Recruits In Retrospect: 2008 Offense

Submitted by Ace on May 31st, 2012 at 9:18 AM


David Guralnick/The Detroit News

Continuing my theme of getting super-meta this offseason, I decided to take a look back at the MGoBlog recruiting recaps from the class of 2008—hello, blogspot!—and see how they stand up now that those players have either moved on from the program or are fifth-year seniors. 2008, of course, was the franken-class of Lloyd Carr and Rich Rodriguez recruits, a bizarre blend of pro-style plodders and size-challenged spread speedsters. While it boasted 17 four-stars among 24 commits, finishing a very respectable tenth in the Rivals team rankings, the class would prove to be an unmitigated disaster, ravaged by attrition and marked with disappointment.

So, let's go back to a time when Michigan fans still held out hope for landing Terrelle Pryor—when these were written, still holding out for a better contract mulling his decision a month after signing day—to spearhead this newfangled spread offense. Today, I'll take a look at Brian's offensive evaluations, and the defense will be covered next week. For reference, links to the original posts: Quarterback and Running Back, Receivers, Tight Ends, Offensive Line. If you're anything like me, perusing those is a remarkably fun way to waste time.

Easy Joke Is Easy

With a major change in offensive scheme, Michigan was in desperate need of a dual-threat quarterback. Pryor was the ultimate prize, and Rodriguez was forced to hedge his bets with Justin Feagin, an under-the-radar athlete from Florida whose best offers were to play wide receiver at LSU or defensive back at Miami (YTM).

Projection: Someone's going to play Tebow to Threet's Chris Leak this fall; unless Carlos Brown locks that down, it'll be Feagin. I have no idea what to expect, but think his future is probably somewhere other than quarterback.

Namely, the inside of a courtroom. ZING! (Really, when it comes to the 2008 quarterback situation, dark humor is the only option lest you want to break down in tears.)

Ironically, it was his off-field actions that made Feagin one of the recruits Brian was "baselessly excited about in defiance of recruiting rankings and reason," due to late-night workouts and multiple quotes expressing no concern about potentially having to compete with Pryor for the starting job. It was noted that Feagin required "a ton of developing to be a legitimate quarterback," which was readily apparent during his brief appearances as a freshman. Then came the cocaine stuff and subsequent boot, so we'll never know whether Feagin could've turned into a passable receiver.

NEVER FORGET

I started following recruiting seriously when a friend showed me Noel Devine's highlight tape during my senior year of high school. Since I had little understanding at the time about how recruiting actually worked, I was bitterly disappointed when Devine seemingly had zero interest in Michigan (and vice versa), eventually ending up at West Virginia. I swore never to get my hopes up about highlight tape heroes again.

So the next year, when another atom-sized running back took the YouTubes by storm, I had little hope that this Texan doing heel-clicks on the backs of linebackers would even consider donning the Maize and Blue. Even so, I'd watch his tape on repeat, sharing it with friends whenever the opportunity arose; seeing their eyes bug while asking what in the hell they just watched never got old. This is what they saw [NSFW audio warning]:

Then, of course, the impossible occurred: Sam McGuffie signed with Michigan, though not before nearly shattering our dreams during a signing day flirtation with Cal. Brian, however, was nonplussed, proferring this muted reaction to McGuffie's inclusion in the class:

General Excitement Level: AAAAIIEEEE! Man... this offense is McGuffie's jam, man, and the Church Of Barwis will excommunicate anyone who doubts his his's ability to get up to 200-some pounds without compromising his lightning quicks. Steve Slaton says what.
Projection: He's the man, man. Will battle Brown and Grady for carries at first; probably a Noel Devine role his first year.

Oh. Unfortunately, you all know how this one went. McGuffie showed flashes of brilliance as a freshman in 2008, but also the durability of a paper bag. After finishing the season as the team's second-leading rusher, he decided to transfer closer to home, ending up at Rice, where he'll be a redshirt senior in 2012. Not exactly what we'd all envisioned when the guy who frontflipped over J.B. Shugarts at the Army Game hit campus.

McGuffie wasn't the only back in the class, however, as he was joined by two other intriguing prospects. Rich Rodriguez earned the "snake-oil salesman" moniker for snatching Roy Roundtree from Purdue (more on him later), but his other signing day surprise was pulling Trotwood-Madison RB Michael Shaw away from Penn State. You'll never guess what Brian noticed on his film [emphasis mine]:

I am not a scout, but in the Shaw video at Scouting Ohio I saw a guy with a knack for catching the flare, good speed, and exactly one move: an upfield cut followed by a bounce-out that got him outside high school defenders with regularity.

And thus we find the origins of bouncebouncebouncebounce.

The final back in the class was a relative unknown from the football hotbed of Avon, Connecticut. Mike Cox's name required a disclaimer in the notes section of his profile—"Degree of difficulty applies on all jokes about his name. (IE: please no "Mike Cox is huge" jokes.)"—while his school's sporting pedigree invited a healthy dose of skepticism:

There's almost zero reliable data on Cox. His high school conference is well known for hockey -- read full of rich white guys named "Higginbotham" (no, literally) -- and is awful at football.

Until reading the profile, I had completely forgotten that Michigan took Cox over four-star Detroit Country Day product and eventual Notre Dame commit Jonas Gray. In retrospect, I think it's safe to say that was a mistake, even though Gray wasn't a major contributor until his senior season. At least we got four years of stale dick jokes, though.

NEVER FORGET, Part Deux

Rodriguez's hire brought to Michigan the era of the waterbug slot guy, which promised to be great fun for a fanbase used to watching tiny track-star guys tear it up only for opponents. The recruit expected to come in and make a big splash early was four-star Terrence Robinson out of Klein, Texas, and all it took was one physics-defying play to see why:

Commits pulling Hakeem Olajuwon post moves at warp speed during a football game understandably cause a fair amount of excitement. Brian busted out the obligatory Breaston comparison and projected him to be in the mix at both returner and slot receiver. Robinson finished his Michigan career with one catch, two kickoff returns, and one punt return for a grand total of 94 all-purpose yards.

Michigan's other slot ninja was Pahokee's Martavious Odoms, whose profile contains endless testimonials about his rabbit-chasing speed. Brian's comparison is Devin Hester and also a version of Steve Breaston that actually catches the bombs:

General Excitement Level: Moderate++. He's never going to be Braylon Edwards but if he's as fast as his reputation he could be a dynamite returner and even a deep threat: remember Steve Breaston's ill-fated career as the target of bombs? Well, he was open by yards time and again because opposing players got smoked by his moves and always dropped the ball. Odoms looks like he's pretty good at hauling in deep balls.
Projection: Will press for time as a returner immediately and is 50-50 to be the designated bubble screen guy, with Terrance Robinson the other option. Starts off with an advantage on Robinson because he's spent the last four years as a receiver.

Evaluation severely lacking in mountain goat blocking praise.

Despite the excitement over the tiny slot guys, the biggest expectations were reserved for consensus top-100 receiver Darryl Stonum, who chose Michigan over Florida, Alabama, USC, and Florida State. Breathless hype part one:

Natural change of direction? Fluid hips? Comes down with jump balls? A mix of Braylon Edwards and Mario Manningham... which, like, dude.

And part two:

General Excitement Level: Maximal. The second most likely kid in the class to have a long, productive career at Michigan, IMO, behind Dann O'Neill.

Stonum's production disappointed, even after it was discovered that he'd been playing half-blind and needed contacts, and his career came to an untimely end after a string of alcohol- and driving-related arrests.

The last of the four receiver recruits was Roy Roundtree, another Trotwood-Madison star whose projection was the closest to the eventual reality:

General Excitement Level: Moderate. Never going to be a gamebreaker, but a likely contributor. Has to add a lot of weight to be an effective player.
Projection: Redshirts, plays sparingly his second year, and is 50-50 to emerge into Michigan's #2 WR.

Roundtree redshirted, then led the team in catches in each of the next two seasons, though this was more the product of the offense—Roundtree was the main beneficiary of QB Oh Noes—than him being a true #1 receiver, though he may be forced into that role this season.

Caveats Apply

The 2008 class also featured two four-star tight end recruits, though both came with significant question marks. For Brandon Moore, the third of the Trotwood trio, the question was whether he was the future star who earned top-100 rankings and big-time offers after a standout junior season or the potential bust whose stock slipped significantly during a disappointing senior year. Scout actually started out with Moore as their #98 overall prospect before dropping him all the way to three stars and the #43(!) tight end. The verdict:

General Excitement Level: High, with caveats. Moore is a boom-or-bust guy with much potential but a long way to go.
Projection: Great success, great failure, or somewhere in between. Specific cat is specific.

Barring an out-of-nowhere breakout season in 2012, bust it is.

Meanwhile, Michigan took a head-to-head battle with Ohio State for Toledo Whitmer's Kevin Koger, but it was unclear whether he'd stick at tight end or eventually make a move to defensive end:

It must be said: Koger is widely regarded a prospect of equal or greater merit at defensive end, and with Nick Perry's escape to Southern Cal Michigan finds themselves with one defensive end recruit across two classes. Though it's possible one of the linebackers -- most likely Marcus Witherspoon -- could end up with his hand down, Michigan is critically short there.

A down-the-line move was projected, but that was largely based on the assumption that Moore would pan out. Instead, it was Koger who'd get the lion's share of the snaps at tight end for the next four years.

Brian's O-line Knowledge Has Come A Long Way

One of the staples of the recruiting recaps is the "YMRMFSPA" section, in which Brian compares the recruit's style of play to a notable former player (usually a Wolverine, but not always, as evidenced by the Hester comparison for Odoms). With Michigan pulling in six offensive linemen in 2008, coming up with the proper approximation got a little difficult:

Dann O'Neill: YMRMFSPA Jake Long. No pressure.
Kurt Wermers: YMRMFSPA Matt Lentz?
Elliott Mealer: YMRMFSPA Matt Stenavich(?)
Rocko Khoury: YMRMFSPA Uh, that other un-touted guard person.
Ricky Barnum: YMRMFSPA Rod Payne?
Patrick Omameh: YMRMFSPA ????

Dave Petruziello and Leo Henige feel very neglected, man.

As you can see above, before Taylor Lewan was the Next Jake Long, that distinction went to Dann O'Neill, a top 100 recruit from Grand Haven. Not only was O'Neill quite a talent, his services were desperately needed along a thin offensive line:

Dann O'Neill might be Michigan's most critical recruit. The only tackles in the last two recruiting classes are incumbent RT Steve Schilling, three-star Perry Dorrestein, and two-star sleeper (as in "only had offers from MAC schools" sleeper) Mark Huyge. Finding two starting tackles from that group once the Zirbel-Ortmann class graduates in two years was looking very risky.

Brian projected O'Neill to start "at some point, hopefully later (say, as a redshirt sophomore) rather than sooner (say, this fall)." Instead, he never played a down as a Wolverine, transferring to Western Michigan after his freshman year. He would eventually earn a start at Michigan Stadium in 2011, but as a member of the Broncos.

The other future washout on the line was Indiana guard Kurt Wermers, whose off-field hobbies were not exactly typical of a football player [emphasis Brian's]:

Wermers was also named to the stupidly named "Offense-Defense Bowl" in Miami. The OD bowl appears to be a sort of second-tier all star game. Big whoop, except for the press release announcing the selection:

"Wermers, a veritable renaissance man whose hobbies include weightlifting, playing guitar, singing, and reading, also enjoys spending time on the virtual field of battle in the wildly popular massively multiplayer role-playing game World of Warcraft when not battling in the trenches on the football field."

This dovetails with information from May about Wermer's participation in... an a capella group:

"I love it," Wermers said of singing. "It gives me a chance to get away from big jocky athletic guys and hang out with a different group of people."

I don't think we'll be having any discipline issues with young Mr. Wermers. It's just a feeling.

Wermers left the team before the 2009 season, saying he decided to transfer because Rodriguez was "bringing in a lot of different kids that were not my kind of crowd," and running the team like a business (Wermers signed when Carr was the coach, but obviously never played under him). It was later revealed that Wermers was academically ineligible when he announced his transfer, probably because he was playing WoW instead of going to class. Discipline issues: check.

The player who's actually panned out was the lowest-ranked among the six, Patrick Omameh, a two-star DE to Rivals and the #87 OT to Scout. There wasn't much comment on Omameh beyond addressing his sleeper status; speculation about his future position turned out to go 0-for-2:

There are conflicting reports as to whether Omameh was recruited as a center (where his intelligence would help with the line calls) or tackle; that will get sorted out somewhere down the line.

As you know, Omameh is entering his third year as the full-time starter at... right guard.

Finally, Ricky Barnum peered into the future and got a serious head start on his future team's biggest rivalry:

Various people are probably irritated with Ricky Barnum: Urban Meyer, for one. Also OH OL Zebrie Sanders, who tried to commit to Florida but was told to talk to the hand because Barnum and another player had filled Florida's OL quotient for the year. Sanders, also rejected by Georgia for the same reason, ended up at Florida State and Urban ended up short one highly recruited interior lineman. Not that anyone will ever shed a tear for Urban Meyer.

Well done, Ricky.

Comments

tjl7386

May 31st, 2012 at 9:26 AM ^

Great write up. Question I didn't follow MGOBLOG as close at the time when O'Neill commited and then transfered. What was the reasoning behind him wanting to transfer?

PureWolverine

May 31st, 2012 at 10:52 AM ^

 

I have some friends in Grand Haven who know O'Neill's dad, and I haven't heard anything very specific, but I know they're extremely, eternally down on RR because Dann complained that the coaches were, for lack of a better term, verbally abusive.  That really sounds to me like it was the crux - that O'Neill couldn't handle how "mean" the coaches were.

Now, I always question why one guy couldn't handle it and 80-odd other guys stuck it out. Ever since Three and Out, my personal suspicion - which is completely unsubstantiated by the GH connection mentioned above - is that Dann was one of the players laughing behind the bench near the end of the 2008 loss to Notre Dame, and earned himself some extra attention for the rest of his Michigan existence.  

I'd feel bad about throwing this bit of speculation into the blogosphere, but the options are: (1) O'Neill brought extra abuse upon himself and got sick of it, or (2) O'Neill couldn't handle the normal level of coach intensity - unlike, what, 10,000 CFB players every year?

mpbear14

May 31st, 2012 at 11:08 AM ^

There's a distinct difference between motivating/coaching a player by saying

"Are you stupid Dan? why didn't you do this instead of that?"

vs

"You're smarter than that Dan, this is how you do that.  You were doing this."

 

Anyone who has attended a RR practice and a Hoke practice, notices these two distinct differences in coaching styles.

I'm sure I'll get neg'd for this, but it is what it is.

coastal blue

May 31st, 2012 at 12:07 PM ^

My question is this:

Why are D1 football/basketball players so mentally soft?

I remember being 13-14 years old. We had a Scottish coach and an English coach for our premier soccer team. They swore and cursed at us all the time. No one complained, no one went home and told their parents, no one gave a damn about it. Everyone used it as motivation. All but 3 of 17 players on that team went on to play D1, D2 or NAIA soccer. Its one of those things I always think of when I hear about 18-22 year olds complaining about how they are "mistreated" by their coaches.

I personally think the pampering these guys receive, that they are already superstars before they've proven anything on the college level, is the real reason there are so many transfers from programs and this manifests itself into the idea that "verbal abuse" is what drove players from RR's program. And it honestly makes me laugh: How can a football player, who slams into other giants all day, exerting such a physical presence, be such a mental pussy?

People get competitive, including coaches. If you can't handle heated insults in moments of frustration, I can't imagine you handling adversity well in any situation.

mpbear14

May 31st, 2012 at 1:17 PM ^

This is my opinion, but I feel strongly about it.

One of those coaching/teaching methods only SOME kids can handle.  For example the David Molk's of the world can handle the swearing, the put downs, the personal attacks etc and it not effect him in anyway and you get the same positive results...

The other coaching method, ALL kids can handle.  The positive reinforcement, constructive criticism etc... and you get the same positive results...

So if you were a coach in today's age, which method would you choose, that's if you want to keep your job? 

"I personally think the pampering these guys receive, that they are already superstars before they've proven anything ..."

Welcome to the age of the internet and 24/7 news media who make a profit off of feeding fans information, mostly positive information whether right or wrong, if the kid is interested in your team. 

 

 

coastal blue

May 31st, 2012 at 4:17 PM ^

Yes.

But life isn't going to be like that.

Games aren't always going to be like that. 

I'm not saying Brady Hoke's method doesn't work, because he's shown it does, but I think that those who stick it out through a RR/Bo type coach are going to have more resolve. 

And I think the reason that - it seems anyway - more kids are susceptible to transferring because of such coaching tendencies is their pampering from coaches, scouting services, ESPN, college coaches, parents, friends, etc. from 8th grade onward. They aren't used to any criticism, so when they run into something like a RR tirade, they crumble. 

But I agree, the way you describe things is more effective to a greater section of players today. I just think its kind of pathetic we are at that point. And really, once they leave college, the world isn't going to be a soft cuddly Brady Hoke lecture after every mistake. 

mpbear14

May 31st, 2012 at 4:53 PM ^

"the world isn't going to be a soft cuddly Brady Hoke lecture after every mistake."

If the kid keeps making the same mistake after being shown his mistake than coached to correct it, he isn't going to play.

No idea why you think a kid needs to be verbally abused to get some type of life lesson out of it.  

Playing time is the prize.  Sitting on the sidelines does far more than swearing at a 19 year old.

Oh and please don't ever put RR and Bo is the same sentence when comparing coaching styles.  Not even in the same zip code.

coastal blue

May 31st, 2012 at 5:18 PM ^

They both went on verbal tirades didn't they?  Ones that wouldn't exactly conform to your cuddly little definition of coaching. I'm not comparing every facet of their coaching style, just that one, so chill out.

And what is verbal abuse? Is RR making jokes about their dead mothers? Using racial slurs against the black players? Using homophobic slurs? Please enlighten me. Because I think there is a difference between "verbal abuse" and having a foul mouth, which in the very PC, coddled world of college football, that often gets tossed aside. 

If you are in college and can't handle a foul mouthed tirade from a coach after you screw up, then I'm sorry, you haven't been mentally prepared to succeed by the previous authorities and mentors in your life. 

Blue boy johnson

May 31st, 2012 at 5:29 PM ^

It's not that they can't take it; it's more they don't need to take it. Not happy at M? Plenty of other colleges more than willing to give you a free education.

Then you have the example of coaches bailing on their teams for a different school. See RR, Brady Hoke, Nick Saban, Lane Kiffin.... Coaches making million of dollars at the top of their professions; jumping from school to school for a better situation.

mpbear14

May 31st, 2012 at 5:37 PM ^

They both went on verbal tirades didn't they?  

Yes, they both did.

And what is verbal abuse? Is RR making jokes about their dead mothers? Using racial slurs against the black players? Using homophobic slurs? Please enlighten me.

Here's one example:

 I see Seth below made the point that Boren wanted to work for his father's snowplow company and that's why he left.  Unfortunately, that's about 1% of the reason he left.  The other 99% are for very similar reasons you just stated.

So if Bo said: "You're F'n Smarter than that! This is how you F'n do it.  Get back in there and F'n try it again."

Is different than, oh, let's say RR or someone on his staff saying:  "Run Faster you Fat Fck.  No wonder you're a virgin.  If I was your Girl Friend I wouldn't Fck you either."

One of these two scenarios did happen, at a practice, infront of the entire team. 

For the record, My dad was at this practice, Lloyd was also at this practice and walked out of it in disgust, not after the Boren incident, but one that came later on in that practice. 

So in conclusion, Bo and RR have very little in common.  I also expect to get neg'd for this post.  Some people refuse to believe the saint RR would act like this.  

coastal blue

May 31st, 2012 at 6:39 PM ^

So your evidence is an anecdote from a practice you didn't attend? 

Did your dad catch the aftermath? 

Does he know if anything else was said after practice?

Does he know if RR talked to Boren?

I love that you reference "saint" Rodriguez, then use an extremely weak example of a profanity laced Bo tirade. As if thats as bad as it ever got. 

 

Seth

June 1st, 2012 at 9:25 AM ^

Wait, waaaa? Mr. Plow was at the end of a fairly long list of reasons I gave. You don't need to misrepresent me to make your point.

I also don't see why you keep referring to people negging you, or claim there's a "Saint RR" effect going on here, especially since you seem to be getting plenty of upvotes. I think the other readers have at least demonstrated they're willing to hear your opinions, and I doubt you're even in the minority here.

I don't have direct evidence, but the girlfriend quote does sound kind of on the level wtih a Bo practice tirade Dierdorf once described.

You have a good point about whether military basic training techniques ought to be used on our student athletes. There's no need to pretend like Rodriguez was remarkable in using them.

mpbear14

June 1st, 2012 at 10:03 AM ^

I apologize Seth.  You did give a long well thought out list of differences in coaching techniques between the former staff and RR's.  I simply took one piece of your response because it allowed me to make my point more clear to coastal blue .  I could have phrased it better, no doubt.

About the negging, I only bring it up because I've seen people get smoked on here in the past when speaking unkindly about RR,  which is why I rarely posted until recently and I've been a member for awhile.

 

Anyways, keep up the good work

Magnus

May 31st, 2012 at 11:46 AM ^

If O'Neill left because of the verbal abuse, he might not be the only victim.  Keep in mind that Rodriguez suffered some serious, serious attrition and we were down to 69 or 70 scholarship players at one point.  It's not like he was the only guy who failed to tough it out.  If Wermers spent more time playing WoW than studying, maybe it's because he hated being coached by Rodriguez.  McGuffie left.  Toney Clemons left.  Justin Boren left.  So on and so forth.  I'm not saying they all left because of the verbal abuse, but perhaps it didn't help.

Seth

May 31st, 2012 at 2:58 PM ^

I think that's a pretty broad stroke you're painting there. I would rather the coach treat his players with respect, but I've seen Bo Pelini speak ardently about how he would never talk down to a player and how he reams out his assistants if they ever do so, and then we saw this happen publicly a few times last year. I've never known a football coach who wasn't some kind of hard-ass, except perhaps JLS. You know better than I that RR's predecessor was hardly the Uncle Lloyd we like to picture him as, but also that he softened a lot as he got older. Bo could give any coach lessons on verbal abuse.

Was it a factor for some of the players who left? I guess, but how much of a factor is really the important thing, and I don't think Rich Rod being a hardass was as big of a deal as the other vast changes in program culture, and the losing, and most of all the personal needs of the individual players. Boren wanted a stable, winning, old fashioned program and to be able to work for his dad's snowplow business when he was needed there, and that was not Michigan. McGuffie had several concussions and needed his family around him--I'm sure you've known people who have had head injuries and that depression is one of the symptoms, and how being miles and miles away from your strongest support in such times is awful. That he moved to a top educational institution near his family tells you all you need to know about where his priorities were, and this doesn't say anything negative about Michigan except it is not in Texas. Toney Clemons bought in fully to Lloyd's receiver program, and saw his credits toward that end wiped away by a new regime that wanted him to start from scratch with the freshmen slot bugs; meanwhile he'd be wasting snaps having Threet or Sheridan or whatever run-first QB RR brought in next (this was pre-Tate commit) throwing to him, and he wanted to develop into a pro receiver, so...

The swearing and put-downs were part of a much larger story. It was a major cultural shift, and this is what we wanted. There was bound to be attrition. We've sat around for years since then trying to justify all of that attrition with all sorts of nonsense, from Carr's supposed announcement that he'll sign anybody's release to Rich Rod swore at me and whatever else while ignoring the simple fact that the program changed overnight from one that was mostly coasting off the foundation established by Schembechler to one given over to a relatively young guy who invented the hottest offense in the game and used it to tear open the Big East. The key here isn't whether it was good or bad, but that it was simply different, and for guys who were sold Michigan on the basis of our great program continuity, it was going to be very very jarring.

Consider how Boren committed. He was thinking of going to Ohio State, which let's be honest was a perfect fit for him given their entitlement system for linemen, their dominance of the conference, their proximity to home, the opportunity to play with his brother, and their much greater tolerance for the kind of selfishwhinybitchasswipes that have been the foundation of Ohio State football since Woody Hayes. But his dad, the epitome of a Schembechler accolyte, had him sit in with Carr and Bo, who said nofuckingway is a son of Mike Boren going to play for Ohio State. We act like Michigan is the right choice for any recruit, but honestly we weren't the right one for Boren. I could see myself at 17, my father and his idols sitting before me expecting that I not let them down. A stronger person than me or Justin might have said "No." A stronger person too would have been much a much better fit for the transition from Carr to Rodriguez.

The belittling from Rodriguez I've mostly heard about were not the Rosenbergian kind, were not simpliy verbal abusiveness. What sticks with me stronger about him was that when a player complained about something, RR's response was to "do it for him," i.e. complete the workout or the run or the exercise or the route the player was supposed to. I believe it was something like this that served as the last straws for Justin Turner and Alex Mitchell. Emphasis there on "last straw." The bigger themes: higher expectations in physical training and extra practicing and academics, a different offensive system that emphasized different player attributes, a group of players, including many upperclassmen, who loudly didn't buy in, and the losing--especially the losing--were all greater factors.

That there wasn't nearly as much attrition when the current staff arrived speaks as much to the personalities of the players on Team 132 as it does about Hoke and Borges and Mattision et al. In 2006 Michigan, like Ohio State, was a program that could tolerate weaker personalities because everyone could still tap into the personality of Bo. People who expected their expectations to be met could largely have their expectations met. In 2008 we no longer had that luxury; we traded it in for a culture shift and a bet that the guy who invented the spread could turn Michigan into something greater than a perennial Top 25 team.

So we lost the Malletts and the Borens and a bunch of other dudes who came for expectations, and kept the Molks and Huyges and Martins and RVBs who already had that extra self-actualization you need to succeed without a strong support structure. Moreover we recruited a lot of kids in 2009 and 2010 and especially 2011 who came in knowing that their head coach might not make it, and these self-assured, self-motivating, non-expectation types of guys--Blake Countess, Craig Roh, Taylor Lewan, Denard Robinson, Mealer, Desmond Morgan, J.T. Floyd, I could go on--now make up a majority of the roster. I readily admit I don't have the testicular fortitude that they have. But it's just that kind of fortitute it took to stay on or join this team in the last few years.

maizedandconfused

May 31st, 2012 at 9:37 AM ^

 this recruiting class, more than anything else, probably killed Rodriguez here. With the exception of Stonum, Roundtree Omameh and Barnum, this class was a wash. Not to mention that there are 0 defensive recruits worth mentioning here.

Eye of the Tiger

May 31st, 2012 at 10:11 AM ^

...and look at the entire recruiting class, you can see that very few recruits developed as planned/hoped. There's always a certain degree of this with any class, but the batting average for the 2008 class wasn't great. The only real standout, so far, has been Martin. Floyd, Koger, Barnum, Demens, Roundtree and Omameh have all been solid. After that it gets dicey.

2009 had more standouts, but fewer role players. 

Taken together, these were weak classes with some bright spots. 

Needs

May 31st, 2012 at 11:31 AM ^

If we think of a baseline measure of success for a recruit along two lines

1. Becomes a regular starter at some point in career.

2. Remains in the program.

This class had a success rate of 

1: 7.5/16. (Koger, Odoms, Stonum, Roundtree, Barnum, Omameh, and generous half points for Moore, Mealer, and Khoury, since we don't know what's going to happen with those positions) Not counting Shaw or McGuffie because they were only "regular" starters in the most tenuous definition of the word. 47%

2. 11/16. 68%

 

As a control, here are rough numbers for three Carr offensive classes (02, 04, 06) and going purely off memory for 1 and whether they show up in the Bentley's list of team pics for their 4th year.

2002: 

1. 4/10 40%

2. 7/10 70%

2004:

1. 4.5/9: 50%

2. 7/9: 77%

2006:

1. 5/7 70%

2. 6/7 (Boren) 85%

 

Notable things.

1. This was a really large offensive class, measured against the late Carr years.

2. Actually a good strike rate of starters for such a big class.

3. Retention rate seems within normal range. Absolute numbers of players leaving is higher, given the larger class size.

4. None of the players who left the program from 2008 had career ending injuries.

5. I had a very difficult time remembering any of the guys who left the program from the Carr years, apart from Boren. Whereas remembering those who left the 2008 class was not difficult. Reasons: mgoblog's existence (particularly for early classes), players left in either notable ways (Wermers, Feagin) or were contributors (McG, Stonum). Only O'Neill seemed to leave in manner of pre-Boren recruits. 

Conclusions:

1. This is actually a decent class, if what you want is the production of starters. If you want the production of stars, it's very weak. This class produced no players who were all-Big 10 first teamers and only two players who were on the lower rungs of the all Big 10 lists (Roundtree - 2nd team, Koger - honorable mention). It's unlikely to have anyone drafted into the NFL. It's the lack of stars that hurt the product on the field.

2. Off the field, the prominence of the players who left the program and the way that they left (apart from O'Neill and Stonum who was obviously later) helped contribute, in the wake of both Rich Rod's first year and Boren's very public departure, to an image of a program in chaos.

turd ferguson

May 31st, 2012 at 12:24 PM ^

I wouldn't use whether guys start to measure this, because someone's gonna have to start and someone's gonna have to sit on the bench regardless of how good the team is. I bet you wouldn't see big differences on that metric between, say, Alabama recruiting classes and Eastern Michigan recruiting classes. In fact, EMU's recruiting might actually look better because of Alabama's oversigning.

Needs

May 31st, 2012 at 2:11 PM ^

I don't think "starters" is great as an absolute measurement of class quality, for the reasons you suggest. But examined over time, particularly after classes have graduated, I think it does give a good sense of which classes succeeded in landing useful players. It's not going to catch everyone, obviously, but it is one measurement. 

I was looking forward at 2009 and 2010 and it's clear, even though they're just rising juniors, that while 2009 is quite successful, producing 5 starters plus Vincent Smith (and however you'd like to classify Forcier) out of 9 recruits, 2010 is the class that's going to be an anchor. Out of 10 offensive recruits, only Hopkins looks set to be a starter, and that's in a position that only sees the field in about 1/4 of the offensive plays. Only Dileo and Gardner have contributed in their first two years and other than them, only Jerald Robinson seems like he'll be in the running to be a starter as a junior. 4 of the 10 are gone, including 2 who never made it to campus. It's also the class that had only 1 offensive line recruit (Pace) who is now gone.  

And this doesn't even get to the 17 member defensive recruiting class, which has produced 2 current starters (Ryan and Black), 1 other contributer (Avery), 1 recipient of the annual spring hype award (Talbott) and 7 guys that have left the team or never made it to campus. 

 

alum96

May 31st, 2012 at 11:21 PM ^

"I wouldn't use whether guys start to measure this, because someone's gonna have to start and someone's gonna have to sit on the bench regardless of how good the team is."

Bingo.  Someone has to start - let us agree there have been "below average for Michigan" STARTERS the past 3-4 years.  Doesn't mean it was a successful recuit for Michigan.  For Illinois or Purdue - maybe.

mpbear14

May 31st, 2012 at 9:58 AM ^

Maybe the ability to see 3 years into the future at Michigan??  Things weren't exactly pretty around our program when RR was around.

Though I bet if he could go back, he would have stuck it out if he knew Hoke and his staff would take over.  Hindsight is 20/20.

 

*In response to the O'Neil question. 

Don

May 31st, 2012 at 10:08 AM ^

It's too bad that McGuffie didn't have the chance to show what he could do in a fully-mature spread offense. Like if RR had never left WVU and recruited Sam to Morgantown.

BlueinPhilly

May 31st, 2012 at 10:22 AM ^

Forgot about a lot of these names. Quick pet peeve: "nonplussed" does not mean "unaffected" as you (and most people) use it. It actually means the opposite (utterly perplexed).

/word Nazi out

Blue boy johnson

May 31st, 2012 at 11:01 AM ^

Here is a little history to keep everybody up to date on nonplussed.

http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=453

 

Q: What is the origin of "nonplussed"?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it comes from nonplus, meaning (as a noun) "A state in which no more can be said or done; inability to proceed in speech or action; a state of perplexity or puzzlement; a standstill". Originally this is just the use in English of the Latin words "non plus", meaning "no more", and used in roughly the sense of Roberto Duran's famous (if apparently apocryphal) "no mas". The earliest recorded use in English is

Yinka Double Dare

May 31st, 2012 at 2:00 PM ^

Note that Zebrie Sanders ended up starting games as early as his freshman year at tackle and was just picked in the 5th round of the draft.  Double oops for Florida.

alum96

May 31st, 2012 at 11:17 PM ^

First thanks for doing this.  I enjoy these look back pieces whether it be drafts 5 years after the fact or recruiting classes. 

Second, amazing that 17 four star recruits only created "this".  On offense yes a bunch of starters but some of them out of need... no stars.  You'd think you'd hit on 2-3 stars by default in a pool of four stars that deep.  It puts things in perspective in the recruiting game.  Always some hit or misses but lets keep the saliva in our mouths until these kids hit the college field. 

I also wonder about 'development' of players, some coaches do a far better job of it than others.  Mattison got a hell of good development out of almost equal talent base as the previous year while of course we had D coordinators who were afterhoughts.... and (as much as we dislike him) that ball coach from MSU develops 3 stars into very quality players.  I sometme wondered about Carr because some guys like David Harris were "very good" in college but "stars in the NFL" so why werent they 1st or 2nd team All American in college.

I also think part of it is self motivation and drive - guys like Ben Gedeon sound like good talent but also someone you won't need to get up out of bed to live and breathe football.  Compare that to the Will Cambell's of the world and I like that aspect of how UM is recruiting, it strikes me as very "New England Patriot-ish". 

Anyhow as stated above, this type of analysis should serve to temper all our dreams of 2-3 national championships from this and last year's recruiting classes.  Let us hope each class has 2-3 stars and 6-7 above average players.