Recruiting Mailbag: 2016 Needs, QB Numbers, California Pipeline Comment Count

Ace February 10th, 2015 at 2:52 PM


NJ DT Rashan Gary may be M's most important target in the 2016 class.

Although the Roquan Smith decision looms, the recruiting focus has almost entirely turned to the 2016 class, one that comes with significant expectations for Jim Harbaugh. While there wasn't nearly enough time in the 2015 cycle for Harbaugh to make a huge splash, 2016 should be the class in which the results start meeting the hype.

With Michigan handing out a rash of new offers in the last couple weeks, this seemed like a good time to take some of your questions.

Biggest Positions Of Need

What do you see as the biggest position of need, outside of possibly quarterback? Our lack of weapons at WR, especially when compared to the elite teams last year, has me leaning that way.

Thanks,

Trent

While Michigan will certainly take a receiver or two—with a focus on pulling in a top-flight talent like Dylan Crawford—I don't see that group as the most pressing need in this class. There's plenty of talent on the depth chart left over from last year, and you shouldn't sleep on redshirt freshmen Drake Harris and Moe Ways; both have big-time ability.

Three position groups come to mind immediately. On offense, the O-line is in need of sheer numbers after Michigan took just five total in the last two classes—one of whom, Mason Cole, didn't redshirt and therefore may as well be regarded as a 2013 recruit. The Hoke regime provided Harbaugh with a decent start here; 2016 commit Erik Swenson is a borderline top-100 prospect. Expect Michigan to add at least two more on the line, and preferably more. Given Harbaugh's offense, adding a high-level tight end or two is also a priority.

The biggest need on the team is at defensive tackle. Michigan didn't take one in 2015, and six of the nine DTs on the current roster are in their final two seasons of eligibility—the only exceptions are sophomores Maurice Hurst Jr. and Bryan Mone and redshirt freshman Brady Pallante. While Hurst and Mone have already started contributing, Pallante was an undersized prospect who was initially offered as a grayshirt before Hoke missed out on several D-line targets.

Given how long it usually takes for DTs to develop, landing two recruits there at a minimum is a must. Luckily, Michigan is off to a strong start in the recruitment of Paramus (NJ) Catholic's Rashan Gary, the #2 overall prospect on the 247 Composite.

[Hit THE JUMP for questions on the quarterback outlook, California recruiting, fullbacks(!), and reasonable expectations for the class.]

Quarterback 'Crootin

Between the still-limited class size, two QBs in the previous class, and John O'Korn's transfer, I think Michigan will take just one unless there's attrition at the position before the end of the cycle. The coaches appear to be setting up a race for that spot. KJ Costello is the top target, especially since a commitment from him could impact the decision of other top California prospects, but I think the coaches know better than to take one big swing at a guy who could very well stay on the West Coast.

The recent offer to IN QB Brandon Peters shot Michigan right to the top of his list, per The Wolverine's Brandon Brown ($). Peters is ranked as high as fifth among pro-style QBs (Rivals) among the four services, coming in tenth on the 247 Composite. Both he and Costello are looking at potential spring visits, and while I think Michigan would give Costello first crack at a commitment, it may come down to which one is able to get to campus first, especially if Costello can't make it to Michigan in the spring.

Down the road? Almost assuredly. Michigan's got a bit of a logjam at quarterback right now as they've scrambled to make up for the regrettable Hoke/Borges recruiting strategy (Bellomy in 2011, no QB in 2012, only Morris in 2013, only Speight in 2014). There are going to a lot of underclassman QBs on the roster for the next couple years, and once the depth chart starts to shake out it's reasonable to expect a player or two to look for greener pastures, especially if a younger QB jumps the line for the starting job.

California Pipeline?

I know it’s beyond early and I’m much more of a cautious optimist than cynic here I swear, but when do you think we’ll get a sense of whether or not Harbaugh and co can turn all these Cali offers, and almost entirely positive feedback, into a solid (and hopefully ongoing) pipeline out west?

There's no question Michigan is off to a good start with California recruiting, generating high interest from the likes of Costello, Crawford, Theo Howard, Devin Asiasi, Camilo Eifler, David Long, CJ Pollard, and Demetric Felton. Costello, Crawford, Howard, and Long have even discussed visiting as a group; Howard has called Michigan his "dream school."

I'm still a little skeptical, though. Package deals have a way of falling through over time. It's also hard to forget Michigan's recent recruitments of Keisean Lucier-South, Iman Marshall, Su'a Cravens, Dillon Baxter, Jordan Payton ... this list goes on and on when it comes to players from the state showing a solid amount of interest in Michigan, with some maintaining that interest for the duration, but ending up close to home.

Cross-country unofficial visits are also notoriously hard to pull off. Case in point: David Long, who told GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz that he'll no longer be able to visit this month, as previously planned, because of his track schedule ($). While long-distance prospects have an easier time setting up official visits—when they don't have to pay out of pocket for the trip—those often come too late for a program like Michigan to jump into the mix.

That said, Brady Hoke didn't hit California as hard as Lloyd Carr used to, and the Harbaugh name obviously carries quite a bit of weight there—several recruits have already mentioned closely following his 49ers teams. If Michigan can get the group from California to visit for a spring practice, that'll be a very strong sign this is more than just talk. If we're talking about establishing a solid pipeline, though, it's going to take a couple of commitments—and those players sticking it out through the inevitable overtures from USC and UCLA.

MANBALL

Harbaugh has enough on the current roster (Kerridge, Houma, and Shallman) to get him through this season, but with Kerridge and Houma set to graduate there's a very good chance he'll use a scholarship on a fullback. Depending on where you look, Michigan's already offered one: Prattville (AL) back Kingston Davis, who's a load at 6'1", 225.

With several tight ends already receiving offers, I'd expect Harbaugh to look for an H-back type as well, and given his history at Stanford those guys often turn into fullbacks. At 6'3", 233, four-star PA TE Naseir Upshur, who's shown strong interest since the coaching change, fits that mold.

Reasonable Expectations

Top five is a little ambitious. Remember, even now, this coaching staff is off to a late start for connecting with 2016 prospects, especially the top-tier guys; 34 of the composite top-100 recruits have already committed to a school, including 12 of the 33 five-stars.

I'd say top ten is reasonable, though it's worth keeping in mind that Michigan's overall ranking may be hampered by the numbers. This class is projected to reach around 20-22 prospects. All but one of 2015's top ten classes—Florida State's, which featured four five-stars—had at least 24 members. Given the small-ish projected class, a top 15 ranking group that features a couple blue chip guys should be enough.

Nope

Never.

Harbaugh

Harbaugh.

Comments

victors2000

February 10th, 2015 at 7:35 PM ^

so we're still 'waking up'; we need to keep our expectations in check. It's still Coach Harbaugh's first year and the team is still missing top personnel like it had in the 'good ole' days. I think he's the man for the job and I think the team will respond to him but let's not think there won't be bumps on the road to the return.

Tater

February 10th, 2015 at 8:50 PM ^

This team was #21 in combined recruiting over the last four or five years as reported by Brian.  The reason it appears that there are holes in the roster is the predictable offense mandated by DB and, uh, "executed" by Hoke and various OC's.  Jim Harbaugh has a team full of people who know they are better than they have shown.  

Do you really think he won't have them doing something about it this year?

Double-D

February 10th, 2015 at 10:03 PM ^

This is team is LOADED.  It really is.  The defense returns talent everywhere on the 2-deep if the young DEs can pick up the losses and I htink the o-line is going to have breakout year as is Ty Isaac and Derrick Green.   It's all about the QB play.

Bronco Joe

February 11th, 2015 at 9:37 AM ^

I agree - loaded. If these classes were the recruiting classes Harbaugh brought in, no one would say the team wasn't loaded. This very article talks about position of the 2016 class as potential top 15. With Hoke's classes at 21 over last few years, there isn't too much difference between that and 15.

Hoping for strong strides forward from those who are staying. (Any one else notice there hasn't been too much attrition? Maybe students staying as under Hoke will continue...)

JCass

February 10th, 2015 at 3:32 PM ^

Apologies for being THAT guy, but I noticed on the podcast you were pronouncing it - Para-mus instead of Par-am-us and the Jersey in me had to say something.

Again, sorry.

Blau

February 10th, 2015 at 3:46 PM ^

Ace, 

With every new coaching change, there's bound to be attrition and turn over no matter how likable a coach is. What position groups can we afford this at and do you see a name or two that might not fit into Harbaugh's coaching/on-field playing style? I understand this is almost certainly pre-premature.

ND Sux

February 10th, 2015 at 4:03 PM ^

I missed the last spring game b/c Ms. ND Sux doesn't like the cold, but she's with me "RAIN, SLEET OR FUCKING SNOW" this year.  Already confirmed and if nice enough we're riding the Vulcan to town.  Can't wait. 

AZBlue

February 10th, 2015 at 4:24 PM ^

I marvel at the effort (or lack of real life) of the now deleted troll poster. I assume you have to create a new Email (past troll members IDed and declined by matching Email address?) - create an amaizing login "Harblah", and find/create the appropriate gif to post. It's really good that Spartan and Buckeye fans are not phased by the Harbaugh hire.

Bodogblog

February 10th, 2015 at 4:47 PM ^

It has occurred to me that we now have a counter to an argument.  People have often said "kids today don't remember when Michigan was great, it's been so long."  This is true.  But all of these kids remember when Harbaugh was great.  Because it's now.  I think that's going to be powerful. 

Coldwater

February 10th, 2015 at 5:06 PM ^

You can't make a living recruiting California kids to Michigan. It just ends up being too far, too cold, not enough hot girls, whatever, but the Cali offers should be for the top 5 stars that are difference makers. Harbaugh can take a shot at some of those guys and with a little luck you might be able to land one every few years.

Rabbit21

February 11th, 2015 at 9:59 AM ^

Completely agree, but to just go for the 5 stars is a bit short-sighted.  trying to set up a consistent recruiting base in an area that Harbaugh and Drevno know well isn't the worst idea.  Same thing with Texas and Florida.  You can't ignore the Midwest and I don't think the staff is doing that, but at the same time you can't ignore California and the Southern states either, which is what it seemed Hoke started to do.

alum96

February 10th, 2015 at 6:27 PM ^

Think the needs of 2016 are two fold on defense - DTs as you said; all that will remain are Hurst Jr, Mone, and Pallante post 2016 and the DBs.  The offers already out to 20 DBs say that.  If Peppers goes early all that remains are our two 2015 recruits, Reon Dawson, and Brandon Watson.  You can't even play nickel with that not to mention build a 2 deep.  (Cole sounds like he will stay on offense per Harbaugh).  While you can throw a true FR CB out there it's not a great thing to do and true FR S just plain scare me.  So we need 5 DBs as a floor in this class. 

I am not as worried on tackles since Cole is here 3 years and you basically have a bunch of guys competing to backup Braden for 2 years (or Magnuson 2 years) and then 3 years down the road replace Cole and 2 years down the road replace Braden/Magnuson.  The 3 inside positions we do need guys (guards/centers).

We also have needs at LB - we need to see some development out of the McCrays, Furbushs, Winovichs, and Wanglers to alleviate that to me.  Losing Ferns and having no LB this class unless Smith signs is making this a priority too.

Long story short - after a QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 FB, and a few guards, TEs (maybe 10 spots) everything else needs to be devoted to defense this year.

alum96

February 11th, 2015 at 4:31 AM ^

Well I am assuming a class closer to 22ish but if its only 20 you need to sacrifice some of those spots above for D.  The 2015 class had a whopping 3 defensive players.  If the 2016 class is only 20 guys you may only have room for 7 offensive - we need 13ish defensive players IMO - 2-3 DT, 5-6 DB, 3 LB, and 1 DE min.

StraightDave

February 10th, 2015 at 9:37 PM ^

Plenty of talent?   I must have watched a different UM team the last couple years.  Last year I watched a bunch of dudes who could not block,  get open down field, or create any sep.   Other than that UM is stacked at WR, I guess. 

uminks

February 11th, 2015 at 2:22 AM ^

in recruiting! If Harbaugh wins 10 or more games then we will have a top 10 recruiting class. 8 or 9 wins, you are still looking at a top 20 class. If he only wins 6 or 7 games, then he will remain south of the top 20.

My guess is that Harbaugh will have a big season!

CoachBP6

February 11th, 2015 at 2:33 AM ^

We need to snag 3 Interior DL prospects, several secondary prospects, and a couple LB's for sure. Hope Harbaugh takes 1 QB (Costello), and a couple TE-Y types.

I really hope Costello is Harbaugh's guy at QB. I have this gut feeling that peters is going to commit immediately after his spring visit before Costello gets a chance to make it to campus. I will never question Harbaugh when it comes to QB's, but I find Costello to be the perfect QB type in today's game. Hopefully my gut feeling is wrong. Don't get me wrong, I'd take Peters, but there is no doubt that Costello is better.

kstevens26

February 11th, 2015 at 10:30 AM ^

DL AND DBs...

WR is a big ? right now bc we have a lot of guys that have been billed high, but haven't shown what's been expected.

Darboh had a decent year last season, but we need someone to really be that #1 option. Hopefully Harris can recover and be the field stretcher we've lacked since Stonum.

Looking at Cole and Perry really excites me for the potential in the frosh class.