I have revamped my player database, and learned how to make gorgeous interactive charts. Wanna see where this class stacks up?
Mouse over the dots to see whom each belongs to. The orange ones are this year’s class (they limit free users to only a few colors and I was trying out a bunch of these).
[UPDATE: Didn’t see that they limit your views too. No more interactivity—if somebody knows a good site to build these let me know. In the meantime if you download this and open it in your browser I think it will work for you.
The spreadsheet still lives here and includes a ton of updated data thanks to some readers who helped me out. If you want to see the actual ratings and rankings that went into these numbers I’ve put that all on a separate tab. Behold:
I had some help. Reader David Moorhead pulled out all of his old recruiting issues of The Wolverine that had data going back to 1990. Much of the National Recruiting Advisor (ancestor of Rivals), Parade, Lemming, PrepStar, Street & Smith, USA Today, and SuperPrep (Scout predecessor) data came from his work. Also reader Jeff Alotta helped me play around with the math some as I tried to rebuild how I give out star ratings for regional and national position ranks.
SO, HOW DID WE DO THIS YEAR?
The receivers and front seven look amazing when stacked against the players who’ve come through here in the modern era. It’s also a very balanced class. And it’s huge. Getting to Best Class Ever™ would be tough. The Class of ’94 formed the basis of a national championship team and while not everyone stuck around almost everyone made it to the NFL. The next class then produced two guys in the conversation for greatest football player who ever lived in Woodson and Brady. On the other hand this class matches either of those in average quality, and then doubles the size.
AND STARS MATTER?
That appears to be the case, statistically, when I compare the star ratings of past players to how many games they started at Michigan. Note not just the trendline, but where the NFL players came from:
The average star rating (on my 5-star sliding scale) of a future NFL player coming out of high school was just under 4.25. That’s roughly equivalent to a top-125 player who’s the #2 player in Ohio or the 9th best cornerback in a deep year.
That r-squared is saying “they’re related but star rating is no guarantee.” Note however that lots of starts don’t necessarily mean quality, e.g. Ezeh. You should also note that the number of little diamonds bunched at zero starts gets thinned out considerably as it gets into the 4-star range. This is consistent with every other study that compares on-field performance to recruiting ranking, which always show you can get great players from the 3-star ranks but the higher-rated players are progressively more likely to contribute.
Let’s blow up that bottom corner to see the 5-stars who had fewer than 10 starts at Michigan:
It’s hard to look at that and make a claim that the scouts got it wrong. Five of the seven left with eligibility remaining to play with another Power 5 school or the Yankees—Fargas, Simmons, and Mallett would all play well as upperclassmen elsewhere and stick in NFL. Baraka couldn’t stay sober, so that wasn’t even a scouting issue. Henson is a special case.
That leaves Green and Grady. On review of every other consensus 5-star running back in recruiting database history up to when Green committed that seems to just be horrible bad luck. Grady and Green were overrated or undeveloped, which sucks since every other RB rated as highly was either awesome or lost his career to something not related to talent.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR NEXT YEAR AND BEYOND?
The last two classes, like the 2012-’13 hauls under Hoke, are making up for the two smaller classes between. The 2016 class had to play a lot of guys right away to fill the depth chart and this year will be the same. There’s no way around having an incredibly young team this year. By next year however these hauls will start to show. I think we’re done with 30-man classes for the time being.
National championship teams have to get close enough for luck to do the rest. The 2016 team was that with terrible luck despite a lot more misses than normal for the quality and size of Hoke’s early classes that built it. Harbaugh’s found Michigan another one or two shots at it again down the road. That’s all you can ask.
- Aubrey Solomon: We know what he says if he likes you; if he doesn’t like you he’ll let your quarterback know. James Hudson: Impressed that he was listed at 295 because that’s ready to go size.
- Best wide receiver class ever? Sam has some old recruiting stories and a lot of big receiver hauls going back to the early ’90s. Who’s the #2 receiver in this class?
- Drew Singleton calls in, talks about how he fell in love with Michigan, what position he’ll come in to play, and the New Jersey to Michigan Express.
- Who’s the viper? Could be Singleton, or JKP, or Jordan Glasgow. Position shakeouts will happen over the offseason.
- Are M-OSU running away with the conference? MSU always loses the battle to Michigan but who knows, maybe their 2-stars will be Cook, Waynes, Dennard and Conklin again.
- More around the conference: Maryland’s class: Durkin’s secret to recruiting. Diminishing Wisconsin, Penn State and Nebraska on the rise. But why are you sleeping on Wisconsin?
- Nationally? Tom Herman will be fine. Florida will not. How did USC do it? Stanford has just 14 players but they’re all really good. Odd that Clemson’s national championship didn’t result in more. Missing Ole Miss.
- The black hole of Mississippi
You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.
THE USUAL LINKS
2 hours and 4 minutes
MGoRadio is recorded before a live retail audience at The Bo Store, 333 S. Main. Special guest: Steve Lorenz of 247 Sports.
We can do this because people support us. You should support them too so they’ll want to do it again next year! The show is presented by the Bo Store, UGP & Moe's, and if it wasn’t for Rishi and Ryan we probably would have real jobs.
Our other sponsors are also key to all of this: Homesure Lending, Ann Arbor Elder Law, the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown, the University of Michigan Alumni Association, Deo Bookkeeping, Michigan Law Grad, Defensive Drivers Group, and Peak Wealth Management.
starts at 39:57
Listen as we wait on Niko Collins. OL class is big but didn’t close the way we wanted to see. Receiver corps: hoooooooooo boy. Where do we rate the receivers after DPJ? Also, about DPJ.
starts at 39:58
Camp guys ended up nationally ranked 4-stars. One of the best highlight videos Ace has ever seen. The awesome DL class may actually be underrated—one of the 3T/5T recruits is half Willie Henry and half Jake Ryan. The LB class missed out on Gay but still, hoooooo. Everybody’s watching #5 and who is this kid? And would have liked another defensive back but again two great-looking cornerbacks we comp to Jourdan Lewis and Richard Sherman.
Lightning Round of Across the Crooked Blue Line
starts at 1:23:23
Finding something to complain about is hard. Finding something to like is easy unless you ask us to pick a favorite. Brown got to go LB shopping among elites for the first time in his life.
starts at 1:53:20
Say something Ace, oh wait he can’t because he’s been defeated. Wagner era begins with weird whistles and 14 minuets of Donnal vs. Nick Ward—thanks Breslin! Walton isn’t soft but calling him soft can tap some crazy new level of Walton.
- “I Don’t Want to Wait”—Paula Cole
- “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want”—The Smiths
- “Santa Baby”—Eartha Kitt
- “Across 110th Street”
THE USUAL LINKS
- Helpful iTunes subscribe link
- General podcast feed link
- Direct download link
- What's with the theme music?
This is an all-timer.
I've written this post before. Then-four-star Lee County (GA) DT Aubrey Solomon committed to Michigan on June 18th, 2016, catching everyone, including his own mother, off guard. He rescinded that pledge in August after receiving a note from Michigan thanking him for attending the BBQ at the Big House—an event he did not attend—that, to add insult to carelessness, contained multiple misspellings of his name. His mother, who didn't accompany him on the visit to Ann Arbor when he made his initial commitment, would be playing a larger role in his recruitment, he said. In-state Georgia was now the favorite. Since then, Solomon:
- Took a September unofficial to Georgia, after which his mother gave an extensive, glowing interview to UGA's 247 outlet.
- Told 247 "I love the Crimson Tide" and said he knew of three official visits: Alabama, Clemson, and Georgia.
- Missed a planned visit to Georgia to take the SAT.
- Said Georgia "sticks out."
- Set a Michigan official visit out of the blue, took it, and named them his new leader.
- Said he'd been to Georgia enough that he no longer needed to take an official there but was considering multiple unofficials to Athens.
- Officially visited Alabama for the Iron Bowl, a trip he'd later call "eye-opening."
- Set official visits to USC, Florida, and Georgia for January.
- Arrived at the Army Bowl, where he said Bama held a "huge" lead.
- While at the Army Bowl, said "f*** Michigan" on the Periscope stream of Georgia commit (and one-time Michigan commit) Jeremiah Hollomon.
- Apologized for the above.
- Still at the Army Bowl, his mother gave a multi-part interview to Sam Webb in which she said Michigan and Alabama were "neck and neck" while strongly insinuating she preferred the academics in Ann Arbor.
- Hosted multiple Alabama coaches the day before his USC OV.
- Hosted Jim Harbaugh, Jim Harbaugh's daughter Addie, and Chris Partridge for an in-home visit that featured family go-karting.
- Hosted Alabama coaches on two more occasions in January, including a visit from Nick Saban, Tosh Lupoi, and two more Bama assistants just before the dead period.
- Committed to Michigan.
Oh, and somewhere in there, Solomon had a dominant senior season and Army Bowl week that resulted in his ascension to five-star status.
Needless to say, this recruitment defied convention and expectation. Solomon's Crystal Ball tracker is reminiscent of a KenPom win chart from a wild late comeback:
Solomon is Michigan's 28th commit in the 2017 class and the third at DT, joining James Hudson and Phil Paea. SDEs Donovan Jeter and Deron Irving-Bey could also slide inside if needed. Solomon slots in behind early enrollee Donovan Peoples-Jones as the second-highest rated recruit in the class.
5*, #2 DT,
5*, #2 DT,
4*, 84, #5 DT,
5*, 98, #3 DT,
5*, #2 DT,
Hot damn. Solomon is a five-star to every site save ESPN, which has barely moved Solomon since his initial commitment (he was #61 at the time), probably because they haven't updated his evaluation for his senior season. Fire-and-forget at its finest.
Solomon, who's listed at either 6'3" or 6'4" on the four sites, played at over 300 pounds in his junior year, then shed some bad weight and played at closer to 285 in his senior season. He's ahead of the game in the process of building himself up to ideal weight and build.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, and more.]
Michigan has its second Signing Day commitment from a blue chip recruit hailing from deep in SEC country. After five-star GA DT Aubrey Solomon pledged this morning, Pinson (AL) Clay-Chalkville WR Nico Collins closed out the class by choosing the Wolverines over Georgia.
While Collins didn't quite have as dramatic a recruitment as Solomon, his took similar twists and turns; he was long considered a Michigan lock until a late Georgia surge that the Wolverines managed to overcome. He's the 30th commit in the 2017 class and the fifth at wide receivier, joining Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tarik Black, Oliver Martin, and Brad Hawkins.
4*, #24 WR,
4*, #17 WR,
4*, 82, #21 WR,
4*, 92, #29 WR,
4*, #23 WR,
After Rivals briefly had Collins in five-star territory, there's now a strong consensus on his ability; all four sites have in a relatively tight range in both the overall and position rankings, with Rivals still on the bullish end and 247 on the bearish.
Collins is a tall, burly receiver. He measured in a 6'5", 202 pounds at The Opening finals last July.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, offers, video, and more.]
[Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette]
The sinuous path of Oliver Martin’s recruitment has reached its end with Martin’s Michigan pledge last evening. Martin seemed like he might commit to Michigan at any time this past fall; after appearing to be a Notre Dame lean, 247’s Crystal Ball moved in favor of Michigan before moving back to Notre Dame and finally ending solidly in favor of Michigan. Crootin! With all the buzz around his name, I decided to look for a full game to scout. Thanks to Friday Night Lights’ youtube account, we’re able to take a look at the 4A state title game.
It’s still better to have a full game than a highlight tape to scout, but there are times—as happened here—where there are extenuating circumstances that limit a player’s productivity. Dowling bracketed Martin all game, and it wasn’t until late in the second half that West would try to duplicate the one successful target they had in the second quarter by having Martin run deep ins. On top of that, Dowling’s pass rush was too much for West HS; their QB often found himself scrambling away from one or two un/partially-blocked defenders and flipping the ball to a nearby safety valve. Even so, there were impressive parts of Martin’s game worth noting.
[Note: Martin’s typically lined up at the bottom of the screen. The easiest way to spot him, though, is to find the guy in the knee-high white socks.]
[Hit THE JUMP for Martin’s scouting report]