The last piece of the 2013 puzzle.
Welcome to the debut of the MGoBlog recruiting mailbag, which will be a regular feature moving forward. The initial response to the mailbag was fantastic, so thanks to everyone who wrote in and apologies for not being able to answer every question here. For future mailbags, be sure to email me or send your questions on Twitter with the hashtag #mgomailbag.
Without further ado, on to your questions:
Do you see us having any significant holes left in the recruiting class of 2013? Who should fill them for us? — @craiglaluk
The one glaring need in the class is a top-flight wide receiver; while I like the size and upside of both Jaron Dukes and Csont'e York, Michigan still lacks a blue-chip talent who can contribute early, a necessity given the unproven nature of the current receivers on the roster. Obviously, Laquon Treadwell is the main target here and the Wolverines are the overwhelming favorite to land him, so it's highly unlikely this need goes unaddressed.
With USC's class, is our "best case scenario" a number 2 overall class ranking? — @kasualt
USC is putting together the most talented class in the country, without question; among their 14 commits are the Rivals #1 quarterback (Max Browne), #1 safety (Su'a Cravens), #1 guard (Khaliel Rodgers), #2 and #5 defensive ends (Kenny Bigelow and Eddie Vanderdoes, respectively), and #3 and #5 running backs (Ty Isaac and Justin Davis). Their class currently consists of three five-stars and 11 four-stars. I hate to say it, but Lane Kiffin is doing some serious work.
Where USC may come up short, however, is in sheer size of the class. Thanks to NCAA penalties, the Trojans can only take four more players in the class, and with Michigan poised for a class of 24 I'm guessing the Wolverines can still take the top spot if they land Treadwell and another four-star to finish the class. For pure star average, however, it's going to be very tough to top USC this year. Alabama and LSU should also be serious contenders for best class.
Hi Ace. 2013 is shaping up to be one of the most amazing recruiting crops in years. Priorities for 2014 class? — @craiglaluk
Matt Pargoff recently posted a complete depth chart by class for the class of 2014, which gives us a great starting point for this discussion. Before I dive into the needs, it's worth noting that the 2014 class will be expected to replace the production of graduating players like Courtney Avery and Jibreel Black, whom you may note just finished their sophomore seasons. Anything written here is subject to some serious change.
That said, there are several position groups that will need to be addressed in two years regardless of future attrition. First among them is quarterback; once Devin Gardner graduates, only Russell Bellomy and Shane Morris remain as scholarship QBs on the roster. Michigan is already taking a hard look at MI QB Chance Stewart and OH QB DeShone Kizer, though no offers have gone out at the position as of yet. While a top-flight guy probably isn't necessary—or realistic—given the presence of Morris, a player with starting potential is a definite must.
With Michigan all but assured to miss out on feature backs like Ty Isaac, Derrick Green, and Jordan Wilkins in the current class, running back will be a huge priority yet again. The Wolverines already have offers out to four of the top 2014 running backs in the country—Leonard Fournette, Jonathan Hilliman, Jalen Hurd, and Bo Scarbrough—and more are sure to follow.
Even if Treadwell comes on board, wide receiver will once again be a need. We should find out in 2014 if Al Borges plans to utilize any slot-demon types, as the only receivers on the roster will be Jerald Robinson, incoming freshmen Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson, and the class of 2013 commits. There's not a true slot among those players, so unless Justice Hayes moves to receiver, that position will need to be filled by an incoming freshman or simply ignored entirely.
As always, depth on both lines is a priority, especially on defense. Frank Clark and Brennen Beyer both graduate after the 2014 season, leaving only Mario Ojemudia and Taco Charlton—two boom-or-bust prospects, in my opinion—at weakside DE. Strongside end won't be much deeper with Keith Heitzman, Chris Wormley, and Tom Strobel. Depending on the collegiate position of Maurice Hurst Jr., nose tackle could also become a glaring need.
Blake Countess, Delonte Hollowell, and Raymon Taylor will all be seniors in 2014, leaving holes to fill at cornerback even in the unlikely event that Michigan picks up a player like Kendall Fuller or Leon McQuay III to round out 2013. Keep a close eye on Cass Tech's Damon Webb and Illinois prospect Parrker Westphal, both of whom are early favorities to join the 2014 class; landing that duo would be a great start to filling needs in the secondary.
So, um, basically everything besides linebacker. I hope this was helpful and not a complete waste of time.
What's your best guess on Treadwell's decision date? — @TKBigCrew
Treadwell's recent quotes indicate that he's not entirely sure himself; he says he'll commit on a "random day," admits Michigan is almost certainly his choice, and says that day will be "soon," but he still wants to take official visits. My guess is he's tiring of the process and will make his decision before the season—which means before officials—but I wouldn't be surprised if he at least checked out Oklahoma State before an announcement. Regardless of timetable or visits, it's going to take a heck of a lot to dethrone the Wolverines from his top spot.
What's up with Mike Farrell's analysis of Taco [Charlton] at the opening? Seems contradictory to what we've heard elsewhere. — @natebburn
While Charlton drew positive reviews from Scout and 247 for his athleticism and potential, Rivals analyst Mike Farrell disagreed, giving Taco the "Bear Market" award in his wrapup of The Opening:
This award goes to the player who lowered his stock the most from the camp. While Pickerington (Ohio) Central defensive end Taco Charlton looks the part, he really struggled. He has great size, long arms and he is very athletic. However, he is also very upright, only has an outside move and when coaches tried to teach him misdirection or crossover, he didn't grasp it well at all. He was beaten on almost every 1-on-1 rep he took.
Without seeing the event itself, I can't add my own opinion of Charlton's performance, but I'll say that this jives with a lot of what we know about him. Charlton is a very raw prospect who possesses all the athletic ability needed to be an elite end, yet still was a situational pass-rusher as a sophomore. It's not a mystery that he was recruited because of his sky-high upside. Pitting a player like that against the best linemen the country has to offer is a recipe for a sub-par performance.
However, I wouldn't be too concerned about Farrell's review of Charlton. He still acknowledges that Taco has the frame and athleticism to make a big impact. We already knew that he isn't advanced technically and will almost certainly need a redshirt year and some coaching up before he sees the field. I don't think what happened at The Opening—which is obviously up for interpretation in the first place—changes any of that. If Charlton had excelled against the top linemen in the country it would have been a very pleasant surprise. As it stands, I still think he's got one of the highest ceilings of any recruit in Michigan's class.
Thanks again for all of your questions, and don't forget to email me or send your questions on Twitter with the hashtag #mgomailbag for the next edition.