Stargazing [Patrick Barron]

Jimmystats: Visualizing Roster Data Comment Count

Seth December 14th, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Here comes my latest attempt to make my spreadsheets into cool interactive charts. If you haven't checked it before, I keep these Google Sheets of Michigan's recruiting and roster data going back to 1990, and those are back to being updated. I've also experimented before with Tableau and other interactive chart software.

The 2019 Class in Context:

/tap tap does it work?

If you see the "Viz" horray. The big yellow bubbles are the current 2019 commits, the blue are former players with available recruiting data in my database, and the maize bubbles are Michigan's current players. You can click on those groups below the chart to see them with more clarity (some players, e.g. Donovan Peoples-Jones, might be covered up otherwise). I've also included some filters so you can pop out certain eras, specific classes, or who had NFL careers.

Also you should be able to mouseover the chart to pull up each player, some career data, and the components that went into his ranking.

Things made apparent:

  • Thanks to those 2016 and 2017 classes some of Michigan's highest-rated recruits at several positions are still on the team.
  • Notably the current players are bit lower than the post-Bo standard distribution at DT, RB, and both safety spots. DT and RB are addressed in the 2019 class but not safety, unless Daxton Hill makes his way back into the class.
  • The NFL draft picks, especially first-day picks, are bunched towards the top of the recruiting rankings. B.J. Askew was the only low 3-star to get drafted as high as the third round, and Frank Clark is the only recent first-day pick who was less than a 4-star. If they NFL wasn't dumb Maurice Hurst would be in there.

Recruiting stars matter, even if the distribution is wide. That said, how does the 2019 class stack up so far?

[Hit THE JUMP if you want more mouseovers]


Michigan Recruiting Class History

I popped in some additional options with my traditional rainbow view. Since I didn't say so on the chart, Red is a 5-star, Orange a 4.5-star, etc. Again you can mouseover each square to see the player it represents. You can also show just certain position groups, hide walk-ons and transfers, highlight the starters, whose college careers ended how, and who had an NFL future.

Depending on how it finishes the class should get back up into the range of normal for Michigan. It's already better than last year's class (more high 3-stars and two high four stars that 2018 didn't get) and heading for something like the 2013 class, which flamed out at the top* but also produced six draft picks and 11 starters (counting Hurst) for the 2016 team.

Collecting another one or two offensive linemen would be nice given the two-OL class last year, attrition in the large 2017 class, and the fact that all three orange+ recruits had to burn their redshirts.


There's a separate tab that breaks them down by height and weight. You can filter that by class, era, and position. Honestly I made it only so I could see the 2018 freshman defensive backs versus the norm:


The 5'11"/185 guy is Casey Hughes, the Utah transfer

But I did find it interesting that Cade McNamara is over on the Rich Rod end of the QB size distribution:


The dot to his left is Tate and the bottom-left is Denard. Also you may have to scroll it to the right a bit to see Onwenu.

* [The top seven were: Derrick Green, Patrick Kugler, Dymonte Thomas, Shane Morris, Kyle Bosch, David Dawson, and Chris Fox.]


Attrition Chart

This chart breaks down attrition by type. I've hidden walk-ons and transfers from this view by default mostly because the 2015 transfers made it look like the 2015 class held on better than it did. Kinnel, Higdon and Perry are out of eligibility, and of the four redshirt juniors in that class—Gentry, Runyan, Ulizio, and Reuben Jones—I'd guess two are likely to be back next year. That's a disaster on par with the last transition class, 2011, which also saw just five guys complete their eligibility at Michigan (six if you count Frank Clark who was booted near the end of his senior year). And Rich Rod's class before it was worse!

You'll note Michigan was still dealing with the effects of the 2010 and 2011 class attrition into Harbaugh's first years. Likewise the poison of the program in the fall of 2014 will continue to haunt Michigan next year when there are just two 5th year seniors in the room (and Jordan Glasgow and other walk-ons). Gap years then get filled by classes of players attracted to an easy path to playing time, who in turn are more likely to transfer if they don't find it early. The ripples, in defections from the likes of James Hudson, Deron Irving-Bey, and Drew Singleton, will still be felt in 2021. It's a sober reminder that coaching transitions carry long term damages in case you come across a mouthbreathing Harbaugh-hater this holiday season.

However there's also cause for some Harbaugh criticism in the above. You can chalk it up to the realities of a modern program, but note that the guys Hoke recruited (with more than a few weeks' notice) graduated at a prodigious rate. Even with a high number of grad transfers, the blue shades for the 2012-2014 classes extend well past 80 percent. Harbaugh's core classes, by contrast, have already experienced a number of playing time defections and behavioral dismissals. It's a good bet that more 2016 and 2017 players on the roster who got passed this year are planning on leaving, not all with degrees. Michigan's defense is also likely to lose an unprecedented amount of talent to the NFL—Gary has already announced, and nobody expects Devin Bush to be back, with both corners and some other players still deciding, via Sam. Mouse over the turquoise blocks above and you can see even in years Michigan lost two guys to the NFL early, a lot of those guys were an Alex Ofili or Carson Butler who was more done with school than an actual pro prospect. Bush and Gary are almost certainly 1st rounders.


Diagonal Blue

December 14th, 2018 at 12:04 PM ^

The NFL draft picks, especially first-day picks, are bunched towards the top of the recruiting rankings. B.J. Askew was the only low 3-star to get drafted as high as the third round, and Frank Clark is the only recent first-day pick who was less than a 4-star. 

This is why I roll my eyes every time we take a 3 star and people go into their usual "trust the coaches" "he has good film" "look at his offer list" etc routine. Reality is with the proliferation of all the camps, combines and all star games recruiting analysts are getting scary good at their jobs and more often than not accurately rate most prospects.

Can't wait for the next person to say recruiting rankings don't matter though.


December 14th, 2018 at 1:17 PM ^

+1.  Insightful and most importantly, NOVEL!

Other items to be discussed.

1.) Stars don't matter/OH YES THEY DO!
        - quickly creating a sub-thread fight with Maizen.

2.) Someone commenting how we're "not trying hard enough" for good recruits.  This person will be downvoted.  Because he is an idiot.

3.) Rebuttals about how "Other Nefarious Bad Guys" pay people, and "We, Paragons of Virtue" do not.

4.) Someone, probably only 1 or 2 people, thanking Seth for the great work and beautiful charts.

5.) Someone in 10 years returning back to this to link to the dataset to download it in their analysis for their book "How Harbaugh turned this all around and killed the Great Satan/Saban".  This person will also thank Seth for his charts, and will DM him to get permission to cite it.



December 14th, 2018 at 12:13 PM ^

NFL is a different game for some positions though.  Denard is a perfect example of someone who floated Hoke to a respectable overall record but wasn't that highly rated and was never going to be a day one pick.

I think a lot of college skill positions don't translate well to the NFL.  Linebackers too.  I would say the best bets are good o-line/dline guys and DB's.  Running backs in certain systems can be more successful than others in the NFL.

Diagonal Blue

December 14th, 2018 at 12:19 PM ^

If they aren't the only thing that matters then why has Michigan only had one 3-star become a first day NFL draft pick? But hey, whatever helps you rationalize the fact that half of Michigan's class is 3 stars.

Meanwhile Alabama has 24 commits and 23 of them are 4 and 5 stars. The 1 three star is the kicker. But what do they know about winning championships.


December 14th, 2018 at 12:36 PM ^

I don't disagree that stars matter, I just don't understand the need to be so mad online about it so frequently.

We don't have any control over who ends up on the team and we don't know who will outperform or underperform their rankings. What is the possible enjoyment or upside of turning on guys before they get here?

For example: I think Quintel Kent has a chance to be good. If I squint I see a DJ Moore-type. I know Moore was more highly-rated 3-star and that it's unlikely Kent turns into the best receiver in the B1G or anything close to it, but I don't see a reason to make him a pre-emptive example of a mistake by the staff.


December 14th, 2018 at 12:43 PM ^

Your takes on this topic are dishonest. It's not that stars don't matter; the idea that Michigan is freezing out 4/5-star type athletes to pick up 3-stars is absurd. People who say "trust the coaches" and believe that Michigan REALLY wants the 3-star guys are incorrect, but you are no less inaccurate when you suggest this.

Harbaugh's recruiting process gets 3-star types that he likes on board. There's still room and he still goes hard after the higher end talent. 

You know this, of course; you just choose to ignore it if it doesn't help you trash the coaches. 


December 14th, 2018 at 3:14 PM ^

Maybe I'm misremembering an analysis here, but I was impressed that there was relatively absolute difference in the percentage of 4 v 3 stars that are drafted 1st day (eg 3% v6%) which reassured me that a 3 star hand selected by the coaches is probably not soooooo far from  avg 4 star (obv far from 4 star that coaches really like)

I'm prob wrong though....


December 14th, 2018 at 12:28 PM ^

I think very few people believe that star rankings don't matter. Hence the massive disappointment when we lose a top ranked player from the class ala Daxton Hill this year or Emil Ekiyor last year. 
But it's not as if the staff isn't trying to sign top end talent, just look at who Michigan offered. So, how would you remedy the situation? How do you recruit better? And, if you cannot sign these top end players, do you take the three star that you scout and believe will fit the scheme and culture, or just go down the 24/7 list to the next highest ranked player at that position? 
You offer a lot of criticism, but never offer a solution, and that's just pointless. I dunno, maybe you are just here to vent.
I fail to see a solution until we consistently win with this good, but not elite talent. From my perspective, our best option at getting traction with elite recruits is to put together three or four consecutive 10-win seasons and hope that the elite talent sees a perennial top-10 program and wants to join in.

Diagonal Blue

December 14th, 2018 at 12:47 PM ^

Again, no one is forcing Michigan to take Quintel Kent over David Bell and Milton Wright. No one is forcing UM to take Amauri Hickson because they offered Lance Dixon too late and it cost them. No one is forcing UM to take Jack Stewart instead of Anthony Bradford. 

People need to hold UM accountable for their decisions on the recruiting trail. It's not about wins and losses. Shit Hoke had the #1 class in the country committed halfway thru 2015 after a 7-6 season before he was fired and everyone decommitted. 


December 14th, 2018 at 1:23 PM ^

I suppose Michigan should enter next season with 70 players on scholarship, then?

You appear to operate under the ridiculous assumption that Michigan's coaches should be able to walk into a 17-year-old kid's living room, say "come to Michigan, son," and he'll just instantly agree, and if only the coaches weren't so stupid, and weren't busy walking into the wrong living rooms, Michigan would win the national championship every year.

That is why you get negged.  Not because you're pointing out uncomfortable truths, or because the board engages in groupthink and you're a rebel.  You complain incessantly without ever acknowledging that your standards are impossible, and you never propose a solution.

The truth is that other programs have some advantages that Michigan is working to overcome.  Some of those are structural -- Michigan is going to require that kids attend class and appears to take compliance seriously.  Some are demographic -- population shifts have given a boost to the southern schools, as there's now more top-tier talent in the south than there is in the north or midwest.  And some are transient, like the dip in on-field success, coaching turnover, etc.

You can rant and scream "unacceptable" and generally irritate everybody, or you can come to grips with the reality of the situation and try to make peace with it.  Harbaugh takes recruiting seriously, he gets the best players to come to Michigan that he can, and over time it's likely to improve.  The truth is, the only thing your anger can possibly do is hurt Michigan.  There could be a top recruit reading your messages right now and thinking, "man, I don't want to play for this team."


December 14th, 2018 at 4:12 PM ^

I didn't say that.  But there are certainly challenges that Bo, Moeller, and Carr didn't have; most notably, the demographics.  Here are some population figures for you:

  • Texas: 1980: 14.2MM, 1990: 17.1MM, 2000: 21.0MM, today: 28.3MM
  • Georgia: 1980: 5.5MM, 1990: 6.5MM, 2000: 8.2MM, today: 10.4MM
  • Florida: 1980: 9.8MM, 1990: 13.0MM, 2000: 16.0MM, today: 21.0MM
  • Michigan: 1980: 9.3MM, 1990: 9.4MM, 2000: 10.0MM, today: 10.0MM
  • Ohio: 1980: 10.8MM, 1990: 10.9MM, 2000: 11.4MM, today: 11.7MM

Add to that the fact that neither Moeller and Carr were trying to rebuild after Rodriguez and Hoke, and also that both of them benefitted from going up against John Cooper, and your comparison is nonsense.

Finally, Michigan is recruiting at an elite level.  They're just not recruiting at an elite enough level to make you happy, which I'm not sure is possible anyway.


December 14th, 2018 at 8:51 PM ^

I fail to see a solution until we consistently win

Not to keep bringing up Saban, but he signed the #2 class at LSU in 2001 after going 8-4 in his first season, then after going 8-5 signed the #3 class in 2003.  Then, after an unsuccessful stint with the Dolphins and coming off a 7-6 record his first year at Alabama, he signed the #3 class and the Alabama dynasty had begun.  But, he signed multiple top 3 classes before ever winning even 9 games in a season at two different schools.


December 14th, 2018 at 12:44 PM ^

Man I give you charts you can mouse over and you still managed to miss all the nuance.

'They matter but they're FAR from the only thing. There's some confirmation bias in there too: 5-star talents will get drafted even if their production was way lower than a 3-star, and the opposite is true as well.

And as the shading indicates there are 3 stars and "3-stars." We really only care about the college production. Also it's not like Michigan can just go get whatever 4- and 5-star they want.

Let's look at the 2014 class since it's the most recent we have data for.

The five-star: Jabrill Peppers.
Conclusion: Take all the top 3 overall players you can.

The high-four stars: Drake Harris and Bryan Mone. Hard to judge because both had major leg injuries that took away the explosiveness they were rated so highly for. Mone still became a useful starter, Harris ended his career as WMU's top receiver.
Conclusion: Worth it if you can get them.

The four-stars: Mason Cole was excellent, if miscast as a left tackle; unfortunately Michigan only had one, not five of him. Michael Ferns had personal issues and departed early. Lawrence Marshall and Ian Bunting became okay backups, though Bunting got passed by Gentry and McKeon and bolted.
Conclusion: Hit and miss. Not sure things but very good when they pop.

The high-three stars: Chase Winovich came up the boards late. He became an All-American in the back half of his career. Wilton Speight started a year, regressed, and ended up at UCLA. Noah Furbush was a useful if limited player. JBB was very close to a 4-star but OL are crapshoots and he never developed the agility to match his crushing man blocking. Mo Ways was a leapy sort Borges recruited for leapiness and never fit what Nussmeier or Harbaugh were doing. Freddy Canteen switched to cornerback and left the program without making an impact.
Conclusion: Hit and miss, but very useful, especially when they're recruited to fit what you're doing and you do that thing.

The low three-stars: Jared Wangler was a late use of a scholly to a legacy; he moved to fullback and was of some use his senior year. Brandon Watson was a throw-in with Freddy Canteen and ended up near All-Big Ten though he his athletic limitations were finally revealed against OSU's elite athletes. Brady Pallante was a grayshirt who became a very late offer when M's DT targets all fell through and never gained the size or strength to compete.
Conclusion: Might as well use the scholarships if you've got extra, because you could get a Brandon Watson

It's easy to hindsight this but without hindsight I think you could make the case against a few of the three-stars. In particular Borges targeted a quarterback and two receivers for a system he wouldn't get to stick around to run, ignoring better players (eg DeShone Kizer, Simmie Cobbs, and Mike Dudek) with Michigan interest. But that's not a "Kizer was a 4-star take him!" argument it's a "Borges what are you doing?" argument. They lost out to MSU in battles for Malik McDowell and Montae Nicholson and settled for Brady Pallante and Brandon Watson, but that was hardly a "you should target higher-ranked players" argument.

So I don't know quite what you're complaining about because your complaint is extremely vague. Which players could Michigan be getting this year that they didn't target because they trusted their scouting? What of their scouting don't you trust? I know we have less to go on than the coaches, but there's enough recruiting info out there to say, I dunno, you'd prefer X and Y receivers over all the slot bugs they're taking this year.

4th and Go For It

December 14th, 2018 at 12:57 PM ^

Well let's see, Seth. Your post hit the front page at Noon exactly with an incredible amount of depth and detail to the data that can be looked at in countless ways for insights. DB started his usual diatribe at 12:04. Something tells me there wasn't a lot of critical thinking or interest in nuance that went into his post. Not that that's anything new.


December 14th, 2018 at 5:39 PM ^

Outrage is the lifeblood of todays society. People wake up hoping that something pisses them off and then take to message boards and social media to rage against this perceived injustice and anyone who disagrees with them is misguided or just plain stupid. They scream at the top of their lungs as if what is clearly opinion is immutable fact. Rudolph has racial undertones and Donner is a misogynistic bully. Baby It's Cold Outside is something more sinister than a catchy tune with little meaning in the real world. Harbaugh sucks because he recruits 3 stars when 4 and 5 stars are there for the picking. Its all fucking ridiculous and unhealthy. Of course no matter how Progressive or Godly the combatants think their views are it always devolves into name calling and dehumanizing those for merely having a differing opinion. Western Civilization is doomed.

Hackett 4 President

December 14th, 2018 at 12:58 PM ^

It took you 4 minutes from the post to push your opinion. You have stated this so many times on this board, I am not sure what you hope to accomplish. Looks like a big fucking waste of time on your part to be honest. Do you just refresh mgoblog constantly all day just so you can repeat the same thing over and over? What is your end game? Changing fans opinions so we can what? We don't recruit for Michigan, the coaches do.

Maybe a better use of your time would be to reach out to the coaching staff or perhaps apply for a position in the athletic department. Become a scout and get paid for your opinion on recruiting. Wouldn't that be more beneficial to Michigan than telling people on an internet board?

4th and Go For It

December 14th, 2018 at 1:05 PM ^

From now on I'll be posting about one subject and one subject only. My relentless belief that coaches should not wear headsets. Any time there is any post on MGoBlog main pages or boards that mentions coaches or a coaching-related topic, I'm going to comment about why they should not wear headsets. When people engage in thoughtful debate or discussion on the subject of headsets, I'm going to attack them for being idiots, relentless in my beliefs and firm in my convictions. Even when people ask me to go away, i'll be there, talking about headsets. Looking forward to it everybody!

4th and Go For It

December 14th, 2018 at 3:00 PM ^

WRONG. your idea is terrible. Just admit that harbaugh won't win a big game until he stops wearing a headset. Look at the facts - hasn't beat OSU since he's been here. Worn a headset every year. No coincidence.  It covers his ears so he can't hear anything that's going on. Not what an elite coach would do - no wonder Hill decomitted. Wake up people. We're a basketball school.



December 14th, 2018 at 1:24 PM ^

I don't understand the point of this and similar posts.  No one argues that UM's class would not be better if there were able to add a bunch of 5 stars.  No one argues that having more 5 stars does not increase our chances in winning a NC.  I am certain that JH wants to have more 5 starts.  A lot of stuff, including geography and poor performance during the past 10-15 years make it nearly impossible to recruit at Alabama's level.  So, what is the point of these posts? Seriously.  You are stating the obvious and then claim that no one can see the obvious.   


December 14th, 2018 at 5:39 PM ^

"Reality is with the proliferation of all the camps, combines and all star games recruiting analysts are getting scary good at their jobs and more often than not accurately rate most prospects."


That might be true, but there's also far less recruiting analysts then there used to be with only 24/7 really remaining to give more than a token effort at doing their job. So there are more recruits now than any time recently that fall through the cracks because there less recruiting analysts to go around.


December 14th, 2018 at 12:21 PM ^

Not terribly applicable the last few years (think the guys in the top 3 rounds were all 4 stars) but we should probably toss "first day pick" out of the nomenclature given the evolution of the draft schedule.


December 14th, 2018 at 12:38 PM ^

What is it about the safety position that we have such trouble recruiting post-Carr?  I guess the combo of Cole, Thomas, & Dorsey not living up really hurt that.  Must be back luck/chance.


December 14th, 2018 at 1:49 PM ^

I admittedly offer speculation when others might have facts, but I don't think we have unique problems recruiting safety as much as elite safeties are damn hard to find.  They need to be fast, shifty and leapy to cover all types of receivers, yet also read the run game, unerringly tackle in space, and stop everyone from moosebacks to tight ends short of the sticks whenever possible.  They need to be genetically gifted, rigorously conditioned, and mentally disciplined.  Modern offenses are structured to stress the safeties on the premise that it's very difficult to find ones that can handle everything.  Because offenses amplify the limitations of "3-star" safeties by design, there's now immense demand to recruit 5-tool safeties.  That is in fact arguably why modern spreads persist -- it's not so easy to go out and find a 2-deep of 5-star safeties to shut them down.

So, since they're so essential to take a modern defense from decent to elite the five-tool guys can go anywhere, but there are only a few of them born per year, so it's not that we can't get them as much as we're not getting them any more than any other school that isn't Alabama.


December 14th, 2018 at 7:32 PM ^

it's not that we can't get them as much as we're not getting them any more than any other school that isn't Alabama.

OSU has gotten a shitload of them:


2013: Vonn Bell (#26 overall)

2014: Erick Smith (#65 overall)

2017: Isiah Pryor (#63 overall)

2018: Tyreke Johnson (#21 overall)

          Josh Proctor (#71 overall)

2019: Jordan Battle (# 77 overall)

          Ronnie Hickman (# 112 overall)

micheal honcho

December 14th, 2018 at 11:00 PM ^

Great post. I’d add a couple other observations about safety’s. 

Its a position that isn’t really taught well at the HS level in general. A very few elite schools are the exception. 

The nature and prevelence of the spread to run offense with 5 wide & a running QB have taken a lot of the athletes that might be safety’s in previous eras. The current M commit QB from Colombis Northwood HS is a perfect example. I think we’re considering him a WR but I saw that kid live and he would be the perfect safety. He played like a viper in their D on crucial downs and he was dominate. 

Also the 6 man thing bites again. So many kids playing that and it is WAY different in terms of how you read & react in the secondary.