Recruiting Refocus: Defense

Submitted by Brian on December 7th, 2017 at 12:24 PM

Previously: offense.

The Ole Miss Situation


Van Jefferson comin' on up? [Bryan Fuller]

No post that touches on recruiting at the moment can style itself complete without mentioning the likely transfer of three Ole Miss players. While Shea Patterson and Van Jefferson are offensive players, they take up scholarships. Deontay Anderson is a safety who will (probably) be a redshirt sophomore next year, which puts him in the same class as J'Marick "Ol' Woods" Woods and Jaylen Kelly-Powell.

At this moment it seems likely that Michigan will get those three players, and only those three players. Rivals's assertions that "up to seven" Rebels could end up at Michigan might be technically true, but one glance at the roster should be sufficient evidence to discount a mass transfer of that magnitude. Unless your name is Greg Little, Michigan's need to have a 2018 recruiting class all but shuts the door.

If Michigan does lock down the three names above that takes this class from 20-22 to 17-19 without additional attrition; that is certainly a possibility with so many borderline fifth-years. It's a delicate situation.

But, anyway, the defense:

Defensive end


various Upshaws [247]

Michigan has commits from instate SDE Adrian Hutchinson and FL DE Taylor Upshaw. Hutchinson is a Michigan legacy and four-star who projects as a Wormley/Van Bergen sort of burly strongside guy without huge pass rush upside. Upshaw, the son of NFL DE Regan Upshaw, is a high-upside wildcard who Michigan flipped from Florida this fall. He just started playing football and is all potential and no polish.

Michigan took a couple of excellent WDE prospects a year ago and redshirted Luiji Vilain due to injury, so need for an edge rusher is not pressing. Michigan is still heavily pursuing two five-star-ish sorts. MD DE Eyabi Anoma is at St. Frances, which means he's being coached by Biff Poggi. Alabama is his presumed landing spot all the same; Anoma did visit for OSU but he's been to Alabama three times already and is set to return this weekend. Writing seems on the wall there.

NJ DE Jayson Oweh also came up for the OSU game; he seems like a three-way OSU-PSU-Michigan battle. As of a week ago Wiltfong thought it was Michigan vs PSU.

Defensive tackle

The one spot on the defense where Michigan absolutely needs a body or two, because you have two starters at each DT spot and like QB you never want to take a pass. Fortunately, Michigan appears to be in the driver's seat for NJ DT Tyler Friday. The book-length multi-part Sam Webb interview with a parent has started dropping over at The Michigan Insider, and the crystal balls are rolling in. Friday is a consensus top 100 guy that Michigan looks set to fend off Alabama and OSU for.

A second guy probably has to come from off the board. MO DT Michael Thompson hasn't returned for an official after taking a summer visit; the same goes for NC DT Rick Sandidge.



just guys bein' dudes

Michigan has one solid ILB commit in IN LB Cameron McGrone and one wobbly viper in GA LB Otis Reese. McGrone sounds like Devin Bush 2.0...

Aggressive backer who gets moving downhill in a hurry. Shows good burst and quickness off the snap of the ball and timing when he is blitzing and shooting gaps. Plays with good motor and looks like he is always running at 100 percent. Physical and takes on blocks as well as arrives at ball carriers with impact.

...a flash of backfield doom waiting to happen. 24/7 is very bullish on him; if he sticks at his current spot (#31) he'll be a five star on Signing Day. Other sites are less enthused, but Bush was a 3/4 star borderline guy, so whatever.

Reese was one of the first commits in the class, but this seems un-good.


Reese was actually the guy who dropped before teammate Aubrey Solomon last year, and seemed like a major reason that Solomon did end up in Ann Arbor after all. But visits are visits; Michigan will strive to get him up one more time before he makes a final decision. FWIW, there have been some rumblings that Reese is #2 in the pecking order for a single slot in Georgia's class.

With three touted guys in last year's class Michigan can go relatively light here. If Reese does decommit they might be happy with just McGrone and use that spot to shore up some weaker parts of the roster. There are no LBs on the board, really. GA ATH Michael Barrett is a dual threat QB who Michigan appears set to take; he's probably not a QB and Michigan already has two RBs in the class, so he might be another Bush 2.0 candidate. He's listed at 5'11" and 215, which is Bush territory, and looks like a linebacker playing QB on tape. I mean that as a compliment.




I'm hurling all DB-shaped guys in the same group because Michigan has recruited four guys who are more or less clones. TX CB/S gents German and Gemon Green are literally twins. FL S Sammy Faustin and GA CB Myles Sims are their other brothers Darrell; all are long-limbed 6'2" guys suited to batting away fades and the like. Sims's nickname may as well be the whole group's: "Spider." Collectively they have eight arms and there's probably a silk gland in there somewhere.

Sims and Gemon Green are highly touted top 250 types; German and Faustin are three star sorts. In German's case his ranking was depressed by an ACL tear that prevented him from showing out during the heart of you-get-ranked-here season.

Michigan's pursuit of other defensive backs seems limited to CT CB Josh Jobe, a very soft Miami commit who is spending his final year of high school in the heart of Don Brown territory at Cheshire Academy, which just sent Tarik Black to Michigan. Confidence about Michigan's ability to flip Jobe has waxed and waned. Of late it's bottomed out; he just told a 24/7 writer that there's a "120 percent chance" he flips to... Alabama. Deontay Anderson appears to be taking his spot anyway.

The only other dude currently on the board is CA S Talanoa Hufanga, who visited for OSU. He was widely expected to go to Oregon prior to Willie Taggart's departure. That might open the door; still a tall order to pry a Samoan guy from California when the whole West Coast is hot on his tail. (CA S Bryan Addison is committing Sunday but has not fielded an in-home from Harbaugh, so... yeah.)

Michigan loses zero defensive backs to graduation unless Brandon Watson doesn't get invited back—unlikely—so Anderson would be a net gain of 5 DBs and almost certainly shut the door for anyone else.



December 7th, 2017 at 12:44 PM ^

plus add what is likely on the board ... this a really good class.  I am warming to the Shea Patterson transfer - we need the depth and if he can learn the playbook plus add dual-threat playmaker abilities, watch out Heisman!  A flex guy I like in this class is Hutchinson - watch his senior tape and tell me he doesn't look like a top offensive TE - his stats are really good for high school and he looks like a natural on film.


December 7th, 2017 at 12:52 PM ^

Can the mgoblogintelligencia retro calculate 2016 / 017(?) class rank if these three Le Miss players transfer in ? Have to believe we end up top 3 in 247 rankings and hopefully finish top 10 this year (T Friday presumed to be an M lock and high four star) - wouldn't that be pretty great finish 3 straight years ? I'd like to think that's championship level recruiting


December 7th, 2017 at 8:33 PM ^

but actually Emmert and Sabans' relationship sometimes plays against them when dealing with Harbaugh because its so obvious Emmert will do anything Saban requests, even if it's so damn obvious it's not based on the overall good and will be overturned in the near future as history shows is the case. This will cause, I believe, to exercise a little thought when dealing with issues that could obviously be seen as a personal swipe at one James Harbaugh. After all, his job is to facilitate "the good of all the athletes," not to personally attack one coach. 

Mr Miggle

December 7th, 2017 at 10:02 PM ^

Players, coaches, writers. We're not hearing anything negative about their chances. Ruling against the players will bring a lot of bad publicity and court cases, two things the NCAA hates.

Thinking they make their rulings based on a hatred of Harbaugh seems a little paranoid. Even the satellite camp issue had little to do with him, everything to do with southern schools crying because it may cut into their built-in recruiting advantage.


December 7th, 2017 at 12:58 PM ^

only 3 guys, not 7. webb said this morning 7 is a joke no clue where that came from. The only 4th would be little and gary's mom said not happening. And i would assume those 3 would be enrolling in january, want to enroll as soon as possible to become eligible asap. But webb is pretty confident on the 3


December 7th, 2017 at 1:03 PM ^

The ole miss transfers gloss over how poorly managed this recruiting cycle. Part of me wants to see some guys processed but on the other hand that reputation would be more damaging to recruiting than bringing in transfer QBs.


December 7th, 2017 at 1:06 PM ^

I think defensive tackles (and not the SDE hybrid types) are definitely a must-take in every class.  Much like OL you are rolling the dice on guys who weigh almost 300 pounds and are difficult to project at the next level.  You also want at least 4 of them rotating throughout games.  Next year we have Mone/Solomon/Dwumfor as likely rotation pieces and then only unproven guys behind them.  Please take another one in this class Mr. Harbaugh, and go ahead and avoid taking an unnecessary 3rd TE if needed! 


December 7th, 2017 at 1:18 PM ^

Lawrence Marshall will be in the rotation as well.  He played about 25% of total snaps in the OSU game.


We are going to need 3 TEs if projected attirtion comes true.  2 TEs on the current depth chart probably aren't back next year.


December 7th, 2017 at 1:27 PM ^

Ian Bunting and who else?

Also how in math are they going to get this class in with the right numbers with 3 transfers. Even if you leave off Reese, which is a bad thing that leaves you with 15 commits.

Friday is likely so back to 16. That leaves 1-2 spots to pick up an addition DT, OT, TE and any highly rated kids who want to come like Chase or Oyeh.  And those spots only exist if you aren't bringing back players like JBB and Lawrence Marshall.  I'm sure there will be some additional attrition, rumors about Crawfod waffling and Hall but it still seems like Harbuagh is going to have to walk a really fine line to avoid coming across like a complete asshole as he processes someone out to make room for a higher rated player. Its either that or we finish recruiting with a dud and miss out on all the top guys on the board and lose Reese which isn't exactly an uplifting story either.


December 7th, 2017 at 2:31 PM ^

I don't think anyone in the current ('18) class will be processed.  But if a couple of high end croots become real, there are likely a couple of 5th years that might move on somewhat unexpectedly to us.  I also think there will be a couple that transfer out after reading tea leaves in the Spring.

Important thing to remember - the 85 limit doesn't take affect until some date during Fall practices.  So they can run through Spring over the limit to get a read on possible transfers and handshakes.


December 7th, 2017 at 1:29 PM ^

When I look at the current returning TE's plus the two recruits we have in the fold I see 7 players.  Gentry/Wheatley/McKeon are regulars in the rotation.  Maybe they lose Bunting (though I would try to keep him) but if he stays then he's seen regular playing time.  Eubanks was also breaking into the rotation before he got hurt.  That's five returning guys to eat up any/all snaps and then the two guys coming in the class for depth.  

I know we played a lot of 3-TE sets this year, but I expect that to reduce somewhat next year with the WR developing.  I also think if you need a blocking TE that there are plenty of OL on the roster to fill that role.  

I'd use the scholarship on a DL/OL this year and go after a couple TE in the next class. Two is plenty in a small class when you have more pressing needs in the trenches.


December 7th, 2017 at 2:25 PM ^

This makes a lot of sense in the abstract, but the third TE they are looking at though is Tommy Tremble--a guy who it seems the coaches really want. If it's a choice between a player the coaches are very confldent in as a big-time contributor even at a well-stocked position group versus a lottery ticket on some random lineman, then I think they'll favor the surer thing.


December 7th, 2017 at 1:42 PM ^

As I look at the numbers and needs I had a question for the board....fullback?  

I'm firmly of the believe that 3 TEs is too many in a small class when you already have 7 with eligibility remaining (pending Bunting), you've got two in the class already, and you have obvious needs at DL/OL.  

Then I started thinking about Hill leaving as a FB/TE hybrid.  We rotated all three scholarship FBs this year and we lose two of them.  Right now Mason (who I think is going to be great) is the only scholarship FB on the roster.  I think walk-ons can succeed there, especially in limited roles, but how does everyone feel about giving a scholarship to a guy there?

I wouldn't mind seeing a big-RB (Askew/Bunch) or maybe a FB/TE tweener (Hill/Shea) get a scholarship if there's such a person out there.  


December 7th, 2017 at 1:58 PM ^

Hill and Poggi, right? I agree FB gets really thin with only Mason and the pounding involved. No obvious tweener on the roster.

Tremble seems like a great fit for the hybrid H back, but not a classic blocking FB. I wonder if Barrett is sought for his FB potential or if Jordan Anthony would move to FB (LB+RB background) or Kurt Taylor.

Bo wouldn't be happy with Harbaugh if Mason gets hurt and he doesn't have a FB.

Mr Miggle

December 7th, 2017 at 10:14 PM ^

Bunting seems a real long shot to return, so I count 4. We might put that many on the field at once. It's a thin position group without adding at least 2 more. Compare it to RB. So far we've lost 3 blocky catchy types and are adding 2. Don't forget about Asiasi.

Tommy Tremble is likely being recruited for a Poggi/Hill role. He's expected to be the 3rd TE in this class.


December 7th, 2017 at 1:44 PM ^

If he understood what was happening after he arrived at Ole Miss and self-imposed a redshirt, then that is self-discipline plus an indication of a higher quality person. Sounds like someone we want.