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.