Mike Lantry, 1972
he wants you (probably not you unless you're 6'6")
Brady Hoke's swashbuckling recruiting start has put Michigan fans in a tizzy, yrs truly included. Whenever anyone's in a tizzy there's someone there to say "hey, wait a minute," and this is no exception: amongst the many threads that can be summed up with three punctuation marks—!!!—is a small cadre of very rational people who note a significant number of three stars and lack of top 100 types.
One of them did some research:
I looked at Rivals data for every year since 2002, when they first started rating. I looked at the total number of 4 and 5 star recruits each year, and then calculated that as a percentage of the overall class. As we know, 4 and 5 star recruits are what fans think of as "elite" recruits, and if you look at elite recruits as a percentage of the overall class, you can get a rough idea of the "quality" of that year's class.
There are major caveats with this approach, starting with a huge one; this year's class isn't finished being rated, since none of have even played a game as a senior in H.S. Also, the class isn't, like, complete. Finally, the usual caveats of recruiting ratings apply as well. But since fans are typically using ratings to proclaim their happiness with recruiting, it seems fair to at least look at the early ones, just as we do around here in Tim's "Hello' posts. So here goes:
YEAR- #4/5* of # in class (%)
2002- 11 of 21 (52%)
2003- 13 of 17 (77%!)
2004- 13 of 22 (59%)
2005- 10 of 23 (44%)
2006- 11 of 19 (58%)
2007- 7 of 20 (35%)
2008- 17 of 24 (71%)
2009- 14 of 22 (64%)
2010- 6 of 27 (23%)
2011- 6 of 20 (30%)
2012 to date- 7 of 16 (45%)
So of the 11 years that Rivals has recruiting rated, there have been 4 of those years that, by looking at 4 and 5 star percentage of class, this year's class so far has beaten. And of course 6 that had a higher percentage of the class rated as elite by Rivals. Again, I don't draw any conclusions here because of the above caveats, but I do find it interesting. What do you think?
I think the above guy does have a point. Michigan is not suddenly recruiting on par with USC at its apex. That's fine. We are a beaten down fanbase that reached for the spread stars and melted its bowl streak and self respect. A return to, say, the #6 program in the country—its record during the Carr era—would be a welcome change. Michigan's recruiting from the early part of the survey contributed to that and a return to it is a good thing.
But just glancing at the number of four stars sells Michigan a little short. Here's why:
Rivals Is Relatively Down On The Class
247 and Scout are higher on Michigan's commits. The original poster returned to make this point when asked by commenters: 56% of Michigan's commits have four stars on Scout, which puts it above six of the previous ten classes.
Big Classes Are Tougher To Fill
Michigan is apparently headed to 26 this year, a number that should strike fear into every 5'8" guy on the roster other than Vincent Smith*. There's a set number of highly touted guys interested in you no matter how big your class is, so getting to 16 so early with seven four stars (or nine or whatever) should mean Michigan can hold out for bigger fish and come to rest with an impressive, large class.
*[This does make me uncomfortable: they have about 19 spots now and while a standard attrition rate gets them close-ish to that number, outright planning on sending guys out is approaching Saban territory. I hope there are completely legitimate reasons the guys who leave do so but that's getting into "but he really wanted to go to South Alabama!" territory. We'll see.]
Not All Three Stars Are Created Equal
Rivals actually breaks down players into eight tiers: a five star gets 6.1, four stars 6.0, 5.9, or 5.8, three stars 5.7, 5.6, or 5.5, and two stars 5.4. Michigan's committed three stars all get a 5.7 from Rivals save Mario Ojemudia, who gets a 5.6. They've all got good offers from program established at a BCS level:
- Ben Braden: Wisconsin (and Michigan State)
- Devin Funchess: Nebraska (and Michigan State)
- Matt Godin: Wisconsin (and Michigan State)
- Kaleb Ringer: Iowa
- Anthony Standifer: Notre Dame
- AJ Williams: Arkansas (and Michigan State)
- Ojemudia: Iowa, Stanford (and Michigan State)
- Allen Gant: Stanford
Only Caleb Stacey (best other offer: BC or Illinois) doesn't have an offer from a program that's done pretty well for itself over the last five or so years.
While none of those offer lists says "you have obviously ranked this prospect wrong (or he's fibbing about who wanted him)" there's a big difference between a 5.7 three star Nebraska was after who is a four star to the other sites and the three stars in Michigan's 2006 class. Only Quintin Patilla got a 5.7. Patilla and Obi Ezeh were snatched away from the MAC; Quintin Woods had an Iowa offer but didn't qualify, something that no current commit seems to be on watch for—certainly no three star. John Ferrara (Penn State) and Perry Dorrestein (Nebraska) each had one other good-ish BCS offer but didn't get that 5.7 and Nebraska then was Callahan Nebraska. Greg Banks shows an Oklahoma(!) offer on his profile but I'm not buying that; he was nondescript 5.6.
Similarly, of Michigan's 11 three-star-or-worse commits in 2005 only two (La Terryal Savoy and Mister Simpson) got a 5.7.
This is where some light Carr tsking has to go: Michigan's strike rate in the late Carr era was dismal. Exactly one three star* from 2006 or 2005 can claim to be anything other than a desperation starter: Mark Ortmann. In just 2005 Ohio State dug up Brian Hartline, Malcolm Jenkins, James Laurinaitis, Anderson Russell, Donald Washington and Brian Robiskie. That's six guys currently in the NFL rated three stars or lower by Rivals. We can talk all the crap we want about Terrelle Pryor but the current Buckeye dominance wasn't just built on loaner cars and birthday parties. They annihilated Michigan when it came to unplucked gems.
Similarly, Rich Rodriguez's classes were laced with academic washouts, insta-transfers, and guys with offer sheets nowhere near the solid lists Michigan's current commits have.
While we've got little evidence Hoke can manage the same trick OSU did the chances he comes up as empty the Carr regime did towards the end are slim, and the chances he suffers as much attrition as Rodriguez are zero.
*[Other than Zoltan Mesko, who is a punter. He got three stars but for recruiting sites giving a kicker three stars is the equivalent of giving anyone else five.]
Michigan State: Goo
This has already been established. Brady Hoke has turned Michigan State recruiting into a national endeavor. Good luck with that, kids.
Notre Dame Is Not Invincible
Recruiting against Notre Dame became virtually impossible for Michigan after Charlie Weis (of all people!) ascended to the top job in South Bend. Throw a rock at Notre Dame's highly touted, highly disappointing offensive line and you have about an 85% chance of hitting a guy who Michigan had offered and pursued heavily. (Don't worry: in response he will only mewl pitifully and see his draft stock plummet.) When Michael Schofield committed to Rich Rodriguez, this was a tremendous outlier.
Notre Dame always did well against Michigan since they had an edge with upstanding gentlemen from Catholic schools and upstanding gentlemen from elsewhere were a dogfight, but in the late Carr/Rodriguez era that went from a slant to an avalanche.
Hoke hadn't fought with Notre Dame much early but four of the last five commits—Erik Magnuson, Tom Strobel, Anthony Standifer, and Terry Richardson—had offers from Notre Dame. Richardson is Cass Tech and his buds are commits and etc etc, but
- Standifer is from Chicago, where Notre Dame has been kicking Michigan's head in for decades,
- Magnuson is from the West Coast, where Michigan recruiting had evaporated under Rodriguez and Notre Dame does pretty well, and
- Strobel is from the Cleveland area, which is historically one of the least-friendly places for Michigan recruiting. (Information per Misopogon, his past diary, and his upcoming Hail To The Victors article.)
That's a burst of success against the Irish unlike any Michigan has seen in a long time.
Ohio State: Self-Immolated
This is impossible to judge in a vacuum; recruiting against the Buckeyes is going to be a lot easier for the foreseeable future. Does Tom Strobel swing to Michigan if Jim Tressel forwards that email to compliance? Maybe, maybe not. Probably not. However, even if Ohio recruiting's skids are considerably greased the next few years Hoke has an opportunity to become an equal(-ish) force in the state comparable to the Bo/Mo/early Lloyd era when recruiting an Ohio player was like going up against Notre Dame: yeah, there's a subset of that population you're basically Sisyphus with but you are going to win a sizeable chunk of those battles.
Shane Morris. In a similar vein, the things people are hearing about Wormley, Pipkins, Diamond, and even the buzz on Adolphus Washington.
Evaluating A Proper Level Of Giddiness
I do think the research guy above has a point. While Rivals is the most pessimistic data point at the moment, Michigan killing the Midwest without pulling in any of the truly big time recruits from Ohio, Illinois, or Pennsylvania (yet, anyway) is a baseline for Michigan's success if it's going back to a This Is Michigan strategy. Hopefully over the next eight months we'll see them pare back to an elite corps of guys they're after and close out with VHTs. If they don't it's going to look like a pretty good Carr class. If they do it's going to crack the top five and set the stage for a major realignment of power in the region.