rundown of Michigan's riser
Image via 247Sports
Michigan picked up their 17th commit of the class of 2013 tonight, as Hudson (OH) LB Ben Gedeon made his long-awaited pledge to the Wolverines:
"It’s awesome! I’ve kind of known throughout my whole recruitment that Michigan has been my #1 school. To finally get the commitment out of the way and saying I’m going to be a Michigan Man is just awesome."
Gedeon joins Mike McCray among linebacker commits in the class. Of the 17 Wolverine commits, 13 of them—including Gedeon—are on the ESPNU 150 Watch List.
4*, #13 OLB,
4*, #8 OLB,
4*, 90, #21 ATH,
Gedeon will be a four-star across the board as soon as ESPN comes out with an actual list,
and only 247 seems to think he doesn't crack the top ~250 players in the country [EDIT: Gedeon is listed at #255 overall on his 247 profile, so he's universally regarded as a top ~250 recruit]. His listed size ranges from 6'2", 200 lbs. (Scout) to 6'3", 220 (247), with recent articles pegging him at about 6'2, 215. Recruiting: Not the most exact science.
Gedeon is an extremely versatile athlete for Hudson, lining up all over the field for them on offense. His best position, of course, is linebacker, and he sounds like a player who will end up at the WILL for Michigan. First up with the evaluations is Mark Givler of Rivals ($):
At the college level, Gedeon will play linebacker and showed good instincts, toughness, and athleticism last Friday night. Gedeon's best position at the next level will probably be middle linebacker where he he has the toughness to fight through traffic and get to the ball carrier. Though getting sideline-to-sideline probably isn't his best strength, he does it well enough and covers well enough that he should be a well-rounded linebacker at the next level.
His size—and the glut of larger inside players in the class ahead of him—means Gedeon will probably end up on the weak side, where his athleticism and coverage ability will be a strength. Rivals's Josh Helmholdt broke down Gedeon's tape last September and saw improvement over his camp performances ($):
We saw Gedeon at two camps in the off-season. In early season film, though, he has looked even more athletic than when we saw him running around in just shorts and a t-shirt. At each new evaluation, Gedeon seems to have lost a little of the stiffness we saw out of him in our first evaluation. He may not quite be the 6-3, 215 pounds he is listed, and he does not blow running backs up, but Gedeon can run with backs and tight ends and will make for an athletic linebacker at the next level.
Again, athleticism and pass coverage are mentioned as positives; considering the WILL is occasionally tasked with sticking to a slot receiver, those skills are at a premium.
Gedeon has placed well in both initial state of Ohio rankings for the class of 2013. Scout has him at #11 in the state, one spot behind fellow commit Jake Butt. Here's Allen Trieu's take on their top-ranked linebacker:
Gedeon is a fantastic athlete as evidenced by what he's done all over the field from running back to receiver to linebacker. He can definitely run and play a sideline to sideline game. He may not play the same level of competition as some of the other top linebackers on the board, but we feel he has the most upside of the bunch.
Bucknuts has him all the way up at #7, and Mark Porter echoes the sentiment of every other evaluation we've seen ($):
“Overall, he is a great athlete. His junior highlights were outstanding. He makes plays all over the field. He’s almost a throwback type. He’s just a tough, hard-nosed football player.”
In case you didn't glean this from the above, Ben Gedeon is a very good athlete.
To go with his Michigan offer, Boston College, Duke, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt, Purdue, Stanford, Tennessee, and Virginia extended scholarships to Gedeon.
Gedeon earned first-team all-state honors last season with 120 tackles to go along with over 1,400 rushing yards and 27 total touchdowns. As a sophomore, he was a third-team all-state member after amassing 105 tackles, five sacks, 500 rushing yards, 300 passing yards, and 300 receiving yards.
FAKE 40 TIME
I actually couldn't track down a 40 time for Gedeon. ALL OF THE FAKES, I guess.
There's also a sophomore highlight reel from 247Sports; though it doesn't have any defensive plays, you can see Gedeon lining up at tight end, H-back, wide receiver, kick returner, and even quarterback.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Gedeon doesn't have ideal size for the MIKE or SLB spots, but his athletic ability and coverage skills make him a perfect candidate for the WILL. He's a near-lock to redshirt given his need to put on weight and the fact that James Ross and Kaleb Ringer should end up on the weak side from the class of 2012. Desmond Morgan will be a returning starter as a true sophomore next season, and Ross is a future star, in my opinion.
Where Gedeon could make an early impact is special teams, where he can put that athleticism and versatility to good use. I expect he'll be a contributor in that area after a redshirt year, and from there he'll battle with Ross and Ringer for a spot in the rotation. As a redshirt junior, he should get a crack at the starting lineup.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan has now filled their two open spots at linebacker—the coaching staff was clearly confident they would take Gedeon, having told four-star LBs Alex Anzalone and Shane Jones they were full prior to his commitment—though all indications are that they're reserving a spot for E.J. Levenberry (likely a SLB), one of the best players on the board at any position.
As for the class in total, the Wolverines now have 17 players committed in what will likely be a 23-24 man class. The biggest needs are along the defensive line and at wide receiver, where Michigan will likely take two more prospects for each group.
Today's recruiting roundup is the last one you'll get from me for a little while, as I'm taking next week off to recharge. Inevitably, there will be a deluge of recruiting news that I'll miss and the next Tuesday Recruitin' will be so long that it undoes all the rest I'll get on my vacation, but this is life in the Hoke regime. Hoke uber alles.
Updates on Massington, Treadwell, Isaac, and More
Tremendous caught up with Mesquite (TX) four-star WR Eldridge Massington, who told Aquaman that Michigan is currently his leader. He also said that his standard McDonald's order is eight(!) cheeseburgers. This immediately brought to mind a classic Belushi-era SNL skit, but since SNL is the Major League Baseball of television shows when it comes to allowing classic moments to be uploaded to YouTube, this is the best I could do:
Massington also plans to visit Ann Arbor for the first time this summer, but a date hasn't been set yet. One receiver who has finalized a visit date, however, is Laquon Treadwell; he'll be on campus on April 7th before visiting Ohio State and Oklahoma over his spring break ($). When you feel envious of big-time college prospects, remember that they sometimes sacrifice trips to Cancun for chaperoned visits to Norman.
Scout's Sam Webb posted a two-part interview with Tyrone Isaac, father of Ty. The first part is mostly a rehashing of Isaac's USC visit, but in part two the elder Isaac reveals what he knows about his son's current timeline ($):
If I had to guess, I would say before his senior season starts he will have made a decision as to where he’s going. He has made mention of it a few times that he didn’t want to go into his senior season with this hanging over his head heavy. He wanted to finally breathe again… take a deep breath, let it out, and start his senior year.
Ty has been under a lot of pressure during the recruiting process, and a summer decision—or even a spring choice—is quite possibly in the cards.
A decision date was set this week by Washington (DC) Gonzaga CB Devin Butler, who tweeted that he'll announce his choice on May 12th. Butler recently visited Michigan and has also taken trips to Wisconsin and Notre Dame over the past week. He'll be back in Ann Arbor for the spring game and is also looking to visit Madison again ($). He also enjoyed his trip to South Bend, too, so this recruitment appears pretty wide open.
Quickly: 2013 Grand Blanc DE Daniel Davis was on campus Tuesday, and while he had a positive reaction to the trip, he left without an offer ($). Peoria (IL) DE Josh Augusta, who holds an offer, will visit campus sometime this week while on his spring break ($, info in header). Also, I did a Q&A with Cari Greene of Black Shoe Diaries about the state of Michigan recruiting, and you're encouraged to check it out.
A Note on Rod Crayton
There's been talk coming from both TomVH and Sam Webb about Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton, who holds an offer and has visited campus, and his current status as a Michigan recruit. Tom and Sam have recently maintained that Crayton, likely due to a childhood foot injury, won't be a part of the class. While I assume Tom and Sam have good reason to say that, I spoke with a source close to the situation yesterday, and here's what he told me:
- Crayton spoke with the Michigan coaches on Wednesday, and they're telling Rod that he's their top nose tackle on the board right now.
- The coaches were aware of Crayton's foot injury—as a fourth-grader, he lost part of his foot in a lawnmower accident—before he ever visited campus. He plays with a custom-made brace and the injury hasn't hampered his impressive production and athleticism in high school.
- Crayton wants to head out of state for school. In fact, he's the one who first contacted Michigan, instead of the other way around. The Wolverines are up there among his favorites, as is LSU. The source expects an Auburn offer to come soon, but said that he still doesn't think Crayton will stay in Alabama.
Given the fact that the coaches have been very forthright with players about whether or not they're being actively recruited—Alex Anzalone and Shane Jones stand out as strong examples—I'd be surprised if Crayton wasn't still being pursued, at least based on what I'm hearing. We'll see how this one plays itself out.
Scout posted a free article on Detroit Loyola sophomore DE Malik McDowell, another player who's visited Michigan recently. McDowell is already 6'6", 260 lbs. at the age of 15, and his coach, John Callahan, is seeing him improve up close:
"He's 15 and he's 6'6, 260, and he plays basketball, so he does a lot of running, so his conditioning is good, but also, he's not your typical lineman where he'll eat two or three pork chops and go to bed and be 290-300-lbs. He's slim. You look at his body, he's not skinny, but he can carry 35-40-lbs. He's 260, but he's a slim 260. I'll tell you what, he's deceivingly strong. The thing about Malik where I've seen the biggest improvement is in the weight room. Last year, I'd bring him in the weight room and keep an eye on him and he'd be missing some reps and some sets. He goes in now and we have a pretty structured weight program and he makes sure every single rep, every single exercise is done and sometimes we'll go back and repeat a few things if he feels he hasn't gotten enough out of it, so his mindset in the weight room has improved 100%."
Being a "slim 260" at 15 is pretty mind-boggling. McDowell appears in line to be one of the top prospects in the class of 2014, and Michigan should be in good position to land him. He's got freakish potential as a defensive end.
Sam Webb profiled Beaver Falls (PA) Blackhawk QB Chandler Kincade, who made a (very) early commitment to Pitt but is now reconsidering his options after the departure of coach Todd Graham. He visited both Michigan and MSU recently and came away impressed. Kincade fits the mold of a pro-style gunner:
"[Former MSU QB Jeff] Smoker I considered more of an athletic guy that could throw the ball," said Scout.com East regional manager Bob Lichtenfels. "He was more an athlete that could get out of the pocket and hurt you in other ways. Chandler is what you expect when people say pro-style pocket quarterback. He's a 6-5, 200-pound kid standing back there slinging the rock. Chad Henne played that way, but didn't have that kind of size."
Whatever they're feeding kids these days, I'm pretty mad I missed out on it.
Quickly: TomVH on '14 Toledo (OH) Central Catholic QB DeShone Kizer, who has early offers from Bowling Green, Syracuse, and Toledo, and has early interest in Michigan ($, info in header). Tremendous gets a visit recap from Indianapolis (IN) Pike WR Dominique Booth, who made a quick trip to campus yesterday and had a very positive reaction.
Today's recruiting roundup recaps Shane Morris's Elite11 regional camp appearance, talks Ty Isaac (what else is new?), and goes over past and future visits.
Shane's Bad Day > Your Bad Day
Shane Morris attended the Dallas Elite11 regional camp last weekend, getting tips from guys like Trent Dilfer and Tony Romo while hoping to lock up one of the coveted invitations to the Elite11 finals. Review of Morris were mixed but mostly positive, and this clearly wasn't good enough for Michigan's quarterback commit, who told ESPN he needs to work on "everything" (also, any idea why Morris is randomly wearing stunner shades for the second throw in this clip?):
While Morris was disappointed to not earn the finals invitation (more quotes in a free ESPN article here), he'll get another crack in Columbus on May 4th, and he still flashed the ability that has made him a potential five-star. Rivals.com's Brian Perroni listed Morris at #5 among his top performers, noting arm strength as his biggest positive ($):
The Michigan pledge made his presence known early by coming in decked out in Wolverine gear. There was a lot of anticipation as people wanted to see the nation's No. 16 overall prospect in person after he traveled a long way to compete. A lefty, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Morris had the best velocity on his ball of any quarterback in attendance and made some very good deep throws as well. His accuracy was a bit off at times but nothing too concerning.
Scout's Greg Powers had a similar take, saying Morris had some great throws and not-so-great throws but "definitely [had] his wow moments," in turning in a "very solid showing" ($). Morris was disappointed, yes, but he also has very high standards for himself. That's by no means a bad thing.
Morris didn't provide the only recruiting action of the weekend, as Michigan hosted several prospects for unofficial visits. The top 2013 target on campus was Washington (DC) Gonzaga CB Devin Butler, who's in the midst of a long string of Midwest visits but took the time to tell 247 that Michigan "seemed like a great place to be as a football player, as a student and a young man" ($). Several Cass Tech targets spanning three classes also made the trip. '13 DT Kenton Gibbs caught up with Will Campbell and also said that Michigan's coaches want to see him at their summer camp before extending an offer ($). '14 LB William White was impressed by what he saw from the linebackers in spring drills ($), while '14 RB/DB Johnny Miggins and '15 QB Jayru Campbell also enjoyed the visit ($). '14 WR Damon Webb was also on campus along with several other Cass Tech players.
Isaac Watch, Future Visits, Etc.
Ty Isaac has returned from his trip to USC, the school that poses perhaps the biggest threat to Michigan in his recruitment, so it's time to read far too much into some post-trip quotes. They are... meh ($):
"There were really no set expectations, it was just a good visit," Isaac said. "It was nothing that I wasn't expecting. I got to see things and talk to coaches."
"I got to see things," is my new favorite non-answer from a recruit. It certainly doesn't sound like Isaac, who was accompanied by his father, was blown away by the trip. He says he's now going to "chill for awhile" before making any kind of decision about his future, and he's not tipping his hand, though he said his top schools "know who they are."
Phoenix (AZ) Brophy Prep WR Devon Allen is one of the top receivers on the board for Michigan, and his recent athletic exploits reveal a major reason why that is the case: Allen just broke a 32-year-old Arizona state record in the 110-meter hurdles, running a 13.62 to edge out the old mark by .07 seconds. He was also just three-hundreths of a second from breaking the 300-meter hurdles state record, as well. Allen starts his spring break next week, and he plans on taking a trip to the Midwest, where Michigan is one of several schools in the running for a visit ($).
One player taking a visit this weekend is Solon (OH) CB Darian Hicks, who already holds 11 offers but is hoping to add Michigan to the list when he comes to campus on Friday ($). Brookfield (WI) Central DE Chikwe Obasih will swing by Ann Arbor between April 12th and 14th—he'll also visit MSU and Illinois during those days, and hasn't set the order yet ($).
Two players have stated their intention to take one of their official visits to Ann Arbor. Petaluma (CA) Casa Grande ATH Elijah Qualls—at 6'5", 265 lbs., likely a DT/SDE recruit for Michigan—is one, having built a strong relationship with coach Dan Ferrigno ($). The other is Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton, whose coach says Michigan "might be recruiting Rod the hardest out of anyone" ($). Crayton plans to take a second unofficial visit for a game this fall, then use an official visit after his season.
Happy trails to two offensive linemen, Colin McGovern and Hunter Bivin, who both committed to Notre Dame over the weekend. Both held Michigan offers but were told, like all uncommitted OL, that the Wolverines are full along the O-line.
Quickly: Taco Charlton's Pickerington Central squad defeated Chris Wormley and Toledo Whitmer, 45-40, in the Ohio Division I basketball state title game. Chantel Jennings gives a progress report on the 2013 class, including quotes from current commits on what the coaches like about them ($).
Things are relatively quiet on the recruiting front at the moment, but here's an update on weekend visitors, players planning to attend the spring game, and more.
Weekend Visitors, Webb on Webb, Spring Game, Etc.
The list is short this week, with Washington (DC) Gonzaga CB Devin Butler the only uncommitted 2013 prospect slated to be on campus ($). Butler currently has Penn State as his leader, but the Wolverines are among a group of nine schools also in contention for his services.
Other visitors this weekend include 2013 commits Jake Butt and Jaron Dukes, and once again Cass Tech will be well represented—2014 WR Damon Webb, 2014 RB/DB Johnny Miggins, and 2015 QB Jayru Campbell will make the short trip to Ann Arbor.
Meanwhile, top receiver target Laquon Treadwell told Chantel Jennings that he'll visit for a spring practice in the first week of April ($, info in header). That will be Treadwell's fifth visit to Ann Arbor, but he still maintains that he won't make a decision until after his senior season.
The big visit weekend, however, will be when Michigan takes the field for the spring game on April 14th. One top-flight prospect who will be on campus is Erial (NJ) Timber Creek DT Greg Webb, who was the subject of Sam Webb's latest DetNews feature. Greg Webb's father earns major bonus points for saying Mike Martin and Iowa's Mike Daniels are two of his favorite D-linemen, because "they're undersized and they're badgers." The elder Webb also shed some light on the mindset of recruits who are witnessing a rather unprecedented rush to commit early:
"Michigan already (received verbal commitments from) 16 kids," Mr. Webb stated. "They're almost finished with their class. If you look at schools like Ohio State, they don't have as many scholarships (to offer). They're probably going to only take two or three D-tackles. You have to look at the numbers. If the schools you want to go to already have 16 or 17 commits, or they're only taking three more (players at your position), I don't think you can wait until signing day. A lot of the schools that he likes are a lot of the higher-profile schools. They're all going to fill up quick, so really I think we're going to have to look how things are going the next two or three months and see (if its best to make an early decision)."
With Michigan likely taking just two more defensive linemen—and also being in strong position with DT Henry Poggi—there could certainly be extra pressure on Webb to commit early if he wants a spot in the class.
Webb won't be the only elite D-lineman on campus for the spring game, either, as four-star SDE Joey Bosa will also be in attendance ($). Bosa currently has Michigan in his top six, but the competition—Florida State, Florida, Alabama, Wisconsin, and Ohio State—is stiff. Two other recruits who will be in that weekend are Cleveland Glenville S Christopher Worley (confusing, I know), who's currently holding offers from Arkansas, Bowling Green, and West Virginia ($), and 2014 Mequon (WI) Homestead DT Brandon Hines, who'll visit Ann Arbor on the 13th before checking out Iowa ($).
Quickly: Columbus (OH) Walnut Ridge WR Rob Wheelwright holds an offer, has Michigan in his top group, and is setting up a visit with coach Jerry Montgomery ($). Santa Monica (CA) WR Sebastian LaRue has "high interest" in the Wolverines and plans on taking a spring or summer visit ($). Grand Blanc (MI) DE Daniel Davis has been hearing from Michigan recently and plans to visit next week ($). TomVH on Michigan targeting several bigger cornerbacks in the 2013 class ($).
Today's recruiting roundup looks at Michigan's remaining scholarships and how they might be used, checks out visit reactions from last weekend, and more.
The Remaining Spots
After DeVeon Smith committed over the weekend, Michigan now has 16 commits in a class projected to hit 23-24 players. Yes, it is still March, and the Wolverines have 2/3 of their class wrapped up. Recent events have added some clarity to the positions Michigan is targeting with the remaining 7-8 spots, so I thought I'd go over the potential options, position-by-position.
Quarterback (1 commit/0 spots remaining): Shane Morris. Period. Yes, there are concerns about depth at QB, but with the number crunch in the class taking a second signal-caller appears highly unlikely.
Running Back (2/1): Michigan has Wyatt Shallman and DeVeon Smith in the fold, but they aren't done. The coaches told Richmond (VA) Hermitage RB Derrick Green that they would take a third back in the class during Green's visit last weekend ($)—a visit that went quite well, by the way—and they've said the same to Cordova (TN) four-star Jordan Wilkins ($, info in header). Ty Isaac is the top target here, and we'll see what his timetable looks like after he returns from his USC trip this weekend.
Wide Receiver (1/2): Jaron Dukes is a big receiver with big-play ability, and the Wolverines will add two more to his position group. There's a strong focus on bringing in another big outside guy—Laquon Treadwell (right) fits that mold—and it wouldn't surprise to see the coaches target a smaller, faster player like Phoenix (AZ) Brophy Prep's Devon Allen to play the slot. Gone are the days of the 5'9" slot ninjas, but the 6'1" track star Allen could signal what the current staff wants in a slot receiver. A laundry-list of other receivers have interest in Michigan, including Marquez North, Darrell Daniels, Eldridge Massington, Sebastian Larue, Marcell Ateman, Zach Bradshaw, Damore'ea Stringfellow, Kevin Gladney, and Uriah LeMay. Four-star prospects Robert Foster and James Quick look like longshots for now.
Tight End (2/0?): When Michigan continued to offer scholarships to TEs after gaining commitments from Khalid Hill and Jake Butt, it looked like a third TE would definitely be a part of the class. Now that Scott Orndoff has committed to Pitt, however, only one uncommitted tight end remains holding a Michigan offer, New Orleans prospect Standish Dobard. It seems unlikely that Dobard will leave SEC country. With the Wolverines not rushing to hand out any more offers at the position coupled with the news that they'll take a third running back, it looks like they might be content with two TEs.
Offensive Line (5/0): The coaches have informed all offensive linemen holding an offer—yes, this includes Ethan Pocic—that they're full along the offensive line. Barring a decommitment, I don't think that will change.
Defensive Tackle (0/1-2): Michigan must take at least one nose tackle in the class, and it certainly wouldn't hurt to bring in a second depending on how the other position groups shake out. The Wolverines are in a strong position with Henry Poggi—more on him later—and got Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton up for a visit, and they're also pursuing high-profile prospects like Montravious Adams, Eddie Vanderdoes, and Greg Webb, among others.
Defensive End (1/0): With Taco Charlton set to come in as a weakside DE, Michigan is in a position to stay pat after the bumper crop of DEs in the 2012 class. They could go after a strongside end, especially if Chris Wormley or Matt Godin moves inside to DT this fall, and they are after some talented prospects—Tashawn Bower seems to be showing the most interest (Michigan is in his top 10 [$]) and the Wolverines are also pursuing top recruits Joey Bosa, Alquadin Muhammad, Jonathan Allen, and others. They can afford to be picky here.
Linebacker (1/1*): The Wolverines have Mike McCray in the fold and it's pretty much assumed at this point that Ben Gedeon will join him in the class, given that the coaches have told prospects like Dorian O'Daniel, Alex Anzalone, and Shane Jones that they're full at linebacker. The asterisk represents E.J. Levenberry, who has Michigan as his leader over Florida State and has a spot apparently reserved for him in the class.
Cornerback (2/0): Jourdan Lewis and Gareon Conley should more than suffice for this year's class unless a five-star talent like Kendall Fuller (unlikely, considering his ties to Virginia Tech and Michigan turning away teammate O'Daniel) or Vernon Hargreaves III (also unlikely with his father coaching at USF and the Florida schools pushing hard for him) wants to come on board. Then again, the Wolverines still seem to be pursuing corners like Tre Bell, Devin Butler, Cole Luke, and Cameron Walker, so there's a chance they take one more.
Safety (1/0): Dymonte Thomas fills any pressing need for a safety, so much like at cornerback and defensive end, the Wolverines can be comfortable staying put while going after blue-chip talents. Or should I say, talent: five-star Su'a Cravens is the only uncommitted safety to currently hold a Michigan offer, and he plans to use one of his official visits to check out Ann Arbor.
Kicker/Punter (0/0): There's no need to take a specialist in this year's class.
If Michigan takes two linebackers (including Levenberry) and two defensive tackles along with a running back and two wideouts, the team has 23 scholarships accounted for with potentially one spot to use for a best player available (or, quite possibly, a third corner). If you want to drop a DT and project the Wolverines grab a strongside DE instead, be my guest—I think we'll see two more D-linemen in the class, and a nose tackle is a must, but that other spot could go to either.
As you can see, it's already time for the Wolverines to hone in on their top targets and be fairly selective with their remaining spots. The main question going forward isn't how Michigan will use their remaining scholarships, but how many they'll have to work with.
New Preferred Walk-On, Visit Reactions, Etc.
The Wolverines now have three preferred walk-ons in the 2012 class coming from Fenton High School, as tight end Quinton Mandle joined teammates Kenny Allen (punter) and Tyler Tokarsky (long snapper) in pledging to go to Michigan on Sunday. Mandle is 6'5", 220 pounds, and had 53 receptions for 700 yards last year, both school records. His addition bolsters depth at a position sorely in need of it.
Rivals released their 2013 position ranks and an initial group of three-stars, which included previously-unranked commits DeVeon Smith and Jaron Dukes. Shane Morris has the highest position ranking, coming in second among pro-style QBs. Also of note: Michigan has five of the top 23 offensive tackles (four in the top 13), though obviously the five linemen won't all play tackle at the collegiate level.
Henry Poggi was on campus last weekend amidst rumors of an imminent commitment, and while that didn't come to fruition, he still had a great trip. Here's his dad/coach Biff discussing Henry's third visit to Ann Arbor ($):
“It was a great visit,” Biff Poggi, Henry’s father and coach told 247Sports. “Just a great visit. It was really, everyone loved it. My wife really loved it. My son loves Michigan. Loves the coaches there, Coach (Greg) Mattison, Coach (Jerry) Montgomery, Coach (Brady) Hoke. We got a chance to spend a lot of time with them. My wife is getting comfortable with the academic piece which is good, and it was a very, very good trip.”
Poggi plans to head down to Texas and Texas A&M and possibly swing out to the West Coast, but his recruitment shouldn't last much longer; his father says they plan to have it "wrapped up by the end of April."
Quickly: 2013 Cass Tech DT Kenton Gibbs said "it was most definitely a good time," after his trip to Ann Arbor last weekend ($). He's still looking for a Wolverine offer. Four of Gibbs's sophomore teammates—LB Gary Hosey, LB William White, WR Damon Webb, and DB Johnny Miggins—were also on campus, and Tremendous has visit reactions from all four. Also visiting was 2014 OL/DT Brian Allen, who already has offers from Iowa and Michigan State ($, info in header). 2013 Los Angeles (CA) Loyola CB Cameron Walker will visit from April 12-14, which includes the spring game ($).
A-Train, Perry, Hart. Photos archived from MGoBlue.com
Here is what has Michigan football fans all aflutter this week: With two 4-star running backs committed to our class, do we still have room for a 5-star running back? #firstworldproblems. Since this is our concern, I thought we'd take a look at the prospective depth charts that past Michigan RBs committed to and see if the prospective mountain for 2013 prospects is any harder than the typical Michigan starting tailback's, prospectively speaking.
When the next class arrives in 2013 Toussaint and Hopkins—a permanent fullback I mention because he's the B.J. Askew type of fullback who will eat up carries—will be seniors, and Vincent Smith will be gone. Barring attrition, the next generation, i.e. the guys an additional 2013 commit should expect to be competing with, will then look something like this:
- Thomas Rawls, Junior
- Justice Hayes, RS Sophomore
- Drake Johnson, RS Freshman
- Dennis Norfleet, RS Freshman or Soph.
- Wyatt Shallman, Freshman
- Deveon Smith, Freshman
Three RBs in the 2013 class gives us potentially five freshmen competing for carries with a sophomore and a junior. "Barring attrition" would almost be a fool's gamble given the history of the position in all my years of following Michigan, except Hoke's program has so far (very small sample) been actually kind of remarkable in holding onto guys—policy is to give them all the benefit of the doubt.
Anyway we have the dudes; if Iowa RBHG gets bored one day he will find too many sacrifices for even his mighty, smite-y hand. This means Michigan is doubtful to take any more add-on running backs to pack the roster unless they or someone on the list is switching to defense. However there is absolutely room—even a need perhaps—for a high-profile back in this class.
The recruiting profiles of a lot of these guys suggests any could be beatable by a hypothetical freshman 5-star. Norfleet and Johnson were both very under-the-radar guys. The former and Justice Hayes are more like scat-backs who could as easily end up as slot-kick returners (though from yesterday's Spring video it looked like Hayes has bulked up a bit since last year, or else someone else is wearing 5. Insiders?). Asking if Shallman is really a running back is entering the realm of media cottage industry. Rawls is so Kevin Grady. At this point Smith is a 4-star to Scout, an Anton Campbell Memorial "no idea, but I guess he committed to Michigan" 3-star to Rivals and a guy named Smith to the other sites. Throw a dart at that group in two years and you could hit anything from (respectively) Mark Ingram/Steve Breaston/Barry Sanders/Mike Hart/Ron Dayne/Eddie George Except Faster to six Brackenses.
Of all positions tailback seems the most freshman-friendly, so it's not as necessary to stockpile today for 2017. On the other hand if you look at Michigan history the lesson is MOAR TAILBACKS. In fact Michigan's great running backs of the last two decades have mostly committed to apparent depth charts way more jammed with highly rated players and established starters:
The thing that's readily apparent is the youth. Michigan averaged about two recruits per year at RB, and graduated one a year. Some didn't move far—Chris Floyd, B.J. Askew, and more recently Stephen Hopkins switched to a type of ball-carrying fullback. A good many switched to defense. A good many quit the team too. But look at the depth charts so many highly rated backs committed to:
- Tshimanga Biakabutuka would have to beat out Tyrone Wheatley, Rickey Powers, and Ed Davis, not to mention a higher rated recruit in his own class. He earned 149 carries in two years versus that group then became his own legend as a junior.
- Chris Howard signed on with two all-everything backs with a sophomore Biakabutuka already established, and ended up the nominal starting RB for a national champion.
- Clarence Williams, the Cass Tech mite, didn't seem afraid of larger classmate J.R. Ford or the aforementioned guys; he beat out Howard and Floyd as a freshman, became the feature back as a sophomore, and spent his whole career battling Howard, Floyd, and A-Train for carries.
- Anthony Thomas was the second-least heralded of four heralded backs who might have believed they were coming in to wait two years for Howard and C-Will to clear out. The train arrived at the starting station his freshman year and eventually broke most of Michigan's rushing records.
- Justin Fargas signed up beside Walter Cross, while freshman A-Train was tearing it up, and before A-Train's classmates skedaddled.
- B.J. Askew came in with three other freshman backs, including 5-star Ryan Beard, when Thomas had two more years, and two more 5-stars, including the electrifying Fargas, had three.
- Chris Perry had about the clearest route to the starter's gig of anybody, but that still meant behind two 5-stars with sophomore eligibility (Beard, Fargas), and one junior (Cross).
- Mike Hart might have looked like depth no matter which class he signed onto. To win the starting job as a true freshman he beat out senior David Underwood, junior Pierre Rembert, sophomore Jerome Jackson, and higher rated freshman Max Martin.
- Kevin Grady saw the freshman duo leap to the top of the depth chart in 2004 yet opted to join the Wolverines in 2005.
- Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown arrived when Grady was to be a sophomore and Hart had two more years as starter locked down.
- Shaw's snake-oiling away from Penn State was to join McGuffie and Cox as the generation that should wait two years for Minor/Brown to clear out. McGuffie hurdled everyone to start much of '08.
- Fitz Toussaint and Vincent Smith signed on before McGuffie left, and piled into a two-seater filled with eight other RB-or-Slot bug types.
- Hopkins signed up to maybe be the thunder guy in case they wanted to keep that job after Minor left, but still had to contend with the boatload of slot bugs.
The list of guys who didn't commit to imposing depth charts full of established and/or hyped underclassmen reads thusly: Kelly Baraka, David Underwood, Pierre Rembert, Darnell Hood, Alijah Bradley, Jerome Jackson. The moral: if you want to be the starting tailback for Michigan you always have to compete against other highly rated backs. This isn't coach speak; it's the standard. A running back who commits here is almost 50% likely to end up at another position or another school. Standard operating procedure is to arrive behind an established junior star and last year's freshman phenom, and if you manage to earn carries against those guys there's still two more classes of blue chip backs arriving after you to steal them.
Enough Carries to Go Around
So two things are true: Michigan has for a long time recruited many more guys than they need at the running back position, and the position has experienced a lot of attrition and position switches. The latter was probably by design; Lloyd Carr recruited at least Weathers, Woody Hankins (who was an RB as a freshman and as a junior), Ian Gold, Jon Shaw, Charles Drake and Darnell Hood with the idea of a defensive swap in mind. Anyway it never stopped the parade of hyped backs to Ann Arbor, despite the fact that until 2008 the coaches always preferred a feature back kind of system. A quick look at the numbers shows there were a lot of carries slipping through the starters' grasps:
|Year||Starting Tailback||Class||Carries||ALL RB Carries||% RB Carries|
|Total||ALL STARTERS (not itals)||--||3,832||6,881||55.7%|
Note: In years with two players listed, the one in italics is the nominal backup who got carries due to the nominal starter's injury. Their stories are intricate and known. Anyhoo, speaking to this year's freshmen, if anything it's not the other backs they should be worried about; it's Denard taking carries away from the entire RB corps.
The closest comparison to the situation for a hypothetical three-man 2013 class is probably 2004 (the year Hart won the job), since there's a lot of guys on the roster now whose profiles would suggest "just a guy" more than "future star." Any year between 1997 and 2000 makes a good case study for a seemingly insurmountable climb for any one recruit, but even in the heart of the A-Train years there were plenty of carries that went to guys like Justin Fargas and B.J. Askew. There were also plenty of Ryan Beard/Walter Cross/Ray Jackson/Pat McCall types who came with hype and couldn't crack the depth chart.
This is what Wyatt Shallman and Deveon Smith are signing up for. Given Michigan's history of stockpiling talent at this position, adding a five-star to this class is no deviation from the norm; in fact it would probably bring us closer to a "typical" depth chart. Fitz will be a senior when these guys arrive, and none of Drake Johnson/Dennis Norfleet/Justice Hayes/Thomas Rawls at this point should seem more insurmountable than, say, a Jerome Jackson. On the other hand an Isaac commit would mean carrying eight scholarship backs in 2013, something we haven't done since 1997. It's way too early to predict this kind of stuff but I'm sure jamiemac wouldn't call you crazy for a Justice Hayes to receiver prop. And while we can't ever plan for transfers, busts, or injuries, and I certainly hope all of these guys play out their eligibility, I don't think anybody is willing to bet on that. If Michigan wants to take another blue chip, history says there is room and opportunities available. However it's not the year Michigan can afford a scholarship for a depthy flier dude to keep up alumni relations or something like that.