Van Down By The River: Offense
It's time for everyone's favorite creepy Nabokov-inspired pastime: recruiting. As the season has progressed actual events have seriously impinged on my ability to obsessively cover the projected future events (one million national championships, natch), but now that actual events have ceased actively tormenting me except in all too frequent 'Nam flashbacks, we can return to the magical fairyland that is the Future.
In the future, cancer will be totally awesome and Michigan won't play a zone looser than the morals of Betty Grable (harlot! zing!). In the future, space hamburgers will be made in space and Michigan will be a rough-and-tumble unit with aggression bordering on maniacal. In the future, the pain of all oppressed peoples worldwide will be redirected into the state of Ohio via lasers (natch) and Michigan will win. And stuff. With these players!
A note: the recruiting board has been updated and is presumed accurate for the offense. If you have any corrections, tips, or unlinked articles to add, comment or email me.
Needs: Michigan attempts to take a quarterback every year. A recruit this year is looking at competing for the job with Jason Forcier and Unnamed '07 Recruit as a redshirt sophomore after Henne leaves.
Commitments: Michigan took a flyer on Statesboro, Georgia QB David Cone, who draws comparisons to Elvis Grbac for being an inexperienced passer stuck in an option offense and to John Navarre for being a big, gumpy white guy.
Prospects: Most of the other high profile quarterbacks Michigan was after either committed elsewhere or were outperformed by Cone. Michigan is still going after Florida's Tim Tebow but he's expected to stay in the south. There's a 95% chance Cone is it.
Completely Useless Opinion: I'd prefer it if Michigan landed a bigtimer every year, but failing that I think Cone's commitment is okay. You can tell a lot from how Michigan approaches a particular player's recruitment. In Cone's case, he showed up to camp, stood next to more touted prospects like Neil Caudle and Pat Devlin, and came out a Michigan commitment. Michigan immediately ceased seriously pursuing everyone outside of Tebow. They like him and actively chose him over guys with bigger reputations. He's certainly a risk but he's not going to be walking into a situation like Henne's where he'll be asked to start as a freshman. He'll have at least two years to get comfortable.
For more on Cone, check out this recent article from the Savannah Morning News. I likes me a quarterback who says things like this:
"It's a situation where we don't want to deviate from what's been working for us," he said.
Smart kid; probably good at reading coverages; if I see him whip out "excoriate" at any point I will commence agitating for him to usurp Henne immediately upon matriculation. Blizzam SAT verbal section!
Needs: Almost none. Michigan took Kevin Grady and Mister Simpson last year and allowed Simpson to redshirt. Next year, then, they'll have two juniors, a sophomore, and a freshman even without any commitments.
Prospects: Michigan is pursuing a few backs, but all seem like longshots.
Completely Useless Opinion: We probably don't take a tailback, which is fine.
Needs: Also almost none. Three freshmen came in last year and two--Mario Manningham and Antonio Bass--appear to be budding stars chock full of speed almost southern in its vast quantity. The third, LaTerryal Savoy, has also impressed the coaches despite being given a redshirt. He's reputed to be more of an Avant type.
Commitments: Florida WR Greg Mathews, a four-star to Rivals and three to Scout. Mathews is big (6'2") but has surprisingly slow 40 times listed (4.72 on Rivals, and an OL-like 4.9 on Scout) that may or may not be reliable. Mathews just finished saving his team from an early exit in the Florida state playoffs by catching 8 passes for 213 yards, 126 of those in the fourth quarter after briefly leaving the game with an injured hip and cramps.
Prospects: With Mathews in the fold Michigan is down to a selection of instate sleepers who might get offers late in the process. Foremost among them is PSL MVP Dominque Douglas, who caught 24 touchdowns this year.
Completely Useless Opinion:Mathews would have gone to Miami if offered a scholarship; obviously the Hurricanes passed on him. How much should this color our perception of Mathews? Probably not much. Miami already has a commitment from a top-100 WR in Sam Shields and is heavily pursuing OMG 5 Stars(!) Vidal Hazelton, Percy Harvin, and Damon McDaniel. They have bigger fish to ply. His speed does seem almost caucasian in its paucity, but he seems to be doing fine on a high school level. He might not have the explosive burst of Manningham and Bass, but we could use a bigstrong possession alternative to said speedsters.
Michigan may offer Douglas or Adrian Cannon late if a scholarship opens up, especially if either shows an aptitude for defensive back.
Needs: Michigan probably needs one. Tyler Ecker is a senior next year and there are only two other tight ends on the roster, though Michigan likes both. Redshirt freshman Mike Massey is clearly a work in progress but should be an excellent receiver in time and Carson Butler is a 6'6" supafreak who could be a major difference-maker if he pans out.
Prospects: Michigan is reportedly looking at some instate guys who are flying under the radar.
Completely Useless Opinion: Michigan struck out on a couple of high profile targets and is left scouting the region for someone to fill the roster. Don't expect a star.
Needs:You always need offensive linemen, but Michigan recruited a whole unit last year and thus will go somewhat light this year in a small class. The primary area of need is tackle. When the 2006 class emerges from their redshirt year, Jake Long will be a senior if he's not in the NFL and there will be three sophomores battling for the left tackle job. Other than that there's nothing.
Commitments: Ohio G/C Justin Boren, son of former Michigan linebacker Mike, chose Michigan over Ohio State early in the year. Boren, an Army All-American, is ranked in the top 50 by both Scout and Rivals.
Prospects: Michigan is in a good position with two heralded face-mashers in Florida's Sam Young and Washington's Steve Schilling and is heavily recruiting three-star OT Perry Dorrestein from Illinois. Florida prospects Daron Rose and Jim Barrie are also possibilities, but seem ticketed for local schools.
Completely Useless Opinion: Offensive line is the position grouping where recruiting rankings matter least, but it would certainly be nice to pick up Young or Schilling. Either would significantly improve the outlook in the post-Long era, simply by dint of numbers. Three guys to man two spo
ts is a little hairy.
Depends heavily on how the offensive line class fills out. Michigan entered this year with very little required from its skill position recruiting what with Grady, Bass, Mario, etc, but a distinct need at quarterback and tackle. Striking out on the top quarterbacks is disappointing. Cone is a risk no matter how you slice it, though I do have faith in their ability to identify talent and the pattern behind his recruitment does look positive. If a big timer comes aboard in '07 then we're fine and will have a hell of a battle when Henne graduates. This seems likely, by the way. As far as offensive tackle, we are in on a number of prospects that would satisfy the need but I don't know that we can count on any of them.
As of now this class appears to be in the C range. A commitment from a high profile offensive lineman or two could bump it up to a B- or B.