There has been quite a bit of recent discussion in regards to the inexperience "excuse" including a suggestion that the idea that the "cupboard was bare" is nothing more than an unsubstantiated myth. I disagree. The following is a list of every defensive back recruit since 2004, their star rating, and how they contributed at corner or safety over the past 3 years or, if they didn't contribute, why.
I go back as far as 2004 as those players would have had eligibility to play for RR in 2008 had they redshirted. I continued through 2011 to evaluate RR's commitment to addressing the defensive back positions. Also, I consider the three recruits from 2008 to be Carr recruits. Even though they ultimately signed with RR, and both Smith and Floyd didn't officially commit until after RR was hired, they were both Carr targets and had U of M as a leader prior to the coaching change.
- Keston Cheathem: 3 star Scout, 3 star Rivals (WR). Switched to WR and then transferred to Oregon State before 2005 season
- Jamar Adams: 3 star Scout, 3 Star Rivals. Went Pro in 2008
- Charles Stewart: 3 star Scout, 3 star Rivals. RS Senior on 2008 team. Played in 11 games, started 2, as Linebacker.
- Brandon Harrison: 4 star Scout, 4 star Rivals. Senior on 2008 team. Started all 12 games at SS
- Johnny Sears: 3 star Scout, 3 star Rivals. Kicked off team in 2007
- Chris Richards: 3 star Scout, 3 star Rivals. Transferred to Stony Brook in 2007
- Jonas Mouton: 5 star Scout, 4 star Rivals. RS Sophomore in 2008. Moved to LB under Carr and stayed there under RR through 2010.
- Stevie Brown: 4 star Scout, 4 star Rivals. Junior in 2008. Started all 12 games as FS. In 2009, started all 12 games as LB. Destroyed people.
- Donovan Warren: 5 star Scout, 5 star Rivals. Sophomore in 2008. Started 10 games at Corner and one at FS. In 2009, started all 12 games at Corner. Declared pro in 2010, convinced that he was an early round draft choice.
- Michael Williams: 4 star Scout, 4 star Rivals. RS Freshman in 2008. Played in 11 games, 9 at S. In 2009, started 9 games at FS. Had some injury issues (Enter Kovacs). In 2010, played in 2 games. Sustained season ending injury in second game.
- James Rogers: 4 star Scout, 3 star Rivals. Sophomore in 2008. Played in 10 games on special teams and at WR. In 2009, played in all 12 games, primarily on special teams and at WR. In 2010, started all 12 games at CB.
- Artis Chambers: 3 star Scout. 3 star Rivals. Sophomore in 2008. Played in 9 games, primarily on special teams. Transferred after 2008 season, supposedly to Ball State but not listed on roster.
- Troy Woolfolk: 3 star Scout, 3 star Rivals. Sophomore in 2008. Played in all 12 games on special teams and at CB. In 2009, made 6 starts at safety and 6 at CB. Sustained season ending injury prior to start of 2010 season.
- Boubacar Cissoko: 5 star Scout, 4 star Rivals. Played in all 12 games at CB as true Freshmen. Started 4 games at CB in 2009, then....... downward spiral.
- Brandon Smith: 4 star Scout, 4 star Rivals. RS Freshman in 2009. Played in all 12 games, primarily on special teams with some time at LB and Safety. Transferred to Temple after 2009 season, although I don’t see him listed on the roster.
- J.T. Floyd: 3 star Scout, 3 star Rivals. RS Freshman in 2009. Saw some action at CB. In 2010, started 8 games at CB. Suffered season ending injury prior to Illinois game.
- Justin Turner: 5 star Scout, 4 star Rivals. DNP. Transferred to WVU prior to 2010 season but not on roster.
- Vlad Emilien: 3 star Scout, 4 star Rivals. Played in 5 games as a true freshman. Left team after first game of 2010 season. Vanished.
- Mike Jones: 3 star Scout, 3 star Rivals. Played in 7 games on special teams as true freshmen. In 2010, played some LB against UConn. Suffered season ending injury against Notre Dame.
- Thomas Gordon: 2 star Scout, 3 star Rivals. RS Freshman in 2010. Played in 9 games as Hybrid LB. DNP last 3 games.
- Adrian Witty: 2 star Scout, 2 star Rivals. Did not qualify.
- Demar Dorsey: 4 star Scout, 4 star Rivals. Did not qualify.
- Josh Furman: 4 star Scout, 3 star Rivals. Redshirted. Projects at LB.
- Marvin Robinson: 4 star Scout, 4 star Rivals. Played in 10 games, primarily on special teams. Played some FS vs. OSU
- Cullen Christian: 4 star Scout, 4 star Rivals. Played in 10 games as a back up at CB.
- Carvin Johnson: 3 star Scout, 3 star Rivals. Played in 8 games at hybrid and safety. Missed 3 games due to injury.
- Ray Vinopal: 3 star Scout, 2 star Rivals. Played in all 12 games, 6 at safety with 5 starts.
- Courtney Avery: 3 star Scout, 3 star Rivals. Played in all 12 games, started 4 at CB.
- Terrence Talbott: 3 star Scout, 3 star Rivals. Played in all 12 games, 10 at CB
- Blake Countess: 4 star Scout, 4 star Rivals
- DallasCrawford: 3 star Scout, 3 star Rivals
- Delonte Hollowell: 3 star Scout, 3 star Rivals
- Greg Brown: 3 star Scout, 3 star Rivals
- Little attention was paid to the position in 2004-2006 and only two of those players (Harrison, SR and Brown, JR) saw time in the 2008 secondary.
- In 2009, we had more experience amongst the starters but depth was still an issue, as we saw a walk on contribute major minutes after injuries. It is notable that we did see improvements in the defensive stats for opponent passing yardage from 2008 to 2009.
- 2010 = Doom
- RR has recruited more players for the secondary in his 3 years than Carr did in his last 5. Some of RR's recruits didn't pan out and naysayers will certainly point this out. We can only speculate as to what went down with Turner and Vlad. What we do know is that they were both highly recruited (OSU wanted both. JH wanted Vlad) and neither are currently on a roster. Then there is the qualifying issues. With Witty, there is an argument that he was only recruited to help land Denard. Dorsey was a risk that probably should have been avoided. RR tried to land a stud in the 11th hour in a position of dire need but, given other issues surrounding the program, he probably should have passed on him. With that said, it is not like Carr didn't have issues with transfers (Cheathem, Richards) or character flaws (Sears, Cissoko).
- Barring attrition or injury, there will not be an excuse for lack of depth in the defensive backfield next year and the future seems to set up nicely for whomever is coaching the team.
sources: rivals.com and scout.com for ratings and projected positions, mgoblue.com for player bios and season stats, and bentley.umich.edu for positional starts per year.
FTR: This is not a plea to save RR's job. IMO, I think the data supports another year but, unfortunately, i do not see a way that can happen after "The Great Wait." RR would continuously have to field questions in regards to his future, not just from the media, but also from the recruits who do care who their future coach will be. More importantly, there is an irreparable rift between RR and a large contingent of the fan base and it is unlikely that he will ever have full support, no matter what he might accomplish next year. Brandon better hope he can land JH or (insert higher being of your choice) help us.