Michigan brought in a ton of kids this weekend there are solid rumors that a number of the committed but are waiting to announce. The issue: Michigan is currently sitting at 22 commitments after FL CB Adrian Witty officially qualified and PA CB Cullen Christian committed. In addition, the entire planet expects FL DE Clarence Murphy and FL CB Tony Grimes' signing day announcement to be a mere formality. That would leave one spot before Michigan runs up against the NCAA-mandated 25-per-class maximum.
Teams have been getting around this for years by enrolling a few kids early and counting them against the last class, something the NCAA rulebook specifically provides for. Diarist Umhero has pored through the 2009-2010 NCAA manual and finds the bylaw that governs early enrollment:
18.104.22.168.2 Recruited Student-Athlete Entering after Fall Term, Aided in First Year. [FBS/FCS] A student-athlete recruited by the awarding institution who enters after the first term of the academic year and immediately receives institutional financial aid (based in any degree on athletics ability) shall be an initial counter for either the current academic year (if the institution’s annual limit has not been reached) or the next academic year. The student-athlete shall be included in the institution’s total counter limit during the academic year in which the aid was first received.
This is part of this year's NCAA manual and is unchanged from last year.
The reason Umhero went over all this is that GBW recruiting guru Sam Webb has repeatedly stated on WTKA that this rule has been changed and backdating is no longer allowed. This would be bad. If Michigan experiences any attrition between now and February, they will be going into the fall down scholarships because the 25 limit tripped them up.
FWIW, I asked SID Bruce Madej about it and he said he believed that was the case; when I pinged back with that bylaw he said he had to talk to compliance.
Before Witty qualified and Christian committed, poster cypress put in a useful comment that counts up all the guys on scholarship next year and the recruits currently committed and came up with three open slots in a recruiting class of 23. I don't think his count is 100% correct. It includes Cone, who indicated his departure by walking on senior day. Other assumptions made:
- Sheridan is listed, who is going to be fourth-string at best and is the son of the Giants' defensive coordinator. Chances are that family can swing tuition.
- Kelvin Grady may or may not be guaranteed a scholarship down the road. Earlier in the year it seemed like Grady was technically a walk-on who would get scholarships if they became available.
- It does have Kovacs.
- It does not have Morales, Leach, or Moundros. Morales is a safe omission since he is not the starting long-snapper. The other two might be first in line if scholarships are available.
- It assumes all fifth-years return. This is potentially dodgy in the cases of Adam Patterson and Bryan Wright.
- It assumes no attrition before signing day.
Some or all of these may be incorrect.
Michigan is at 22 recruits and have at least three more slots with Cone's departure and the assumption that Sheridan is not on scholarship.
If the back-dating rule has not changed I think they can bring in a full 28. There are two obvious fifth-year seniors who may not be invited back if Michigan latches onto a recruit they think that can help them, and unless Michigan gets lucky there is probably going to be some attrition between now and Signing Day. If they can bring in 28 without hijinks they can take their 25 now and sit around on Signing Day attempting to snake-oil big names; if they can't they might have to…
Pull The South Carolina
If Webb is right, and he's probably getting his information from someone in the department whose job is to know these things, then Michigan is probably almost full right now and any pleasant surprises like CA RB Dillon Baxter or FL WR Kenny Shaw would necessitate someone getting put on a slow boat to either another school or a grayshirt.
Michigan did this with a couple of recruits last year. It's kind of a nasty move but the guys Michigan gave a nudge to ended up at Oklahoma State and Kansas, so they landed on their feet. I feel for Dewayne Peace, who's probably been told that his mother died because she was so disappointed in him, but "mutually parting ways" before signing day is a venial sin compared to the Alabama method.
I don't think that will or want that to happen; as you'll see in Wednesday Recruitin' a lot of the "we're totally in it for this guy from really far away!" has melted away into Michigan explicitly trailing other schools that have yet to receive officials, a situation that virtually never results in a good result. The most likely outcome for the recruiting class is that it adds Grimes and Murphy plus one other defender—Webb has a "gut feeling" on Josh Furman, FWIW—and ceases there as everyone grumbles about two more slot receivers.