It takes all kinds [Eric Upchurch]

Jimmystats: 2019 Recruiting Comps: Offense Comment Count

Seth December 20th, 2018 at 4:50 PM

More fun with rosters! With signing day behind us I've updated my spreadsheets and the associated interactive chart. Behold: the 2019 class contextualized against every Michigan recruit since 1990:

You can mouseover the big yellow bubbles to get a sense where each guy fits against previous Michigan players in the recruiting rankings. But let's still dig out each player to understand the context of his scouting. The full data are here.

QB Cade McNamara


The style of quarterback who uses his legs and is constantly being asked about his height is now considered a "Pro Style" quarterback, especially if he commits to Harbaugh, though it's not hard to find the guy Cade McNamara most reminds us of. Cade is a clear rung down from Tate's Top-150ish ratings, and for good reason. However Michigan's lone QB recruit in this class is still strongly above the 4-star line. Despite the other comps being substantially different players, the boom/bust nature of his ranking is evident in the range of success you see around him.

[After THE JUMP: The position you were dreading]


RB Zach Charbonnet


Right, things don't look as bad from out here. Charbonnet is just barely below the position where Michigan's five-star curse can reach him. Michigan's hit rate on top RBs in the last few decades is much lower than the national hit rate, but by extending "modern" to "since Bo" you can offset the bad luck with the early '90s backfield. You'll note A-Train (#2 RB to National Recruiting Advisor and Lemming but just the #12 player in Louisiana to Superprep) just missed the window here, but Ty Wheatley is about Charbonnet's size and current level of hype. Given the film—which is a far better than Grady's or Green's—the floor here seems to be a Ty Isaac, with a ceiling of very long runs that your Washington friends remember as much as you do.

Slot WRs: Giles Jackson, Mike Sainristil, and George Johnson III


For this group I'm just going to show you all the slot-like objects Michigan's recruited since three-wide formations were a normal thing. There aren't a lot of them. Some, like Jeremy Gallon and Tae Odoms, and Roy Roundtree, were recruited as slot types but ended up pure outside receivers. There are also a bunch of Gary Moeller's "flankers"—shorter/faster guys recruited to fill the role blazed by Anthony Carter and Desmond Howard that shares many characteristics with modern slot receivers. However, I left the blue chips expected to play inside or out (Seth Smith, Mercury Hayes, Tyrone Butterfield) with the general receivers.

So. Giles Jackson's comp is Steve Breaston, minus many inches, since Breaston never converted that height into a downfield threat in college, but his speed and agility made him a weapon on crossing routes and as a returner. Martavious Odoms is another good comp, though I want to save Tae for George Johnson. Then there's Mike Sainristil, an enigma because he played in Massachusetts but another player in that oeuvre.

Wide Receiver Cornelius Johnson


Given the 2017 foursome will mostly be in their last seasons when this class are coming off redshirts, Cornelius Johnson was an important find. I think Rivals has him so low because they refuse to acknowledge the existence of camps they're not a part of, however he still averaged over the 4-star mark that seems incredibly important given the breakdown above. Amara Darboh is the comparison we're going to make until CJ gets his own tape: burly, fast enough, and capable of some highlight reel plays.

Michigan has historically recruited a lot of highly ranked receivers so other comps like Tarik Black, Greg Matthews, Junior Hemingway or Jason Avant are out of CJ's range: those were all more like Top-150 guys and Cornelius is more Top-250. Of course there are a few NFL players if you scroll down as well.

Wide Receiver Quintel Kent


That's the bottom of the WR recruiting and if Ronnie Bell hadn't popped I'd be saying things like "Jehu Chesson minus 3 inches" or "Russell Shaw" for Kent. Fortunately this staff recruited a guy out of the woods last year. On the other hand, "The woods" for Ronnie Bell was "playing basketball in Kansas City" while Kent was at a Cleveland area powerhouse.

Tight End Erick All


When Erick All committed he was a nobody three-star and we were saying "trust the staff" based on their record of finding very good tight ends in strange places. Over his senior year—and I'm sure the Michigan commitment helped—All seemed to climb his way up everybody's boards to settle in around Nick Eubanks as a solid, just-under-four-star prospect. Like Eubanks, All appears to be a receiver type but a willing blocker, though Adam reported he was impressed with All's blocking (his team doesn't throw very much). I liked Martell Webb as a player but he was a receiver who grew a chest as a senior—All is more of a Sean McKeon but from somewhere the scouts had time to look at him.

The other guys around him aren't much help—Michael Massey was projected as a DE, Webb and Miller were receivers who got too big.

Center Nolan Rumler


There are no sure things when projecting centers—and Rumler might just be a guard—but I'm putting him in here because other than "sure thing" Patrick Kugler these high-ish four-stars tend to work out. Rumler isn't on Cesar Ruiz's level as a recruit, but he's in that David Baas area where he's projected to play inside because he's very good and very smart, and already close to playing weight, but also will join the team when Michigan's interior OL doesn't need him to play right away.

Guards Karsen Barnhart and Zach Carpenter


Barnhart and Carpenter are really in two different zones for future offensive guards. Karsen Barnhart is just barely behind that four-star range for guys who played tackle in high school and take a bit of projection but are expected to be at least decent guards, not world eaters. Michigan got a lot of snaps out of similar players over the years. Some, like Steve Frazier, Adam Adkins, and Ben Mast were fine, while Ciulla and Moosman were more marginal.

Zach Carpenter is more in that big mauler vein of a Leo Henige, Matt Lentz, Chris Bryant, or Courtney Morgan. I believe sites have gotten more wise about projecting the type of kid who reaches 300+ in high school as a college prospect instead of grading him on how well he sits on people who can't shave yet, so you can squint Courtney Morgan down to about what we expect from Carpenter.

Guard Jack Stewart


Discount Karsen Barnhart. Or Joel Honigford, basically. Another comp is Pat Sharrow, who was in line to start in 2005 but injuries wrecked his career.

Tackles Trevor Keegan and Trente Jones


The flipside to recruiting sites getting more skeptical of 6'4"/330 high school "tackles" is they're getting better now at projecting 6'6"/280 tackles who will grow into outside roles. Both 2019 tackle recruits are firmly in that sphere. Trevor Keegan is more of a huge dude—Michigan moved Chuck Filiaga to guard but Filiaga would be just under Mason Cole as a fair idea of how the scouts see Keegan at the same point. Matt Lentz is another interior guy you could comp to Keegan. Outside he seems like the type you break down then build back up again and see what you've got. Logan Tuley-Tillman, if not for his off-field discretion, was tracking that way.

I'm more excited about Trente Jones, who's not as tall as Jake Long or Taylor Lewan were, but has a lot of their characteristics—Michael Schofield or Adam Stenavich or Thomas Guynes or James Hudson but doesn't hate practicing would all be very fine results.



December 20th, 2018 at 5:06 PM ^

Outstanding analysis

I've never seen a chart like the first one before.  It's packed with infinite comparisons.

All those duds at the high end of the RB scale [cringe].  ZC will exorcise that data! 


December 21st, 2018 at 12:06 AM ^

Hayden Epstein from the 1998 #1 class.

Yes, there was legitimate hype about him at the time.  He could do all three:  Kickoff, punt, and kick FGs.

The most awesome thing about that class wasn't just that it was ranked #1, but the way that it distributed the stars across various positions.  

We got the #1, #2, or #3 ranked player in the nation at 6 different positions:  DE, RB, QB, WR, CB, and K. 

We got an additional top 10 ranked player at 3 more positions:  ILB, TE, FB.

So at 9 different positions, we got at least one of the top 10 ranked players in the country.  In some of those positions like WR, CB, and DE, we got two top 10 players at the position.


That was an Alabama / Saban-level class.  (Which we used to help beat Alabama in the 2000 Orange Bowl.)


December 20th, 2018 at 5:30 PM ^

Considering the number of OLs and RBs we've had who didn't get a sniff in the draft, it's not surprising we've struggled against top teams over the last 20 years. Yeesh.


December 20th, 2018 at 6:23 PM ^

Hi Seth! Really dig your analysis. Compiling all of this data and visualizing it is hard work.

I've been playing around with Tableau at home and downloaded your viz to mess with it. Can I humbly recommend a couple of changes to improve your chart?

  • Add transparent boxplot overlays to emphasize the distribution
  • Sort your Past/Present/Future metric to put the former players at the back. On your viz we seem to have lost track of the current WRs. I think they are sorted under the former players.
  • Disperse the color range and sizes more so that it's easier to distinguish between the three categories.

Just some minor changes, but I think they greatly improve the readability of the chart. 2018 Recruiting Data.png


December 20th, 2018 at 9:10 PM ^

Fascinating Chart.

This must have took you tons of time and ingenuity to create.

This is another example of why MGOBLOG is the best sports blog in the history of the Internet.


December 20th, 2018 at 9:53 PM ^

So you're saying this class includes a QB better than Brady, a RB better than Wheatley, behind a line with two tackles not quite as good as Jake Long but better than Lewan, Omameh, Baas and Lentz on the interior, with receiving threats like Amarah Darboh, Roy Roundtree and Jeremy Gallon?

Um, ok!!!

Hail to the Vi…

December 20th, 2018 at 10:38 PM ^

One trend I noticed is our top end talent has not historically correlated well to NFL draft position. This analysis would actually be counter-productive to our recruiting efforts as this would be very persuasive data for opposing recruiting staffs to use against us.

Rashan will be the first Michigan player (we all think) to be the highest rated player of his position to get drafted in the first round.

After that it's Amani Toomer in the 2nd, and Justin Fargas in the 3rd... yeesh. And it gets pretty ugly after that.

It does also appear, though Harbaugh's top end recruiting (meaning the best players signed to each class) is considerably better than his predecessors. A lot of names on the current roster towards the top of the distribution chart. 

 We've hit bumps along the way, but we are climbing the mountain. 


December 20th, 2018 at 11:06 PM ^

Michigan hasn't had that many top-top players. Their 5-stars historically were more Top 25 than Top 5. By my reckoning M's only 4.9+ recruits since Bo were:

  1. Gary
  2. Peppers
  3. Fargas
  4. Patterson (via Ole Miss)
  5. Mallett
  6. Ricky Powers
  7. Daxton Hill
  8. Toomer
  9. Marquise Walker
  10. DPJ
  11. Brandon Graham

Four of those guys are Harbaugh's. Hoke had 1 (Peppers) in the same amount of time, and the closest Rich Rod ever came was getting strung along out of a 2008 QB by Terrelle Pryor.


December 21st, 2018 at 12:19 AM ^

I don't know all the in's and out's of the recruiting rankings but in 2003 247 has Woodley as the 4th highest recruit in the country with a .9972 rating and Burgess as the 5th highest recruit in the country with a .9970 rating.

Graham's rating on 247 was .9930.  Baraka had a .9944 rating on 247.  DPJ had a .9925.  Henne had a .9924 and Shazor had a .9922.


December 21st, 2018 at 12:37 AM ^

To normalize the recruiting rankings across 30 years and numerous recruiting ranking services, many of which no longer exist, Seth created an MGoBlog "historical super-composite" star ranking (which is way cool).

You can see it if you click on the "full data are here" link:

Look at the spreadsheet tab "Michigan Recruiting Comps", column D "Stars".

You can also see to the right all the various recruiting services rankings that were baked into the historical super-composite star ranking.

247 is a piece of the rankings, but it's not the only piece.  

Hail to the Vi…

December 21st, 2018 at 1:07 AM ^

Interesting. So by that metric the jury is out on almost half of the 4.9+ guys. We have:

  1. Gary - tbd
  2. Peppers - 1st Rd.
  3. Fargas -3rd rd. (transfer)
  4. Patterson (via Ole Miss) - tbd
  5. Mallett - 3rd (transfer)
  6. Ricky Powers - UDFA
  7. Daxton Hill - tbd
  8. Toomer - 2nd rd.
  9. Marquise Walker - 3rd Rd. 
  10. DPJ - tbd
  11. Brandon Graham - 1st Rd.

Probably regresses more towards the mean of what you typically see, but Michigan has fewer of these guys than the traditional power house program would get during the same period of time (see: Bama, USC, OSU, Texas, etc.)


December 21st, 2018 at 8:28 AM ^

In aggregate, Terrell was ranked just slightly lower than Walker at the time:


Athlon's:#19 OVR, #6 Big Ten
G&W:#2 WR, #5 Offense, #3 ACC Region
National Recruiting Advisor:#2 WR, 6.1/6.1 (Franchise)    
Parade:All American    
Prep Football Report/Lemming:#1 WR, #7 OVR    
PrepStar:#3 WR, #1 WR ACC Region
Superprep:#4 WR, #23 OVR, #2 Virginia    
USA Today:1st Team All American (Utility)    


Athlon's:#17 OVR, #3 Big Ten
G&W:#1 WR, #4 Offense, #2 Northeast        -    
National Recruiting Advisor:#3 WR, 6.1/6.1 (Franchise)    
Parade:All American    
Prep Football Report/Lemming:#2 WR, #13 OVR    
PrepStar:#2 WR, #1 East
Superprep:#1 WR, #3 OVR, #1 New York
USA Today:1st Team All American

It was very close.  Amazing that we got both of them.

Ron Utah

December 20th, 2018 at 11:23 PM ^

This is so great, thank you.  In this context, the class looks pretty good where we really need help (RB, Slot, OL, DT) and mostly okay everywhere else, other than the new standard at safety.

2016 and 2017 might have had a bit more sizzle, but I really believe this class will continue to build Michigan into the juggernaut it hasn't been in decades.  The "War" with OSU is back.


December 21st, 2018 at 7:15 AM ^

Some damn good ones too.

A National Championship, two Rose Bowl wins, the Heisman, numerous Big Ten Championships, lots of Ohio State wins, Braylonfest, "Touchdown Manningham!", an actual victory over Urban Meyer, UTL I, Denard . . . 

All these names had something to do with those things.