Michigan Museday is Captain Recruiting Hindsight

Submitted by Seth on June 6th, 2012 at 8:05 AM


Ah, I see you entrusted the future of your defensive backfield to Chris Richards
and Johnny Sears, and offered Carson Butler. You shouldn't have done that.

With the additions of two defensive tackles—the only sore spot really left in the class—the 2013 haul is starting to take shape, and this shape is looking pretty darn shapely. Granted we thought the same last year when thousands of 4-star linebackers and linemen burst out of their Ohio prisons to join the Wolverines, leaving—we thought—the staff several months to chase down a few 5-stars. Those didn't really materialize, and might not again. But it's just NovemberAugust … Early JUNE (!) and there's 20 guys in the next class, and they're mostly blue chips, and unless ESPN has done something drastic to their scores I think an entire legion of superheroes just pledged to my alma mater.

If there's any doubt that Brady and Hokesters (this is a terrible name for our coaching staff) are killin' it on the recruiting trail, consider this is now the second year in a row that a board thread has been started to ask is this the Best Michigan Football Recruiting Class Ever?

michigan-qbsM-Wolverine beat me to it, but the gold standard here is still 1995—in a word: CharlesWoodsonTomBradyeeeeeeeeee. Also Renes, the Williamses, James Hall, Tai Streets, Aaron Shea… That class was the core of the national championship squad and populated NFL rosters for the next decade. (SI Vault--->)

Putting Captain Hindsight on the sidelines for a moment, the anecdotal standard is 1998. That class was sterling at the top, headlined by Drew Henson (who had nine confirmed miracles by October of his senior year). Before pos-bang threads existed, the fanbase-wide giggle session from Henson playing catch with David Terrell in Central Park nearly toppled the young Internet. Marquise Walker (9th best player in the country overall according to Sporting News), Justin Fargas, Cato June, and Hayden Epstein were too considered Parade All Americans. LB/DL Dave Armstrong and LB Victor Hobson were close. Tom Lemming of Prep Football Report and Bobby Burton of the National Recruiting Advisor named Michigan 1st in the land; Allen Wallace of Superprep put us behind UCLA because they had DeShuan Foster.

(Also in 1998, 548-year-old Brooks MacCleod Bollinger beheaded the Kurgan, won the Prize, and signed as a freshman with Wisconsin.)

The 2013 class isn't expected to be so rich at the top, and thus is unlikely to win the same beauty contest, but it's deeper, still naming high-three star types at the point of the list where '98 was tapering off into French Canadians. The ratings are bound to shift—down as do most early commits as more of their classmates are evaluated and placed on the board, and various uncommitted Top 25 recruits leap toward this year's shiniest object—but at this point there's already enough of it to start, you know, thinking about what all that promise actually promises.

Since '98 and other successful classes occurred before humanity shifted its considerable intellect from inventing things and pondering the meaning of our existence so we could figure out how teenagers work, there is no easily accessible written record from that era with which to compare, except the little from DeSimone. Certainly 5-stars and whatnots existed before 2002, but that's where the Rivals and Scout databases begin, so we shall too.

2002 to 2013 to Various Scouting Systems

Again, I'm throwing out hindsight for now because the Class of 2013s are currently 75 percent of their way through high school, an accurate assessment of their actual abilities not available until 2017 or '18. The class before them hasn't stepped on campus yet. Half of the class before that are redshirt freshmen right now. As to the rest, yes, individual players often vastly under- or out-performed their rankings. Insert usual essay about recruiting in the aggregate is legit yo.

You've seen the way I like to represent this before, putting the classes beside each other with heat-colored levels. I'm not sure if I explained why they're lined up that way; the idea is you can see how many blue chips (4-star and higher) on the left side of the mid-line, and assess how many depth guys and fliers (3-star and lower) you're filling in with. The yellow-green guys (5.7 to Rivals, 79 to ESPN) seem to be 40-60 to become solid Big Ten-level starters or better; the ones over the 4-star threshold something more like 55-45, thus I'm trying to represent a kind of mid-point.

Recruiting to RivalsRecruiting to SCOUT

Recruiting to ESPN

Clicking embiggens, but you can see what's causing the excitement already: Scout is very bullish on the recruits Michigan has verbals from already, and ESPN has either dramatically changed their ranking system or somebody slipped them a press release about Shane Morris taking practice shots at Jake Butt. The numbers are on a Googledoc if you can see if/where I went wrong with this.

At this point we allow Captain Hindsight back into the room…

Recruiting to Hindsight

The captain says 2008 is going to be rough.

This is that column on the spreadsheet where I tried to reassign star ratings based on each player's performance. A 5-star is a major-impact player who probably got drafted in the 3rd round or better; a 4-star is an All Big Ten sort—the RVBs of the world, or a player like Kovacs who's a star but has an exploitable hole in his game (yes, Kovacs was added to 2008). A 3-star is a contributor but in a just a guy way, a 2-star someone we didn't want in there (think Savoy or Banks). The "NR"s are mostly injuries or early early attrition but not the later stuff; if we got a good look at what a guy can do I rated him, e.g. Mallett is still in there for 2007, since coaching change losses aren't likely to apply to us any time soon. This isn't supposed to correlate with performance; it's meant to see what recruiting classes yield.

What struck me most is how long we seem to have been going without those 4-star-like dudes, exactly the type of guys these last two classes have been filled with, and which characterized '95. I too hope some of the more epic blue chips we're after sign up, but even if they don't, the 20 guys in this class are already among the better ones signed in the last decade, and it's not out of the question that they may some day be the best.


Valiant Victor

June 6th, 2012 at 8:10 AM ^

This recruiting is just a joy to follow. The ups and downs. Highs and lows, comparisons,analysis. The thing I get most excited about is Coach Hoke and our staff, and the value they put on Senior Leadership. The guys were pickin up now, this years class and the '13 class,being young men that truely love Michigan and want to be here: Just wait untill they are Seniors!!

Section 1

June 6th, 2012 at 5:33 PM ^

I'm very inclined to something along the lines of "Suck it, meagerviewer."

Instead, I'll say this: there does appear to be a falloff in Michigan recruiting in 2010.  When Rodriguez's job was threatened, under the cloud of an NCAA investigation.  If someone wants to focus on a story of "blame Rodriguez," I'd like to see what coaching changes (real and/or threatened) and NCAA investigations do to recruiting at similar programs.


June 6th, 2012 at 8:57 AM ^

I'm on my phone so it's tough to check the diaries done on recruiting rankings. I would be interested to see if recruiting rankings are becoming more accurate with the huge increases in the amount of time and money being spent on it.


June 6th, 2012 at 9:57 AM ^

I didn't originally intend it that way when I first created it, and you're the second person to point it out.  But after giving myself a backhand to the head,  I decided to leave it in order to be....well....different.

Edit:  My question to YOU is....all that on the post, and its the mis-spelled word you notice???? 


June 6th, 2012 at 9:44 AM ^

Times two, plus ^

Well done Seth. The takeaway that I put the most stock in is the consistency of the ratings for the last two classes across the various recruiting sites. Maybe it means the recruiting sites are converging, be I am going to continue with the belief that it is due to excellence.

Go Blue!


June 6th, 2012 at 10:04 AM ^


"Players in the classes before 2013 were ranked on a different scale with five-star prospects falling within 85-100, four stars between 79.5-84.99, three stars between 75-79.49, two stars between 68-74.99 and one stars between 55-67.99."

Old Scale v. New Scale
5 star: from 85-100 to 90-100
4 star: from 79.5-84.99 to 80-89
3 star: from 75-79.49 to 70-79
2 star: from 68-74.99 to 60-69
1 star: from 55-67.99 to 50-59

Someone smarter than me might be able to come up with a weight that you could apply to current ratings in order to better compare them to pre-2013 ratings.


June 6th, 2012 at 10:07 AM ^

One solution would be to measure ESPN rankings the same way as Scout rankings now, just going by stars, but it really bothers me how Scout's ranking system doesn't easily allow us to compare 4 stars against each other.  Obviously there is a big gap between the highest 4-star and the lowest 4-star, which ESPN and Rivals account for with their supplemental rating system.  I think the best option is to find an MgoStatistician that can figure out a good way to weight post-2013 ESPN rankings to make them more comparable.


June 6th, 2012 at 10:40 AM ^

1995 had arguably the best defensive and offensive player ever to go to the University of Michigan to play football. You could have nobody else, and it would be a good class. And the rest of those guys aren't chopped liver.

I'll add BlueCE had a great link resource in that other thread, that probably doesn't help out this post, which is more player-centric, but is good for anyone who wants to compare class rankings, which did exist before the internet-


At least through 1992.

And while it's WAY too late to be recoloring everything....anyone else find it funny that Blue Chip Athletes are signified by being...red, while blue means the lowest rank?  Frankly 5* would have been blue, and 4*'s maize, but that's just me...red and green at the bottom.


June 6th, 2012 at 2:49 PM ^

"1995 had arguably the best defensive and offensive player ever to go to the University of Michigan to play football."

I hadn't realized Tom Harmon went back to school for another degree.  From Wikipedia:

"In his final football game (against Ohio State), Harmon led the Wolverines to a 40–0 victory, scoring three rushing touchdowns, two passing touchdowns, four extra points, intercepting three passes, and punting three times for an average of 50 yards. In an unprecedented display of sportsmanship and appreciation, the Ohio State fans in Columbus gave Harmon a standing ovation at game's end. No Wolverine player had been so honored, before or since."

This is not to knock Woodson, but rather to note that as great as he was, he's still no better than second in Michigan's pantheon, even just looking at the two-way players.




June 6th, 2012 at 4:26 PM ^

And I'd still say Woodson is a better defensive player than Harmon.  But again, it's a matter of if you're judging it by who had the greatest accomplishments as a Michigan player, or who was the most talented players to play at Michigan.  No one probably did any more in their time at Michigan than Harmon. But Harmon would have a tough time playing today (yes even at that age). It's just the progression of athletes. You have a multiple Super Bowl MVP and a Defensive Player of the Year at the highest level of the sport. You could certainly argue that both have accomplished more in their sport than Harmon did, just as you could argue that Harmon accomplished more at Michigan.


June 6th, 2012 at 3:43 PM ^

It's not enough that I made Captain Recruiting Hindsight maize and blue and added a block M belt buckle (yours for just $17.95)? You want to alter the colors of the light spectrum too?

Actually I had a thought process behind this. The order of color "heat" is well established and easy to follow, and colors on it are only assigned by wavelength. Every color is represented somewhere. Whereas in symbolic uses (e.g. on the uniform of a superhero), the symbolic nature of specific colors should always come into play. Red on a spectrum is just representing a certain frequency of light. Red on a uniform represents the symbolic nature of red: blood, passion, hatred/emotion overpowering intellectualism, virility, fire, urges and impulses, aggression, and politically speaking socialism/communism. It is the color of power, of might makes right, of aggression without thought.

It is the opposite of blue, which is thoughtful, conservative, wateryness, calm, stability, coolness, loyalty, security, peace. Blue is not rigid but trustworthy. It is the sky and sea: ongoing, traditional.

Yellow is joy. It is the sun, optimism, idealism. It is fun but hazardous. It is liberating, but also somewhat cowardly. It is the less demanding version of its cousin orange -- you come to yellow to bask, not to burn.

Gray is the opposite of yellow. It is somber, depressive, muting. Gray is the other type of security from blue--not the trustworthiness but the sameness. It is rigid conservatism, enforced conservatism, the blanding of things. It is old, not ageless but tired, and sad.

Blue and Yellow symbolically are idealism and continuity. They are intellectualism and openness and honesty. Red and Gray together are the opposite. They are oppression and aggression, rapid and radical change toward an end of non-color, non-feeling.

Yellow wings on a blue field on a uniform's top are a sign of liberty, soaring intelligence -- a free bird soaring through the sky, the possibilities endless. Bird poop symbolizes birds pooping on your head. On a field of silver, bird poop stickers can show you are a boring person's car which birds have been shitting on.

Mr. Yost

June 6th, 2012 at 10:55 AM ^

It seems mighty generous on the 4*'s

Who are all of them? Mike Martin is obviously the 5*

1. Kovacs
2. Roundtree
3. Omameh
4. Demens
5. Koger

Who are the last guys Floyd? Odoms? Stonum?


...also, I'd be interested to know how Tate Forcier graded out. Was he a 3 or 4* or a NR?


June 6th, 2012 at 12:08 PM ^

Martin got a 5th star. Kovacs, Barnum, Demens, Koger, Roundtree, Stonum, J.T. Floyd, and Odoms were the 4-stars.

Of these, Floyd, Demens and Odoms I was on the fence about (they're the 5.8 kind of 4-stars, not the 6.0's).

Demens has shown flashes of being really good--I'd have him juuuust on the edge of the 3/4 star line and gave him the benefit of the doubt since he's yet to play his senior season, and because there were hidden things I saw from him last year that didn't make it into UFRs for him but made the team much better (read: Coverage +1). Having a middle linebacker who could take away relatively deep posts, especially that TE four-verts problem that used to devastate GERG defenses, was an important part of last year's defensive renaissance. He just needs to be more aggressive against the run and then no-one will doubt he's on par with, say, Lawrence Reid, which is less than Foote or Sword or Irons or Swett or Rod Bonemealcrunchandhurtpeck, but not a position you worry about needing an upgrade.

Floyd is the easiest; he was better last year than Morgan Trent's best season. Odoms played early and was as advertised except he was hurt a lot (that wasn't held against him). 

Name Pos RR Rivals ESPN Scout Reassess
Mike Martin DT 5.8 4 80 4 5
Jordan Kovacs S NR NR NR NR 4
Ricky Barnum OL 5.8 4 80 3 4
Kenny Demens LB 5.8 4 78 3 4
Kevin Koger TE 5.9 4 73 4 4
Roy Roundtree WR 5.8 4 76 3 4
Darryl Stonum WR 6.0 4 82 4 4
J.T. Floyd CB 5.5 3 75 3 4
Martavious Odoms WR 5.7 3 78 4 4
Patrick Omameh OL 5.1 2 69 3 4
Sam McGuffie RB 5.8 4 79 4 3
Elliott Mealer OL 5.8 4 77 4 3
Michael Shaw RB 5.9 4 78 4 3
J.B. Fitzgerald LB 5.9 4 80 4 2
Brandon Moore TE 5.8 4 81 3 2
Dann O'Neill OL 6.0 4 82 4 2
Terrence Robinson WR 5.8 4 80 4 2
Mike Cox RB 5.7 3 77 4 2
Rocko Khoury OL 5.7 3 70 3 2
Boubacar Cissoko CB 6.0 4 78 5 NR
Taylor Hill - 5.8 4 75 3 NR
Brandon Smith LB 5.9 4 75 4 NR
Marcus Witherspoon - 5.8 4 80 4 NR
Justin Feagin QB 5.7 3 NR 2 NR
Kurt Wermers OL 5.6 3 78 4 NR



June 6th, 2012 at 11:14 AM ^

What I am especially encouraged about is the recent reductions of the dark green/blue/purple lines.  

Yes, it's nice to have flashy 5*'s at skill postitons, but the road to championships depends on having teams without exploitable weaknesses.



June 6th, 2012 at 1:29 PM ^

The question is whether overall solid depth or high 5 star players matter more. Of course, we want both. We want depth through and through, and we want 5 star athletes at QB, WR & RB.

All in all, I have to go with depth. Brady is consistent in saying the game is won at the line, and I agree. Having highly rated and deep offensive and defensive line play is the foundation. Having depth beyond this (i.e., LB, DB, and offensive skill positions) makes the difference. While having players like Charles Woodson and Tom Brady and Mike Hart and Anthony Thomas and Anthony Carter and Desmond Howard is huge, overall depth is more important.

My gut feeling is that if the lines are solid, we can manage with good, if not spectacular, RB & WR play.

I don't know how it relates to Seth's article, but special teams play is something which makes a huge difference. IIRC, one of the biggest differences between 2010 & 2011 was special teams. I think having solid depth allows special teams to do a lot better.

Smash Lampjaw

June 6th, 2012 at 3:24 PM ^

Charts and a hindsight upgrade for Tom Brady- I wish my on-line identity had come up with this, maybe in that thread about the greatest recruiting class ever. (Desperate to have his karma level back.)

What if Tom Brady had started at qb earlier, instead of Brian Griese? Would the Heisman voting have split Peyton Manning's way? Would he still be Chuck Woodson without the Heisman?