Tuesday Recruitin' is Ready for the Big Day

Tuesday Recruitin' is Ready for the Big Day

Submitted by Tim on February 1st, 2011 at 9:51 AM

Let's cut to the chase: Tomorrow in this space, there shall be an all-day liveblog. We'll keep track of LOIs coming in, new commitments, and coverage in other media. It should be pretty easy for you to check in for a couple minutes at work to see what the latest news is.

I'll also be looking to deputize people to keep us filled in on ESPN's Signing Day coverage, in addition to the Big Ten Network's coverage, and even WTKA's Signing Day show (LIVE! From Banfield's Westside in Ann Arbor!). If you're interested in helping out, I'll take volunteers early in the morning.

Possible Commits

  • 8AM (or PM?) - MI OL Jake Fisher picks between Michigan and Oregon.
  • Noon - MD DT Darian Cooper signs on ESPNU with Michigan, Georgia Tech, or Iowa.
  • 7PM - CO LB Leilon Willingham announces from a top 5 of Michigan, Arizona State, Central Florida, Colorado, and Washington.
  • OH TE/LB Frank Clark announces between Michigan and North Carolina at some point in the day.

All these times are subject to change, so keep an eye on the Latest Announcement Times forums thread for updates before tomorrow.

TX TE Chris Barnett will not pick between Arkansas and Michigan until later in the week. The Arkansas commit has targeted Saturday as a possible decision date. MI RB Thomas Rawls will commit later this afternoon (1:30pm) in a ceremony at his high school. Of course, The Detroit News's Tom Markowski already let the cat out of the bag. Hello: posts for all prospects who pick the Wolverines wll be linked in the liveblog.

And of course, we can't forget about all the prospects who have already made public commitments to the Wolverines:

  • TX QB Russell Bellomy
  • MI RB Justice Hayes
  • OH OL Jack Miller
  • IL OL Chris Bryant
  • FL OL Tony Posada
  • OH DT Chris Rock
  • MI DE Brennen Beyer
  • OH DE/TE Keith Heitzman
  • TX LB Kellen Jones
  • OH LB Antonio Poole
  • MI LB Desmond Morgan
  • MD CB Blake Countess
  • MI CB Raymon Taylor
  • MI CB Delonte Hollowell
  • OH CB Tamani Carter
  • CA K Matt Wile

As mentioned above, these prospects should be faxing in their Letters of Intent all morning, so we'll keep a running total of those received (and still pending) in the liveblog.

Other Items to Watch

The Michigan Athletic Department is holding a press conference at 2PM to discuss the new signees. The main portion should be available live online, but in past years, early enrollees and assistant coaches have been available to talk to the press after. I'll tweet updates from that portion of the day. Since there's only one prospect already enrolled (OH S Greg Brown), I'm not sure if they'll make him available.

And of course, we can't help but start looking forward to the next class. All this and your questions answered tomorrow on mgoblog!

Hello: Chris Bryant

Hello: Chris Bryant

Submitted by Tim on January 28th, 2011 at 6:31 PM

At long last, IL OL Chris Bryant has committed to Michigan. Tom talked to Michigan's 17th commitment, and he had this to say:

"It was a tough choice, I put a lot of thought into it. I went through each school, and when I said that name I knew it was the school for me. I'm comfortable there, and I have a good relationship with the coaches. I want to compete and work towards a championship. I'll be down there in June and I'll be ready to play football."

On with the show.




Scout Rivals ESPN
3*, #21 OG 4*, 5.8, #20 OT, #196 Overall 3*, 77, #37 OG

Bryant's position in college is something of a question. He's a huge kid, listed at 6-5 and 330 pounds by his Rivals profile. He has the height to play tackle, but it seems Michigan is looking at him as a guard. He had previously only played guard in high school, but shifted to tackle this year. ESPN evaluates him, and we'll start with the positives:

Flashes good pull / trap ability; can kick out and seal up inside showing the ability to play on his feet in space. We see a player capable of making the necessary run blocks at the next level of play once his techniques improve. His nimble feet and arm length should be assets in pass protection; flashes short set ability however his bend and base need attention; is capable of sliding his feet and playing flat footed in a reduced area; demonstrates the upper body playing strength to control pass rushers however all areas of hand use need refinement. We like the aggressive finishing attitude this guy brings to the game, it's what we like to see from offensive linemen.

Unsurprisingly for a high school kid his size, conditioning is a key to his future improvement:

Has the size for the offensive guard position at the major level of competition however his body mass will need to be redistributed through off season conditioning... Can come off the ball low and hard but more often his initial fit and pad level are high; needs to improve his ability to play low coming off the ball... This player could have problems with active 1st and 2nd level defenders unless his initial quickness and pad level improve.

Initial quickness will be improved with conditioning, and turning his body into that of a high-caliber college offensive lineman. On his Scout profile, Bryant talks about his game:

“I’m big and quick. A lot of college coaches like that I can move. Also, I’m not a sloppy 330, I’m built. I have a real powerful punch too.

“But I’m trying to improve my footwork and my overall technique. I’m just trying to get it all down.”


ESPN would beg to differ with his assessment of his body build. The Scout profile also lists testing numbers of a 395 pound bench and 420 pound squat. That seems ridiculously top-heavy to me, going along with the idea that he needs to redistribute that weight. UMGoBlog's analysts both point out that his athleticism is amazing for his size:

“Unbelievable athletic ability for a man his size. He moves his feet as well as any 300+ pound player you'll find...a mammoth kid who despite his size, is a pretty good athlete.?"

Goes along with everything else we've seen. This Rivals header says he's a standout on both sides of the ball in high school. He was a top performer at Sound Mind, Sound Body camp.


Bryant held a number of BCS-level offers outside of the Michigan one that he ultimately accepted. Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, and Stanford were his flagships. That's no 5-star offer sheet, but nor is it like some of the others we've seen lately, with a couple Big Ten rejects and some Big East and MAC offers. Ohio State came in late, but did not offer.

The offers that Bryant holds confirm the recruiting services' rankings, on the border between a 3-star and a 4-star. His final group consisted of Arizona, Michigan, Illinois, and Pittsburgh.


Bryant is an offensive lineman, and therefore does not have stats.


Scout lists his 40 time at 5.30 seconds, which seems fairly realistic. We do have to take into account that the kid is THREE HUNDRED THIRTY POUNDS, however, and didn't get there via a college-level weight training program. I deem this time worthy of two FAKEs out of five.


Highlights from the Michigan Football Showcase, held in Glick Fieldhouse last winter. He looks surprisingly agile for a guy his size.

Junior highlights on both sides of the trenches:

Chris Bryant Junior "HighLight" Video (Football - OL & DT)
Uploaded by ericrapier. - Discover the latest sports and extreme videos.


In case you haven't gotten the vibe quite yet, a year of redshirting to do some work in the gym is all but mandatory. He needs to turn some of his extra pounds into muscle, and also shed some serious poundage as well. I would guess a playing weight around 310 is a good goal.

One thing I worry about is his ability to get weight off, keep weight off, and stay in game shape. We saw Quinton Washington (who Rich Rodriguez's staff pegged as the #1 overall offensive line recruit in the class of 2008) struggle to crack the two-deep in his first couple years after redshirting, and eventually move to defensive tackle. It could take Bryant a little longer than expected to make his way into the lineup.

Michigan's current guards are Patrick Omameh and (probably) Ricky Barnum. Once they graduate, Bryant should be able to work into the starting lineup as a redshirt sophomore. If he can stay in shape through his entire career, All-Big Ten seasons are a definite possibility.


Every recruit for the rest of the class is an independent case, as it's unlikely Michigan will run up against the scholarship limit, and the needs are mostly filled - outside of tight end and defensive tackle. Even at those positions, Michigan will take who they can, and move along should they not land anybody.

OH TE/LB Frank Clark, CO LB Leilon Willingham, MI OL Jake Fisher, TX TE Chris Barnett, MD DT Darian Cooper, MI RB Thomas Rawls, and OH FB Trayion Durham are the main remaining targets.


Bryant is a teammate of 2012 IL OL Jordan Diamond, who likes Michigan early in the process, and 2012 QB Robert Gregory. Having the opportunity to join Bryant in Ann Arbor may help push them to the Maize and Blue.

Hello: Antonio Poole

Hello: Antonio Poole

Submitted by Tim on January 25th, 2011 at 8:27 PM

OH LB Antonio Poole has committed to become the 15th member of Michigan's class of 2011. He told Tom yesterday:

"It just felt like the right choice, and I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I really would like to play for coach Mattison."

On with the show.




Scout Rivals ESPN
4*, #13 OLB, #227 Overall 3*, 5.7, #26 OLB, #17 Ohio 3*, 78, #41 OLB

The three recruiting sites disagree slightly on where Poole should be ranked, though all agree (for once) that he's an outside linebacker. Scout's the most optimistic, putting him at #13 for the position nationally, while ESPN slots him all the way down at #41. Their evaluation:

Has the size and athleticism for the outside linebacker position at the major level of competition. His strong wrap tackling ability should serve him well as a special team's player... We like his instincts and downhill approach when playing the run; demonstrates good timing when filling gaps, showing the quickness to beat blockers to the point of attack. Displays the playing strength to take on and defeat blockers when moving through traffic to the ball... His playing speed and athleticism show up in pass coverage; demonstrates good route awareness, especially with screens and release routes; is alert and can man up with receivers coming out of the backfield; also shows edge blitz speed and a change of direction move; has a good closing burst to the QB.

This is your standard ESPN fawning, and per usual, is accompanied by a "meh" rating. So, what's wrong with him? The sites disagree on his size, but at an average of 6-1, 215, he's a little undersized to be an immediate contributor at linebacker. Ohio State recruiting guru Duane Long elaborates:

His size is a question mark. His game is not. Knocks the stuffing out of people. Great instincts. Runs great. Plays with another level intensity. I think showing he can play the pass is going to be even more important to Pool [sic]. While Grigsby is a hybrid who could grow into a weak side linebacker, Pool is more a sure hybrid.

Oddly enough, Michigan's hybrid-obsessed coaching staff leaves town... and the Wolverines finally offer the guy who looks like a hybrid player. He got bigger after that evaluation (in the winter after his junior season), so size may not be quite the question mark it once was. Scout's Bill Greene chimes in ($):

His film shows an explosive athlete, equally adept at crowding the line of scrimmage, or playing in space.

He "plays fast" ($, info in header). In ranking him the #18 prospect in Ohio, SWOhioFootball has the following to say:

This young man has sideline to sideline speed & never throttles down as he explodes into ball carriers. Great closing speed & such an athlete he can compete anywhere on the field from covering TE off the LOS to the speedy slot receiver staying right on there hip pad...What an unselfish player Poole is taking on multiple blocks hitting the holes and selling out while his teammates can scrape over to make plays, love this cat's motor when Antonio lays the WOOD it echoes throughout the stadium

Their recap also says he could play in the box as a strong safety at the next level, and that, combined with his measurements, leads me to believe he's destined for the weakside linebacker spot.

He has strong academics, named scholar-athlete of the week.


Rivals and Scout combine to list offers from a few MAC schools, Cincinnati, Louisville, Pitt, and Syracuse from the Big East, Kentucky, Wake Forest, and some middle-tier Big Ten teams. He also had interest from Nebraska ($, info in header). He visited Miami (YTM) last weekend, hoping for an offer. He didn't receive one (and reportedly would have committed had the offer come through).

Michigan offered last week, and as he spent much of 2010 openly coveting a Michigan offer, it didn't take long for him to act on it, and commit to become a Wolverine.



After an exceptional junior season in which he had 48 solo tackles, 16 assists, 10 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries, he was named to the First-Team All-Cincinnati defense (PDF link). Winton Woods won the State Championship.

I couldn't find full senior stats for Poole, but Winton Woods finished the season 10-2, losing to Trotwood-Madison in the playoffs. Antonio had 22 tackles for loss.


He has a listed 40 time of 4.56, though none of the recruiting sites verify it. That's pretty good speed for a linebacker, and considering the name of Poole's game is "speed," that's totally plausible. I give a mere two FAKEs out of five.


ScoutingOhio highlights:


Some sources say Poole is ready to play immediately, whereas others say he's too small. His skills against the run and pass are relatively polished and he's a big hitter, so if he takes a redshirt year, it's strictly because he's not needed in 2011 and the coaches want him to put on some mass.

However, don't be surprised if he plays a bit on special teams as a true freshman, and works his way into the linebacker rotation over the course of his career. He has an excellent chance to be an All-Big Ten selection as an upperclassman.

He doesn't have off-the-charts measurables that the NFL covets, so he seems more like a late-round pick or free agent signing at the next level.


Michigan is loading up on linebackers, and anybody who's seen the Wolverines' defense play over the last few years has no problem with that. There's probably at least one more commitment at the position on the way, and defensive line, tight end, quarterback, and fullback are the areas of focus for the rest of the class.

If the coaches can't manage to fill a couple of those spots, they'll probably be fine waiting until next class to fill them in. Almost everything from this point forward is gravy on a transitional recruiting class.

Hello: Russell Bellomy

Hello: Russell Bellomy

Submitted by Tim on January 25th, 2011 at 7:35 PM

Expect a sight delay in getting this post 100% uploaded, as the malware issue is giving me all types of trouble - UPDATE: Images should be good now.

Suck it, Purdue. Brady Hoke has extended the recently-established Michigan tradition of yanking commits from the Boilermakers by landing TX QB Russell Bellomy, according to both premium sites.




Scout Rivals ESPN
3*, #39 QB 3*, 5.5 3*, 78, #35 QB

Rivals is the least optimistic on Bellomy, as they rank 30 pro-style and 30 dual-threat QBs, with Bellomy nowhere to be found. The other two sites have him ranked in their top 40 combined QBs.

As for size, Rivals says he's 6-3, 178, Scout says 6-3, 185, and ESPN credits him with 6-3, 180. That's some consistency, right there. ESPN's evaluation:

He is a very good athlete with a tall, but gangly frame that has a ton of room to fill out and develop strength... Is a riverboat gambler that looks like a pocket passer, but is a deceptively good overall athlete with good foot speed and quickness for the position... Shows the ability to keep a play alive, evade within the pocket and make plays on the move. This is the area that surprises you the most about him-- he is a very good runner and improviser. Shows quickness, elusiveness and top end speed to be a guy that you have to contend with as a runner on the perimeter or the zone-read keep...

So that's his athletic ability, but how about his passing?

While his mechanics can be a bit wild and inconsistent, Bellomy displays toughness, grit and a competitive demeanor... Gets the ball out quickly and with good zip to short and intermediate areas of the field. Gets set quickly, shows very good feet in his drop and can anticipate routes and throws to a spot very well... Throws a soft, catchable ball that has the necessary zip to fit into tight windows when he has to... He has a good arm, but not great power or the ability to consistently stretch the field vertically.

The National Underclassmen Combine has an uninformative update:

Bellomy is a very versatile QB who does far more than throw the ball accurately. He's a terrific rusher and plays the game at a fast pace, making him perfect for today's style of play.

There's precious little else out there on his game, and the subpages on RussellBellomy.com seem to be busted. A horribly coiffed columnist from the Dallas Examiner caught up with Bellomy and asked him a few questions:

I have played baseball since I was little. I kept with it and played on select teams. Here at Martin, we have a big school and I made varsity as a sophomore which was pretty cool. I also played for a Kansas City Royals scout team. In the end, I gave up baseball for football so I could focus all of my attention on it.

That definitely speaks to his athleticism. Continuing with his style of play:

Some people say I look a little like Tom Brady. I'd like to think I play similar to him too. He doesn't run much so we are different in that aspect, but some of the throws he makes are crazy.

Nice Michigan connection.


No offense to the Boilermakers, but I had assumed that as a Purdue commit, Bellomy didn't have many other options prior to his senior year (he committed in June), but that's not the case. According to Scout, Boise State, Colorado, Michigan State, Minnesota, and South Florida had all offered scholarships, along with a host of MAC/CUSA-level offers.

That's no murderer's row, but Boise State and Michigan State have recent history of QB success, and have done so by developing under-the-radar recruits. This guy could be a serious steal.


ESPN has junior stats:Russell_Bellomy.jpg

Completed 121 of 202 attempts (59.9-percent) for 1,546 yards, 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. Rushed for 438 yards and six more scores

Thanks to our pals at Hammer and Rails, we have periodic updates from Bellomy's senior season:

So far he has Martin high off to a 1-2 start, but he is 26 of 49 for 281 yards and a touchdown against an interception. He has also rushed for 253 yards and four touchdowns in the run based offense. 210 of those yards came in Friday's 58-48 win over Flower Mound.

Round 2:

Bellomy has led Martin High to a 6-2 overall record and, more importantly, is actually healthy. He has thrown 994 yards and nine touchdowns against two picks, while running for 533 yards and seven scores. He has even caught a touchdown pass. Martin is on a 6-game winning streak and should make the state playoffs.

In addition to a link to the Martin High School football website, which has season-long stats. Russell finished 114/194 passing for 1584 yards (58.8%, 8.16 YPA) 15 touchdowns and 3 picks. He also rushed 120 times for 805 yards and 9 TDs. He made the All-District First Team.


Rivals is the only premium site with a listed 40 time for Bellomy, crediting him with a 4.63. Though he's expected to be mostly a pocket guy in college, he's a pretty good runner at the high school level, so that's not unrealistic. A mere two FAKEs out of five.


Senior highlights:


So. Bellomy is far from a polished prospect, but Michigan only has two other scholarship quarterbacks on the roster for next year. I would guess that the staff does whatever they can to redshirt him, unless they need him to play a bit. That gives him a year of separation from Devin Gardner, and provides a good start to QB depth going forward.

HOWEVA, if Bellomy will agree to being primarily a depth player throughout his career, the staff will give him a bit of playing time as a true freshman. Michigan needs three quarterbacks with game experience - plus walkons.

So Bellomy's career arc, then, depends on the fates of Michigan's current quarterbacks. Either Denard Robinson or Devin Gardner may leave Michigan early for the NFL, and there's not even a guarantee Robinson sticks around after spring practices this year. Michigan will target top quarterbacks for next year, so unless there are extenuating circumstances, Bellomy should be a backup who occasionally plays significant minutes.


The Wolverines desperately needed a quarterback in this class, and they have their man. He's skilled enough that he can contribute - possibly even as a freshman - but not highly-touted enough to scare off bigtime prospects in the next couple classes.

Now that the Wolverines have filled the majority of their needs for the 2011 class, defensive line, linebacker, offensive line and tight end are the only remaining positions that must see more commitments. Any prospects in addition to those are icing on the cake.

Brady Hoke, Recruiter

Brady Hoke, Recruiter

Submitted by Tim on January 24th, 2011 at 1:29 PM


Since Brady Hoke was named head coach last Wednesday, a number of articles have been published lauding his ability as a recruiter. Since he was a position coach in his time at Michigan and recruiting data that far back is tough to come by, I'll look only at his time as a head coach, first at Ball State, then SDSU.

It should be noted that Rivals rankings get pretty fuzzy down in the depths. When they're all sleepers, performance matters more than rankings.


Previous Year Record: 6-6 (4-4 MAC)
Signees: 19
Average Rating: 2.00 Stars
Rivals Ranking: 11th MAC (13 teams)

When Hoke arrived at Ball State, the Cardinals were coming off a .500 season under Bill Lynch - whom you may recognize as Indiana's recently-fired head man. He signed 19 prospects in February 2003, all of them 2-star prospects. That was only good for 11th in the 13-team conference, though some schools just had a greater number of equally regarded prospects (Eastern and Western Michigans with 21, Buffalo with 24, and Kent State with 30). Temple led the conference with a 4-star commit and four 3-star commits, but they were on their way out of the Big East. Bowling Green, off Urban Meyer's final year, signed a quartet of 3-star prospects.

It's unfair to hold Hoke's first class against him, especially since he had few scholarships to give out. Among schools that were not leaving a BCS conference or led by Urban Meyer, he was solidly middle-of-the-pack.


Previous Year Record: 4-8 (3-5 MAC)
Signees: 26
Average Rating: 2.00 Stars
Rivals Ranking: t-5th MAC (13 teams)

Despite a big step back on the field, Hoke was able to move forward in recruiting. He signed a big class of 26 prospects, all of them 2-stars to Rivals - and in the first year of the "RR" rating, four 5.2 prospects, a 5.1, and a pair of 5.0s, with the rest receiving no mark. The Cardinals were in a 6-way tie for 5th in the conference, with a number of other schools that signed varying numbers of 2-star guys. Western Michigan, Northern Illinois, Bowling Green, and Temple were ahead of the pack.

Though it was big jump in the rankings, this class was only a marginal improvement in reality. The Cardinals signed more prospects than the previous year, and Rivals changed their methodology slightly.


Previous Year Record: 2-9 (2-6 MAC)
Signees: 21
Average Rating: 2.00 Stars
Rivals Ranking: t-8th MAC (13 teams)

As Ball State's record on the field continued to decline (despite threde Cardinals going in the following spring's NFL Draft), the recruiting maintained status quo. Though BSU's overall ranking was 8th in the MAC, it was a five-way tie for second-to-last. Once again, every prospect they signed was given two stars, with about half receiving the lowest RR rating possible: 4.9.

However, some of the members of this class went on to outperform their recruiting rankings. Offensive lineman Robert Brewster would go on to become a 3rd round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2009 (He is no longer listed on the Cowboys' roster). Wideout Dante Love led the nation in receiving yards in 2008 before suffering a spinal injury in the fourth game of the season.



Previous Year Record: 4-7 (4-4 MAC)
Signees: 23
Average Rating: 2.13 Stars
Rivals Ranking: 3rd MAC (13 teams)

His fourth recruiting class (third full class) at Ball State saw Brady Hoke land his first three 3-star prospects. Quarterback Nate Davis was the headliner. He would go on to lead the Cardinals to a near-comeback in Michigan Stadium as a true freshman and enter the NFL Draft after just three seasons in Muncie. He was a 5th-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers. Safety Terrell Johnson and defensive end Justin Woodard were the other 3-star prospects.

Yet again, Ball State's recruiting improved despite stagnation on the field.


Previous Year Record: 5-7 (5-3 MAC)
Signees: 26
Average Rating: 2.04
Rivals Ranking: 4th MAC (12 teams)

This class was yet again close to the best in the conference. Two 3-star prospects signed with the Cardinals - running back Frank Edmonds and defensive tackle Renee Perry. This class also brought the first junior college transfer to Ball State in the Brady Hoke era, linebacker Cedric Rainey.

The Cardinals maintained status quo with this class - though the status quo had improved slightly since Hoke's first year in Muncie.


Previous Year Record: 7-6 (5-2 MAC, co-Division Champs)
Signees: 21
Average Rating: 2.10
Rivals Ranking: 9th MAC (13 teams)

A huge step forward on the field for Ball State didn't make much of a difference in recruiting. The MAC signed more 3-star prospects than any of the past years, which is probably due to more 3-stars in Rivals's pool rather than an uptick in conference recruiting.

Ball State once again signed a pair of 3-stars, wideout Briggs Orsbon and quarterback Kelly Page. Neither has yet made an impact on the depth chart.

2009 - Ball State

Previous Year Record: 12-2 (8-0 MAC, lost Championship Game)
Signees: 24
Average Rating: 2.13
Rivals Ranking: t-9th MAC (3 teams)

I won't spend too much time on this class since Hoke left Ball State in December. There was plenty of time for replacement Stan Parrish to put his own mark on the class. The Cardinals signed three 3-star prospects: tight end Jacob Green, quarterback Aaron Mershman, and running back Eric Williams.

2009 - San Diego State

Previous Year Record: 2-10 (1-7 Mountain West)
Signees: 20
Average Rating: 2.10
Rivals Rankings: 8th MWC (9 teams)

Like his first class at Ball State, this can't be fully held against Hoke. Chuck Long cratered the Aztecs the previous year, though he did pull in the conference's 2nd-best 2008 class (behind only Utah).

Hoke's first hybrid class in San Diego contained four 3-star prospects: cornerback Nat Berhe, safety Eric Pinkins, and running backs Anthony Miller and Ronnie Hillman. Hillman was SDSU's leading rusher in 2010 after redshirting 2009. Berhe played each of the past two seasons, while the other two redshirted after getting playing time as true freshmen.

The Aztecs also brought in one junior college transfer, defensive back Larry Parker.


Previous Year Record: 4-8 (2-6 Mountain West)
Signees: 27
Average Rating: 2.63
Rivals Ranking: 5th MWC (9 teams)

The Aztecs showed incremental improvement in Hoke's first year in San Diego, and he followed it up with his best recruiting class to date. Utah, BYU, TCU, and Colorado State finished with better recruiting classes (per Rivals) than SDSU, and other than Colorado State, all had exceptional seasons.

Hoke signed the first 4-star prospect of his head coaching career, landing JUCO defensive end Perry Jackson, along with 15(!) 3-star prospects. This class was JUCO-heavy with six transfers from schools within California. Maybe Hoke had a feeling it would be his last year in San Diego, and wanted to grab some guys who would be able to play immediately.

2011 - San Diego State

Previous Year Record: 9-4 (5-3 Mountain West)
Commits: 21
Average Rating: 2.17
Rivals Ranking: 5th MWC (9 teams)

Nobody has committed to SDSU since Hoke left, so all the commits should be accountable to him (or his assistants). The Aztecs have slipped slightly from last year's recruiting class, though instability has certainly not helped matters.


Obviously we don't know how Brady Hoke is going to recruit at Michigan, either to close out the 2011 class or going forward. What we do know is that Michigan traditionally recruits as well as just about anybody in the conference, and Hoke has multiple Big Ten Championship rings and a National Championship ring that he earned here at Michigan. Those are bound to make a bigger difference recruiting here than at any other school.

Hello: Matt Wile

Hello: Matt Wile

Submitted by Tim on January 22nd, 2011 at 6:25 PM

Extremely positive articles over the past week leave this as no surprise, but Michigan has gained a commitment from CA K Matt Wile following his official visit to Ann Arbor.




Scout Rivals ESPN
NR K 2*, 5.3, NR K 2*, 73, #44 K

Wile is a bit more under-the-radar than Michigan's previous few options at kicker; ESPN calls him the #44 kicker in the nation, while the other two services place him outside their "top kickers" rankings (Rivals ranks 20 and Scout only 11). ESPN on his game:

He has a field goal approach that is repeatable. The ball jumps off his foot and he has a smooth rhythm. He does need to finish down field more on his FG at times. There are times where he pivots and comes across his body slightly. His kick offs are solid for a high school kicker. He generally drives the ball into the endzone and gives his team good hang-time to run underneath his kicks... Matt should be able compete early in college.

So: reasonably strong leg, needs to refine technique to make sure his kicks are accurate. With excellent size (6-2, 200) he is also a big, athletic prospect who played several sports growing up. His coach talked up that leg strength to Sam Webb:

"I think he went to Northwestern camp this past summer and hit a 63 (-yarder) off the ground, and he did it again in San Antonio for the Army All American game just this two weeks ago. He hit a 58 off the ground. I've got some film of him putting kickoffs through the goalposts from the 40 off a 1-inch tee when he was a sophomore in high school."

He's been training in field goals without a tee (college-style) for the past two or three years, so the transition will hopefully be a smooth one. Wile kicked in the Army All-American Game, so he has been recognized by at least somebody as a top prospect:

Wile is a versatile player who could kick or punt equally well in college. He could see the field as a freshman due to his strong leg on kickoffs. Wile’s mechanics on field goals are picture-perfect, leading to consistent results.

All services mention that he's a candidate to punt at the next level as well (which is what he did in the Army Game), so as a senior or redshirt junior, he could replace Will Hagerup.

He is not listed on Chris Sailer's recruits list.


Rivals lists offers from Air Force, San Diego State, and Washington in addition to Michigan. Michigan's current staff offered him at SDSU, which makes sense as he's a local recruit for them. He also has a greyshirt offer from Washington.

He was planning to visit Nebraska next weekend ($, info in header), and he was likely to be offered by the Huskers at that time. However, the opportunity to be a 5th-generation(!) Michigan student was too much to pass up - although he hadn't planned to commit on the visit.


The Army website has junior stats:wileaction.jpg

Wile’s kickoffs ended in touchbacks an astounding 89 percent of the time in 2009, including four that went through the uprights. He also converted on 9 of his 12 field goal attempts, with a long of 48 yards. Wile also serves as his school’s punter, showing good consistency while averaging 42 yards per punt.

So there's that.


Matt is a kicker, and therefore 40 times are irrelevant. I couldn't find one online anyway, though ESPN hints that he's good covering kickoffs. I give five FAKEs out of five.


Highlights (yes, kickers with highlight videos -- this is our world):


Michigan's pursuit of Wile shows that the coaching staff is not confident in Brendan Gibbons and Seth Broekhuizen going forward. This means that Wile is likely to start as a true freshman, and probably to be a four-year starter. However, if he can't beat out Gibbons or Broekhuizen as a freshman, he could redshirt then start for the following four years.

As a capable punter (mentioned above), he could also punt once Will Hagerup graduates. That means there's a possibility he punts as a senior or a redshirt junior.


The kicker is here! Since this was a position of need, the spot was almost certain to be filled, so it's already been accounted for in the commitment breakdown. Michigan still needs a defensive tackle, a safety, and a quarterback.

Any unused spots will either go to newly emerging prospects, or be banked for the excellent midwest class of 2012.

Hello: Raymon Taylor

Hello: Raymon Taylor

Submitted by Tim on January 22nd, 2011 at 2:32 PM

Highland Park's Raymon Taylor made no secret early in the process that he was a Michigan fan, but when an offer from the Wolverines never materialized, he committed to Indiana. He received a Michigan offer in December, and on his official visit this weekend, committed to the Wolverines (per fellow commit Justice Hayes), for the third commitment in the last three days.




Scout Rivals ESPN
3*, #49 CB 4*, 5.8, #14 Ath 3*, 77, #93 Ath

The big recruiting sites have a wide, wide range of opinion on how good a player Taylor is, and even what position he'll play. The consensus had been that he's a corner, but running back is an option as well. With Michigan's options at slot receiver, I doubt that's where he's been recruited.

Rivals and ESPN say he's 5-10, while Scout gives him the extra inch at 5-11. They're pretty much in agreement on his weight, ranging from 167 to 175, so I'd say he's right in the 170-pound ballpark. Rivals's numbers (5-10, 167) are over a year old - from last year's Army Combine - so I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he's grown a bit.

We'll start the evaluations with ESPN:

He is a feisty, tough prospect that we feel has the most upside to be a cornerback at the next level with experience as a return specialist as well. Is slightly undersized, but plays big. Likes to get up in the face of the DB [sic: they mean WR] and alter routes and releases. He has adequate hips, can mirror most receivers on double moves and shows good body control and balance. Can turn and run with speedy receivers. Shows burst out of his back pedal and shows very good closing quickness when driving on the ball in front of him. Has sound catch up speed and shows good acceleration when the ball is in the air. Has good leaping ability which helps compensate for his lack of ideal height, adjusts well to the ball in the air and has excellent ball skills. Is a playmaker with the ball in his hands and will get his fair share of picks and pass break-ups. Plays with a mean streak and great enthusiasm and is surprisingly effective in run support considering his size. Attacks the line when he reads run, generally wraps up when tackling and rarely misses open field tackles he should make. Has shown he will mix it up. Plays with a good motor and always seems to be around the ball. He shows a little stiffness through the hips when on offense more so that on defense. His size may limit his effectiveness to match-up versus bigger, stronger wide receivers. Taylor is a good prospect overall and his versatility provides value.

Scout gets information from the horse's mouth:

“I’m very aggressive and have great ball skills. I make plays and change games. But I want to get bigger and add more bulk and muscle.”

Despite his lack of size, he's described as a physical player with excellent ability to play the ball in the air. That could mean that bulking up a bit and playing free safety is an option.


As an Indiana decommit, he held a Hoosier offer - and in fact was one of the headliners of their class. According to Scout, he also held offers from Illinois, Pitt, and Iowa - where under-the-radar DBs become All-Americans.

An early commitment prevented him from racking up a huge offer list, but Rivals also credits him with a Wisconsin offer, in addition to Cincinnati and Toledo.


Scout lists his senior stats:

Raymon Taylor finished his senior season (4-3) with 48 tackles and five interceptions. He also played running back and wide receiver had around 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns on offense.

ESPN also has junior and senior stats:

2010: Rushed for 879 yards and 13 touchdowns. Intercepted five passes. Division IV All-State selection... 2009: Caught 50 passes for 600 yards and six touchdowns. Intercepted seven passes (two returned for touchdowns)...

Yay for Raymon.


Scout is the only recruiting site listing a 40 time for Taylor, crediting him with a 4.43. Although he's known as a very athletic defensive back, that's a truly elite time. I'll give it three FAKEs out of five. He's a sprinter as well, with a 6.94 60m dash.


Junior highlights:

There are also highlights from the 7on7 at Michigan, and he's #1 in blue in last year's Devin Gardner FNL feature against Highland Park.


It's hard to even project a position for Taylor, much less how he'll perform once he gets on the field. With Michigan's recent avalanche of defensive backs, I think there's a good chance he ends up playing safety.

Since that's the case, a redshirt is mandatory, as he's pretty slight no matter what position he'll play, and Michigan now has enough players available to have the luxury of redshirting freshmen in the defensive backfield. After his redshirt year, he'll have a couple years to work into the lineup on special teams - including as a return man, where ESPN notes he has great ability.

By the time he leaves Ann Arbor, Taylor has the athleticism to be an NFL Draft pick and an All-Big Ten player if he's developed properly.


Michigan needs MOAR DBs apparently. As noted above, I think Taylor could end up playing safety, which is a position of need for the class.

Since the class of 2011 is unlikely to completely fill up, Taylor's commitment isn't going to put a serious crunch on remaining players available. The only focus is filling the remaining positions of need, including the defensive line, quarterback, tight end, and linebacker.

Hello: Keith Heitzman

Hello: Keith Heitzman

Submitted by Tim on January 21st, 2011 at 8:19 PM

OH TE/DE Keith Keitzman received an offer from Brady Hoke's staff last night, and wasted no time in committing to be the 12th member of Michigan's class of 2011. He is a Vanderbilt decommit.



Scout Rivals ESPN
3*, #63 TE 3*, 5.5, NR DE 3*, 75, #152 DE

The recruiting sites list him between 6-2 and 6-3, and between 220 and 237 pounds. I would guess that's 6-3 (the majority vote) and somewhere around 225 pounds. He was listed as big as 6-4, 240 in high school, but that's probably exaggeration. Let's get started with ESPN's evaluation:

Heitzman possesses solid size for a high school defensive end and should be able to add more good bulk as he physically develops and gets into a college weight program. He gets off the ball well. He can be a physical kid at the point of attack, but needs to be more consistent especially with his hands. He displays the ability to maintain some leverage and hold his ground... Needs to keep working on his recognition skills. As a pass rusher he displays the ability to get into the blocker with some leverage and create pressure with a bull rush. Needs to be more active with his weapons, develop his pass rush arsenal, and not attack the whole man. Heitzman is a solid defender who will flash some tools to be tough versus the run and pass.

That has the ring of a project recruit who has good potential, but needs to develop both physically and skill-wise before he'll be able to make a big impact on the field. As you can see in the picture below, he's still very skinny for a defensive lineman.

Opposing coaches gameplanned around him:

"Opposing coaches have told me that he has such a huge impact on both sides of the ball that they have game-planned around him," Davidson coach Brian White said.

Before the season, Bucknuts called him the #45 player in Ohio, and he's also able to play linebacker.


Heitzman decommitted from Vanderbilt (he'd been wavering since Robbie Cladwell was fired), so obviously had an offer from the Commodores. His other offers are a host of MAC schools (Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Kent State, Miami (NTM), Ohio, and Toledo, and a few low-range Big Ten teams in Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana. One of the reasons he chose Vandy was an emphasis on academics, so Michigan makes sense for the kid.

At this time, allow to express a slight fear of a second-straight commit with a meager offer sheet. Say what you will about Rich Rodriguez's on-field product, but he generally recruited very well, with only a couple prospects per year worthy of the "sleeper" label. So far, Hoke's staff is 2-for-2 among commitments, with a few higher-rated commits jumping ship so far.

With the timeline they're working on, it's not a scary pattern quite yet, but keep an eye on this going forward.



There is precious little out there about Heitzman's exploits on the field, but he did well enough to be named 1st-Team All-State in Ohio's largest division at defensive end, ahead of a pair of Ohio State commits and Wisconsin-bound Jesse Hayes. All-Columbus Defensive Player of the Year honors.

He also played tight end in high school, and ran for a 2-point conversion in Hilliard-Davidson's state championship as a junior. He was the Central District's Defensive Player of the Year. [Ed-M: DGDestroys says we are bringing him in as a tight end.]

I'll try to dig up more stats on Heitzman for Fridan Night Lights.


Rivals lists him at 4.9, a realistic time for a player of his size. None of the other sites list times, that I could find.


ScoutingOhio provides the highlights:

I couldn't find senior film.


Well, this is a guy who's probably a very long way from seeing the field as a defensive end. I wonder whether he might be brought in as a tight end, one of his high school positions and a major need for this class. On the other hand, Scout's position ranking could just be crazy.

For a guy his size, if he's a DE, a redshirt is guaranteed, especially given Michigan's depth (Van Bergen, Roh, Black, et al) at defensive end. In fact, I doubt he sees the field in any meaningful capacity - aside from an appearance or two on special teams - until his redshirt sophomore year, when Craig Roh ships off to the NFL. At that point, he'll shuffle into the rotation, but not challenge for a starting position until he's a redshirt junior, I think. First-Team All-Conference accolades are probably out of the question unless Michigan has discovered an extreme sleeper.


Michigan is loading up on defensive ends in this class, but as they're unlikely to run up against the scholarship limit, new players aren't taking spots away from anyone for the remainder of the class.

Michigan's coaches will continue to focus on defensive tackle, safety, quarterback, and tight end to finish out the class.

Hello: Tamani Carter

Hello: Tamani Carter

Submitted by Tim on January 20th, 2011 at 10:14 AM

Well... this one caught me by surprise. The Wolverine is reporting that OH CB Tamani Carter (a recent commit to Minnesota) has switched his commitment to the Wolverines. Carter hails from Pickerington Central, the Columbus suburb that gave us the likes of Justin Boren (who attended North).





Scout Rivals ESPN
3*, #104 CB 3*, 5.5, NR CB 2*, 74, #151 CB

The recruiting sites are in sliiiight disagreement on his height, with the majority coming to a consensus of about 5-11. All three sites list his weight as 175 pounds. We'll start with ESPN's evaluation:

Carter is a quick-footed skill prospect with very good athleticism... On defense, he transitions and closes the cushion quickly. Shows good underneath burst jumping routes in zone schemes... Has good extension, timing and leaping skills making him a very effective defender on the jump-ball. While fluid with good footwork, we do feel like he will be challenged in man-to-man coverage at the major college level. Appears quicker than fast and lacks great explosiveness and top-end speed needed to recover vertically. May struggle to press and set the edge on run support until he builds up his upper-body... Overall, Carter is a fluid athlete with great ball skills. Lacks game-changing attributes when projecting for major college level but will add good versatility and athleticism to a future roster.

They also evaluate him as a slot receiver on offense, but believe me, Michigan doesn't need more of those. Their overall evaluation seems to be "solid, BCS-level talent, but not a difference-maker at the BCS level." This is an odd evaluation considering their rankings of "hey, maybe this guy can play D-1 football." I imagine the lower end of their rankings are still being updated (the new 150 came out yesterday).

Scout has comments from the kid himself:

“I cover really well. I have great hips and closing speed. I also play offense and I’m very explosive. I want to improve my speed. And I’m still working on my feet. Overall, I’d like to get bigger and stronger.”

That's right in line with ESPN's evaluation, right down to saying he's quicker than he is fast.

Tamani also has his own website, praising mostly his work ethic, intensity, and academics. It also clips a few reviews of his game:

He's quick, changes directions well and showed good ball skills, making the breaks without drawing interference... He's a guy who we may have underrated some...

Carter may be one to watch in the future.

Yay for that. GopherHole's interview states that he also runs track.


Carter was committed to Minnesota before switching to Michigan, so he obviously held an offer from Jerry Kill's Gophers. Rivals also lists Air Force, Arizona, Iowa, Kent State, Stanford, and 1-AA Youngstown State.

A couple schools on that list (most notably Iowa and Stanford) have a recent history of developing under-the-radar prospects into stars, particularly in the defensive backfield in Iowa's case.


Scout has senior stats:

Tamani Carter finished his senior season (11-1) with 55 tackles and three interceptions. Two of those were returned for touchdowns (one of 96 yards and the other for 34 yards). He also caught 25 balls for over 300 yards.

Those are solid numbers, but it's hard to evaluate the stats of high school defensive backs, since there is such a wide variety of offenses faced.

ESPN says he had 5 picks, including one returned for a touchdown, as a junior.


Rivals and Scout both list him with a precise 4.48 40-yard dash time. That's quite good, but not exceptional, for a defensive back. Considering the book on Carter (very quick) and the level of agreement between the sites, I'm forced to give a mere one FAKE out of five.




Michigan started several freshman defensive backs last season, and Carter's scouting reports say that he needs to bulk up before being ready to contribute at the next level. That screams "redshirt," and I think that's a likely outcome for Carter's freshman year.

Even as a redshirt freshman, I think Michigan has enough athletic guys that even time on special teams will be hard to come by. As a redshirt sophomore, however, he might start getting serious special teams time, and as a redshirt junior and redshirt senior, he should work into the rotation on defense.

He's a solid player who will probably never be a star, but rather a role player.


As Tom tweeted, this is an odd commitment, considering Michigan has multiple DBs visiting in the next couple weeks. Those guys are more ready to contribute immediately, and unlike Carter, are not similar body types to several of Michigan's DBs already on the roster (Terrence Talbott and Courtney Avery are both average-to-small corners that are pretty thin).

This likely means that Michigan only feels good about their chances with, say, one of those defensive backs, and that somebody we haven't been expecting to play safety - either somebody on the roster (Cullen Christian) or a commit (Greg Brown) - will do so. Remaining DB commits in this class are likely to be looked at for safety as well.

Wednesday Recruitin' Scrambles, Sprints

Wednesday Recruitin' Scrambles, Sprints

Submitted by Tim on January 19th, 2011 at 1:57 PM

With the wheels seemingly falling off the Class of 2011, it's going to take one heck of a finish for the Wolverines to end with a respectable commitment list. For current targets, commits, etc., check out the 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board. If you have recruiting tips or questions, tweet @varsityblue or e-mail [email protected].



With only two weekends before Signing Day left for official visits, each one carries a lot of importance for Michigan's new coaching staff. Here's this weekend's roster:

  • OH TE/LB Frank Clark (pictured at right). The Cleveland Glenville product was also a target under the former staff. Rivals got a reaction to the hiring of Greg Mattison ($, info in header), so it's safe to say the Wolverines want him on defense.
  • MI CB Raymon Taylor. He's an Indiana decommit who has already visited once this winter, for a bowl practice. Former teammate of Devin Gardner.
  • CA CB Stefan McClure. Offered by Michigan (see below). He is a friend of former Michigan DB Leon Hall, and was a target of San Diego State. He speaks highly of Hoke and it sounds like he may have even committed to the Aztecs if they had played in a more prestigious conference.
  • FL OL Tony Posada. Visiting Michigan this weekend, and plans to remain committed to the Wolverines, despite listening to what other schools have to say. He took an official visit to Mississippi State last weekend, but still says he's a Wolverine if they'll have him (and use his talents properly).
  • CA K Matt Wile. Michigan has offered Wile, and the Army All-American is a strong possibility - who Michigan saw in-home the other night. With Matt Goudis out of the class, Michigan is looking for replacements. Derrick Mitchell, currently a minor leaguer in the Philadelphia Phillies system, considered walking on, but it doesn't seem likely at this point.

As always, things are liable to change as the week progresses.

Commits, Kinda Commits, Ex-Commits

TX LB Commit Kellen Jones visited Colorado last weekend and is still being recruited by Miami (YTM), Florida, and Arkansas. However, his dad says:

"I think it will have to be a really rare circumstance for Kellen to not be a Michigan Wolverine, but we have to be prepared.”

That article was published the day before Hoke was named, and after the naming of Greg Mattison as DC, Jones is excited about Michigan, canceling his upcoming visits to other schools.

MD CB Blake Countess seemed only a little iffy, but took an official visit to Penn State last weekend, and enjoyed himself enough to tweet about how it was better than expected, and "making this decision a lot harder." Michigan is in-home today, and Penn State tomorrow. By the end of the week, we should have a much better idea of Countess' ultimate plans.

MI DE Brennen Beyer sat down with Coach Hoke ($, info in header) the other day, and seems solid to Michigan.

MI OL decommit Jake Fisher visited Michigan State last weekend, and has Florida this weekend, and Oregon the weekend following that. If Brady Hoke wants to get him on campus before Signing Day, it will have to be on a midweek unofficial. Fisher has officially decommitted from Michigan, but the Wolverines are hopeful to re-secure him. According to his high school coach, he's still considering Michigan, but will take his remaining visits. Tom says it's not looking good for the Wolverines.

The next trio of former Michigan commits, on the other hand, are not going to come back to the maize-and-blue, as all have decided to take their talents to South Beach:

  • OH LB Antonio Kinard probably wasn't going to be accepted as a class of 2011 commit.
  • FL CB Dallas Crawford eliminated Michigan last week, and now he'll be a Cane.
  • CA K Matt Goudis officially visited Coral Gables along with Crawford, and has also pledged to join Miami's class of 2011.

Finishing the Class

It sounds like Michigan is the favorite to land SC WR Hakeem Flowers. He announces on Sunday.

IL OL Chris Bryant was waiting to hear from Brady Hoke, and took matters into his own hands over the weekend. On his way home from a visit to Pittsburgh (where former Michigan assistants...), he talked with Coach Hoke, and things went well:

My parents are both comfortable, and so am I. They asked their questions and said it was a great conversation overall. I feel comfortable with him too. He was a funny guy, he's a player's coach. He's someone that you would want to coach you... I had a good relationship with the coaches there before, but coaching is a business. It's just an adjustment and you need to go on with it. Michigan is Michigan, and they're not going to just bring anyone in. I still really like Michigan.

Before the visit, Tom said there wasn't too much worry as long as it went well, so Michigan is in very good position with Bryant. He announces a week from Friday.

Michigan may have extended an offer to Minnesota commit KS QB Max Shortell, but the kid says he's only interested in Minnesota. Sounds like a similar situation to FL DT Travarris Saulsberry and his teammate, DE Jordan Williams, both of whom are committed to Tennessee.

Among other new players on the radar, CA DB Stefan McClure and IL OL Pat Flavin (an Illinois commit) are now getting Michigan attention - with McClure already netting an offer.

The Wolverines have also offered LA CB Floyd Raven ($, info in header), and are still showing interest in another Louisiana prospect at the position, Daren Kitchen ($, info in header).

Peace Out, Ya'll

Happy Trails, NJ TE Jack Tabb. He committed to North Carolina ($, info in header) after being unable to get in touch with Brady Hoke.

Auburn has accepted a commitment from NC WR/LB Kris Frost. Michigan might continue pursuing him ("hey, that other school doesn't even want you"), but he seems set on being a Tiger.

Last week, Tom said Michigan had "a great chance" with CA WR Devin Lucien, but Michigan now intends to recruit him only for defense, so it seems unlikely he'll end up a Wolverine. Lucien announces January 30th.

PA DE Deion Barnes will announce tomorrow between Georgia and Penn State. He crossed Michigan off his list with the coaching change.