Michigan now has 12 commitments in its 2012 football recruiting class, currently (by at least one measure) the top class in the Big Ten.
That #1 ranking is partly real, partly artificial. What’s real is that Brady Hoke has recruited some pretty good football players. What’s artificial is that no other Big Ten school has more than eight commits, and nine teams in the conference have four or fewer. That obviously won’t last.
When Michigan has 12 commits and Nebraska just 2, you can’t really say that Michigan is out-recruiting Nebraska. All you can say is that the Cornhuskers must not be particularly eager to get kids to commit this early. (I have no doubt that if the ’Huskers wanted them sooner, they could have them.)
The strategy of accepting so many early commitments has advantages and disadvantages. Clearly it tells the story that Hoke and his team are ace recruiters. When you haven’t coached a game yet, it’s about the only way you can show the world how good you are. It also makes positive news for a program that hasn’t had much of it lately. Nobody needs to be persuaded that great players will go to Nebraska. At Michigan, you couldn’t take that for granted anymore after three bad years.
Tactically, the strategy could push wavering players to commit sooner, fearing that if they don’t their spot in the class might at some point be no longer available. But the players you attract that way are probably not the very best ones. I never heard of a school that couldn’t find room for a five-star athlete (who was academically qualified). Obviously, every commitment takes the player away from other potential suitors, although only loosely, since other schools can still recruit the player between now and signing day.
It feels good to be cleaning Michigan State’s clock on the recruiting trail. But it also says a lot about the current state of Wolverine football that we even care. Five years ago, nobody worried about whether Michigan would have a better recruiting class than the perennial middle-tier team in East Lansing. It was simply a given—something like a sell-out at the Big House, that we hardly ever thought about, because it was expected.
The strategy could also have drawbacks. Michigan has made hundreds of offers for 2012, and it can accept no more than 20–25 (depending on the number of scholarships ultimately available). Every spot you fill early is a spot not available later on, either for players who don’t want to decide this early, or for players off the radar who might make a jump in their senior seasons. Likewise, players who look great based on junior-season film might regress as seniors.
It would be interesting to study whether there is any measurable advantage to accepting commitments early vs. waiting until the fall. A look through the Rivals database shows that there is a pretty wide variance among the elite programs. For instance, Alabama currently has 12 (same as Michigan), but Auburn has only 5. There are two widely different strategies there.
(I am assuming that no player with a chance at attending an elite program rushes to commit to Indiana or Vanderbilt, but that there are plenty who would eagerly commit at places like Auburn and Oregon, to the extent the coaches want them so soon.)
One would think, offhand, that you take the commitments of a four- and five-star kids whenever you can get them, since those players (when correctly rated) are the ones that usually go on to be multi-year starters, NFL draft picks, and so forth. That would also apply to the three-star or unrated kids whom you believe very strongly that the recruiting services got wrong. For a correctly-rated mid-level three-star, the advantages of getting an early commitment aren’t as clear. At that level, players are much more plentiful, and schools like Michigan should be more choosy.
I don’t claim to have the answer, nor am I uncomfortable with Hoke’s strategy. He’s a proven recruiter at places like Ball State and SDSU that are much harder to sell, and in the absence of more concrete data I’ll assume he’s getting it right. I do think it’s a point worthy of further research.
Here is an interesting response to Ray Small's recent statement by former OSU walk-on (and Merrill Lynch employee? What?) Harrison Till. I can understand Till's thoughts, namely that not everyone was doing this, and that it unnecessarily besmirches the names of innocent and hardworking OSU student athletes, but, like, defamatory? I don't think Ray Small was implying that literally everyone was doing it, merely that it was widespread.
I guess what really grinded my gears was reading these sorts of responses:
Wonderful. We'll see how the ESPNs of the world pick up on that twitter as opposed to their search for the smallest minutia that appears to be spewing dirt. It will be an excellent test of media balance and fairness.
I think OSU fans are having a hard time differentiating between fact and opinion and which is worthy of being reported. Ray Small said that he personally sold OSU memorabilia and that many others did the same. That's a factual statement. Harrison Till saying "Hey, no fair! That's overbroad!" is not a fact to be reported.
Edit: Hilarious update. The impartial OSU-hating media now includes... The Lantern!
There are a few douches in this scenario. The first being Zach Meisel, the Lantern Editor, who first trusted the words of Ray Small and betrayed his own school.
When Michigan fans hear Washington offensive lineman they typically think of 6-foot-9, 310-pound Zach Banner who has said he will take an official visit to Michigan. Banner, however, isn't the only highly touted lineman from Washington that has interest in Michigan.
Four star OL Joshua Garnett (6'5", 275 lbs) holds an offer from the Wolverines as well. Garnett also happens to be the 22nd overall prospect in the nation, which ranks higher than Banner at 31. Here's a look at Garnett's film and what he had to say about Michigan.
TOM: We haven't heard too much from you, is Michigan recruiting you?
JOSHUA: Yes, they are. Coach Ferrigno is recruiting me, he's a very nice guy and we talk quite often actually.
TOM: It's tough to gauge someone's interest when they live in Washington. Are you interested in Michigan?
JOSHUA: Yes, very much interested. Michigan has a great football tradition and is also one of the top academic schools in the nation.
TOM: Are you interested enough that you think you'll take a visit to Michigan?
JOSHUA: Yes definitely. It will most likely be an official visit.
TOM: From the sounds of that I assume that you'll be taking your time with your recruitment then? Do you have a plan on when you want to narrow things down?
JOSHUA: Yeah, I plan on taking my time. I'll most likely have it down to five before the season starts.
TOM: Since you said you want to take an official to Michigan does that mean that they will most likely make the top five? I understand this isn't 100%, but as of right now, most likely?
JOSHUA: Yes, that's correct.
TOM: Michigan isn't just a car ride away for you. Is distance going to factor in to this at all for you?
JOSHUA: Distance is definitely never an issue. I like to say that a plane ride is a plane ride whether it's two hours or six hours.
TOM: What's the main reason you're interested in Michigan? Did you grow up a fan?
JOSHUA: I have always wanted to play in that Michigan - Ohio State game. I think that is a big reason why I like Michigan. That game is probably the biggest in college football, and the rivalry is unexplainable.
TOM: That's an answer that Michigan fans will enjoy hearing. Since they probably haven't heard much on you can you explain what type of lineman you are?
JOSHUA: I'm a bullet, not a bowling ball. I'm very fast and explosive. I really use my agility to beat defensive linemen instead of just my strength.
Per Rivals tweets and BHGP, Rodney Coe is heading for a JUCO in western Iowa to play football this fall. Coe is a rather large back (6'3", 230) that I hope to not see line up across from us at all. He won't at least for one year.
Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith both called for the firing of Tressel, and virtually called for a death penalty for the football program.
Going to be fun today watching Buckeye boards attacking those guys.