Reranking the 2012 Recruiting Class thru 4 Games of 2014

Reranking the 2012 Recruiting Class thru 4 Games of 2014

Submitted by alum96 on September 21st, 2014 at 2:22 PM

With the prospects for UM's team very dim, most of my focus this year will be on individual players (bravo J. Lewis!) go forward in 2014 i.e. who can help the next staff in 2015.   There was an interesting question on our lack of NFL players/players development (a common theme) posted yesteday in the cluster**** that followed the game so I am going to piggyback on 2 pieces I wrote in April now that we are 4 games into 2014 and look back at our 2012 recruiting class and sort of do a "now" vs "then" analysis.  This is what people do when they look at NFL drafts 3 years after the fact - which I find interesting.

This is not too in depth on each player since we know their names and their general impacts but at this point these are our juniors and RS SO so we have an idea of how their career will go, allowing for some variance.  I only did the top 15 players or so - as a lot of players are not impactful at the bottom of the class.

Please note I am not a sunshine grader - a 5 star should be a step below Peppers level; very impactful early, a splash player, a conference stud.  A 4 star should be a front line starter, etc.

2012 was a very important class - a highly ranked (7th at Rivals) and large one and the bedrock for Hoke's supposed success - i.e. the team that was "going to be competitive with Alabama in 2015 and 2016".  As you read this list of contributors it just adds to the "where are our NFL players?" and "are these guys being developed to compete with the Oregon's, Bamas, Texas A&M, FSUs" etc.  How many would legitimately play for those teams? 

It is not encouraging - I see maybe 2 players who would be on their way to be stars in the SEC (Henry, Funchess), and a handful of guys who would start for a mid tier SEC team.  And a whole lot of guys who have regressed or are not going to be contributing in any meaningful way as they go to their RS JR and SR years in 2015.  Our two 5 stars are not impactful players who other teams have to worry about in year 3 of their career.  That's just not good enough for a 7th ranked class.

My 2 earlier pieces if you are curious and want to get away from EMO land were:


Just going to rank everyone together, offense and defense

  1. Devin Funchess - new rank: 5 star.   2012 rank: 3/4 star.                                            The only clear superstar on the team; with a pro style QB like a Cook or Hackenberg this guy would be bringing fear to all and being talked up like an Amari Cooper nationally.   An immediate starter at TE, where he was a poor blocker, but eventually moved outside to a position he thrives at.   Barring miracle will be gone in 2015 - sad face.
  2. Willie Henry - new rank: high end 4 star.    2012 rank: 3 star after thought tossed into the class late.                                                                                                                    Again I am not a sunshine blower who is giving Henry a 5 star.  He has the chance to be a 5 star as a JR and SR if he continues his current path.  For a guy thrown into the class on the week of signing date I believe, he has surpassed his much heralded signing class mate Pipkins and is a sky is the limit type of player as only a RS SO.  Should be the rock star of the 2015 DL.
  3. Joe Bolden - new rank: 4 star.  2012 rank: 4 star.                                                             A "late bloomer" in that he didnt show much in flashes his first 2 years but the game seems to have slowed down for him and at this point is a very productive player.   Should be the defensive leader on the LB corps in 2015.
  4. Jarrod Wilson - new rank: 4 star   2012 rank: 4 star.                                                Some might think this is a sunshine grade but compare to classmate Jeremy Clark for example.  He was a starter in 2013, and the rock of the safeties coming into 2014.  Not a star but a decent starter - unfortunately injuries in 2013 and 2014 continue to haunt.  Should retain starting role in 2015 barring some Joe Bolden type offseason surge by a peer.                     
  5. James Ross III - new rank: low 4 star (?!)   2012 rank: 4 star.                                          I'm confused.  This grade would be easy to give in any month before August 2014  I might be a sunshine blower on Ross III todau.  Not sure what is happening here- from 2nd leading tackler on team last year to a spot player.  While the 2 LB set seems to be the base formation of UM defense, Royce Jenkins Stone seemed to displace him versus even Miami of OH at SAM.  Lack of bulk hurts and maybe by end of year this is downgraded to 3 star but cannot imagine his talent just disappeared like that.  Confused about role in 2015.
  6. Ondre Pipkins - new rank: high 3 star  2012 rank: 5 star.                                        Some will dispute my current rank and maybe injuries played a part but early 2013 I was not seeing a disruptive force - Malik McDowell is playing DT at MSU and Ive seen more splash plays from him in 3 games then Pipkins had in a year and a half.  Yes even v Oregon, McDowell was impactful.  Maybe Pipkins comes back and turns into a force but at this point a 3 star and a walk on are starting at DT and he is a rotation player maybe not 100% healthy.   
  7. Erik Magnuson - new rank: high 3 star  2012 rank: high 4 star.                         Perhaps an unfair ranking since OL take more time to judge and he was the "best of the worst" of underclassmen OL in 2013.  Not getting a "Lewan type talent" vibe from him as we felt from Lewan early in his career - i.e. uber talented but mistake prone.  Seems "solid" and will be a decent Big 10 player.  Best OL in this class it seems but its a low bar right now.  Most likely also playing out of position (guard vs his natural tackle) due to lack of guards on team.  Ranking could improve in 2015.
  8. Jehu Chesson - new rank: 3 star  2012 rank: 3 star                                            Blocking machine that has yet to really put it together as a WR.  Advertised as spped merchant - do not see that in actual games.  That could be due to the QB not finding him but if he was a true speed demon TV analysts would remark more often how open he was as he made the DB look like molasses.  That said, one of the best WR blockers seen in my time, and a hell of a special teams player.  Seems destined for 3rd/4th WR role.            
  9. Dennis Norfleet - new rank: 3 star  2012 rank:  3/4 star   A sort of glue player with no real home.  Mostly a special teams player and now a converted slot WR who does not get that many touches.   For a player obtained on the last day of the recruiting cycle he has been an asset.  But sometimes his lack of vision and lack of straight line speed stops him from being what UM fans wish he was to be IMO.  That said a flash here or there in 2014, hopefully more growth in 2015.   
  10. Chris Wormley - new rank: 3 star  2012 rank: 3/4 star.  I came into the year super high on Chris Wormley.  Thought he and Henry would be the 2 breakout stars on the DL.  I was half right.  An ACL held him back early in career - he came on late last year to make some splash plays that excited me but thus far this year, barely noticable.  Due to size and ability to create TFL in 2013 still holding out hope this comes together for him in 2015.  But right now a role player.       
  11. Amara Darboh - new rank: 3 star   2012 rank: 3/4 star.                                               This is a difficult grade - he won the starting job in 2013 before injury felled him.  Has been quiet in 4 games aside from explosion vs a very bad Miami OH defense.  Maybe in 6 weeks he will look like a major contributor.  Maybe not.  For now he is all about potential v production.  This is a grade based on hope.
  12. Kyle Kalis - new rank:  3 star   2012 rank:  5 star                                                        With all the caveats of "can't judge an OL too much too early" this is up there with Terry Richardson as a major disappointment at this moment.  Lauded as the "most college ready" OL we had - struggled mightily in 2013 and displaced as starter in 2014 either by injury or by a walkon.  Has never looked like a "plus player" in his time yet.  MSU starts a walk on at LT named Jack Conklin from the 2012 class who gave up zero sacks last year in pass protect at a tougher position; so its not impossible to ask for decent from this age of OL.  Hence based on peer group, I am not going to say its unfair to judge him in year 3.
  13. Ben Braden  new rank: 3 star  2012 rank: 3 star                                                            I've put him behind Kalis only because in the sh****** that was 2013 OL he never was even put in the rotation despite being handed a guard role in spring.  He never took to it and obviously would not displace the two 2013 tackles.  From people who watch OL a lot closer than me, he is one guy who they worry about the most in the first 4 games.  Still have hope here for 2015 since he is a first year starter.
  14. Jeremy Clark  new rank:  3 star  2012 rank:  3 star.   No idea what Jeremy Clark is right now, seemed to have lost the competition for starting safety to Delano Hill in camp but injury thrust Clark into the role. Looked good versus App State but ... its App State.   Seems to be a solid player but hard to tell.  Maybe in 8 weeks we move him up 6-7 spots in this ranking, just too fresh of a prospect at this point to evaluate.  Great size if he puts it all together
  15. Royce Jenkins Stone new rank:  2 star  2012 rank:  4 star                                    Came in with a loaded offer sheet and was supposed to be 1A and 1B with Ross III.  Rarely saw the field first 2 years on defense.  Was supposed to be a camp star ala Bolden this spring and fall but with the SAM position eliminated thru much of the first 4 games has seen spotty playing time.  When he did he has not graded well on UFR (-3 vs Miami OH if my memory serves)  Hard to expect much from hin in 2015 which is already his senior year.
  16. Matt Godin - new rank:  2 star  2012 rank:  3 star   He plays a little here and there.  Did so in 2013 as well before an injury late.  Sort of an emergency role player as best as I can tell.  Not sure if there is any real upside in 2015 other than becoming a better emergency role player.
  17. AJ Williams  new rank:  2 star  2012 rank:  3 star.   Sort of a filler type guy at TE who does not catch the ball.  His blocking is questionable.  Jake Butt and Funchess both passed him quickly when given a chance and a converted DE now competes with him for time.  With Bunting arriving in 2015 expect even less of a role go forward.

EDIT - I missed Mario Ojemudia in this list - I will insert him at rank 9.5 between Norfleet and Wormley.  New rank: 3 star   2012 rank:  3 star .                            A backup DE who is not particularly impactful at this point, and rightfully stuck behind Frank Clark.  2015 role will be a starter by default as Taco Charlton, Henry Poggi, and Lawrence Marshall are the only other DEs currently on the roster slated to return.

I have not ranked Sione Houma as I am unclear of his impact or future; I don't notice him during game days, frankly not sure if he is playing much.  Others can weigh in.

The following are not ranked - they have had little to no impact in their time at UM.  I will therefore tag them as 2 star type of players as a bunch.  At this point any meaningful contribution in 2015 forward will be a surprise.

  • Terry Richardson - 2012 rank: 4 star 
  • Tom Strobel - 2012 rank:  3/4 star  [never discussed as even a depth DL player]
  • Blake Bars - 2012 rank: 3/4 star  [never discussed as even a depth OL player]
  • Allen Gant - 2012 rank: 3 stars
  • Drake Johnson - 2012 rank: 2 stars  [4th on current depth chart with 2 high profile 2015 recruits coming]

Last, no longer with the team

  • Kaleb Ringer - 2012 rank: 3 star

Early Returns on UM Football's 2012 Recruiting Class - Defense

Early Returns on UM Football's 2012 Recruiting Class - Defense

Submitted by alum96 on April 5th, 2014 at 1:59 AM

Preface: this is the view of one football fan, without the level of intricate knowledge of a Space Coyote nor someone who has broken down game film play by play.  Also these are early views and player X who looks "ok" today may turn into star in 2015 - we never know.  So downvote accordingly. ;)

Thought it would be interesting to take a look back at UM's 2012 recruiting class now that we are 2 years into it.   To refresh this was the 7th ranked class in the country per Rivals; here is the list of players.  While early to judge some of these guys as many redshirted, some are already going to be juniors in 2014 and this class will go a long way in determining on field success in the 2014-2016 seasons.

I've broken down the class in position groups and am giving one person's view on "early returns" in light of expected production, "starzzz",  and what type of schools were in competition.  Hence a player who Alabama, Florida, USC, OSU were after has a higher bar than Illinois, Vanderbilt, Boston College.  Of course those who have played 2 years have more of a body of work than those who were redshirted.  Also players on both the DL and OL were generally given more leeway due to their typically slower development.

Early view is based on production if applicable (RS players have less to work with), behind the scenes buzz (i.e. Darboh looked to be a front line starter last year), and eye test.

Part 1 for offense is here, below is defense.


DEFENSIVE LINE - Players here outside of elite high end are graded on a more forgiving curve as OL / DL players generally will take longer to bulk up to necessary size/strength for these positions.

[1]  Ondre Pipkins

Background:  5 Star, received offers from Bama, Florida, USC, OSU, Michigan State, etc

Comment:  Along with OL Kalis, the two 5 stars in the class.  Pushed into playing rotation as a freshman due to need, started sophomore campaign as a key element of the line but faced significant injury in game 5, unfortunately too late to receive medical redshirt.  Impact when in somewhat in question.  Only tallied 7 tackles including 1/2 for loss - 0 sacks - inclusive of some not very good opponents a player of this level would seem to be able to excel versus.  If one views him as a run stopper rather than a Jerel Worthy type, reviews are mixed again as UM defense was gashed often down the gut with or without Pipkins in.

Early View:  With normal DL depth/ quality, Pipkins would probably have been redshirted as a freshman so already has 2 years down with only 2 to go.  In light of star status and offer sheet, a bit underwhelming especially in relation to splash plays seen from classmates - specifically Henry.  Looks like a decent starter but not trending to star player from early results.  2014 year could have limitations due to ACL injury.

[2]  Willie Henry

Background: 3 star after thought (pledged week of signing date I believe) coming out of OSU pipeline school Cleveland Glenville. Offers from regional non powers such as Cincinnati, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

Comment:  After redshirt year, came on in second half of 2013 season to be a significant contributor, essentially taking Pipkins spot and running with it.   While still needing to build strength to hold point of attack (and still giving up gashes in the run game) was main player in interior of DL who provided splash plays.  32 tackles, 3 for loss, and half a sack.

Early View:  Far exceeding potential of stars / offer sheet.  Poised to be major piece of the DL in next 3 years on current track.  Maybe the JMFR type of this class in terms of production vs offer sheet.

[3]  Chris Wormley

Background: 3/4 star from Ohio who had  mix of Big 10 offers - at the top end Michigan State and Ohio State; at lower end linois, Indiana,.

Comment:  Suffered ACL freshman year.  A rotational backup in 2014 but like Henry made obvious splash plays.  Along with 19 tackles, had 4.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.  Considering potential after affects / recovery of ACL might take large leap in 2014 as a playmaker.

Early View:  Slight upside to potential out of HS; with room for this to increase substantially over HS projection due to youth and anticipation that a player is not 100% recovered from an ACL until the 2nd year after surgery.  If early returns are an indication poised to be major piece of DL in next year.  Ironically that is his position listing on spring roster and at 292 lbs could be a hybrid btw DE and DT.

[4]  Tom Strobel

Background:  Like Wormley, 3/4 star from Ohio who had a higher end offer sheet consisting of multiple midwest upper end programs - OSU, Nebraska, Wisconsin,Iowa along with Stanford.

Comment:  Thus far a bit of a mystery.  Suffered an injury of some sort before Akron game but was not a significant backup before then, only played in 1 game all year.  Listed as DE on spring roster at 268 lbs so someone like Charlton seemed to jump ahead of him already.  Like Bars on the OL his name does not seem to come up much in discussions. 

Early View:  Too soon to tell but lack of participation last year raises some question marks.  If not a significant part of 2-3 deep this year, seems on track for backup role - esp if younger players begin to make impact.

[5]  Matt Godin

Background:  3 star local with offers from Michigan State, Missouri, Wisconsin and Vanderbilt.

Comment:  Backup in 2013 who saw a bit more action than Stroble, with appearances in 7 games.  Others can speak for eventual role - I don't see him discussed much but perhaps will take a Heitzman type role out on the end but is currently listed as a 283 lb DT so if that is the role competition from Poggi and Hurst looms one class behind.  [note: Poggi currently listed as 271 lb DE and Hurst 277 lb DT on spring roster]

Early View:  Too soon to tell as had limited backup role in 2013 but played more than Strobel;  facing some good competition in both his class and the one behind his.



[1]  James Ross III

Background:  4 star with Midwest focused higher end offer sheet including OSU, Notre Dame, MSU, Nebraska, and Penn State. USC also threw their hat in the ring.

Comment:  Despite being undersized, an immediate contributor as a freshman, with multiple splash plays that excited fan base.  Unfortunately came back in 2013 at nearly the same weight and is playing a rough position at a "large safety" size - inhibits ability to get off blocks and with weak DL play, the level of play was not as impressive as exciting freshman year.   He still quietly finished with the 2nd most tackles on the team and if not for injury before OSU would have been first overall. 

Early View:  On track with HS expectation; a very good player who can still be great in his remaining 2 years.  Perhaps body does not support it but a 230-235 lb frame would seem to help him but speed is his game.  Just needs DL to help keep him clean so he can fulfill potential.

[2]  Royce Jenkins-Stone

Background:  4 star Cass Tech star offered by Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma, MSU, Missouri. 

Comment:  Did not redshirt and was a special teams player mostly as a freshman, who most expected to contribute something in 2013.  Something turned into essentially nothing - 5 tackles in 13 games.  A head scratcher.

Early View:  Thus far probably the largest disappointment in this class on the defensive side of the ball in light of HS prospects.  Many considered Ross and RJS 1A and 1B and cornerstones for the 2014-2015 LBs - but right now it seems 1 for 2.   Already buried on the depth chart mid season, true freshman Gedeon passed him late in the year and made obvious impact.  Unless something changes as he enters junior here, the best hope appears to be a quality backup role.

[3]  Joe Bolden

Background:  4 star, top 150 type Ohio prospect with offers from Arizona, Iowa, Penn State, Stanford, West Virginia, etc.

Comment:  Thrust into a backup role in 2012, due to depth issues - perhaps not really ready.  Become a steady contributor in a backup role early in 2013, and started pushing Morgan late in the year, garnering 4 starts.   Credited with 54 tackles, including 4 for loss and 2 sacks.  Production surprised me a bit when I reviewed defensive stats because I don't "notice" him on the field that much - not sure if that is good or bad.

Early View:  Already entering his junior year, seems to be on track or slightly below HS track not so much for production reasons but lack of high impact plays.  Seemed to come on late in 2013 so could be one to watch in 2014 but stuck behind man child JMFR in the middle.

[4]  Kaleb Ringer

Background:  3 star prospect with mid level Midwest offers including Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Louisville.  Outside of UM offer, Iowa was second best.

Comment:  He gone.

Early View:  N/A

[5]  Allen Gant

Background:  3 star safety prospect with offers from Stanford, Boston College, West Virginia

Comment:  Redshirted in 2012, special teams player in 2013.  No impact on defense as he was moved from safety to a linebacker role. 

Early View:  A bit below expectation but with caveat of position switch and a lot of LBs ahead of him including Beyer and Gordon in 2013.  Thus far no production on defensive side of the ball.  2014 should tell us if he will become a backup or become primarily a special teams type player.



[1]  Jarrod Wilson

Background:  4 star with solid national offer sheet including Stanford, Notre Dame, Penn State, UCLA, and Michigan State.

Comment:  No redshirt, had limited playing time as a freshman which earned massive EMO points going into 2013 from Brian.  Seemed to calm most of us with his play although he was pulled from starting lineup in back half of year for certain games.  Confusing as most of us thought he was playing pretty well.  50 tackles including 2 for loss; will be a huge part of the secondary in 2014 as he is the only safety with experience. Protect in bubble wrap.

Early View:  On track with HS expectation - seems to be growing into role and will be a 'cagey vet' in a very young secondary in 2014.

[2]  Terry Richardson

Background:  4 star Cass Tech CB with high end offers across the country including Bama, LSU, USC, Oklahoma, OSU, Notre Dame, PSU, UCLA. 

Comment:  Welp.  Based on offer sheet many said "he is our Antonie Winfield; that projection has now been moved to '15 class Shaun Crawford.  While undersized the expectation was after gaining some weight this level of player would be pushing for a starting role in a depth challenged secondary if not last year, than in 2014.  Instead players 1 class behind him in Stribing and Lewis took over key backup spots at the corners and Richardson was effectively redshirted as he did not see any game action.  With Peppers riding in on his stallion in 2014, best case for Richardson this year seems to be 6th corner.  Maybe.

Early View:  Well below expectation; I put him "ahead" of Royce Jenkins-Stone as 'less disappointing relative to HS pedigree' only because of size issues that would always hinder him unless we struck gold with a Winfield type development.  With only Taylor graduating after this year, faces a crowded group of competition - hope is he develops at this point into a dime type corner at some point.

[3]  Jeremy Clark

Background:  3 star prospect with mostly MAC offers outside Illinois and NC State.

Comment:  Redshirted in year 1, limited role in year 2 mostly on special teams.  Large opening for major playing time in 2014 in very young group of safeties but a mystery man for now.

Early View:  Not enough information for any assessment.  Lack of depth at his position has him poised for a significant role; if that is by default is left to be determined.




OVERALL TAKE:  With the caveat it is early this class looks like it is light in the secondary mostly due to Richardson, in line at the LBs (some hits and some misses) with potentially the best haul on the DL due to early splash play ability out of Henry and Wormley.   Eventual elite potential could still fall to 5 players - James Ross III, Jarrod Wilson, Ondre Pipkins, Willie Henry, and Chris Wormley.  Personal view is Henry has already impressed more than Pipkins despite stars/offer sheet - others may disagree with my view.

2014 should tell us a lot about junior / senior year prospects for Strobel, Godin, and Clark.  All should be significant backup players this year.  Bolden seems likely to take over starting MLB in 2015.  Any development out of Royce Jenkins-Stone would be helpful for this class.

Early Returns on UM Football's 2012 Recruiting Class - Offense

Early Returns on UM Football's 2012 Recruiting Class - Offense

Submitted by alum96 on April 4th, 2014 at 5:42 PM

Preface: this is the view of one football fan, without the level of intricate knowledge of a Space Coyote nor someone who has broken down game film play by play.  Also these are early views and player X who looks "ok" today may turn into star in 2015 - we never know.  So downvote accordingly. ;)

Thought it would be interesting to take a look back at UM's 2012 recruiting class now that we are 2 years into it.   To refresh this was the 7th ranked class in the country per Rivals; here is the list of players.  While early to judge some of these guys as many redshirted, some are already going to be juniors in 2014 and this class will go a long way in determining on field success in the 2014-2016 seasons.

I've broken down the class in position groups and am giving one person's view on "early returns" in light of expected production, "starzzz",  and what type of schools were in competition.  Hence a player who Alabama, Florida, USC, OSU were after has a higher bar than Illinois, Vanderbilt, Boston College.  Of course those who have played 2 years have more of a body of work than those who were redshirted.  Also players on both the DL and OL were generally given more leeway due to their typically slower development.

Early view is based on production if applicable (RS players have less to work with), behind the scenes buzz (i.e. Darboh looked to be a front line starter last year), and eye test.

Will break this down into 2 diaries - this one for offense; defense is here.


OFFENSIVE LINE - this is by far the hardest group to judge because it is the one position group where if there is a failure anywhere in the line, everyone can look bad.   Secondary to a degree is the same but nowhere does a misstep by your teammates stand out more than the OL unit.  Again caveat is we rushed these guys to play rather than waiting until RS sophomore year.

[1]  Kyle Kalis

Background:  5 Star all Everything, spurned OSU for UM.  Other offers incl Bama, Auburn, Florida, LSU, etc. 

Comment:  Most highly touted OL recruit in this 2 class OL haul; many had dreams of Hutchinson 2.0.  After redshirt year was expected to come in and be competent, and be the 3rd best player on a line book ended by 2 potential NFL tackles.   Instead major struggles, a benching, and never stood out. 

Early View:  Too early to tell but will judge him a bit more harsh than the other OL due to (a) hype / expectation / pedigree. and (b) MSU threw in a "no star" at left tackle named Jack Conklin from the same 2012 class who was named freshman All American at a more prominent position on the line.   That reflects poorly on Kalis and/or coaching at UM.  Still has 3 years ahead of him and can live up to potential.

[2]  Erik Magnuson

Background: High 4 star with offers from high end schools such as Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Stanford, USC.

Comment:  Natural tackle was pushed into guard role due to need despite being undersized. Of the Kalis, Bosch (true freshman), Magnuson trio - he seemed to do the best job of the three... of course that bar is very low.  Despite injury he has been slated to start at most important OL position this year, so coaching staff showing trust.  Coming in at or near 300 lbs this fall would be a plus.

Early View:  On track with potential out of HS.  In a normal environment a RS sophomore pushing for a starting gig would be tracking at Lewan level.  In this environment it is difficult to tell as lack of alternatives / upperclassmen smudges outlook.

[3]  Ben Braden

Background: 3 star local giant with offers from regional upper end schools ala Wiscy/MSU.

Comment:  Natural tackle but slated to play guard 12 months ago to fill need, but was not a good fit at this position so had nowhere to go as there were 2 established starters.  Magnuson seemed to be primary backup in coaches views if there had been an injury to starting tackles. Lauded for physical makeup.

Early View:  Too soon to tell.  No one has seen him yet in a real game; coaching staff has him as a starter at RT.  If he turns into a 3 year RT starter, he will have played above his potential / offer. 

[4]  Blake Bars

Background:  Interesting mixed views out of HS, some places 3 stars, some places 4 stars but offer sheet would lean towards 4 with LSU, Florida, PSU, South Carolina among suitors.

Comment:  Seems to be lost in the depth chart.  Rarely discussed as a player challenging for a starting spot.  Find that troubling in light of how desperate we were last year for any OL player, and this year... hear names like Dawson ahead of his.

Early View:  Too soon to tell but lack of discussion about him seems to bode poorly.  Seems to be tracking as career backup unless something changes.



OFFENSIVE SKILL PLAYERS - generally these guys can play early if they have high upside.

[1]  Devin Funchess

Background:  3/4 star with offers from upper end Midwest programs such as Nebraska, MSU, Missouri.

Comment:  One dimensional TE who suffered in blocking schemes, even through mid sophomore year.  Pushed out to WR latter half of last year, where physical prowess and dimension he excels at (receiving) could be utilized.  Had some Braylon Edwards moments both good and bad last year with highlight reel catches and dropsies.  Should have massive year, esp if can reduce drops.

Early View:  While not a great TE due to lack of blocking, has exceeded expectations in production as 2nd most dangerous non QB threat after Gallon last year and top target this year.  Some already worrying he might leave early for NFL - because we are UM fans and that's what we do.

[2]  Jehu Chesson

Background:  3 star with offers from Iowa, Northwestern, Missouri, etc

Comment:  Was deemed to be the 3rd/4th type WR behind Gallon, Darboh, Dileo out of camp last year.  Injury to Darboh pushed him higher up food chain.  Did not do much in receiving area esp in first half of year but picked up some late in year; ended with 15 catches for 221 yards.  Amazing ability to wipe out 3 defensive players at once with blocking skill in bowling ball fashion.  Special teams monster...already.

Early View:  On track with potential out of HS/offer sheet.  Will have lots of competition coming his way, but worst case looks to be one of the best blocking WRs in past 10 years.  Would like to his 'speedster' label applied with some gashes downfield - started to happen a bit late last year.

[3]  Amara Darboh

Background:  3/4 star with offers from Florida, Notre Dame, Wiscy, Iowa, etc.

Comment:  One of the most buzzed about players during spring last year until injury broke the hearts of fandom.  So for now a mystery.  A healthy Darboh with 30+ catches this year would have him tracking well.

Early View:  Until we see him on Saturdays impossible to speculate but last year's buzz seemed promising.

[4]  A.J. Williams

Background:  3 star tight end with mid range BCS offers such as Arkansas, MSU, West Virginia, NC State.

Comment:  Much like Funchess extremely one dimensional at this point but his dimension is blocking.  Caught 1 pass for 2 yards in 11 games.  Reviews are mixed on his blocking skills.  Jake Butt took playing time as year passed, Heitzman has been moved over this year - facing a lot of competition with Bunting on the horizon as well.

Early View:  A bit below projection due to one sided nature of skill set... which is more akin to a small tackle rather than a TE.  Ability to grab 1-2 passes a game would help but emergence of Butt looks to put him in backup role.

[5]  Sione Houma

Background:  2/3 star fullback with offers from Utah, Utah State, Washington

Comment:  I will leave comments for those more well versed in analyzing a fullback.  Devin/Denard type offenses don't allow for much FB type play; maybe this changes in the Morris/Speight era.  Right now mostly a special teams player.

Early View:  In line with projection out of HS.

[6]  Drake Johnson

Background: 3 star local whose only other offer was Eastern Michigan. 

Comment:  Won backup RB role ahead of highly rated freshman last year - some question if that was more a reflection of the freshman RBs or Hoke sending a message.  Was able to generate all of 2 carries before evilness hit him.

Early view:  Too soon to tell but any production would be a bonus versus offer sheet.  Depending on 2015 RB recruiting could be facing a logjam on depth chart.

[7] Dennis Norfleet

Comment:  Surprise 3/4 star committment on signing day; taken from Cincinnati

Background:  Gets most of playing time as a kick returner.  His forays into punt returns have been... challenging.  Often said to be "so close to breaking one" on kick returns.   Limited role on offense thus far - a bit of a scat back type, with 4 rushes and 6 receptions.  Coaches looking to convert him into a slot WR role this year.

Early view:  In line with college offers but more production on offense would help reach full potential, esp for the services that gave him 4 stars.  Or becoming a poor man's Breaston on kick returns.



OVERALL TAKE:  Again it is early ....especially for those who redshirted.   3 of the 4 lineman are in line for projected starting roles on 2014 squad - if they all catch on and become 3 year starters this will be a fantastic haul for the OL even if Bars never plays a minute.  If even 2 become 3 year starters it will be a very good thing.   Need at least 1 to be "elite" to help take this team up the food chain.  Next 12 months should tell us a lot on what to expect in 2015 and 2016 from this group.

Funchess has been the biggest win thus far in the skill players versus expectation.  Darboh and Chesson still have potential to be major contributors and seem on track versus expectation as best as we can tell.  Other skill players at this moment seem more like niche / backup players but that fits in relatively in line with expectations for them out of HS.


Re-Ranking Rivals: Are U-M players beating their rankings?

Re-Ranking Rivals: Are U-M players beating their rankings?

Submitted by Ron Utah on August 19th, 2013 at 3:11 PM

Rivals is my favorite recruiting system.  Not my favorite site, and not my favorite rankings (ESPN is winning that title this year), but my favorite system.  In addition to stars, they have a relatively simple system for ranking recruits:

The ranking system ranks prospects on a numerical scale from 6.1-4.9.

6.1 Franchise Player; considered one of the elite prospects in the country, generally among the nation's top 25 players overall; deemed to have excellent pro potential; high-major prospect

6.0-5.8 All-American Candidate; high-major prospect; considered one of the nation's top 300 prospects; deemed to have pro potential and ability to make an impact on college team

5.7-5.5 All-Region Selection; considered among the region's top prospects and among the top 750 or so prospects in the country; high-to-mid-major prospect; deemed to have pro potential and ability to make an impact on college team

5.4-5.0 Division I prospect; considered a mid-major prospect; deemed to have limited pro potential but definite Division I prospect; may be more of a role player

4.9 Sleeper; no expert knew much, if anything, about this player; a prospect that only a college coach really knew about

A 6.1 player is basically top 35; 6.0 = 35-85; 5.9 = 85-160; 5.8 = 160-300.

To put it in NFL terms, a 6.1 is a 1st or early 2nd-round NFL draft pick. A 6.0 is a 2nd-3rd rounder.  A 5.9 is a middle-round pick. A 5.8 is a late round or undrafted FA type. A 5.7 is a player with fringe NFL potential, a 5.6 is an NFL longshot, a 5.5 isn't going to make it. 5.4 and below are guys that are unlikely to see snaps at U-M.

Keep in mind that the standard at Michigan is high.  Jeff Backus keeps a picture of a Michigan huddle on his wall.  Why?  Because everyone in that huddle would go on to play in the NFL.  While that's not typical, the majority of our starters on both sides of the ball should at least find themselves on NFL rosters for a season or two.

That said, I have taken the Rivals Rankings and re-ranked our players according to my current expectations.  This is based on the evidence I have, which is obviously flimsy for the guys that haven't played yet.  It's a combination of what I've seen on the field, practice buzz, and my gut.  Using Derrick Green as an example, I don't think we've seen or heard anything at this point that would suggest he is a 1st-round NFL pick (PLEASE remember that I haven't seen him play an actual down of college football yet).  The flipside is that Dymonte Thomas is already showing signs of an impact player, justifying his 5.9 ranking, while Gardner appears on his way to being a solid early-round NFL draft choice. 

I have ONLY ranked the players I believe are likely to contribute this season.

Player Position Rivals Re-Rank
Derrick Green RB 6.1 5.8
Kyle Kalis OG 6.1 6.0
Ondre Pipkins DT 6.1 5.8
Devin Gardner QB 5.9 6.0
Dymonte Thomas CB/S 5.9 5.9
Jeremy Gallon WR 5.9 5.9
Justice Hayes RB 5.9 5.7
Amara Darboh WR 5.8 5.8
Blake Countess CB 5.8 5.8
Brennen Beyer OLB 5.8 5.7
Cam Gordon OLB 5.8 5.8
Chris Bryant OG 5.8 5.7
Dennis Norfleet WR/KR 5.8 5.8
Fitz Toussaint RB 5.8 5.8
James Ross III WLB 5.8 5.9
Jarrod Wilson S 5.8 5.8
Joe Bolden MLB 5.8 5.8
Mike Schofield OT 5.8 5.9
Raymon Taylor CB 5.8 5.8
Richard Ash DT 5.8 5.6
Royce Jenkins-Stone WLB 5.8 5.8
Taco Charlton DE 5.8 5.8
Taylor Lewan OT 5.8 6.1
Tom Strobel DE/DT 5.8 5.7
A.J. Williams TE 5.7 5.7
Ben Braden OG/OT 5.7 5.8
Chris Wormley DE 5.7 5.7
Delonte Hollowell CB 5.7 5.7
Devin Funchess TE 5.7 5.8
Jibreel Black DT 5.7 5.7
Mario Ojemudia DE 5.7 5.7
Matt Godin DE 5.7 5.7
Drew Dileo WR 5.6 5.7
Frank Clark DE 5.6 5.8
Jake Ryan OLB 5.6 5.9
Jehu Chesson WR 5.6 5.7
Quinton Washington DT 5.6 5.8
Willie Henry DT 5.6 5.7
Courtney Avery CB/S 5.5 5.7
Desmond Morgan MLB 5.5 5.8
Jack Miller C 5.5 5.5
Keith Heitzman DE 5.5 5.7
Thomas Gordon S 5.5 5.8
Brendan Gibbons K 5.4 5.8
Joe Kerridge FB 5.4 5.6
Matt Wile K/P 5.3 5.7
Graham Glasgow OG/C 4.9 5.5
  avg 5.71 5.77

No, I'm not going to explain the rankings one-by-one.  What I will say is that I believe our average needs to be closer to 5.83 before we are considered "elite."

Also note that the rankings should be slightly inflated.  Why?  Because these are the guys that are projected to contribute to our team this season.  They have gone from recruits to players, and have either demonstrated performance on the field or generated significant buzz.

You'll also notice that higher-ranked players are likely to see rankings revised downward.  This is part common sense, part timing: a top-ranked player has nowhere to go but down and most of our higher-ranked players are young and not yet fully-developed.

Finally, you'll notice a few grades below 5.7 in the re-rank.  If we are to be an elite team, we should not have any (other than kickers) players below 5.7 pushing for playing time.

Here are the rankings, with my projected starters only:

Player Position Rivals Re-Rank
Kyle Kalis OG 6.1 6.0
Jeremy Gallon WR/PR 5.9 5.9
Devin Gardner QB 5.9 6.0
Dymonte Thomas CB/S 5.9 5.9
Dennis Norfleet WR/KR 5.8 5.8
Amara Darboh WR 5.8 5.8
Jarrod Wilson S 5.8 5.8
Fitz Toussaint RB 5.8 5.8
Mike Schofield OT 5.8 5.9
Taylor Lewan OT 5.8 6.1
Chris Bryant OG 5.8 5.7
James Ross III LB 5.8 5.9
Cam Gordon LB 5.8 5.8
Blake Countess CB 5.8 5.8
Raymon Taylor CB 5.8 5.8
Devin Funchess TE 5.7 5.8
Jibreel Black DT 5.7 5.7
Drew Dileo WR 5.6 5.7
Jake Ryan LB 5.6 5.9
Quinton Washington DT 5.6 5.8
Frank Clark DE 5.6 5.8
Thomas Gordon S 5.5 5.8
Desmond Morgan LB 5.5 5.8
Keith Heitzman DE 5.5 5.7
Jack Miller C 5.5 5.5
Joe Kerridge FB 5.4 5.6
  avg 5.72 5.81

This includes a slot WR, nickel CB, KR, and extra LB (JMFR).  If we're looking to be a dominant team, I think we need an average closer to 5.88.

I will revisit these rankings after the season, and perhaps once in the middle.

Favorite 2012 recruit position group?

Favorite 2012 recruit position group?

Submitted by Mich1993 on February 28th, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Now that the amazing 2012 class is officially complete, I'm curious which 2012 recruiting class position group is everyone's favorite. I'm lumping the TEs in with the WRs to give them a chance. Here are my thoughts.


OL: Magnuson, Kalis, Bars, Braden

Helps 1st tr: Kalis or Braden, not both

Potential/likely all Big Ten: All of them

Potential star: Kalis, Magnuson


WR/TE: Darboh, Chesson, Funchess, Williams

Help 1st year: Darboh, Funchess, Williams

Potential/likely All Big Ten: Darboh, Funchess, Williams

Potential star: Darboh, Funchess (mismatch against LBs/safeties will be fun to watch)


DL: Pipkins, Wormley, Henry, Godin, Ojemudia, Strobel

Help 1st year: Pipkins, Wormley

Potential/likely All Big Ten: Pipkins, Strobel, Wormley, Ojemudia

Potential star: Pipkins, Ojemudia


LB: Ross, Bolden, Jenkins-Stone, Ringer

Help 1st year: Bolden, Ross

Potential/likely All Big Ten: Ross, Bolden, Jenkins-Stone

Potential star: Ross, Bolden, Jenkins-Stone


DB: Richardson, Wilson, Clark, Gant

Help 1st year: Richardson, Wilson

Potential/likely All Big Ten: Richardson, Wilson (also like Clark)

Potential star: Richardson, Wilson

I've left off the RBs since they don't measure up to the rest of the positions, but it will be fun to see what Borges does with Norfleet.

I think one could make a case for DL, LB and OL given both the talent, depth and need. It's hard to go against the three likely stars at LB, but I'm going with the DL. Pipkins elite talent at such a position of need along with such high end depth with 6 recruits and 4-5 players with All Big Ten or better potential puts the DL at the top. I also think Ojemudia will be awesome after a couple years.

Really cool football 2012 recruiting data visualization

Really cool football 2012 recruiting data visualization

Submitted by beenplumb on February 21st, 2012 at 1:59 PM

This isn't exactly specific to Michigan, but it's a really cool dynamic graph produced with Tableau software. Simply click on a team on the top bar to view their recruits, what state they came from, how many stars they had (based on Rivals' data), etc.

For those of you who don't know, Tableau is a very useful data visualization tool. I'm an analytic consultant and we use it all the time for displaying data in an easy, digestible way to our clients. I've never seen anyone use it for public-type work, but is by far the coolest thing I've seen it used for.

Also note, I did not produce this graph. This particular graph was published by a fellow named Scott Wasserman.

Big Ten Recruiting Rankings 2-5-12

Big Ten Recruiting Rankings 2-5-12

Submitted by Ace on February 5th, 2012 at 4:29 PM

Barring a late-breaking commitment—say, Alex Kozan—these are your final Big Ten recruiting rankings for the class of 2012. After Ohio State's late charge under Urban Meyer, the Buckeyes finish atop the rankings; Michigan is a relatively close second and from there it's a precipitous drop to Notre Dame and the rest of the Big Ten. You can find the previous edition of the rankings here—changes are not listed because there were far too many.

Chart? Chart:

Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings
Rank School # Commits Rivals Avg Scout Avg ESPN Avg 24/7 Avg Avg Avg^
1 Ohio State 25 3.68 3.76 3.48 3.68 3.65
2 Michigan 25 3.56 3.64 3.36 3.56 3.53
3 Notre Dame 16 3.50 3.69 3.50 3.56 3.56
4 Michigan State 18 3.11 3.17 3.11 3.11 3.13
5 Nebraska 17 3.35 2.94 2.88* 3.29 3.12
6 Purdue 26 2.92 2.62 2.78* 2.88 2.80
7 Iowa 24 2.92 2.71 2.63* 2.92 2.75
8 Penn State 19 2.79 2.95 2.58 3.11 2.86
9 Northwestern 20 2.90 2.85 2.60 2.85 2.80
10 Wisconsin 12 3.08 3.08 2.92 3.25 3.08
11 Indiana 25 2.72 2.52 2.39* 2.60 2.56
12 Minnesota 27 2.70 2.37 2.12* 2.63 2.46
13 Illinois 19 2.74 2.63 2.16 2.63 2.54

*ESPN doesn't rate JuCos, so they are counted as unranked recruits for the sake of consistency (trust me, it makes sense when you look at the spreadsheet).
^The average of the average rankings of the four recruiting services (aka the previous four columns). The figure is calculated based on the raw numbers and then rounded, so the numbers above may not average out exactly.

On to the full data, after the jump.

UM v/s Ohio - Position by Position battle 2012 (Part 1)

UM v/s Ohio - Position by Position battle 2012 (Part 1)

Submitted by Bluestreak on February 4th, 2012 at 6:36 AM

Both UofM and Ohio reeled in great classes this year. Several blue chip recruits on both sides of the ball.

What this means is that we'll have great position battles throughout the ranks in the years to come.

After hearing Ondre talk about Schutt, I was wondering how all the battles would pan out.

Here is a breadown: (10 point scale - 10 meaning absolute domination, 1 meaning nearly even)

Michigan OL v/s Ohio DL

Mags versus Adolphus - Ohio by 5 

Kalis versus Schutt - Michigan by 6

Bars versus Spence - Ohio by 6

Braden versus Pittman - Michigan by 2

AJ Williams versus Marcus - Michigan by 4

Overall Michigan has a much stronger OL compared to Ohio's incoming DL

Michigan DL v/s Ohio OL

Pipkins versus Decker - Pipkins by 6

Ojemudia versus Dodson - Ojemudia by 3

Strobel versus O'Connor - Strobel by 5

Wormley versus Boren - Wormley by 7

Godin versus Elfein - ?? (Haven't seen Elfein in action)


Overall, I think Michigan has put together a better class in the lines compared to Ohio. While Ohio has some blue-chips in Spence and Washington, they seem to be lacking depth which Michigan brings in. This is more evident on the defensive side of the ball, where Michigan's incoming DL should absolutely demolish Ohio's incoming OL man for man.

The offensive line coming in, is probably slightly weaker compared to Ohio's DL (if we had Diamond or Garnett, we would be even or slightly better) but should hold its own with the superior coaching and more reinforcements next year.


Next up - Comparing the backfields with the skill positions




ESPN Missing M Recruit?

ESPN Missing M Recruit?

Submitted by U of M in TX on February 1st, 2012 at 6:38 PM

Over on ESPN, they have Michigan ranked #8 with 24 recruits signed. They are #4 and #7 on Scout and Rivals, respectively. But both of those sites show Michigan with 25 recruits.  Since I do not have ESPN Insider, I can't see the individual recruits, so the question I have is, what recruit of Michigan's is missing and would it make a difference in their ESPN ranking?