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The recruiting news isn't coming as fast and furious as earlier this summer, but that doesn't mean there's nothing to discuss. This week's Recruitin' Mailbag covers the biggest needs in the 2014 class, the 2013 recruit with the best player comparison, potential switches in the 2012 class, and why Shane Morris's high school stats don't match the hype. If you'd like to ask a question for the next mailbag, email me or tag your question with #mgomailbag on Twitter.
What are the three biggest priorities for the 2014 class in terms of positions? — @browngalaga
Two position groups immediately stand out to me as top priorities for the 2014 class: quarterback and running back. While Michigan appears to have their quarterback of the future in Shane Morris, they didn't take a QB in 2012; if Devin Gardner doesn't get his medical redshirt, Morris and Russell Bellomy will be the only scholarship QBs on the roster in 2014. With Morris in the fold, it's not imperative that Michigan takes a top-100 type, but they'll need a solid prospect who's a good bet to start as an upperclassman.
At running back, Michigan isn't lacking in pure numbers—barring attrition, six scholarship RBs will be around in 2014, plus fullback Sione Houma—but they're still missing that workhorse, every-down back that Wolverine fans are accustomed to seeing. Instead, there's currently a variety of situational backs—Hayes and Norfleet as slot types, Rawls and Shallman as battering rams—plus DeVeon Smith and Drake Johnson. I don't see Johnson as a threat to crack the two-deep at running back, putting a lot of pressure on Smith to pan out. If Michigan whiffs on Derrick Green, they'll need a big-time prospect to come through in 2014.
As for the third position of need, that's a little tougher to pick, which says a lot about the job Hoke and Co. have done filling the holes in the roster. I'd go with nose tackle; unless Willie Henry and Maurice Hurst Jr. both land there and develop into rotation guys, there will be a huge need for depth behind Ondre Pipkins. At a position where you need a solid rotation of players to keep everyone fresh, getting at least one guy who can clog the middle certainly wouldn't hurt.
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What '13 recruit will be bestowed with the most impressive YMRMFSPA? — @MGoShoe
I'm of the mind that Dymonte Thomas is going to threaten for five-star status after his senior season, especially if he gets to show off more of his coverage skills this year. He's a dynamic athlete, a hard hitter, and a playmaker from the safety position, which means he must have an awesome Michigan comparable... oh, right. Pre-Kovacs safeties haven't exactly been a strong point, and grit-scrapper walk-on doesn't make much sense as a player comparison to universally lauded recruit.
Ready for some high praise? I can't do a Michigan comparable for Thomas, so I'm going with former Alabama safety Mark Barron, who went 7th overall to Tampa Bay in this year's NFL draft. Much like Thomas, Barron played running back and linebacker in high school, ending up as a five-star to Scout and the #55 overall prospect on Rivals. The Tide played him up in the box often to take advantage of his excellent run support; his athleticism was an asset in coverage, though he could use some technical improvements. That sounds exactly like Thomas to me, though it's obviously a little early to be predicting a top-10 overall pick in his future.
What positions changes do u foresee with the 2012 class? We need TE depth — @BehindDaSticks
The interesting thing about the 2012 class is that there doesn't appear to be many—if any—candidates for a major position change. The defensive linemen may switch between three- and five-tech or three-tech and nose, but that's not exactly a huge switch. The most obviously candidate is A.J. Williams, but Michigan needs him to stick at tight end, not bulk up and become an offensive tackle.
One guy who could swap position groups down the road is Mario Ojemudia, who's currently slated for weakside defensive end. He's an explosive pass-rusher who spent his high school career as a speed-rushing 215-pound defensive tackle; now he's up to 231 pounds, according to the Michigan roster, but there are concerns that if he continues to add bulk he'll lose the attributes that make him so effective. If Ojemudia can't keep his speed and quickness at 260 or so pounds, he could very well end up at strongside linebacker; in fact, the coaches have mentioned that he could play either spot at this point.
Why aren't Shane's passing numbers on par with other top-flight qbs? What do you expect for his senior season? — @chrissimonsays
According to MaxPreps, Morris completed 121-of-235 attempts (51.5%) for 1684 yards, 19 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Those numbers aren't bad; they also don't scream "five-star" to most. Having seen Morris a few times last year, however, I can tell you that his coach isn't lying when he says that those numbers don't tell the whole story:
"His statistics are very deceiving," Verska said. "When we played Plymouth he had 28 completions out of 46 passes, but he had 11 drops. We had more touchdowns dropped than we had caught last year. His stats should skyrocket this year because we have some kids who have played and are better receivers."
Morris also dealt with a great deal of pressure last year, as his offensive line didn't hold up very well against the state's more talented defenses. He was often asked to do everything for the offense, and much of the time that involved running for his life or forcing passes to try and get something going.
This year, Morris should be helped greatly by the presence of senior wideout Jack Wangler, son of John, who's played with him in 7-on-7 and transferred to Warren De La Salle this year. If the Pilot offensive line can improve, his numbers should start to reflect his true talent and ability.