is they may give him a shot at guard with Lewan back.
C Blake Bars—if Miller is just too too small.
C Patrick Kugler—the chosen center, but labrum injury hampers.
WR Jehu Chesson—should be ready to go after redshirt in search of bulk.
DE Tom Strobel—oversized end coming off redshirt, should be quality run defender.
NT Ondre Pipkins—get thee to the technique hut, son.
DE/DT Chris Wormley—has the size, has the hype, has the ACL recovery process.
WDE Frank Clark—rotated with Beyer last year.
WDE Mario Ojemudia—seemingly the best bet for an impact pass rusher at the spot.
MLB Joe Bolden—needs weight, but coming off meaningful freshman PT.
SLB Cam Gordon—spots Ryan.
CB Terry Richardson—weight weight weight weight weight
CB Jourdan Lewis—will a Cass corner ever meet the hype?
S Marvin Robinson—not sure if he'll ever be reliable enough to play.
S Josh Furman—ditto
As the 2013 class wrapped up yesterday, Michigan landed its quarterback for the 2014 class, offering and receiving a commitment from Richmond (VA) Collegiate QB Wilton Speight. The Wolverines reportedly had Speight at the top of their board over OK QB David Cornwell and FL QB Michael O'Connor, and he jumped at the chance to be, at least for now, the lone quarterback in the class.
|NR QB||NR QB||NR QB||3*, 86, #23 PQB|
It is, of course, still early yet in the 2014 recruiting cycle—only 247 has ranked Speight thus far, naming him a three-star and the #23 pro-style QB in the country. All but ESPN (6'5") peg his height at 6'6", with a listed weight between 217 and 225 pounds, prototypical size for a pocket passer.
Evaluations are scarce at this point. Of course, the most important evaluation in this case is the one made by the coaches, and Speight passed his with flying colors last week:
The junior quarterback from Richmond (Va.) Collegiate showed off his skills to Michigan receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski on Friday. By all accounts, Speight did well.
"He was telling my coach that after five passes that coming down was worth the trip and everything he saw on my film was what he saw in person, which was what he was hoping for," Speight said of Hecklinski's evaluation. "It went really well. … In my opinion I threw really well. I threw one pass that was a little wobbly but I was just having a good time with my receivers. I thought I did completely fine."
Five days later, Speight had his first scholarship offer—clearly, Hecklinski liked what he saw.
247's Clint Brewster posted some impressions from Speight's film in the wake of his commitment ($):
Speight is a quarterback that can make all throws and also keep plays alive by dodging and breaking tackles in the pocket. Speight has a compact release, allowing him to make throws on time. Footwork is strength for Speight, as he shows proper steps on his throws inside the pocket and also has great mechanics when throwing on the move.
Being nit picky here, Speight can improve his throwing motion by following through on his throws and using his hips and legs to step into his passes better. Speight tends to throw off his back leg quite often, but gets away with it because of his arm strength at the high school level but could be a concern in college.
I largely agree with Brewster's assessment, though he fails to mention the hitch in Speight's delivery that will be apparent on film, and his arm strength isn't at a blue-chip level.
An important note: Speight was originally a 2013 recruit, but reclassified to 2014 after breaking his collarbone in the first game of his (first) junior season, per Scout's Kristin Kenney ($).
Michigan was Speight's first scholarship offer. He also had recent interest from Alabama, USC, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia; it's possible he was on the verge of several more offers if he'd remained uncommitted.
Some have asked for a new section in the commitment posts that mentions past players a recruit's high school has produced, so here you go. The Collegiate School hasn't produced a recruit above two stars on Rivals since 2002, but you've certainly heard of one of them: former NC State and Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson, class of 2007. The only other BCS recruit the school has produced is current Virginia starting tight end Jake McGee.
Per VirginiaPreps, Speight threw for 2504 yards and 28 touchdowns while adding 235 yards and six touchdowns on the ground as a junior.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals lists a 40 time of 4.73. Speight is definitely a pocket passer and doesn't look to have good speed on film, so that gets three FAKEs out of five.
You can also see Speight make some throws in a camp setting at the beginning of this video.
I'm very impressed by Speight's accuracy, both in the pocket and on the run. He doesn't have a cannon for an arm and has a bit of a hitch in his delivery, but he still looks like he can make all the throws, and his touch and ability to change speeds is impressive for a high school prospect. His arm will keep him from being a top-flight prospect, but as a three-star I think he could be underrated.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
When Speight hits campus, Michigan will hopefully have Devin Gardner playing in his redshirt senior season, Russell Bellomy will be a redshirt junior, and Shane Morris will be either a redshirt freshman or a sophomore. Unless disaster strikes, Speight will be able to redshirt in 2014, and after that he'll compete with Morris for the starting job—he may be the one guy hoping Morris sees the field next year; if so, he could take over the job for two years even if he can't beat out Morris when he's at Michigan.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan has their quarterback for the class, and TomVH seems to believe they'll stop at one ($). I'd like to see the Wolverines take another and build some real depth, but at the moment this is looking to be a smaller class: attrition will add to this number, but right now there are around 15 spots for the class, with two already filled by Speight and linebacker Michael Ferns. Big priorities for the 2014 class include wide receiver and strongside defensive end.
Hey little man.
Hey big guy.
Hey there pal.
Hey there buckaroo.
Hey pork chop.
How about a little 5-on-5, you pick the time and place. At Breslin huh? Next Tuesday? 9 o'clock? Let me check the calendar…
Feb 8, 7:35 p.m.: Kick Notre Dame's ass in hockey
Feb 9, 11:00 a.m.: Kick Wisconsin's ass in basketball
Feb 9, 7:00 p.m.: Kick Notre Dame's ass in hockey again.
Feb 9, 9:00 p.m.: Collect massive windfall of 2014 football commits, because THIS IS MICHIGAN™
Nope I'm free. See you there.
How it works:
- I put up a winnable prize that consists of a desirable good.
- You guess the final scores of the designated game, and put it in the comments. First person to post a particular score has it.
- If you got it right, we contact you. If not, go to (5)
- The desirable good arrives at the address you give us.
- Non-winners can acquire the same desirable good by trading currency for it.
- Seriously, you don't have to actually guess a basketball score to get this shirt. You can buy it.
About Last Time:
This Week's Game:
Michigan @ Michigan State next Tuesday, Feb 12, at Breslin. Normally I'll plug the weekend game to give people enough time to sign up, but fortunately I like all of you too much to make you guess the score of anything involving Wisconsin. You can thank me by posting your score in the format of [M's Score]-[Opponent's Score].
And the Prize:
High Fashion is about making a statement that demonstrates the breadth of your personality and intellectual qualities. To that end, we submit to you the "Beat State" cotton upper body apparel unit.
The word from Paris and Milan this year is that America is in, and there is no sentiment more uniquely American than the expression of one's desire to defeat their collegiate rivals from a nondescript Morrill Act university, such schools often colloquially designated in the local vernacular as simply "State."
Add this shirt to your ensemble and exude the subtle wit of patriotism for these states united as expressed in the declaration of your base intentions to humiliate the members of your own commonweal to whom both land and your old clothing were granted.
State comes to Crisler the weekend of March 2-3; order it soon so we can get it to you on time.
Here's the pics I could assemble from 2013 signing day, because the most exciting thing that happened today was 18-year-olds signing pieces of paper and standing by fax machines. If you've got others post 'em below with attribution and I'll add.
To begin, here's ESPN's lead photo with Shane Morris and Wyatt Shallman in a DeLorean, because if you're going to take the Michigan program Back to the Future why not do it with some style. Also the stainless steel construction… stand back.
The rest via the jump.
It is Signing Day 2013, and if you weren't aware, Michigan has a pretty, pretty good class. With this post—and its accompanying defense post (coming tomorrow)—I'll attempt to give you a solid overview of the class, its strengths and weaknesses, and hand out a few superlatives. Let's start with a look at the offensive class as a whole and their final rankings from the recruiting services—click on each player's name to see their commitment post:
And now, some specifics:
BEST POSITION GROUP: Offensive Line.
This offensive line class is arguably the best in the country, finding strength both in numbers (six) and quality (five of the six are consensus four-stars or above and made All-American teams). As Michigan continues to fill in the holes left by some disastrous offensive line recruiting under Rich Rodriguez, this couldn't have come at a better time.
Among the group, guard Kyle Bosch is the most likely to crack the two-deep early; he's on campus early and has college-ready size—Michigan lists him at 6'5", 311 lbs.—to go with a polished set of skills. He won't start right away (let's hope) but could factor in as a backup. Center Patrick Kugler—the son of longtime NFL OL coach and current UTEP head coach Sean Kugler—might be the best of the bunch, though. He'll hit campus as the most physically gifted Wolverine at the position, and while he shouldn't be forced to play right away, he should be a multi-year starter down the road.
Honorable Mention: Running Back, Quarterback.
BIGGEST WEAKNESS: No elite receiver
Yes, this class lacks a blue-chip wideout. Csont'e York and Jaron Dukes are both big targets who can go up and get the ball, while Da'Mario Jones could be a playmaker in the slot, but none are can't-miss prospects. This issue is mitigated somewhat by Michigan's strong recruiting at tight end—get a couple playmakers there and the pressure comes off the receivers in the passing game—but you'd still like to see a top-flight guy on the outside.
Honorable Mention: The only other issue with the offensive side of the class is the lack of a second quarterback for depth purposes, something the coaches decided wasn't necessary. Otherwise, every need was filled.
MOST LIKELY TO START FROM DAY ONE: Derrick Green
Not only is Green the top-ranked recruit in the class, but he comes in at a position of great uncertainty and, as of late, middling production. He's got the body of an NFL running back as a high school senior and is a perfect fit for Al Borges's ideal offense. It's unknown whether Fitz Toussaint will be ready to start the season after his ugly leg injury and his production was lacking in 2012 anyway; Thomas Rawls failed to impress in his stead. Green's toughest competition for the bulk of the carries may even come from fellow 2013 commit DeVeon Smith, arguably the best back in the state of Ohio. Either way, expect a freshman (or two) to make a big impact in the backfield next season.
Honorable Mention: DeVeon Smith, Jake Butt
SUREST THING: Patrick Kugler
Covered in part above, Kugler is as close as you'll get to a can't-miss offensive line recruit. At 6'5", 280 lbs. before setting foot on campus, he's got better size than any Michigan center of recent vintage. His father spent nine years coaching offensive line in the NFL, and Patrick's film makes it apparent that he's absorbed a lot of his father's teaching—from a technical standpoint, he's very advanced for his age. He participated in the Under Armour AA Game and held up very well against some of the best defensive linemen in the country.
Kugler's only competition at center right now is Jack Miller, who's been groomed to take over the position for a couple years but was too undersized to see the field as a redshirt freshman in 2012. Miller should step in and start in 2013—it's unrealistic to expect Kugler to have enough command of the offense to make the O-line calls after a few weeks on campus—but it's going to be hard to keep Kugler off the field in 2014 and beyond.
Honorable Mention: Derrick Green, Kyle Bosch
BOOM OR BUST: Logan Tuley-Tillman
Offensive lineman Logan Tuley-Tillman has the prototypical left tackle frame at 6'7", 307 pounds. He's also a relative newcomer to the game of football and spent his high school days overpowering opponents with sheer size and strength—as a result, he's got a long way to go from a technical standpoint. At last summer's Sound Mind Sound Body camp, Tuley-Tillman and David Dawson both got extensive work in with Michigan OL coach Darrell Funk—Funk used Dawson as an example for how to execute certain technical aspects of line play, then spent a good deal of time trying to get Tuley-Tillman to that level.
If Tuley-Tillman can put it all together, he's the future at left tackle and could even develop into an NFL prospect. With so much ground to cover, however, he could also get buried on the depth chart by more polished players. It should help that Tuley-Tillman is already on campus—with a redshirt year all but guaranteed, he'll have plenty of time to work on the fundamentals before worrying about seeing the field.
Honorable Mention: Shane Morris, Chris Fox
MGOSCOUTED STAMP OF APPROVAL: Jake Butt
Among the players I checked out last fall—on offense: Morris, Shallman, York, Dawson, Butt, and Hill—tight end Jake Butt really stood out with his performance on the field. Playing against cross-town rival Pickerington Central—featuring fellow Wolverine Taco Charlton—he hauled in nine catches for 93 yards and a TD while also making an impact at defensive end. Some of my impressions from that game:
Butt did a great job of snatching the ball away from his body and caught everything thrown his way. While he could be a little sharper out of his breaks, he runs crisp routes and positions his body well to give his quarterback a big target while warding off the defender. He was able to find space up the seam on multiple occasions but was also comfortable working on the perimeter, at one point catching back-to-back out routes when Central cheated to the inside in coverage. He's not going to juke past too many defenders after the catch, but he usually finds a way to fall forward for extra yardage.
At 6'6", 235 lbs., Butt has an ideal frame for the position, and his blocking really impressed me as well. He's another early enrollee, and I'd be surprised if he took a redshirt—he may not start from day one, but he's a better blocker than Devin Funchess and could give Michigan a scary one-two combo at tight end/H-back.
Honorable Mention: David Dawson, Shane Morris
THE SHANE MORRIS CATEGORY: Shane Morris
An overview of Michigan's 2013 class is incomplete without mentioning the team's quarterback of the future. Morris dropped from five-star status on Rivals and 247 after a senior season marred by mono and an uneven performance at the Under Armour AA Game, but he still has the highest ceiling of any of Michigan's commits.
The first thing that stands out about Morris is his arm strength—the ball explodes out of his hand with seemingly little effort. When he's on, it's a sight to behold. The problem—and ultimately why he dropped in the rankings—is that he's yet to show consistency; he still needs work reading defenses and relies too heavily on his arm strength to fit the ball into windows that sometimes aren't there.
Those expecting Morris to come in and take the starting job need to temper their expectations severely—the job is Devin Gardner's, and barring injury it'll stay that way. Morris could very well come in and earn the backup job over Russell Bellomy, however, and with a couple years of development he could be special.
Honorable Mention: Shane Morris
SLEEPER: Da'Mario Jones
Michigan snatched WR Da'Mario Jones, a Westland John Glenn product, away from Central Michigan, so he certainly flew under the radar for the bulk of the recruiting cycle. That may have been the product of playing in a league that doesn't get much exposure, however—Allen Trieu reported($) that UCLA, Alabama, Florida State, Michigan State, and Georgia all came to see him last week, though no offers came when he made it clear he was ticketed for Ann Arbor.
While the other two receivers in the class, Csont'e York and Jaron Dukes, are big guys who were on the receiving end of a lot of jump balls in high school, Jones is a guy who's shown his ability to work underneath and break big plays after the catch. With Drew Dileo and Jeremy Gallon back in 2013, he may not see the field right away, but down the road there's a clear role he can fill in the slot—a position that, granted, may be marginalized by the increased emphasis on tight ends—and nobody else on the roster who fits that mold after next season.
Honorable Mention: Wyatt Shallman, Khalid Hill