Recruiting Refocus: Offense

Submitted by Brian on December 5th, 2017 at 11:30 AM

Like the other thing that happens annually, in December the college football fan's attention turns either to a ludicrous coaching search or the slightly less ludicrous enterprise of recruiting. Michigan is downshifting from a couple of extremely large classes in Harbaugh's first two full years, but attrition and a few fifth-year firm handshakes means this shouldn't be a class down in the 14-17 range that Hoke's last two classes were in. This is a good thing, as anyone who surveys this year's roster and results should be able to deduce.

To the various h3 tags!



Will Grant Newsome make it back? Please? [Bryan Fuller]

With the announced departures of Wilton Speight, Alex Malzone, and Maurice Ways, Michigan has 69 scholarship players with eligibility next year. That's 16 spots. In addition, it seems likely that Jared Wangler, who has barely played, will explore a grad transfer.

Ian Bunting, Juwann Bushell-Beatty, Lawrence Marshall, Noah Furbush, Bryan Mone, and Brandon Watson are also redshirt juniors who may be in limbo; in the past couple years Michigan has told certain potential fifth years that their spot may be contingent on attrition elsewhere. Watson, Furbush, and Mone are almost certainly safe. The other three guys maybe not.

Other attrition from guys who feel buried or have negative extracurricular events is inevitable. Per Sam Webb, JaRaymond Hall has received his release and may end up transferring; there are probably other names. In addition, Chase Winovich has an NFL decision to make and Grant Newsome may not make it back from his injury.

The most likely outcome is a class between 20 and 22 with one or two of the borderline fifth-years leaving. Any transfers in would obviously dent this number.


There are few areas that are crying needs after Michigan's last two classes stocked the cupboard up and down. With 16 commits in the class already, Michigan's board is narrow. At most spots Michigan is only looking for one or two guys and has a top target and a couple secondary ones they hope to lock down. This recruiting year is going to be much less of a frenetic finish.

A total dearth of Hoke-era QBs means Michigan needs to add numbers, but they've already got two. Tight end is a major priority after passing on the spot a year ago and losing Devin Asiasi; Michigan has two and is looking for more.

As currently constituted the class is most in need of an interior OL or two—currently Michigan just has a couple of Frey-style developmental tackles—and a DT or two. Michigan took a bunch of DTs a year ago but that isn't a spot where you want to take a pass, ever. A wide receiver or two is also a priority; Michigan currently has none in the class.

Position by position:


Michigan won a recruiting battle with various SEC schools for Joe Milton, a "holy specimen" with nigh infinite upside... who's completing under half his passes as a senior. The history of QBs who don't see their completion percentage go up over the course of their high school career isn't great, but with Peters and McCaffrey ahead of Milton this seems like as good a time as any to take a Dave Kingman cut at a high-ceiling prospect.

Then Michigan was just watchin' some high school football on ESPN...

The line of communication between Michigan’s coaching staff and Kevin Doyle had been somewhat quiet, until Pep Hamilton and Jim Harbaugh spent time watching Concord De La Salle vs. St. John’s College High School on ESPN.

They watched Doyle — a three-star 2018 pro-style quarterback from St. John’s — throw for more than 300 yards against one of the top prep programs in America, one day before U-M’s season-opener against Florida in Texas.

“And then I got a text from coach Harbaugh asking me to give them a call,” Doyle told the Free Press recently.

...and decided they should go after Kevin Doyle. One glance at the depth chart should confirm the need for two QBs in the class; Doyle isn't a recruiting superstar who has the leverage to demand he's the only QB class or the profile to scare off Milton. He is a dude who played the second toughest high school schedules in the country, per USA Today, and helped his team to their first league title since the 1980s.

Doyle is the relatively low-ceiling, high-floor prospect but he's still a battle-tested 6'4" dude.

Michigan is almost certainly done with high school recruits at the position but if former target Dorian Thompson-Robinson decommits from UCLA after Jim Mora's firing they might kick the tires. Obviously, the potential addition of Shea Patterson would be big news for the program; it's less big for 2018 QB recruits since Patterson would block them for at most one year after their inevitable redshirts.

Running Back

Michigan is likely done here, as well. They flipped GA RB Christian Turner from what seemed like an inevitable Notre Dame commitment this summer and then took a flier on MO RB Hassan Haskins. Like a number of other recruits in the class, Turner's recruitment rather belies his rankings, with a lot of major offers and a near-ND commitment. Haskins is a true sleeper who didn't see any big offers until Michigan stepped in. He obliterated local competition en route to a 2,000 yard season; he's still ranked in the 1300s by the 24/7 composite.

Neither guy is going to have to carry much of the load next year, and Michigan isn't in on any big-time prospects. They're likely done here.

Wide Receiver


JaMarr Chase or sleeper [247]

Nobody is currently in the boat after Michigan took a celebrated four-WR class last year. The early departure of Nate Johnson opens up at least one spot, and two guys wouldn't be a surprise. Michigan could use a slot type; they took Oliver Martin last year but he's an inside-outside guy and not a punt maestro and screen jitterbug.

Michigan does not seem to be the favorite for anyone with whiz-bang rankings unless the current chatter about LA WR JaMarr Chase, who visited last weekend and was the subject of a commit rumor, holds up. In this case it might since Chase decommitted from Florida in the aftermath of Jim McElwain's firing and the primary competition at the moment is TCU. TCU's an excellent program but it's not demonstrated the ability to straight up buy guys like LSU.

The rest of Michigan's known WR targets are pipe dreams like Amon-Ra St. Brown (who 24/7 isn't even listing M was "warm" for anymore) and Jalen Hall,  one of those kids who is and has been going to USC since the beginning of time but wants to stretch it out. The only guy they've had on campus is MO WR Kamryn Babb, and that was back in April.

Unless Michigan does get Chase they'll be swinging at a sleeper or two or trying to flip a guy late. Expect a three star you haven't heard of just yet, and maybe two. If Michigan does pick up Ole Miss receiver Van Jefferson he'd arrive as a redshirt junior, functionally replacing Nate Johnson on the roster. Jefferson would almost certainly mean M takes just one WR in the class, what with Oliver Martin and Tarik Black redshirting.

Tight End

Michigan has a commit from TX TE Mustapha Muhammad, a highly touted guy who was clearly one of Michigan's top targets from the get-go. ESPN has him in the top 50; Scout has him 66th. Rivals is enigmatic. He's a highly athletic FLEX sort.

They've also got a random 6'6" New England QB named Luke Schoonmaker who gets ranked like a QB in New England does. Because he is a rando recruited by Jim Harbaugh everyone kind of assumes he's going to be an NFL draft pick, and this site includes itself in this everyone.

Michigan is still recruiting the position and picked up a couple crystal balls for GA TE Tommy Tremble after his visit last weekend. Tremble has been to Notre Dame twice this fall and is the main competition; Tremble is another three-star with an offer list that does not match.

Offensive Line


Hayes plays TE for his high school team and is thus max Frey [247]

Michigan has instate OL Jalen Mayfield and Ryan Hayes committed. Both are very much in the Greg Frey mold of highly athletic tackles who need to pack on weight before they can see the field. Both are being held back by some absurd Rivals rankings; they're 20th and 16th in the state. 24/7 has both on the verge of the top 100.

Michigan lost IN OL Emil Ekiyor to Alabama and thus has no interior OL in the class. A bumper crop of OL last year means Michigan doesn't have a huge need, and so far they've focused almost exclusively on tackles. Because obviously.

Michigan's top target is FL OL Nicholas Petit-Frere, a composite five star in the direct center of the Frey bullseye. Petit-Frere is a 270 pound athletic tackle in Tampa, Frey's main out-of-region stomping ground. And his last name translates to "little brother," which means he and only he can break the Mike Hart curse.

Also in "players exactly like you'd expect Greg Frey to recruit": Michigan offered Arizona State commit and CA OL Jarrett Patterson recently, and his recruitment went zero to 60 in a flash. He already fielded an in-home from Drevno and is visiting this weekend. Arizona State just hired a guy who hasn't been in college for 30 years and doesn't know his new school's mascot is a devil... unless Patterson is inexplicably enthused about playing for Dave Brandon The Program, Michigan has an excellent shot there. UCLA is also lurking around the edges; they seem a more likely landing spot for Patterson than his actual commitment.

Contact between Michigan and enormous Aussie man-mountain Daniel Faalele has rather fallen off, unfortunately. If Michigan does decide they have a spot for an interior OL, I wonder if they'll poke around in-state Syracuse commit Tyrone Sampson. The lack of early interest from not only Michigan but MSU for an Army AA guy might mean he's got grade issues, though.

Offensive Upshot

Michigan is close to done on this side of the ball. Leaving aside transfers, they'll probably add a wide receiver and one or two OL; a third tight end is also a possibility. Chase and Petit-Frere plus anyone else would be a good finish.



December 5th, 2017 at 4:45 PM ^

I think the number of kids that leave will exceed what most are expecting. 

When I hear attrition I think 5th year guys like Scott Spynewski last year who was not offered a scholly for a long snapper, rather bring in a freshman at a position of need.  This year I think there may be a few more King Davis scenarios..

After the OSU game coach gave the seniors 3 days off, but made them do weights and film, all other players had to practice the next day.  I was around that Monday, and of course a lot of the players were still upset and frusturated.  However listening and talking to a few people there was a strange vibe.  Now I know this vibe had to do with the group that announced their intentions (DH,WS,AM,MW).

I did not get the sense that this was over, or even close to over.  JH has been running around focused and with an edge.  I was not surprised at all to see him with MD twitter fingers, and some of the kids flat out look worried.  

For respect for the kids I won't mention any names other than Crawford which UMbig already mentioned. But, don't be surprised if a: TE or 2 (sounds crazy I know but just sayin..) WR or 2, 1 lineman, and 1-2 db/safety guys end up elsewhere. 

The momentum is building on the recruiting trail and there are simply not enough spots.  Exit interviews and depth chart is all over the coaches schedules, and apparent in their meeting rooms etc.   



PS: Glad to see Franklin is gone, clearly a liability. Go Blue!


December 6th, 2017 at 1:32 PM ^

None of the departures so far have been a surprise (with the possible exception of WS). Since Hall has gotten the papers to transfer it won't be a surprise if a lineman leaves. It isn't hard to imagine a TE leaving but I would be surprised if any of the DBs leave. Of course, I was very surprised to see Keith Washington leave.

As for Crawford, I think he has a lot to offer. He is the best blocker of the WRs and while his production wasn't what we all hoped, neither was the production from anyone else (Black is a possible exception). The lack of production is tied directly to problems at QB and the OL more than to the WRs. I suspect that Crawford is thinking about leaving out of frustration due to those problems (and, on a personal level, to the TDs he had called back due to penalties). The team is strongest with Black and DPJ as the deep receiver, Crawford and Martin/Collins as the posession receiver and Perry, McDoom et al. in the slot. I suspect Harbaugh is encouraging Crawford to stay.


December 5th, 2017 at 2:13 PM ^

HE might not be for everyone, but has all of the qualities and background to do well:

  • 10 years in the NFL & never missed a game
  • 20+ years of coaching in the NFL, including 7 as a HC
  • Honorable & principled
  • Strong set of personal values
  • Practices what he preaches
  • Proven leader
  • Mature
  • Patient

I think he'll do really well.  Might take 3-4 years (as we should all know from our own past).  Expect him to kill it on recruiting, especially with the recruits parents and families. It will be interesting to see who he names as the OC and DC and who else is on the staff 


December 5th, 2017 at 11:56 AM ^

If JBB wants to come back, they would be crazy not to take him.

Named the team's Offensive Lineman of the Game for his performance in the win over Maryland (Nov. 11)

• Has appeared in 22 games as a reserve offensive lineman and on special teams, making eight starts (one at left and seven at right tackle)

In the first five games of the season, against teams such as Cincinnati, Air Force, and Purdue, Michigan gained 167.8 YPG at 4.0 YPC. In the last seven games of the season, Michigan gained 199.6 YPG at 4.9 YPC. Yes, the last seven games included games against Rutgers, Minnesota, and Maryland, but they also included games against Penn State, Indiana (strong defensively this year,) Wisconsin, and Ohio State, and included games where we didn't have a fully functional passing game.

Pass blocking was an issue. But if you think a RS Frosh is going to step into the lineup and solve all our problems, the history of college football glances askance in your direction.

And thus concludes this week's contribution from the JBB fan club. Current membership = 1.


December 5th, 2017 at 11:59 AM ^

The improved running performance was also tied to the return of gap blocking and the power run game which was mostly all zone concepts in the beginning of the season. There's a reason Runyan played most of the OSU game at RT.


December 5th, 2017 at 12:02 PM ^

Where is this fallacy coming from? Runyan played the last 10 minutes of the game against OSU. That's it. I don't recall us doing anything offensively in the last 10 minutes of the game.

JBB is clearly better at power than either the undersized Ulizio or Runyan. If he allowed us to move to a different scheme that was more effective, that sort of makes my case, right?


December 5th, 2017 at 12:04 PM ^

JBB wasn't hurt and Runyan was out there for the penultimate offensive 'drive' of the game. Either way, JBB was not the sole reason for why all the running metrics improved for the second half of the season.


December 5th, 2017 at 12:22 PM ^

    Heaven forbid one of these so-called "reporters" ask Harbaugh about a personnel decision. If it was an injury (watch the game, after a 2nd half fumble, JBB dives for the ball and comes up holding his elbow, he was ineffective after that,) we'll never know. It's odd that we would bring someone in to pass block and then give up 3 sacks in 10 minutes after giving up 2 in 50 minutes.


December 5th, 2017 at 12:57 PM ^

I'm with you in this fan club...he's a big body that can manhandle the lower ranked opponents and maybe, with an extra year in the system, have a light bulb moment against the elites. Either way, a FR isn't going to be any better than he is and we need guys who can take, and deliver, punishment.

Please keep him.


December 5th, 2017 at 2:23 PM ^

I'll admit, it's one of the weirdest fan clubs around. Why JBB? If I have to look back at the season, the image that sticks with me is JBB carrying around the jug after the Minnesota game. I'm sure everybody gets a chance with the jug like the Stanley Cup, but it seemed like the other players let him have extra time with it. Like, they were really happy for him. A guy who got his chance (2016,) failed badly at it, stuck with it, didn't give up, and got another opportunity that he made the most of (371 rushing yards against Minnesota.) I can't help but root for that kind of feel-good story, and yeah, I probably cried watching the movie, "The Blind Side."

Image result for juwann bushell-beatty minnesota jug images


December 5th, 2017 at 1:03 PM ^

That was a head scratching comment from Brian.  Maybe he's been getting some off the record info from people, but I'd peg JBB as much more likely to be back then given a firm hand shake.

Mr Miggle

December 5th, 2017 at 2:10 PM ^

two new starting OT next season. He didn't qualify it by saying "may". I know it can be taken more than one way, but Sam is careful about how he phrases things and he was pretty emphatic. I can't say whether it was just his opinion or based on inside knowledge.


December 5th, 2017 at 2:14 PM ^

That's interesting. I'm not in town, so I don't know what phrasing Sam uses on the radio in this regard, but it seems like he's heard what the coaches hope for next year.

JBB was serviceable but no more at RT. If the coaches are pretty clear about looking for 2 tackles, it means that they think they can do better with the guys we have on the roster right now.

Which I would take as optimism. If they let JBB go, that's... wild optimism. Because he's a decent floor to have around.


December 5th, 2017 at 2:55 PM ^

Agreed. This should be another situation where the decision to be made about returning is on the player's side rather than the coaches'.  That is, the coaches should have already concluded that the team will be stronger next year if JBB returns and welcome his return. He may not be a starter but you want at least 8 guys ready to go for the OL and JBB fits there.