The week-to-week minutiae of recruiting can sometimes obscure the larger picture.From time to time this here blog likes to provide a 1,000 foot view so people can have context going forward. Details below are designed to be sparse. The offense was treated to a similar overview a couple weeks ago.
Also sorry it's late but I think you'll see why. The recruiting board, as always, lives here.
They remain the same: Michigan has 20 scholarships to give out next year under these assumptions:
- No attrition
- Cone and Wright aren't extended fifth years
- Kelvin Grady, George Morales, and Nick Sheridan aren't on scholarship next year
2 is a solid assumption; 1 is probably goofy, and 3 is solid on Sheridan and unknown on Grady and Morales.
Needs: Well… dude, I just don't know yet. Michigan's move to the 4-3 under (mostly) leaves everyone's positions a mess. There are approximately three different sorts of things you can do on the defensive line:
- Be the nose tackle. Play shaded over the center, take on a lot of double teams with an idea towards splitting them, and disrupt the strongside A gap like whoah. Sophomore Mike Martin is your starter backed up by Renaldo Sagesse and Will Campbell. Martin and Campbell are both underclassmen so they'd like to get some numbers here but they only need one as they have no seniors.
- Be the deathbacker. Be a hybrid DE/OLB that can be considerably lighter than a conventional defensive end. You sit outside the weakside tackle and threaten to death him to death (ie: murder the quarterback). Michigan's current options here are not great: converted TE Steve Watson plus converted. LBs Brandon Herron and Marrell Evans, plus probably freshmen Craig Roh and Anthony Lalota.
- Be the strongside defensive end or three-technique DT. These are the guys who flank the nose tackle and their duties appear pretty similar; multiple recruits have mentioned that playing SDE and DT in this defense is pretty much the same, and you can see that in the projected starting lineups: Brandon Graham's backup, Ryan Van Bergen, is now the starting three-tech DT. The DE has to be more of a pass-rush threat, I guess, but these guys are going to be big guys ranging from 260 to 290. Graham, Van Bergen, Patterson, and Banks are your two-deep here: all guys who will be gone in two years except for Van Bergen.
This has turned into a dissertation on defensive line responsibilities in the new defense. Anyway: Michigan wants one nose and probably at least two SDE/DT prospects, and already has two deathbackers.
Commitments: Michigan has deathbacker commits from PA DE Jordan Paskorz (right) and PA DE Ken Wilkins. Both are three-star sorts with okay-not-great offers that Michigan hopes are reflective of their tweener status. That's an issue defenses that require different things from their defensive ends, but under Greg Robinson it's all good as long as you're an athlete like whoah.
One thing on Wilkins: despite that combine that claimed him at 225, many, many sources since then have him at 6'4", 240; other reports also question his agility. 240 + 6'4" + lack of agility + two years with Barwis + "good frame" == 270-280 == SDE. "But if Michigan saw him as an SDE wouldn't they have taken Holmes Onwukaife?" you ask, and I reply "don't be a pest."
Realistic Future Options: This is where it gets dodgy. Michigan's apparently taken a pass on MI DT Jonathan Hankins, at least for now, leaving very few NT candidates on the board. There's Sharrif Floyd, who everyone wants and Michigan should get a visit from, Samoan Mormon Ricky Heimuli, and OH DT Terry Talbott. The vibe I get on Floyd is that Michigan isn't in great spot; M is just a letter to Heimuli; and Talbott is just a name right now, and one of those meh three-stars at that.
At SDE/DT, the only green on the board belongs to Marcus Rush, who continues to maintain that Michigan leads but also seems locked into deathbacking and might not have a committable offer in the wake of Paskorz and Wilkins, and Derrick Bryant, who said Michigan led a long time ago and then hasn't been heard from since except when a rumor mentions there's been some parting of the ways.
Past that there are a lot of southern guys who have expressed little interest in their Michigan offers, instate DE CJ Olaniyan, and NY DE Dominique Easley. FL DE Corey Lemonier and GA DE Henry Anderson have (erratically) expressed desires to visit too, but of the people on the board right now I think you'll see one guy actually commit and then you're looking at Defensive End Taylor Lewan, hopefully.
Level of PANIC: 4/5. Michigan really should fill three more spots on the defensive line in this class but it's hard to see where they come from. This only compounds the hole left by the signing-day defections of Pearlie Graves and Dequinta Jones. It looks like more of the same the rest of the way out.
Needs: The only senior is WLB Stevie Brown. Mike Jones, Isaiah Bell, and Brandin Hawthorne all come in as safety-sized outside linebackers, so Michigan needs one guy in the middle and maybe a one or two on the outside.
Commitments: Youngstown Liberty offered up its third player in two years when Antonio Kinard committed at junior day. At the time I thought Kinard was likely headed for deathbacker, too, but now it seems he'll come in as a middle linebacker.
And then there's Marvin Robinson, who may or may not be a safety. Recruiting analysts say he's a weakside linebacker; Robinson, and apparently the Michigan coaches, have him a strong safety. He's addressed in the secondary for now; be advised that if Michigan pulls in like three corners and two non-Robinson safeties I'm moving him to linebacker whether he wants to go there or not.
Realistic Future Options: Uh. MD LB Josh Furman has some ridiculous combine numbers, offers from Oklahoma and others, and plans a visit in the near future. He also looks indie like Dhani Jones, which can't hurt.
MD LB Troy Gloster has Michigan in his top five of strong academic schools. TX LB Corey Nelson is the teammate of RB/slot commit Tony Drake; Michigan is outside his top five but should, apparently, get a visit. For now. There's also Onwukaife if he decides he does want to play linebacker.
Only Nelson is a blue-chip there, though Furman certainly has promise. Michigan missed out on a couple of in-state guys (Daniel Easterly and Austin Gray) by not offering; if they get involved with either they may get a look.
Level of PANIC: 3/5. There's not a huge need at this spot but you'd like to see two guys, and here we're again banking on the Michigan coaching staff having information no one else does about low-rated, unoffered Kinard.
Needs: No one graduates, but the two-deep had a walk-on on it this spring and only two guys come in to reinforce. Also, Donovan Warren might be an early-entry candidate if he suddenly lives up to his recruiting hype. I consistently overestimate the corner need, but now it's tradition: I'd like to see them take three.
Commitments: OH CB Courtney Avery flipped his commitment from Stanford to Michigan after picking up an M offer at summer camp. Avery's not highly rated but Michigan got an extended look and decided to shoot him an offer; in that situation you can reasonably assume the coaching staff does have information no one else does.
Realistic Future Options: Here, at least, it appears Michigan has enough candidates who list Michigan strongly to pick up a strong class. PA CB Cullen Christian is Scout's #3 corner and should be due for a major move up on Rivals when they rerank; he has all but said he will commit to Michigan at some point in the future whenever anyone has asked him for months.
So that's in all probability two. Would they take a third? I would; these days your nickel corner is probably more important than whichever linebacker comes off the field in a passing situation. They have options: Cass Tech mighty dwarf Dior Mathis and Rashad Knight have publicly proclaimed Michigan leads, and supposed Miami lock Tony Grimes came back from his Michigan visit saying things along the lines of—but not quite—"Michigan leads." FL CB Travis Williams, who tried to commit on a visit of his own but was put off, may also be an option.
Level of PANIC: 0/5. Michigan will probably pull in three good corners.
Needs: No one graduates here, so that's good. Not so good: only having four scholarship bodies covering two starting spots. Michigan should be looking to take at least two.
Commitments: FL S Marvin Robinson made what everyone had been expecting forever official by committing a few months ago. Six-pack coming at you, ladies:
Though Robinson didn't turn out to be the five-star lock everyone said he was a couple years back, he's a highly-rated four-star just outside of the Rivals 100.
Realistic Future Options: The big name is Glenville S Latwan Anderson, who was the best uncommitted player at Michigan's camp. He has Michigan second on an ordered list of five schools; supposedly M and WVU—the #1—are distant from the chasing pack of three southern schools. I still get the vibe that Anderson is headed elsewhere, as MGoBlog Recruiting Heuristic #4 is "if a player leaves a visit to your school saying someone else leads, you are in trouble." But maybe he's waiting around to confirm the competency, or lack thereof, of Bill Stewart before committing to a program that no longer has the primary reason anyone outside of West Virginia would be a fan of the program.
Two other players have Michigan in a small leading group: OH S Kurtis Drummond says Michigan and State lead, and SC S Detrick Bonner was the subject of an odd article recently in which he claimed a Michigan offer and said Michigan was his favorite despite no one ever hearing of him. There are a number of other guys from Maryland, the West Coast, and Ohio who Michigan would go for.
Level of PANIC: 1/5. Robinson's an excellent start; Anderson would be a great finish. That's slightly unlikely, though, but they've got enough guys on the board to pick up a solid second option.
Needs: They need one with the departure of Zoltan.
Realistic Future Options: It will probably be one of three players Michigan has identified already. WI P Will Hagerup already has an offer and appears to be the #1 choice. He's got offers from Ohio State, Alabama, Wisconsin, and many others—he's probably the best punter in the country this year.
If it's not Hagerup, it will probably be FL P Brandon Tarpley or MI P Mike Sadler.
Level of PANIC: 0/5. It really sounds like Sadler's just waiting for an offer to drop, so Michigan will pick up either the top punter or third-best (-ish) in the country. He won't be Zoltan but he should be decent.
Let me first state something for the record before offering up an e-pinion here. Yes, seven years of program building at West Virginia and yet more elsewhere far outweigh the opinions of recruiting gurus. I don't want to get into one of those dumb arguments where someone says something mildly critical, someone else replies with something defensive that slightly escalates the stakes, and twenty post later it's turned into a catfight with both sides annihilating strawmen like "recruiting rankings are 100% infallible" and "this recruiting class dooms Rich Rodriguez." Recruiting is one important aspect of a program; it's far from the only one.
You've probably figured out where this is going during the disclaimer, but here goes anyway: I'm not thrilled over here. It looks like the secondary recruiting will be about on par with a typical Michigan class, with two high profile stars, a couple middling four-stars behind them, and then a couple three-star-sorts with promise on the back end. Linebacker and defensive line are another matter, with three eh (Paskorz, Kinard) to eh-plus (Wilkins) recruits in the bag and what looks like zero four-stars Michigan has a strong shot except maybe Sharrif Floyd, and that's tentative. (I am excluding Corey Nelson and Corey Lemonier here.)
There is a lot of time left and all that, but the this gaussian distribution is centered on Moderately Disappointing. Thrilling is three standard deviations away.
I've said this before and here I go again: none of this is surprising after a 3-9 season; teams have been turning in disappointing recruiting years the year after they crater for a while now and that effect gets even more pronounced as recruiting continues to slide forward in the calendar year; it's good that Michigan has hold of a coach who has turned classes far more star-bereft than this one projects to be into national title contenders; I still think this is going to be a drag on Michigan's ability to be a national contender, albeit a small one.