a vitally important recap of all the dumb tweets sent during the Harbaugh coaching search
Hello, I'm back, and very thankful to have missed the dumbest week of the offseason thus far. The long-promised recruiting mailbag is here, and I'll have a recruiting roundup tomorrow once I've caught up.
There may be in-class attrition. It probably won't include Mike Onwenu. [Rapai]
At long last, we've gone long enough—hold on...
[checks three different message boards]
[checks Twitter again]
...we've gone long enough without a commitment for me to put together the recruiting mailbag I promised weeks ago.
— CBCS (@MGoFour) June 15, 2015
It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest. Michigan already sits at 21 commits in the class and they have several positions of need yet to fill: wide receiver, tight end, defensive tackle, BUCK linebacker, cornerback, probably one more offensive lineman, and maybe an additional inside linebacker. They may even take a kicker, though Quinn Nordin's recruitment is trending towards Penn State. That's seven or so more potential spots. If they find a way to make the numbers work, this class could conceivably reach 28 players, with the coaches backdating a few early enrollees to fit under the yearly cap of 25.
Can Michigan make this work without oversigning? I think so. Brian covered part of the numbers outlook in his recent mailbag, noting two areas where scholarships should open up:
- There are 4-6 current redshirt juniors who are candidates for unrenewed fifth years. They'll have spent four years in the program and will leave with degrees in hand.
- There are a couple potential medical redshirts, not including the now known to the public effort to get Ondre Pipkins to agree to take one. Pipkins, a senior, wouldn't have affected the 2016 scholarship count regardless.
There's another huge factor: the impending depth chart crunch. Michigan is set to have seven scholarship quarterbacks on the roster in 2016; they'll also have seven scholarship running backs. That's 14 players for two starting positions (three if M goes RB-by-committee), and there's a good chance underclassmen pass an upperclassman or two. Depending upon how the depth chart shakes out, there could be 3-4 transfer candidates just from those two position groups. As the pecking order is established in fall camp and during the season, some players will look for playing time elsewhere.
In addition, I looked at Stanford's 2010 class for a reason. Any class that fills this many spots this early is likely to have attrition, and while Stanford's 2010 class had an unusual number of decommitments even for Harbaugh, it'd surprise me more if Michigan held onto every current commit than if they lost at least a couple. David Reese is looking at Louisville and Notre Dame. Dele' Harding camped at West Virginia recently. In-class attrition should be expected.
For those looking at the number of highly ranked targets on Michigan's board and wondering where those spots will come from, that should help provide an answer, as should this: always remember that fans tend to overestimate their team's chances of landing top-ranked commits. Is Michigan going to pull in some four-stars and perhaps even a five-star or two down the stretch? Yes. Are they going to add Rashan Gary, both Kellys, Dontavious Jackson, Terrance Davis, Ahmir Mitchell, and Nasier Upshur to round out the class? No. While Michigan is in very good shape with each of those prospects, anyone who's followed recruiting for a while knows that a class never wraps up so neatly, let alone so spectacularly—especially when dealing with so many out-of-region prospects.
At this point, I'm not too concerned about the numbers. There's still an entire fall camp and football season to play before Signing Day, and Michigan is in their first year under a demanding coach with a markedly different style from his predecessor. If M has to "free up" a half-dozen scholarships in February, we have a problem; I don't anticipate this being a problem.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the mailbag.]
NOTE: Michigan baseball plays their NCAA Tournament opener against Bradley starting RIGHT NOW. You can watch it on ESPN3.
Harbaugh is a draw, but recruits will need to see results. [Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog]
As Michigan heads into a big visit weekend before what should be an eventful month of June, when the coaches make their satellite camp tour, it's a good time for a recruiting mailbag. No need for a preamble; let's get straight to the questions.
— MysterA (@NateAdema) May 29, 2015
This will depend on the prospect to a certain extent. For recruits focused more on relationships with coaches, facilities, academic support, and the like, on-campus visits should be the primary way Michigan pushes for a commitment. For recruits intent on competing for conference and national titles, Michigan is going to have to show some progress this season before they haul in guys hell-bent on collecting rings.
That's oversimplifying matters, of course; recruits rarely commit to a school without a great on-campus visit experience, and winning is going to help no matter what. After the way last year's recruiting deteriorated along with the team's performance, however, it's safe to say on-field results will be more important this year for recruiting than a normal year. (Whatever that is.) Jim Harbaugh's reputation may precede him, but the program has been down for long enough that a lot of top prospects—especially from outside the region—are going to want to see the Wolverines take a step forward before making a four- or five-year commitment.
[Hit THE JUMP for a comparison of Harbaugh's offer approach to Hoke's, the position group in need of a solid '16 haul, and a guess or two at M's next commitment.]
Can Donnal and Chatman bounce back from underwhelming freshman campaigns? [Fuller]
This edition of the recruiting mailbag—now featuring hoops, too—covers the impact of KJ Costello's commitment to Stanford, a guess at when Harbaugh will land his first commitment, and some discussion of next season's basketball rotation.
Assuming Costello stays out West how big an impact does that have on all these other offers out there? Didn’t seem like too long ago we were hoping for Costello and a bunch of other guys to visit together? Would be great to have a West Coast Tentpole (it’s a thing I think), especially at QB, in the class to link up the offers (and optimism) with commitments.
Tx as always for your time.
Michigan's forays into California are always going to feature a lot of misses; they'll keep at it because the hits make it well worth the effort. Landing a whole group of Golden State prospects was always a longshot at best; even before Costello went off the board, receiver Theo Howard—who described Michigan as his "dream school" after receiving an offer—pledged to Oregon, and it looks like receiver Dylan Crawford could follow in Costello's footsteps.
Jim Harbaugh has already experienced some success recruiting the state, however. Getting five-star OLB Caleb Kelly to foot the bill for an unofficial visit was impressive, and Kelly's mentioned a desire to return for an official visit, which would be a great sign for Michigan's chances. Four-star OLB Camilo Eifler will take an unofficial days after the spring game. Four-star S CJ Pollard said he'd take an official visit as soon as he received his offer. Four-star TE Devin Asiasi is a good bet to take an official, as well. Several others at least have moderate interest; if I had to guess, I'd say Michigan gets at least one California prospect in the class.
That'd be a huge step in the right direction. Seth was kind enough to dig into his database when I asked him about California recruiting under previous coaches. The disparity between Lloyd Carr and the last two coaching staffs is huge:
Carr: Tom Brady, Russell Shaw (transfer), Patrick McCall, DeWayne Patmon, Justin Fargas, Hayden Epstein, Courtney Morgan, Charles Drake, Zach Kaufman, Calvin Bell, Tyler Ecker, Spencer Brinton (transfer), Matt Gutierrez, Leon Hall, Keston Cheathem, Morgan Trent, Eugene Germany, Jason Forcier, Chris Richards, Johnny Sears, Jonas Mouton, Zion Babb, Avery Horn, Donovan Warren, Michael Williams
Rodriguez (1): Tate. Unless you count Burzynski.
Hoke (2): Mags and Wile
Carr averaged about two California recruits a year, and he landed his fair share of big-time recruits, like Brady, Fargas, Mouton, and Warren. As Seth points out, a lot of those guys were from power programs, like Matt Gutierrez at Concord De La Salle—a connection forged back when Carr was the defensive coordinator and Michigan landed a wide receiver from DLS by the name of Amani Toomer. Reestablishing a strong rapport with California's top schools will pay off, even if it's more so in future classes than 2016.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the mailbag, which includes maybe the greatest reader email I've ever received.]
NJ DT Rashan Gary may be M's most important target in the 2016 class.
Although the Roquan Smith decision looms, the recruiting focus has almost entirely turned to the 2016 class, one that comes with significant expectations for Jim Harbaugh. While there wasn't nearly enough time in the 2015 cycle for Harbaugh to make a huge splash, 2016 should be the class in which the results start meeting the hype.
With Michigan handing out a rash of new offers in the last couple weeks, this seemed like a good time to take some of your questions.
Biggest Positions Of Need
What do you see as the biggest position of need, outside of possibly quarterback? Our lack of weapons at WR, especially when compared to the elite teams last year, has me leaning that way.
While Michigan will certainly take a receiver or two—with a focus on pulling in a top-flight talent like Dylan Crawford—I don't see that group as the most pressing need in this class. There's plenty of talent on the depth chart left over from last year, and you shouldn't sleep on redshirt freshmen Drake Harris and Moe Ways; both have big-time ability.
Three position groups come to mind immediately. On offense, the O-line is in need of sheer numbers after Michigan took just five total in the last two classes—one of whom, Mason Cole, didn't redshirt and therefore may as well be regarded as a 2013 recruit. The Hoke regime provided Harbaugh with a decent start here; 2016 commit Erik Swenson is a borderline top-100 prospect. Expect Michigan to add at least two more on the line, and preferably more. Given Harbaugh's offense, adding a high-level tight end or two is also a priority.
The biggest need on the team is at defensive tackle. Michigan didn't take one in 2015, and six of the nine DTs on the current roster are in their final two seasons of eligibility—the only exceptions are sophomores Maurice Hurst Jr. and Bryan Mone and redshirt freshman Brady Pallante. While Hurst and Mone have already started contributing, Pallante was an undersized prospect who was initially offered as a grayshirt before Hoke missed out on several D-line targets.
Given how long it usually takes for DTs to develop, landing two recruits there at a minimum is a must. Luckily, Michigan is off to a strong start in the recruitment of Paramus (NJ) Catholic's Rashan Gary, the #2 overall prospect on the 247 Composite.
[Hit THE JUMP for questions on the quarterback outlook, California recruiting, fullbacks(!), and reasonable expectations for the class.]
We're a week away from Signing Day and a bizarre recruiting controversy just arose, so it's time for a mailbag. Let's get this one out of the way...
The Daishon Neal Thing
— Craig Barker (@cdbarker) January 28, 2015
If you missed it, Michigan appeared on the verge of flipping SDE Daishon Neal from his Nebraska commitment until Greg Mattison's in-home visit went awry:
"Michigan was a powerhouse, they came in and they stormed us, they made one bad statement and it was over," [Neal's father] told 1620 on air. "They said without football, Daishon wouldn't be able to go to Michigan. Like we couldn't afford to send him there, or that we couldn't get him in academically.
"Once he said that, we pretty much escorted him out of the house."
Neal continued by stating: "(They) basically tried to call me stupid in front of my face."
There are a few issues at work here. First of all, Michigan can't comment on an unsigned recruit without breaking NCAA rules, so there's no way for Mattison to tell his side of the story; in all likelihood, this won't ever be addressed specifically.
Second, what Mattison reportedly said, in so many words, is often true—one of Michigan's most reliable recruiting pitches is that being a football player allows prospects the opportunity at a first-rate education that wouldn't necessarily be available otherwise. This isn't meant as an insult; plenty of smart people with strong academic resumes don't get into Michigan. I think it's great that Michigan presents this opportunity to those who may not have a 3.8 and a 30 on their ACT; football players have a huge impact on campus life and come away with well-earned degrees.
Finally, Mattison is a seasoned recruiter. I have a difficult time believing he presented this information in any way close to calling Neal "stupid." That's not a particularly effective way to convince a student-athlete to come to your school. A football scholarship pretty much guarantees admittance as long as the recipient clears NCAA academic requirements, which are far less stringent than Michigan's usual admission standards—coaches almost always check with admissions before offering a scholarship.*
Even if Neal has an excellent academic record, that doesn't offer the same guarantee he'd get in. Perhaps Mattison didn't put this in terms Neal and his family appreciated, but it seems far more likely this was an unfortunate miscommunication than a deliberate slight by Mattison. So it goes.
*Demar Dorsey stands as the exception to the rule, and that didn't work out so well.
[Hit THE JUMP for M's chances with Iman Marshall, the proclivity of TE/DE types, and how Harbaugh will look to replace Messiah deWeaver.]
Of U-M's 2015 decommits, Damien Harris is the most likely to end up in Ann Arbor.
Previously: The Policy And Its Benefits
The two-part recruiting mailbag concludes today with a look at in-state recruiting, the likelihood of Michigan's decommits re-committing, and the outlook at running back.
— craig laluk (@CraigLaluk) May 28, 2014
First off, it's a relative down year for football prospects in the state, with only three players right now earning composite four-star status, though Alex Malzone is right on the edge and should end up there. Adding to the lack of in-state activity, four of the top seven Michigan prospects have already made commitments: OL Kyonta Stallworth (MSU), Malzone, OL David Moorman (Wisconsin), and CB Tyson Smith (MSU).
Michigan isn't in very active pursuit of any of the prospects outside of that top seven; Cass Tech DE Joshua Alabi is ranked #8, and while he holds a Michigan offer, Michigan State and Tennessee have been at the forefront of his recruitment for a long time now. Nobody ranked below him has received an offer or much interest; the only player down there I could see getting a late offer is Oak Park ATH John Kelly, who might get a harder look after the Shaun Crawford decommitment—MSU offered him at corner, and that's a pretty solid endorsement.
That leaves the two top players in the state—Saginaw ATH Brian Cole and Cass Tech RB Mike Weber—and a Michigan legacy at #6 in Southfield OLB Tyriq Thompson. I won't sugarcoat here: there's a distinct chance all three end up in East Lansing. Cole's been high on the Spartans for a long time, Weber's strongly considering them, and Thompson's recruitment has gravitated towards MSU despite his U-M ties.
With that out of the way, Michigan also has a legit shot at all three, and their cause would be helped greatly by a season this fall that at least shows the program is getting back on track. Cole and Weber have both shown more interest recently, especially Weber, who seems very open to the idea of playing in Doug Nussmeier's offense. Steve Lorenz recently posted that Michigan is pursuing Thompson as hard as any recruit on their board, and it could very well be a 50-50 tossup right now. I think Cole ultimately ends up at MSU, but I like Michigan's chances with Thompson. As for Weber...
— Jeremy C. Anderson (@the_ASGroup) May 28, 2014
...I think he's the most likely to end up in this class, both among the top in-state prospects and the current running back targets. The Wolverines have really trended well with him since the change in offensive coordinators.
Jacques Patrick is going to be really, really tough to pull out of Florida; right now, his 247 Crystal Ball is at 97% for Florida State and 3% for Miami, and he holds offers from just about any powerhouse program you can name. Michigan at least will have him on campus when Patrick is in the area for the Sound Mind Sound Body camp next month, but they have a lot of ground to cover to catch the Seminoles.
As for Harris (man, I'm nailing these segues)...
— Eddie Xiao (@edxiao) May 28, 2014
Not really, though there's still some optimism about Harris—this is much more opinion than anything else, as Harris has said all the right things since his decommitment, and he clearly has genuine interest in considering the Wolverines again.
That said, Ohio State is making a move, the Alabama/Auburn/FSU/USC-types are sniffing around, and we can't even rule out in-state Kentucky. Just based on the number of schools—and very good football programs—Harris is still seriously considering compared to Weber, I think the latter is more likely to end up in the class. While it wouldn't shock me if Harris ended up back in the fold, re-commitments are the exception, not the rule.
There's no such optimism when it comes to George Campbell or Shaun Crawford at this point. Crawford canceled his planned Ohio State visit for this weekend; a commitment to Notre Dame is imminent. Campbell, meanwhile, appears ticketed for either Florida (the presumed favorite) or Clemson (always a dark horse, and he could reunite with former East Lake teammate Artavis Scott), and his decommitment from Michigan coinciding with his uncle taking over command of his recruitment doesn't bode well.
— Bry Mac (@Bry_Mac) May 28, 2014
What have we told you about stealing people clothes, BiSB...