2010 Recruiting Class: 1,000 Foot Overview, Defense

Submitted by Brian on February 17th, 2010 at 12:20 PM

I'll be embarking on a project similar to last year's recruit profiles in the near future, but that effort will last into the summer—the final profile last year (Tate Forcier) didn't go up until June 25th—and some words about how Michigan did will be far less timely then.

The other side of the ball was examined last week.

Defensive End

The Gentlemen Of Leisure

jibreel black We'll throw quick end in here, too, and why not? Seemingly half the defensive recruits in the class said they were recruited to play the spot. Michigan has plenty of needs elsewhere so this intrepid reporter is going to put Jordan Paskorz, and only Jordan Paskorz, here. Antonio Kinard and Davion Rogers will be filed as linebackers; Ken Wilkins is already pushing 250 and will be filed as a strongside defensive end.

On Paskorz: he is a generic three star to the world, a guy who gets 5.6 on the Rivals scale—5.7 is a high three star, 5.6 a middling one—and had offers that reflected that. Michigan's main competitors were Pitt and Virginia. He won't have to play much until he's a redshirt sophomore—that's when when Craig Roh backup Brandon Herron graduates—and we're unlikely to see him until then.

The strongside guys have a bit more to recommend them. Jibreel Black (right)and Ken Wilkins are 4/3 star tweeners (e.g., one of Scout or Rivals has them at four, the other at three). Wilkins hails from the same high school that Ohio State recruit Andrew Sweat and Penn State recruit Mike Yancich attended, and his coach believes he's more athletic than either:

"He is an unbelievable physical talent," Dalton said. "And he is only going to get better. I have had some great players here, but nothing like Ken physically. I am not saying he is going to be better than Yancich and Sweat, but he is the most physically talented player I've had."

Black, meanwhile, was a guy Michigan was hot after all year but could never get on campus until late January. By then he'd already committed to Indiana (where his brother had an excellent season) and Cincinnati (which is approximately three minutes from home). He's got the same body type as Brandon Graham, albeit without most of his hype. The insider-type folk say, and Michigan's dogged pursuit implies, that whatever the guru folk thought Michigan wanted Black badly.

Preposterously Early Letter Grade

B+. They got about the right number of bodies to fill out two thin spots on defense and I like the long term potential of both strongside guys. A blue-chip would have been nice.

Impact This Year?

Hopefully little, but given the depth chart at SDE it seems like either Black or Wilkins will have to burn a redshirt as a backup unless Anthony LaLota got a lot bigger during his redshirt year.

Defensive Tackle

The Gentlemen Of Leisure

Michigan missed out on a true nose when Jonathan Hankins picked Ohio State. They did grab two promising three-tech recruits in Terry Talbott and Pahokee's Richard Ash. Both have size issues: Talbott is currently around 240 and is a guy some observers thought would end up at defensive end. According to Rod Smith, Ash is now over 300 pounds; given his recruitment that seems more like a problem to be fixed than a solution to Michigan's nose tackle issue. Teams backed away from Ash when he showed up to Florida's camp overweight.

On the other hand, both have talent. Talbott almost defected to North Carolina late; when Tim went down to catch a Wayne game this fall he was a wrecking ball in the backfield. He's an excellent, disruptive fit for the penetrating defensive tackle spot he's slated for. The teams backing away from Ash after his weight issues, meanwhile, were USC and Florida. Ash has upside for Barwis to extract, and he's got a host of Pahokee folk up here to help him adjust. If he puts in the work, Michigan will have a guy who could play for Florida's defensive line.

Preposterously Early Letter Grade

B-. No nose tackle is a downer. Michigan will have one guy there next year if Mike Martin moves unless Ash can actually handle that weight. Outside of that, though, both recruits seem like they might be underrated.

Impact This Year?

Assuming the RVB move, Michigan will have a veteran two-deep at defensive tackle but Talbott and Ash will be next in line after that. If there's an injury, one or both might be pressed to play. I imagine Michigan will try to redshirt both; they might not be able to.


The Gentlemen Of Leisure

davion-rogersDavion Rogers needs to eat a sandwich 

A late flurry of offers and a little snake oil turned this position group from a gaping sore into… well, a considerably less gaping sore. Late additions Davion Rogers and Jake Ryan are just three star sorts, but given Michigan's situation before they hopped aboard they're welcome. Rogers is a 6'6" birdman of a linebacker/DE prospect who everyone, including me, will compare to Shawn Crable. Michigan pirated him away from WVU once Doc Holliday left. Early in his career he'll probably play the weakside linebacker spot occupied by Jonas Mouton currently; if he puts on enough weight we'll see him at quick.

Ryan popped up late after an Omameh-like senior year where he grew two inches and twenty pounds and outplayed Ohio State commit, teammate, and fellow linebacker Scott McVey en route to a state championship. McVey was playing with a busted shoulder, FWIW, but Ryan is a heady kid who actually played linebacker in high school—a rarity for Michigan of late—and is at least a reasonable prospect to start in a year or two.

A couple players may end up at spinner, the strongside linebacker/safety position last occupied by Stevie Brown, but for right now the only guy in the class this blog places at the spot is uber-athlete Josh Furman, AKA Dhani Jones 2.0. Furman was a ridiculously productive safety and tailback in high school who hit camps and dropped electronically timed 4.3 40s. Scout thinks he's awesome; Rivals again goes "meh." He's clearly got a ton of upside.

Antonio Kinard got a super-early offer and committed to it, but did little during his senior season to assuage concerns he was an iffy bet. He, too, might end up at quick but will be filed a linebacker for the moment.

Preposterously Early Letter Grade

C-. The late pickups salvaged this grade but the emphasis is on "salvage." The only inside linebacker Michigan picked up in the last class was Isaiah Bell and the guys in the class before that are gone (Witherspoon and Hill), seemingly locked into special teams forever (Demens), and JB Fitzgerald. Michigan needed numbers here, and they ended up with numbers, but they also needed a blue chip or two and they did not get one. Furman is a recruit you can get excited about, but that's 1/4.

Impact This Year?

Redshirts for everyone, in all likelihood, except possibly Furman. Even Furman will have to beat out two guys with almost two years of experience in fall camp if he's going to win a job.


The Gentlemen Of Leisure

Michigan will bolster its roster with four cornerbacks this fall. They come in two flavors. Flavor one consists of short three-stars from Ohio. They are Courtney Avery and Terrance Talbott. Avery was a prolific, tiny high school quarterback who only moonlighted on defense. He made first team All-Ohio and chose Michigan over a Stanford decommit not because of grades but because he wanted to stay closer to home. Talbott is the other Talbott's brother and struggled through injuries most of his senior year but has received positive reviews from local observers. There's some reason for optimism on both.


Cullen Christian needs no ball security

Flavor two consists of blue-chips anyone and everyone wanted who held preposterously long press conferences. Cullen Christian is the #3 corner to Scout and in the Rivals 100; he picked Michigan over Ohio State and many others after a long period of favoring Michigan. 6'1" and physical, Christian's YMRMFSPA is a holy lock to be Marlin Jackson. Demar Dorsey you may have heard about. He picked Michigan over Florida State and USC after being a Florida commit for over a year. He's the #12 player overall to ESPN and a four-star to the other sites.

Preposterously Early Letter Grade

A. Four players, two of them blue-chips, at a position of crying need.

Impact This Year?

One of these kids is guaranteed to play unless JT Floyd takes a huge leap forward. A second is likely to find his way into a nickel package. If one of them is really good right away, you could see him start immediately and Troy Woolfolk move to safety. Michigan will probably redshirt one; the other three will have to play.


The Gentlemen Of Leisure

marvin-robinson-seeexy We'll put Marvin Robinson (OMG HALFSHIRT) here because he's likely to play the box safety* we've been discussing extensively. Robinson is the defense's Ricardo Miller, a hyped-to-the-moon Florida prospect who seemed likely to be a five-star (or thereabouts) only to experience a precipitous drop in ranking. Robinson's drop came after a few camps he participated in. In the aftermath, Rivals gurus trashed his coverage ability and said he was a linebacker and nothing else. He still held on to a fourth star, though, and fielded offers from Ohio State and several other power programs before going with the Michigan program that had led for him seemingly forever.

The class rounds out with two sleeper-type prospects. I'm considerably more bullish on Carvin Johnson, who apparently avoided the combine circuit entirely this summer, was the best player on his team, and prompted an unsolicited email of praise from local coach (not his) when this site's initial take on him was "meh." He also won the MVP award in a state championship game his team lost by a billion points. Late LSU interest was not reciprocated.

Ray Vinopal is the kind of recruit that everyone on the internet hates on, prompting articles in which he declares a desire to prove everyone wrong and press conferences where Rich Rodriguez justifies signing the guy. The internet is not necessarily wrong, though. At the time of his commitment Vinopal was a who-dat with no recruiting profile despite his presence in Ohio power Cardinal Mooney's secondary. He apparently picked up a couple of good offers late (Wisconsin was the biggest) but the heuristics indicate a marginal contributor.

*(MGoBlog is officially adopting "box" and "deep" as its chosen lingo for Michigan safeties in what appears to be a permanent 4-4 front similar to that Virginia Tech runs. The way Michigan aligns apparently does make the deep guy the "strong" safety but since that goes against the popular conception of free and strong, it's confusing.)

Preposterously Early Letter Grade

B-. One blue chip is nice and Carvin Johnson seems like the good kind of sleeper. Would have liked a true deep safety with more than two stars, but one of the cornerbacks could move back once the

Impact This Year?

If Robinson had managed to enroll early, as planned, we'd be anxiously observing him in the hopes he could lock down that box safety spot in spring. Things did not go to plan and we'll be anxiously waiting on his arrival instead. Even so, Robinson's main competition at the position he's slated for consists of a walk-on and a converted wide receiver. I don't think he'll start right away but Michigan isn't going to be able to redshirt him and he may find his way into the lineup by midseason.

Johnson and Vinopal are likely redshirts.


The Gentlemen Of Leisure

With Zoltan the Inconceivable exiting to a long and lucrative NFL career, Michigan needed a replacement. They took a pass on in-state punter and reputed Michigan fan Mike Sadler, who ended up at State, to chase WI P Will Hagerup, who had offers from all over the country and was the highest-rated punter at Rivals. (He's the #4 K but the specialists in front of him are all placekickers.) After a few visits, Hagerup picked Michigan and its wide open job over Wisconsin, Ohio State, and others.

Preposterously Early Letter Grade

A. Hagerup is either the country's top punter or in the top three to all ranking services.

Impact This Year?

Unless Michigan's offense is so awesome it never punts, Hagerup will be deployed this fall.

All Things Collected And Told

Numbers. That's the most important thing this class brings. Even if there are twice as many sleeper types as you'd like to see in an average Michigan class, getting two guys for every spot on the defense minus a few here and there puts Michigan in a position where the first guy off the bench when a starter gets dinged isn't a walk-on. He'll be a freshman, probably. But you can't recruit juniors.

And it's not all sleeper sorts. Michigan picked up two touted corners with blue chip offers, grabbed a linebacker from Virginia Tech, locked down Marvin Robinson's abs, and grabbed a collection of defensive linemen with considerable upside. It's a below average class, but it's not that far off. And given the context, it's fairly good.

A preposterously early letter grade: B+. For the class as a whole: B.



February 17th, 2010 at 12:41 PM ^

I predict that this 2010 class will ultimately prove to be considerably more successful. I just hope RR is here to reap the benefits in 2013-14.

Do you think Vinopal will mind the nickname "Stumpy"?


February 17th, 2010 at 12:56 PM ^

"He apparently picked up a couple of good offers late (Wisconsin was the biggest) but the heuristics indicate a marginal contributor."

Actually, the rankings indicate marginal contributor. The heuristics - inexplicable white safety Wisky wants - indicates solid player.


February 17th, 2010 at 12:56 PM ^

My favorite line in the whole post was "Unless Michigan's offense is so awesome it never punts, Hagerup will be deployed this fall."

Mr. Hagerup, welcome to Ann Arbor. Here's hoping you're rarely deployed.


February 17th, 2010 at 1:08 PM ^

because I cannot take another year of a 30 front line being gashed with cutbacks and counters. Spring ball will tell us initially who gets some look at the 2 deep. Nothing against walk-ons, but another year with them in the 2 deep is an indication that we're either recruiting the wrong type players or we can't coach them up.


February 17th, 2010 at 1:10 PM ^

I would be very surprised to see Davion Rogers play WILL. I've never seen a 6'6" inside linebacker, and he said he was recruited to play Quick. I'm assuming that's where he'll end up.

It's mentioned that late interest from LSU wasn't reciprocated by Carvin Johnson, but I've heard otherwise. I read that Fred Jackson spent Signing Day Eve trying to convince Carvin to stay on board with Michigan.


February 17th, 2010 at 1:11 PM ^

We essentially played a 40 front last year. There were some 3-man fronts, but the vast majority of plays had Roh playing the role of a traditional DE.


February 17th, 2010 at 9:34 PM ^

Eh...not really. I think he COULD, but I don't think he will. Van Bergen will be here through 2011, Roh's junior year. So switching to DE wouldn't happen until he Roh's a senior.

By 2012, I would expect that a guy like Jibreel Black (a junior or redshirt sophomore by that point) or Anthony Lalota (redshirt junior) would be ready to play DE.

Blue In NC

February 17th, 2010 at 1:46 PM ^

I am surprised that Brian is not a bit more positive re Vinopal. Remember we all just want "safety competence" at this point. While Ray might not be an elite athlete (at least judged by the ratings) he very well might be a solid, competent player (based on his actual play). If so, that's a recruiting win. We don't need him to be an All-American, just a good, solid deep safety.

Crime Reporter

February 17th, 2010 at 1:19 PM ^

This class might not have all the press, all the star ratings and hoopla, but it added key components to our rebuilding process and guys that love the game. I think this class, as a whole, might surprise us when it is all said and done.


February 17th, 2010 at 1:33 PM ^

If that's "all you know," then you don't know much of anything.

Starting three true freshmen - none of whom enrolled early - would be disastrous.


February 17th, 2010 at 2:54 PM ^

Now if Michigan could just hold on to all of these guys and develop them.

Rodriguez has done a pretty good job (and had good fortune) of hanging on to a good number of his recruits, however:

2007 40% of team left early or didn't pan out: (R. Mallett, D. Warren, V. Helmuth, T. Clemons, Z. Babb, M. Evans, A. Chambers, A. Horn)

2008 30% of class left early or didn't pan out:(S. McGuffie, B. Smith, K. Wermers, D. O'Neill, M. Witherspoon, T. Hill, J. Feagin)

2009 5% of class left early or didn't pan out: (A. Witty)

2010 ?

2010's class is pretty decent under the circumstances, but I can't escape this growing sense of dread in me that other feet are about to drop soon regarding one kid or another not making the grades, spring/fall practice injuries, or other transfers.
Michigan's true recruiting yields vs. the annual recruiting haul has been very frustrating. It'd be interesting to see how well Ohio State and Penn State have done in recruiting yields over the last 5 years. I think the answer is "a lot better than Michigan".

Maize and Blue…

February 17th, 2010 at 5:50 PM ^

First off very few of the guys you mention were fully recruited by RR and staff. 2007 was all Lloyd as was most of 2008 with the exception of Hill and Feagin who were recruited after RR got here. RichRod's first true recruiting class lost only Witty and since he never actually got into school I don't consider him a left early/never panned out candidate.
OSU and PSU will probably fare better, but they have not had a coaching change and complete overhaul in philosophy. Also, by including DW as leaving early you will definitely bring the yield between the three schools closer together as both PSU and OSU have had more players declare early then we have.
IMHO, the attrition is about to slow down tremendously as RR is now getting his guys in place and most of Carr's recruits are toward the end of their playing days. There will still be some, but I believe it will only be by players who no longer believe they have a chance to see the field because of the talent in front of them.


February 17th, 2010 at 6:16 PM ^

was harshing on RR so much (said he was doing a "pretty good job") but the poster seems to have a pretty unreasonable fear the recent attrition trend is bound to the forces of inertia. So many struggles around the program the last couple of years have people doubting what they've probably never doubted. It's human nature, I suppose. Not always rational, but somewhat understandable.

We've all felt the pain. I think most people will agree with you, Maize, that the coaching transition has been responsible for most of the gaping holes in a couple of these classes, and the trend is not likely to continue as RR's recruits become upper classmen and leaders of the team. At least not attrition at the rates we've seen recently.

EDIT: Markusr - You're obviously talking more than simple attrition by leaving the program. That's all my comment applies to, and I don't want to misrepresent what your wrote. Hopefully with more depth, injuries and grade issues and the like are less of an issue when functional back ups can step in.

los barcos

February 17th, 2010 at 3:07 PM ^

i am extremely excited about carvin. i think he can be something special.

also, IIRC, roh wasnt an EE last year right? just because marvin isnt an EE, i still would not rule him out as a potential starter by uconn (that is, if he can live up to the early hype)


February 17th, 2010 at 4:45 PM ^

If anything, this class added options. Coach Rod always talks about competition at positions. I know fans want blue-chip names starting at every position, but coaches want competition regardless of star rating. With players like Carvin Johnson, Davion Rogers, Ray Vinopal, Courtney Avery, The Talbott Brothers, Jeremy Jackson, Jordan Paskorz, Jerald Robinson, Jake Ryan, Drew Dileo, DJ Williamson, and Antonio Kinard, UofM should now have respectable second or third team players at core positions now. That's 13 guys who should be better than what the team had this year at the same position.

West Texas Blue

February 17th, 2010 at 4:51 PM ^

Yeah, a B grade sounds about right for this class. Addresses holes in key positions (except maybe ILB), and brings depth. Could have used a few more instant impact players on both sides of the ball (especially LB and DL), but overall a good class considering our record the last 2 years. If we can put it together on the field this year, our recruiting class could become electric.


February 17th, 2010 at 5:03 PM ^

While this will not go down as one of the great Michigan recruiting classes of all time, I think that given our record over the past two years, as well as some of the general negativity / turmoil / uncertainty surrounding our coaching staff, this is quite a good haul. Not only does this class add a ton of depth, but virtually all of the recruits are very athletic. And, while there are a bunch of middle-3* guys, there are still as good number of serious studs, especially at corner. If Christian, Dorsey and Robinson all pan out, in 3 years, we would have a secondary that is scary-good.


February 17th, 2010 at 9:38 PM ^

after two consecutive losing seasons! Once we start winning more games the blue chippers will flock to the team. Thanks Brian for quite the informative run down!


February 17th, 2010 at 11:30 PM ^

took a first crack at looking back at the 2006 and 2007 classes and re-ranking based on production. It's a good start to the analysis and it's certainly something that needs to be looked at, but I have a few things I'd like to see improved:
1. He didn't rank beyond 10. At least re-rank every school that appeared in Rivals original rankings, which would show not only underrated classes but overrated ones in more relief.
2. What about the other recruiting services? This might give us an idea of which service is actually better at rating players.
3. I think he overestimates the impact of Boise State a slight bit as they went undefeated playing in a non-BCS conference.

Here is the link for this year's article, on the revised 2007 rankings:


February 18th, 2010 at 1:17 PM ^

Brian, you mention the competition will be a walk-on (Kovacs I assume) and a converted WR (Teric Jones?). What about Mike Williams, a four star db? I know he didn't play well last year, but he still has to be considered a potential starter.

Tha Quiet Storm

February 18th, 2010 at 3:02 PM ^

Cameron Gordon, not Teric Jones.

I also think Mike Williams will be in the mix to start. Last year, it seemed like both he and Kovacs were okay/decent when they played at box safety, the big problem was that one of them always had to play deep because there were no other options back there at all.