That was my twitter question you referenced in regards to those three and Andrew Brown. I'm not sure how I deleted it. What would happen if Brown was still seriously interested in a few months?
Recruitin' Mailbag: "Saving" Spots, D-Line Numbers, Second '14 Quarterback?
Most of the recent recruiting content has centered on the nation's #2 overall prospect, Jabrill Peppers. Today's mailbag, in contrast, focuses on the nation's #1 overall prospect, Da'Shawn Hand.
Michigan football recruiting: not doing too bad these days. On to your questions...
My question concerns "saving spots" for higher ranked prospects. We've seen with other (less ethical) coaches, that they will take a commitment from a lower ranked prospect and then abruptly take that scholarship promise away to give to a higher ranked prospect before signing day. Since our coaching staff seems unwilling to do that (thankfully), how do we see this staff balancing between saving room for the higher ranked prospects while also not leaving themselves in a position to be completely hosed on signing day if a bunch of those prospects choose to go another way? This question occurred to me in relation to Marshall's visit this weekend, and how a commitment from him might prevent one (or both) from McDowell or Hand further down the road.
Thanks for your articles on MGoBlog!
I'll address the "saving spots" issue here, and move on to Michigan's 2014 D-line situation below (as you'll see, this is a pressing question for those following recruiting). Last year's recruiting class gave a lot of insight into how the coaches handle a potential numbers crunch at a position. For the 2013 class, the coaches stopped recruiting two position groups with highly interested four-stars after filling up early: offensive line and linebacker. In both cases, they approached the number they wanted early on in the process, informed the remaining recruits in each group that they'd have to commit soon or potentially lose their spot in the class, and filled the final spot quickly.
Ben Gedeon's commitment effectively ended the recruitments of Dorian O'Daniel and E.J. Levenberry at linebacker. Patrick Kugler's commitment did the same on the offensive line until David Dawson briefly looked around; Michigan stopped targeting Ethan Pocic (eventual LSU commit), and by the time the coaches realized they could take a sixth lineman, he was off the board. In both of those cases, however, the current commits in the class—and the recruits that took the final spots—were of comparable talent to the available uncommitted prospects.*
The situation with this year's defensive line is a bit different, and apparently of some concern to you guys...
[Hit THE JUMP for my attempt to sort out the D-line situation and answers to a couple questions about quarterback recruiting.]
With the limited class size, how many more DL do you think the staff wants to take? Let's say they felt good about their chances with Hand and McDowell, and Marshall wanted to commit. Would they take all 3? Seems like they and Mone project at different positions, but 4 DL seeme like a lot in this class.
It is a little optimistic I know, but juggling available schollies, offers, and coaches' priorities must be the hardest part of recruiting for the staff.
Do you think Michigan told Lawrence Marshall he didn't have a commitable offer as we wait to hear from McDowell/Hand or is he just that interested in sparty?
If the improbable happened and we ended up with both Hand and McDowell, do you think we could take Lawrence Marshall as a linebacker? Or, if Marshall commits to M in a few weeks, does that kill our chances with either of those others?
There was also a later-deleted, for some reason, Twitter question about what would happen if Hand, McDowell, Marshall, and five-star DE Andrew Brown all wanted to commit; let's slow way down and just talk about the first three.
First, a note on the class size—as it stands, Michigan has room for 14 players, plus there are a few candidates for unrenewed fifth years in Richard Ash, Josh Furman, and Jordan Paskorz. That could get the Wolverines to 17 spots before accounting for the inevitable attrition—and, with two classes of highly-touted recruits (plus a third incoming in 2014) pushing a group of less-heralded upperclassmen, there will be attrition, as we saw this week with Kaleb Ringer.
The smallest class Michigan has taken in the Rivals era (2002-present) was 17 players in 2003, followed by 19 in 2006. I think it's a safe bet that Michigan gets to around 20 spots in this class, which eases the number crunch greatly, especially when factoring in that there are few truly pressing positional needs compared to previous classes (for instance, Michigan could easily skip taking a running back this year without hurting depth).
This is a long way of saying that Michigan would take all three of Hand, McDowell, and Marshall should all three want to commit. No matter what—no matter what—the coaches will leave a spot for Hand, the #1 overall player in the country, if they believe they have any realistic shot of getting him—and they do. McDowell is the most likely among the three to commit and, as an in-state five-star talent, he's another recruit who'd merit holding a spot. Marshall is the one guy I'd see potentially getting squeezed out of the class, but that would only happen if he waited until late in the process to commit—not only is he a talented four-star recruit from Michigan, he plays a different position (either weakside DE or strongside LB) than Hand and McDowell.
As for worries of Hand or McDowell scaring the other one off because they're projected to the same position, I don't think that will be an issue. Hand projects as a pure defensive end, whether that be on the strong side or as a larger weakside end. McDowell is a bigger guy who could play on the strong side or move inside to the three-tech. Hand, McDowell, and Marshall could all coexist on the same line if need be; with the amount the defensive line has to rotate anyway, positional overlap shouldn't be of much concern here. The bigger question, anyway, is whether or not Michigan can land all three guys in the first place—and while I like their chances with each prospect, getting all of them will be difficult.
Would our coaches consider taking 2 QBs in a class to shore up our depth issues?
The coaches have been adamant about taking one quarterback in each class—aside from skipping 2012, when they already had a five-star in the fold for 2013 in Shane Morris—and they aren't wavering from that stance. The reason the coaches waited so long to offer a 2014 quarterback was to ensure, as much as anybody can, that they made the right choice for their lone spot.
Instead of taking a second 2014 recruit, Michigan is exploring the possibility of taking a grad year or JUCO transfer to fill in depth and hopefully allow Shane Morris to redshirt. Former Florida State quarterback Clint Trickett mentioned Michigan as a possibility before deciding on West Virginia, where as a grad student he'll be immediately eligible to play. Now ex-Arkansas QB Brandon Mitchell is taking a look at the Wolverines, and he's also on track to be eligible for 2013. If Michigan can't bring him in, they may look to the JUCO ranks, or they may stand pat and hope upon hope for an injury-free season from Devin Gardner; bringing in another 2014 quarterback prospect isn't going to solve the immediate depth issue.
My question though is this, if Devin Gardner has a breakout season this year followed by a great year next year do you expect the coaching staff to go after more dual threat QB's in the future or stick to the pro-style pocket passer that we see in Speight?
I think the coaches would be open to a dual-threat type regardless of Gardner's performance to close out his Michigan career, but it would have to be a prospect who's an excellent passer first and foremost. Al Borges isn't going to take a quarterback whose primary threat is his legs, and given how he utilized Denard Robinson that's probably best for everybody. If a Gardner-like player is available—someone who can make all the throws and is willing to stand in the pocket and go through his reads before bailing out with his legs—then I think Michigan would be open to taking him. The tough part is that prospects like Gardner are hard to find and harder to land, especially with other programs touting offenses better suited for a dual-threat QB.
Thanks to everyone who sent in questions, and apologies if I didn't get to yours this week. I'm planning to do these more regularly over the summer, so there will be plenty of chances to get your recruiting queries answered.
*At least until Michigan took a late flier on Dan Samuelsen, but they weren't planning to take a sixth offensive lineman until the numbers changed late in the game. Also, "late flier" in this case refers to taking a borderline 3/4-star who was committed to Nebraska.
Michigan football recruiting: not doing too bad these days.
Brown is still a long way from narrowing things down (he just named a top ten a few weeks ago) and making a decision, and he hasn't visited campus, so until either of those things happen I'm having a hard time entertaining him as a serious possibility.
That said, if Brown showed interest he'd be making a decision late in the cycle—he hasn't visited several of his top schools, after all—and by that time the coaches would have a better idea of the final class numbers (and likely know the destinations of McDowell and Marshall). They could look at Brown as a potential alternative to Hand, should he go elsewhere, or if there's room for both I doubt they'd turn down any interested five-stars in this class—again, there aren't enough pressing needs for the coaches to turn down the best players available late in the game.
At this point I'd consider Brown quite a longshot, though, so this probably won't be relevant.
I've heard...Brown is keeping things quiet, but plans on visiting and has serious interest. He also camps with Hand often and the two have quite the rapport
Nice mailbag Ace. I would have to agree on the DL situation. The coaches would no doubt take all three guys, but also that is assuming all three would end up at Michigan. While Hand would be a great addition (an understatement), it is not known where he stands exactly with Michigan.
My pecking order would be McDowell, Hand and Marshall. McDowell first (by a hair) since he is an in-stater and could play 3 or 5 tech. But of course adding all three to the team, in addition to Mone, would be tremendous.
"given how he utilized Denard Robinson that's probably best for everybody"
Lawrence Marshall - WDE (Take THAT, Magnus)
DeShawn Hand - SDE
Malik McDowell - 3T DT (dude is almost 300 lbs)
Bryan Mone - NT
Not only does this work out just fine as listed, Hand, McDowell and Mone offer enough individual versatility that they could rotate positions and offer a lot of different looks. Taking 4 DL in a small class might be a bit excessive but whateva.
Heh. As I mentioned, I think Marshall would start out as a weakside end, but I see him eventually playing strongside end once he starts to add significant weight. If he remains below 260, then he's obviously not going to move to the strong side.
I admittedly took one look at the dude, and stuck him at WDE in this scenario. I could be wrong, since I know nothing about watching film, but he seemed like he had a long ways to go to get big enough for the SDE spot. Who knows though... Frank Clark is now 275 lbs.
Regarding the QB mobility question, I think the idea of a "Pro/pocket Style" vs. "Dual Theat" somewhat of an outdated mindset.
Shane, while no DG with his feet, isn't an immobile quarterback. He can move his feet a little and I wouldn't be surprised to see us continue to use rollouts in the same way Devin uses them. While Wilton Speight is more of your classic in the "pocket QB", he still tucks it when it's open (and maybe why he's a 2014 instead of 2013 because he thought he could run his guy over instead of busting his shoulder, but anyway...). Let's not forget Cade McNown and Jason Campbell weren't statues either.
It doesn't seem like Borges is against an athletic throw-first QB. The key being throw-first. I think Chip Kelly is the same way - he doesn't want a RB that can throw, he wants a QB that can move.
For 2015, an early top target for Borges has been Kevin Dillman, a Swedish-by-way-of-California QB that plays also punts and returns kicks in addition to being one of (if not the) top passers in the country (it helps he has elite D1 talent all over his receiving core but still, sophomore last year...).
I think a dual threat QB like Tate Forcier would/could be a very interesting weapon for a team like this, wich likes to run the west coast offense, if only with some grey matter in his head.
The pros are looking for guys who are polished throwers who can run as a bonus. A college offense designed to showcase running as well as throwing would likely result in a less polished pro prospect after a few years running it. If you are good enough to be thinking "pro career" from Day 1, Michigan is the ideal offense for a DG-type QB.
A "pro-style" qb sans injury will typically last in this league right around 12-17 years. That is, perhaps, the longest period for any position. It's not due to rules protecting the qb either. It is because, much like the other notable, place kicker, you only have to have a couple things continuously unobstructed to keep doing your dance. Now there will be a few that will have great seasons, mabye multiple, based on the dual threat. However, after that first injury to a non-throwing arm, the worry sinks in and not only for the player, but for the front office as well. If production drops after injury, no matter numbers before he is of less value. Even w/a great passing percentage, it will often lend itself to the fact defenders had to play up to stop the run and his value will correspondingly decrease. Additionally, it is very difficult to take a true dual threat and teach him to stop doing what comes naturally, no matter how great of a passer he might be. The natural instinct for this type player is to see daylight and go for it. As I repeatedly told everyone on both board, Devin would have been as heavily recruited by LC as by RR, but under Borges he'll become more of a Fran Tarkenton type than someone who immediately takes off down field once protection breaks down. This is a very talented young qb, perhaps, based on my observations of that particular class, among the top three in the country for that year. And one must get past the physical attributes to establish such a lofty rating. You must look at his entire senior year, how many games he had to win, how he accomplished same and what was at risk should he lose to come to such a conclusion. His athleticism was never in doubt. Excuse me please for not being able to break down such a lenghty answer into paragraphs, but something on this site prevents me from doing so. In essence, if you want to play professional fb as a qb, go to UM once again. That is all.
He has said in interviews that the last couple of years have opened his eyes to the value of a QB who can provide the run threat and keep drives alive. The best college QB's are the ones who can improvise and escape. But Borges won't compromise on passing skills. So I would see UM continuing to go after stud dual-threat guys like Pryor and Gardner (some years) and selling them on developing NFL passing skills. As long as they have the basic tools to be good passers.
The times they are a changing . . . many recruits would like to take their time and check out schools during the fall and then do the hat dance at a January all star game. But it's getting to the point that unless you are a can't miss 5-star, you risk missing out completely.
Coaches are not waiting anymore to fill out their classes early, save for the afore mentioned can't miss 5-star. Very few recruits have the luxury of dragging out the process into their senior year. I wonder how many of the recruits that you see comitting on or around NSD were already comitted to their school, just not publically?
You are almost better off assuming they're not going to get that 5th year for the scholarship count, unless it's someone you think there's very little chance of not being offered to come back. Devin, for instance.Or starting linemen who invariable redshirt. If you're not starting, or at least heavily in the rotation, you're only coming back if there are spare numbers for you to come back.
If you have 5* or high 4*, you take that commit regardless of needs or position. Because they must be great athletes, they may be able to play another position anyway. How often do you see position switches ? A lot. Oline and Dline are prime examples.
I agree. We're seeing this on the OL right now - you get the best guys in there even if it means moving some guys around a bit. We even saw it last year with Q and BWC - both were more NT than 3-tech, but BWC moved so both guys could start. I'm sure that's what would happen here.
And I think Hand would be a WDE for us. He's so athletic. Mattison likes bigger WDEs anyway.
While I haven't seen him play, but in your opinion does 2015 Cass Tech's Jayru Campbell fit that bill of good thrower with legs to run? Starting qb for a state championship team as a freshmen, must mean he's pretty good, right? He has an alabama and notre dame offer, why doesn't michigan just look at its feeder school for its 2015 qb?