[Ed-M: Edited and front-paged for great content.]
Now that National Signing Day 2011 has finally come to a close, the Michigan coaches have been reviewing film and sending out offers to 2012 prospects. As mentioned many times before, the 2012 class is extremely strong in the midwest, including Michigan and Ohio, as well as Illinois and Indiana as well.
Here are some local and regional prospects to look out for, on offense.
Note: Sorry for the massive wall of text as well.
QB Gunner Kiel – 6'4, 220 lbs, Columbus, Indiana.
With Michigan’s move to a more pro-style offense Kiel becomes an even more important prospect. Kiel was offered by the previous staff as well, and he has some mobility (600 yards rushing) to go with his big-time arm (2,700 yards passing). However, Kiel is an Notre Dame legacy recruit, and he’s also been offered by Alabama, Cincinnati, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Purdue, TCU, and Tennessee among others.
QB Robert Gregory – 6'3, 180 lbs, Chicago, Illinois.
Gregory is the teammate of 2011 signee Chris Bryant and 2012-super OL Jordan Diamond. Though Simeon ran a spread offense, Gregory possesses very good arm strength and could develop into a solid pocket passer. There are rumors out there that schools are looking at Gregory as an athlete, but he is only interested in playing quarterback. An interesting note as well, as Gregory recently said in an interview he and Jordan Diamond would be attending the same school.
RB William Mahone – 5'10, 200 lbs, Austintown, Ohio.
There is some serious talent at running back in the state of Ohio next year, and Ohio State has already locked down two studs in Warren Ball and Bri’onte Dunn. Michigan’s coaches are looking for another big-time back, and Mahone visited the campus twice last year, so there is mutual interest in both parts. Other offers: Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Miami (NTM)
RB Juwan Lewis – 5'11, 200 lbs, Muskegon, Michigan.
Many of you Michigan west-coasters will recognize the name, as Lewis starred on a very good Muskegon Big Red football team this year. Interestingly enough, Lewis played fullback in Muskegon’s shotgun/pistol offense. Like Mahone, Lewis has good size, but deceptively good speed as well. Lewis camped at Michigan last year, and is very interested in the Wolverines. Offers: None
WR Aaron Burbridge – 6'0, 175 lbs, Farmington Hills, Michigan.
Burbridge was one of the stars on a 14-0 Harrison squad that captured the state title this year. An excellent athlete, Burbridge played RB, WR, CB, and KR and excelled everywhere, though he will be a receiver at the next level. He reminds many of fellow Harrison alumni Mark Dell, and it is rumored Burbridge is very close to Dell as well. That is not true. Michigan State has offered and appear to be the early leader for this top 10 player in the state next year [Ed-M: Farmington Hills Harrison (Drew Stanton, Agim Shabaj) was a Michigan State feeder in my day, but haven't produced a Spartan since Dell; M got Charles Stewart from there] , but there is no doubt he will be interested in Michigan.
WR Amara Darboh – 6'2, 190lbs, West Des Moines, Iowa.
A big athlete with great speed, Darboh has the ability to stretch the field vertically and is very dangerous in space as well. Darboh will likely be the #1 player in Iowa, and that may not mean much but he is a very talented player. He has yet to narrow down his list, but if Michigan offers I fully expect Darboh to visit in the fall. Other offers: Iowa, Iowa State, Notre Dame, Wisconsin.
WR Stefon Diggs – 6'0, 175 lbs – Olney, Maryland.
Diggs is the teammate of 2011 signee Blake Countess. While he doesn’t possess great size, Diggs does have blazing speed and great hands to boot. He’s a crisp route runner and has dominated every camp he has shown up at. Diggs, along with Dorial Beckham-Green, will likely challenge for the top receiver spot in the nation in 2011. Just a few weeks ago Diggs said he was interested in Michigan, with Countess signing with the Wolverines. I don’t expect Michigan to land him, but there it is good to see interest there. Other offers: Cal, Florida, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami (YTM), Rutgers, Virginia Tech, Pitt
TE Sam Grant – 6'6, 230 lbs, North Royalton, Ohio.
Grant only caught 16 passes last season, but that’s because St. Edwards ran a primarily run-based offense. Grant has already tripped to Ohio State and Michigan State, and he will be a premium talent at the next level. With Michigan looking for more Tight Ends in their offense, look for them to get Grant up on campus soon. Other offers: Toledo
Athlete Drake Johnson – 6’1, 205 lbs, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Johnson is a very talented athlete at Ann Arbor Pioneer, who played running back this season and excelled as a national track runner as well. In college Johnson’s career may take a number of possible routes, as he could play running back, wide receiver, or even linebacker. Being right across the street from the Big House, I expect Johnson to be very well-scouted by the Michigan staff and definitely a possibility for an offer down the road.
As for offensive linemen, I haven’t spent enough time looking at all the film, but there are a lot of talented linemen in the Midwest this year. It’s not quite as talented as the past, but there is much better quality throughout the area. I fully expect Michigan to stock up on at least 3-4, maybe 4-5 this recruiting cycle. Along with Jordan Diamond, whom we’ve known about for a while, here are names to watch.
OG Kelby Latta, 6'4, 295 lbs, Battle Creek, Michigan.
OT JJ Denman, 6'6, 305 lb, Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania.
OT Jake Meador, 6'6, 280 lbs, Whiteland, Indiana.
OG Caleb Stacey, 6'4, 275 lbs, Cincinnati, Ohio.
OT Ben Bradem 6'6, 285 lbs, Rockford, Michigan.