Recruits In Retrospect: 2010 Defense Comment Count

Ace May 15th, 2015 at 2:06 PM

Previously: 2008 Offense2008 Defense2009 Defense2009 Quarterbacks2009 Offense, 2010 Offense

The series continues with a look back at the defensive prospects in Michigan's 2010 recruiting class. Rich Rodriguez took 16 defenders in the class; more of them failed to make it to the opening kickoff of their freshman year (four) than advanced all the way to Senior Day (three).

I apologize in advance.

Those Who Stayed

Obi Ezeh!

Especially in retrospect, Jake Ryan's recruitment was bizarre. Ryan was the most productive defender on a state-title-winning Cleveland St. Ignatius squad that got plenty of exposure; he played next to Ohio State commit Scott McVey; his highlight tape provided more than a glimpse of what he'd become at Michigan. He looked a whole lot like Jake MF Ryan, minus the flowing locks.

Yet Ryan went unranked for much of the process, and even after a strong senior season only earned middling three-star rankings. Michigan didn't offer Ryan until he took an official visit a couple weeks before Signing Day. Ryan, holding only MAC offers, committed the next day. Reading his profile today makes me wonder if I unwittingly ingested all of the drugs:

Why Obi Ezeh? Ryan is a big, slightly clunky middle linebacker who will easily reach Ezeh's current 245 pounds and may outgrow the position entirely. As a recruit Ezeh was an anonymous three-star in about the same range Ryan is; he was also a sleeper-type pickup who had not been on anyone's radar before Michigan grabbed him. Ryan is praised for his vertical attacking and dogged for his ability to cut through the trash sideline-to-sideline or effectively cover zones; Ezeh's career is ably summed up by those critiques.

Ryan has some assets Ezeh doesn't: a high school career at linebacker (Ezeh was mostly a running back), a head start on the system he'll be playing in, and Greg Robinson as a position coach. Hopefully he'll have some consistency in coaching as well.

Notably, Greg Robinson as a position coach was listed as a positive. Greg Robinson as a defensive coordinator was... not.

Jibreel Black's profile spent a lot of time hoping he'd become at least a poor man's Brandon Graham. While Black didn't come close to Graham's heights, he was a solid contributor his last three years, and he could've been more productive if Michigan's issues with D-line depth didn't force him into a role as a 275-pound nose tackle for much of his senior season. Black is one of many players from the Rodriguez/Hoke era whose career would've benefited from a redshirt year he wasn't afforded.

The career of Courtney Avery saw him go from promising freshman corner to clearly undersized spot starter to senior utility man—he'd finish his time at Michigan with 19 starts, five of them at safety in 2013. Avery was also a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, which shouldn't come as a surprise since he flipped his commitment from Stanford to Michigan; his high school coach thought very highly of him:

“He’s the type of kid that if he wants to be president of the United States one day, he will be. I got two compliments I could give him. That’s the first, and the second is if my daughter was 18, she could date him."

"Thanks, Coach. I'm deeply uncomfortable."

[Hit THE JUMP, if you dare.]

Those Who Basically Stayed

You hit the jump, eh? Welcome, gluttons for punishment and fans of rival programs.

A few defenders from this class almost made it, and given the context that counts for something.

Josh Furman came to Michigan as a spectacular athlete in search of a position. He was one of two recruits in the class to get the "cheetah in a porsche strapped to a jet engine and dropped out of a plane" tag; though ticketed for defense at the college level, he once ran for 414 yards in a single high school game:

The hope was that, with a good deal of coaching up, Furman would become the prototype "spur" hybrid defender on the Rodriguez/Robinson defense. Read and cringe!

General Excitement Level: Daddy needs a new pair of shoes. Roll them dice and hope Greg Robinson and Adam Braithwaite are the savants they're reputed to be.

Nope. Furman mostly saw special teams action after taking a redshirt year, then was randomly inserted to the lineup at safety for three starts in 2013 for reasons still a mystery to anyone not named Brady Hoke or Greg Mattison. Those didn't go so well, and Furman decided to spend his final year of eligibility as a hybrid space player at Oklahoma State, where he thrived—tallying 14 TFLs, 7 sacks, and a pick—because of course he did. The Denver Broncos took him in the seventh round of this year's draft and inked him to a four-year deal.

The first word in Jordan Paskorz's recruiting profile is "workmanlike," and the generic three-star defensive end never rose above that label. He moved from linebacker to tight end after two years on campus, and eventually earned a lone start in 2013 when the coaches were searching for any TE-like substance willing and able to block a soul. He elected not to return for his final year of eligibility.

The last member of the Pahokee pipeline, defensive tackle Richard Ash, saw infrequent time as a reserve during his four years on campus. Brian labeled him a boom-or-bust prospect out of high school because of questions about his work ethic and ability to keep his weight in check, and unfortunately he ended up more Jason Kates than Fat Elvis Brandon Graham. Ash did find a nice role during his fifth year, having a reasonably productive season... for Western Michigan.

Those Who Played

Left: Carvin Robinson hated losing. Right: Marvin Robinson, OMG Half-Shirtless

Due to the dilapidated state of Michigan's secondary to end RichRod's tenure and begin Hoke's, several 2010 recruits were thrust into early playing time, and most of them ended up leaving Michigan well before exhausting their eligibility.

Carvin Johnson earned major pre-enrollment points for the incredible photograph posted above, taken after he was named his team's most outstanding player while losing the state title game, as well as his attitude towards the recruiting process:

What did you like least about the process? 
• Carvin Johnson: “I didn’t like anything about it. I don’t like all that, I really don’t. I don't like recruiting, I don’t like going to the recruiting camps. I don’t like all that, I just like to play, pretty much. You want to watch me play, come and watch me play."

Johnson saw the field right away, getting three starts at hybrid linebacker—please don't make me look up the difference between "spur," "bandit," and "spinner" in 2015—but fell behind Jordan Kovacs and Thomas Gordon when he moved to safety. He departed late in the 2011 season and wound up at Hampton.

Marvin Robinson, much like Ricardo Miller, proved the classic example of a high school player who develops early, gets a ton of hype, and plateaus when he's nearly maxed out his physical ability before he can legally vote. Brian still thought highly of him, mostly because a linebacker-sized safety with coverage issues had an ideal fit in the 3-3-5 we thought Michigan would run. Instead, Robinson started just one game at Michigan—the first ND night game, in which Theo Riddick scored the go-ahead TD when Mattison rolled Robinson, playing safety, all the way up to the line in a cover zero look—and transferred to Ferris State after playing mostly special teams in 2012.

Yet another safety, Ray Vinopal, was the target of the most ire from the three-star mafia, to the point that Rodriguez addressed the situation directly in the Signing Day presser; the Youngstown product was a two-star on two of the three recruiting services. I doubt even Rodriguez expected Vinopal would be needed on the field his freshman year, but there he was, making the first of his six starts that season in the disastrous Penn State game*, which you may remember for such things as "why is Kenny Demens a foot behind the nose tackle?" and "does JT Floyd need a compass?" Vinopal looked the part of an overmatched two-star freshman, and he transferred to Pitt following that season. The twist ending: Vinopal turned out to be pretty good. C'est la vie.


Cullen Christian's Michigan career is best remembered for his interminable press conference to announce his college decision, which inspired a T-shirt:

He was thrown into the fire in the Michigan State game his freshman year, struggled like one would expect of a true freshman in such a situation, and transferred to Pitt. He's now transferring again, this time to West Virginia—he's following Tony Gibson around.

That 2010 secondary was such an unholy mess I have zero recollection of Terrence Talbott's 11 appearances at cornerback that season, but MGoBlue claims they happened, and I defer to the official record-keepers. His playing time vanished in 2011, and he left the program the next summer. A quick Google search doesn't show if he continued his career elsewhere.

Talbott's big brother in both age and size, defensive tackle Terry Talbott, was in the same class. His profile is most notable for his mother's story of why his younger brother ended up with such a similar name:

"I was crazy in the hospital. They had me medicated up when they asked me for a name. Terrence just came out."

The elder Talbott redshirted while trying to add some much-needed size, but his career came to a close due to injury, and he was placed on medical scholarship before the 2011 season.

Kenny Wilkins came to campus as a linebacker-sized defensive end, didn't see game action in three years—he was even left off the fall camp roster entering 2012—and exited when spring practice opened in 2013.

Those Who Didn't Make It In The First Place


One of the main reasons this class became infamously bad is that a decent chunk of it never got so far as to suit up for a game. I noted Austin White's departure in the offense section, and because he didn't have a recruiting profile, I forgot to note that quarterback Conelius Jones couldn't get the test scores to pass admissions.

Jones wasn't alone in that regard. Linebacker Antonio Kinard's status was so obviously in question Brian didn't write a profile for him, either. He didn't qualify, took a prep year, tried and failed to qualify at Miami (YTM), went to a JuCo in Arizona, and this fall will (hopefully) suit up for Cincinnati.

Linebacker Davion Rogers, who somehow was a skinnier version of Shawn Crable, left the program a couple weeks into the 2010 season. He had a standout year at Youngstown State in 2011, but departed the program after the season.

Finally, there's Demar Dorsey, the other cheetah in a Porsche strapped to a jet engine and dropped out of a plane. Dorsey provided the biggest shock of Signing Day when he chose Michigan over Florida and FSU. His commitment immediately came under fire because of a checkered legal history, as well as academic question marks. The latter prevented him from passing admissions. Despite multiple attempts to transfer to D-I schools—namely, Louisville and Hawaii—from JuCos, Dorsey couldn't get admitted by the schools or the NCAA. He was last spotted playing in the Arena League in 2014.


Here is a GIF of Denard Robinson laughing:

I'll spend the weekend thinking about what I've done.


Ron Utah

May 15th, 2015 at 2:31 PM ^

This is bad--horribly bad--but it still might have been a more productive recruiting class than the 2010 offensive version.  Only Gardner would wind-up a consistent starter, and Dileo was the only other significant contributor.

All-in-all, 2010 was pretty much the worst on every level.


May 15th, 2015 at 2:33 PM ^

God, is that brutal. 

How said is that we all thought " if we just get Demar Dorsey we will have an awesome class"?

I know I did.  

Let us never speak of this time period again.


May 15th, 2015 at 2:47 PM ^

Seeing him would have put me in a good mood that would get instantly murdered by reading this post, but then it would be all better again.


May 15th, 2015 at 3:04 PM ^

What is amazing is just by probability you'd expect a few guys to play way above their level in any class....while you always have your busts.  Aside from ryan I'd argue almost this entire class was busts or at best a FEW guys who played to their recruiting level (Dileo, Black).  Just so woeful and unfortunately with recruiting a class like this hurts you for years.  The 2010s would have been rs Srs for Hoke last year and Srs for Hoke in 2013.  

Combined with a lackluster 2011 class (better than 2010 but talk about a low bar) it really was a time bomb in the program.


May 15th, 2015 at 3:59 PM ^

You should know this Ace!

Bandit: The weakside slot player (counts as a safety), 2/3rds safety, 1/3rd outside linebacker in a 3-4. Like the Spur except doesn't take on tight ends--often tracks down slot receviers in space. Jordan Kovacs played this except when they idiotically made him the free safety a few games in 2009. Furman was recruited to be a Bandit.

Spur: The strongside slot player (counts as a linebacker). 2/3rds outside linebacker, 1/3rd safety. "Meat raw" version of bandit--this means he takes on tight end blocks sometimes. Stevie Brown played this, then it was a rotation of Thomas Gordon, Carvin Johnson, and later Cameron Gordon. M-Rob was recruited to be a Spur. So was Brandin Hawthorne and a few others.

Spinner: The nominal strongside linebacker (counts as linebacker). 50% linebacker, 50% defensive end. This is where they put Roh when they had him in a 2-point stance. They also used JB Fitz here. The Spinner can back out in a true 3-3-5 or often comes down to line up like 4-3 over SDE but GERG didn't know how to use him so he had this guy in coverage all the time. Jake Ryan was recruited to play this. If Shawn Crable had infinite eligibility, or Pierre Woods for that matter, they would have been perfect for it.


May 15th, 2015 at 4:07 PM ^

On the other hand I commend your use of alcohol to erase all memory of Talbott playing dime back in 2010, when opponents saw Michgian's depth chart and decided they'd go 4-wide all day and Michigan had to use Talbott and Avery together on half their downs. This happened. It didn't go very well.


May 15th, 2015 at 4:18 PM ^

You know, it is always good to stay humble. This is a great reminder for Michigan fans. Sometimes, Michigan fans can be insufferable. I want Michigan to win. I want Michigan to compete, and to be in the running for titles and championships. But in one small way, stuff like this is a good reminder that any team can have bad years. USC was bad for a while. Alabama was bad for a while. ND, Texas, etc. Even OSU had Cooper. We now have had our time wandering in the wilderness. May it cause Michigan fans to be humble and thankful when Harbaugh leads the team back to the promised land.


May 16th, 2015 at 2:32 AM ^

One is not like the other lol - Cooper had a 70% win rate in conf and 72% overall.  Yes thats a step down from some other coaches they had but damn good.  Paterno, Fulmer, and Carr were 75% for comparison.

A lot of yrs they went into that final game with UM undefated or with 1 loss - I wouldnt mind that kind of "down" time.  I am going to give him a pass for year 1 taking over a progam - other than one 6 win year and one 7 win year, everthing else was Carr-ish as a floor (8-4ish) up to damn good (1 loss yrs).  That is nothing like UM football of late.  We're more like TN post Fulmer, and ND post Holtz, and Bama post Stallings.

Ohio State Buckeyes (Big Ten Conference) (1988–2000)
1988 Ohio State 4–6–1 2–5–1 T–7th      
1989 Ohio State 8–4 6–2 T–3rd L Hall of Fame   21
1990 Ohio State 7–4–1 5–2–1 5th L Liberty    
1991 Ohio State 8–4 5–3 T–3rd L Hall of Fame    
1992 Ohio State 8–3–1 5–2–1 2nd L Florida Citrus 19 18
1993 Ohio State 10–1–1 6–1–1 T–1st W Holiday 10 11
1994 Ohio State 9–4 6–2 2nd L Florida Citrus 9 14
1995 Ohio State 11–2 7–1 2nd L Florida Citrus 8 6
1996 Ohio State 11–1 7–1 T–1st W Rose 2 2
1997 Ohio State 10–3 6–2 T–2nd L Sugar 12 12
1998 Ohio State 11–1 7–1 T–1st W Sugar 2 2
1999 Ohio State 6–6 3–5 T–8th      
2000 Ohio State 8–4 5–3 4th L Outback    
Ohio State: 111–43–4 70–30–4  
Total: 192–84–6  



May 16th, 2015 at 10:42 PM ^

I was very deliberate in Cooper's inclusion. Talked to a rabid OSU fan this week, and even he acknowledged that for OSU fans, they certainly talk about Woody, and Bruce, and Tressel, and Urban. But for as good as Cooper was, not beating Michigan was huge.

I will not be the one to post another post asking the question, but I wonder how Michigan fans would feel if Harbaugh had a 75% win percentage, but just could never beat OSU. My guess is that winning 9, 10, even 11 games a year, but failing to beat OSU and Urban would mean that Michigan fans wouldn't be satisfied and consider Harbaugh a success. You have to be competitive with your major competitor, and win at least 30 - 40% of those key competitor games.


May 15th, 2015 at 8:15 PM ^

The top to bottom professional malpractice--recruiting to scheming to coaching--is just astounding.

Rich Rodriguez is a good coach, as we've seen at West Virginia and Arizona, but he was inexplicably terrible in every facet of his job while he was here.

I won'r rehash Brady Hoke's limitations--a dead horse.

I'm as excited as anyone to have Jim Harbaugh as the head coach.  But good gracious, if he and his staff are minimally competent in all areas of their jobs it will still be a marked improvement from the last decade of debacle.