Michigan Recruits: Stuck In Neutral

Submitted by Tim on August 3rd, 2009 at 2:41 PM

While Michigan fans can hope that current commits see their stock rise when Scout, Rivals, and ESPN update their rankings, players often stay stable or drop. In this look at Michigan's recruiting class, we'll see which guys have probably reached their maximum guru approval (or close to it).

MI/FL WR Ricardo Miller

  Rivals Scout ESPN
Rating **** **** 150*
Ranking WR #24 WR #19  

ricardo-miller-lion

Why Here? When Michigan fans were told how good Miller was, it sounded like he was a shoe-in for 5-star status. Even the Florida rankings released by some sources prior to the release of Rivals' and Scout's official lists had him in the top 5 prospects in the state. However, when the major sites released their rankings he was a mid-4-star to both.

It's not from lack of exposure. Miller's situation (being a southeast player committed to a non-southeast school before the rankings came out) may have hurt him somewhat. Southeast recruiting analysts are likely to ding a prospect for being an early commit to a school from a different area of the country.

Prediction: Miller has moved to Michigan, so it will be an entire different set of eyeballs looking at him. If he blows up in the state of Michigan, it doesn't hold as much weight as if he had done so in Florida. Miller's move to Michigan probably helped him in terms of getting acquainted with the area, recruiting other prospects, and getting ready to enroll at the University. But it put something of a cap on his rankings. Miller will probably remain a 4-star.

FL S Marvin Robinson

  Rivals Scout ESPN
Rating **** **** 150*
Ranking OLB #11 S #10  

Why Here? Robinson has a lot in common with Ricardo Miller. Michigan fans have been hearing for years about how he would be a Locky McLockerson for both Michigan and 5-star status. He impressed at Michigan's summer camp as a rising sophomore, and ever since we've been hearing about how awesome he is. Eventually, the 2010 rankings came out... and Robinson was a medium-range 4-star. The only plausible explanation, given his apparent exposure, is that he just isn't quite as elite as we'd been hearing. If he isn't highly ranked by now, it's probably just not in the cards.

Prediction: He's listed at either OLB or safety, so if the premium sites can come to a consensus on his future position, it might help them figure out where he should be ranked. If he gets bigger, he could be an elite OLB prospect, but he has limited upside in the rankings at safety. Michigan has a perfect role for Robinson, either as a safety if he can keep his speed, a linebacker if he adds a bunch of weight, or as a hybrid if his physical development is complete. He doesn't have the speed that an elite safety his size would have (i.e. Taylor Mays). I think he'll top out near the higher range of 4-stars.

PA DE/LB Ken Wilkins

Ken Wilkins

  Rivals Scout ESPN
Rating **** **** 77
Ranking WDE #17 DE #31  

Why Here? Wilkins is much like Paskorz: a tweener that scouting services don't love. He's athletic and the services recognize at least that, giving him a 4-star ranking. His exposure should be pretty good at his school (trinity has produced a number of D-1 players over the years), so he is probably ranked where the services want him.

Prediction As a tweener, it's going to be tough for him to move up, despite the fact that his coach says he's more athletic than all of the D-1 prospects who have come through Trinity. Unless collects absurd statistics as a senior, Wilkins will probably stay right where he is: a low 4-star. The Quick DE position on Michigan's defense may be a more natural fit than conventional DE or LB spots. That should be encouraging to Michigan fans.

MI RB Austin White

  Rivals Scout ESPN
Rating *** **** 77
Ranking APB #15 RB #17  

Why Here? White has torn through Michigan in the past couple years, but high school football in the state being what it is the competition has not been the best. Looking at Stevenson's results over the past couple years, it's not clear whether White's stats (which are very good) are a product of his team obliterating the competition or his exceptional talent.

Room to Grow? Literally, yes: White's a small guy who could use some time in the weight room. But he's also an established star at his school who's gotten a ton of combine exposure; there's no much secret about him.

Prediction: A good senior season can only do so much for White since he's smallish and proven. He may get looks at a RB/slot hybrid, and Rivals lists him as an all-purpose back, so showing off his receiving ability could give him a bump. But White actually moved down in the Rivals re-rank; not many do that and then bounce back up.

PA DE Jordan Paskorz

  Rivals Scout ESPN
Rating *** *** 79
Ranking WDE #36 DE #59  

Why Here? Paskorz is something of a man without a position. Half lineman, half linebacker, he doesn't fit into lots of schools' lists of needed prospects. Still, Paskorz has some physical talent, enough that the recruiting services know about him. The bigger question is whether he performs on the field for his school.

Prediction Especially if he grows enough to become a true defensive end, and puts together a productive senior year, he can move up somewhat. The sites have pretty different opinions of him, so he's might move one way or the other. Scouting services will never really be enamored with players that don't have obvious NFL potential. Unless he gets more athletic or bigger in an obvious way during his senior year, he's stuck where he is.

TX RB Stephen Hopkins

  Rivals Scout ESPN
Rating *** *** 77
Ranking RB #80 RB #57  

Why Here? Hopkins has been solid, but not great, against high-level Texas competition. He has led his team to successful playoff runs in the past couple years. However, he lacks that one attribute that really sets him apart. He runs tough, but doesn't truck the hell out of guys. He'll get to the second level, but not outrun everyone in the secondary. He'll put a move on you, but won't make most defenders go looking for their jockstraps.

Prediction: Since he plays good competition in Texas, if Hopkins has a big season of any sort he could move him up. But he has the exposure and body of work that comes with being a two-year-starter at a big Texas program and hasn't gotten more three stars from the recruiting sites. He might move up a little bit if he's able to put in the offseason work to increase his speed or toughness, but I'd be surprised if he gets to a fourth star. He should end up a high(er) 3-star, not far from his current ranking. Note that Hopkins disagrees with this assessment, stating he's been told a big year will get him a fourth star.

OH OL Christian Pace

christian-pace-action

  Rivals Scout ESPN
Rating *** *** 77
Ranking OC #7 OG #36  

Why Here? Pace's film is impressive. He is an aggressive blocker who will drive defenders into the ground. However, he is limited from being ranked any more highly by his height. At only 6-3—which may be exaggerated—he does not have ideal size for a guard, nor does he excel in pass protection. Pace's team success may not have much bearing on his ranking, so even if they improve from last year's finish, he won't reap much benefit. He will probably not grow. That will always limit him in the eyes of the recruiting services, regardless of how impressive his film is.

Prediction Even though Rivals scouts drooled over his junior film, they actually moved him down in their recent re-rank. If Pace has a dominant year blocking (and his Scouting Ohio film certainly indicates that he's capable of that), he could move up to low 4-star status, but he had a dominant junior year and didn't go anywhere.

Pace seems a lot like current Michigan center David Molk, who is a short but effective center. In the Michigan system, slightly smaller but more athletic interior linemen can still have success (again, see Molk).

LA Slot Drew Dileo

  Rivals Scout ESPN
Rating *** *** 75
Ranking ATH #58 WR #27  

Why Here? Dileo has been productive in his high school career, but perhaps his ranking is held down by a few factors: 1) His team is routinely a behemoth in its small-division Louisiana competition, so it's tough to gauge individual talents at times. 2) He is a 5-10 wide receiver. 3) He is a white wide receiver. None of these factors are likely to change this year, so look out. He has limited upward potential - but as with lots of little guys, that might not mean detrimental things about his career at Michigan.

Prediction Like I said, if the scouts don't already know about Dileo, it’s not because he hasn’t been exposed.  He is likely stuck in neutral as far as his rankings go. The situation from last year won't change, and barring an absolutely transcendent performance (which doesn't seem likely), he'll stay where he is. Worse still, other players might be able to move up and pass him down the road, dropping his ranking even further than its current level.

Comments

Don

August 3rd, 2009 at 2:57 PM ^

I go back and look at the rankings for our classes for the previous 7-8 years and then look at where we ended up on the field. I want to see what transpires during game time under RR over the next couple of years before I start wigging out.

the_white_tiger

August 3rd, 2009 at 3:12 PM ^

Recruiting rankings are not the biggest deal to me. Production on the field with the guys we have is all that matters to me (along with that ed-jun-kay-shun that y'all talk about).

wolverine1987

August 3rd, 2009 at 4:32 PM ^

And he's also seen, as have a lot of regular readers here, all of the data that shows that recruiting rankings do matter. And he's published it. Recruiting optimism is fine, I have optimism for this year's class because many of the things Tim sited indicate that some of these guys have more upside in our program than ratings would indicate. And also because of RR's history discussed in your link. But it's not really debatable: the data is in. Recruiting ratings matter. That's why the Pat White/Mike Hart joke is getting old around here, because it's true--they are exceptions.

Durham Blue

August 3rd, 2009 at 3:37 PM ^

The top two centers per Rivals for 2010 are Dominic Espinosa (6-3, 282) and AJ Cann (6-3, 260). Pace is #7 ranked and very similar in physical stature to those two. Based on this I don't see how size is a factor for Pace.

Rizzo

August 3rd, 2009 at 3:39 PM ^

Is it not considered revisionist history to correct the wrong name given to a recruit and then delete the comment pointing out the error? Perhaps my intuition's concern re: this MGoMerger/Cartel was not entirely offbase.

Brian

August 3rd, 2009 at 4:59 PM ^

I'm not sure what you're referring to but I might have an explanation: for some reason the moderated posts keep showing up in the tracker, before I can edit them, and if you left a comment on that version that whole post was deleted and replaced by a new version so I could get pictures in.

ronmexico

August 3rd, 2009 at 3:40 PM ^

if jordan paskorz continues to work on his "Meat"(Porkys for those not anticipating a farfetched reference) impressions, i dont see why he wouldn't be higher rated.

ShockFX

August 3rd, 2009 at 3:58 PM ^

1a. Pat White was a 2 star.
1b. Andre Criswell was a 2 star.
2a. Kevin Grady was a 5 star.
2b. Chad Henne was a 5 star.
3. ????????
4. Profit

bronxblue

August 3rd, 2009 at 4:05 PM ^

I'm okay with the current rankings. At some point, you have grown men looking at 16 and 17-year-old guys and trying to guess how they will translate into college (and subconsciously pro) prospects. It is ultimately a guessing game, and whether or not a kid nabs an extra star will not mean much once he starts playing on the field.

That said, a slew of decent 3 and 4-star recruits, after a 3-9 season and a mountain of negative press, is a decent haul. I'm more worried about the inconsistent depth of this team than the fact that Miller or Pace should be higher ranked.

Erik_in_Dayton

August 3rd, 2009 at 4:29 PM ^

I don't mind some of the less-than-awesome recruiting rankings of some of the guys up there given that so many of them are dinged b/c they don't match up in the traditional, one-size-fits-all, NFL combine style of ranking guys. I don't mind this b/c the things that get them dinged so often can be countered with "but in Michigan's system they fit." Tiny WRs and RBs and tweener S-LBs and LB/DEs all have a place at Michigan. The fact that they don't fit in as well at University X as some guys do doesn't concern me.

wolverine1987

August 3rd, 2009 at 4:31 PM ^

For both our class this year and the additions to mgoblog. Thanks Tim. You can debate an assumption or two here, but this is the kind of content that really complements Brian's posts.

dundee

August 3rd, 2009 at 4:58 PM ^

my thoughts on the subject are, i think RR and his crew who see some of these kids in person are much better suited to judge their talent then people who only see tape. also i wonder if the 150 watch list kids we have will stay in the 150 and if we are gonna get any more 150 kids and 5*'s from the other sites.

mad magician

August 3rd, 2009 at 5:06 PM ^

A couple of points... First, if you had identified the top 3 must-get recruits for 2010 a year ago, they would have been Ricardo Miller, Marvin Robinson and Devin Gardner. And we got them. Easily. Well done, handshakes all around, complementary champagne in the board room, etc.

Second, and I've found this to true in the past, early commits, especially ones that are obviously solid, often stall in the rankings. An uncommitted prospect is sexier because of the inherent drama of a pre-signing day battle between big programs for his signature. Thus they can be overvalued, while the opposite holds true for solid early commits. I seem to recall Mario Manningham, who committed as a junior and never wavered, receiving little coverage during the recruiting process, and it was The Wolverine guys selling us on how good they thought he could be, and they were right. Justin Turner, I think is another example of what I'm getting at, albeit rather obtusely, I admit.

stubob

August 3rd, 2009 at 5:11 PM ^

If we assume that some quarterbacks are still shy about playing the spread offense because of lack of acceptance in the NFL, does the same stigma apply to "hybrid" DB/LB-types? I realize that some of the attributes of that position are driven by physique (too small to be a true LB), as opposed to having the extra ability to actually run and pass the ball.

Would the hybrid defense deter some of the better, "true" defensive position players just like the spread is supposed to be a deterrent to offensive players?

UofM Snowboarder

August 3rd, 2009 at 6:24 PM ^

Not really. If a guy can play LB, he'll play LB, if I guy can play safety, he'll play safety. The skills a player has are what NFL teams look for. How well can he play zone? man? how fast is he? how strong is he? etc.

Just because sometimes he's playing the hook zone, and sometimes he's playing the deep zone, and sometimes he's blitzing, doesn't mean if the kid can play, the NFL isn't going to look at him.

mghorm

August 3rd, 2009 at 5:12 PM ^

another person i don't see moving is Jeremy Jackson. he's another one who commited as a junior and didn't go to many camps this summer because he was set with where he was.

Bleedin9Blue

August 3rd, 2009 at 11:25 PM ^

I'm kinda glad that he wasn't going to too many camps. There'd been strong rumblings that he was going to commit to Texas before he committed to Michigan (I don't know how his dad would feel about that but that's another story). If he started to blow up camps then he might be lured away from Michigan and I think very very highly of Jeremy Jackson. Besides, I think that his dad will make sure that he's about as good a player coming in as he can possibly be.

mgovictors23

August 3rd, 2009 at 5:17 PM ^

I don't mind what these guys are rated because they fit our system that we run. No slot reciever is really rated high by recruiting sites or tweener guys on the defense.

wiscwood

August 3rd, 2009 at 5:40 PM ^

Michigan fans must not put rankings in such high regard now. The experts do not rank Spread players highly. The analyst rankings are based on NFL size and speed potentials. The Spread players are under valued by many analysts. They think NFL draftabilty. Several good players were drafted this year out spread systems. Michael Crabtree comes to mind.

In addition to that, I have some friends that live in A2 but are from WV. In 2005 my friends and I watched the UM vs ND game (a terrible outing). As we watched a freshman Kevin Grady broke one that could have gone all the way. I said, "he is a 5 star player he should have read the block right to score a TD". My friends ripped me for regarding the star ratings system so highly. "You must recruit to your system", they said. While Michigan was losing to ND, WVU, under Rich Rod's coaching was playing quiet well. Now having RR as coach, I feel as they did "recruit to your system". These players will perform will in open spaces. Forget the experts!!! Be patient Michigan! Trust in Rod!!

dundee

August 5th, 2009 at 1:47 AM ^

i agree "in rod we trust" but for the sake of rankings, the teenagers at home checking the sites to see where they should go are checking the rankings with their schollies to see if there is a match. if a school just happens to be better ranked on most sites than another and both schools are even in where the recuit wants to go, where do you think the recruit is gonna go? SO while the rankings shouldn't matter in one hand they certainly do in the other.

Garvie Craw

August 3rd, 2009 at 6:22 PM ^

Nebraska under Tom Osborne didn't rate highly in recruiting rankings for many years, but they transformed those kids in the weight room. Their teams would fare much better on the field than in the recruiting rankings.

Goblue89

August 3rd, 2009 at 8:13 PM ^

Kind of unrelated, but has anyone else been keeping track of Rivals All Time 100 list? They basically pick the top person for each number over the last 5-7 years or so. Anyways, Michigan has A LOT of players on that list that never even made the field! Kind of depressing actually.

MGoObes

August 3rd, 2009 at 9:05 PM ^

watching his highlights on scout, he most certainly does truck a number of people. and while he's not ted ginn jr., he possesses ample speed, if anything the reason he gets caught from behind is because he's out of shape.

Durham Blue

August 4th, 2009 at 1:28 AM ^

Michigan will end up top 8 per Rivals again, IMO. There is a ton of time left and a handful of highly ranked players that still list Michigan. Michigan will lock down Torrian Wilson and Cullen Christian to add to the 4-star collection. Devin Gardner has a good shot at ending up a 5-star. And call me crazy but I believe lack of depth on the D-line will sway 5-star Floyd to Michigan. Don't forget that this is Michigan and we have more to offer from an academics and athletics standpoint than most other D-IA schools. RR is relentlessly driven, a type-A personality and a winner wherever he has been. On top of that, Michigan has always been and always will be a premier football destination for the nation's top athletes. Have faith...we won't be disappointed.