Michigan's best offensive recruit of 2011 entered the program as a walk-on. [Barron]
It's that time of the offseason when I go back through the recruiting profiles for the class that just finished its five-year cycle, which brings us to...
Oh no. Ohhhhhhhh no. It's the 2011 hybrid RichRod/Hoke class, an underwhelming group at the time—ranked 26th in the composite—that didn't come close to living up to expectations. I promise this exercise will be less painful next year. Until then, let this serve as a painful reminder of how far the program has come in the last couple years.
This post on the offense will be mercifully short, at least; there were only seven scholarship players on that side of the ball in the class, and two didn't make it through their first fall camp.
Forcier Comparison = Accuracy
Michigan snake-oiled three-star dual-threat quarterback Russell Bellomy from Purdue shortly before signing day. By the time Brian got around to writing up Bellomy's profile, Shane Morris had already committed to the 2013 class, while Devin Gardner was waiting in the wings behind Denard Robinson. Bellomy's profile didn't exactly scream "future starter" regardless of the competition:
So what have they won? A developmental prospect. Bellomy's a bit like Justice Hayes in that he seems like a better fit for the offense Michigan just dumped. That might not be a big deal long term—unlike Hayes, Michigan actually got interested in Bellomy after the transition—but Bellomy is not Chad Henne. He's described as an "efficient spread offense QB" and completed only 58% of his passes on a run-heavy team. He rarely broke the 20 attempt barrier. Opposing coaches($) say stuff like "he was much more effective in the pocket than we expected" and "you have to respect his passing ability as well." He needs work.
Bellomy's YMRMFSPA was "pick a Forcier" due to his mobility and reputation as a "riverboat gambler." The comparison worked in that Bellomy flamed out of the program. You know the story well: Bellomy entered the 2012 Nebraska game over Devin Gardner, then moonlighting at receiver, when Denard Robinson hurt his elbow, had a disastrous three-interception performance, and never saw meaningful time again. He transferred to UT-San Antonio for his senior season, attempted ten passes as their backup quarterback, and left the program only a month into the 2015 season.
[Hit THE JUMP for, well, more pain.]
Two Backs, No Fits
The lone NFL player on offense to come out of this class fielded favorable comparisons to Mark Ingram from Fred Jackson (no surprise) and Scout's Allen Trieu (surprise). A skeptical Brian saw a three-star with a meh offer sheet and went with Kevin Grady, hoping the MANBALL offense would provide a better opportunity for success. Thomas Rawls indeed had a Michigan career that mirrored Grady's—high initial expectations followed by disappointing results.
Rawls thrived, however, after transferring to Central Michigan for his final year of eligibility, breaking the 1000-yard barrier as a senior before landing with the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent. An injury to Marshawn Lynch provided Rawls the chance to make an impact as a rookie; he rushed for 830 yards on only 147 carries before fracturing his ankle and looks like a star in the making. Fred Jackson should get credit for identifying Rawls' talent when few others saw his potential; he loses all that credit for failing to extract that potential from Rawls while he was still in Ann Arbor.
The back expected to make the biggest splash was four-star Justice Hayes, a 7-on-7 superstar who elicited comparisons to two different Michigan receivers on the strength of his athleticism and hands:
Breaston, like Hayes, entered Michigan a rail-thin consensus four star who needed to gain weight. Hayes would have to scrape the very top of his potential be as elusive as Breaston but he does have one major advantage: hands. Breaston's hands were underrated by a pack of perfectionists who saw every dropped slant as a hanging offense but they weren't much better than okay. Hayes sounds like he's got Jason Avant's hands in a tailback's body.
The fear that Hayes wouldn't find a fit in Al Borges' offense unfortunately came to fruition. Hayes never rose higher than third or fourth in the running back pecking order before grad-transferring to Southern Miss, where he finished out his career as... their third running back. His career may have been much different if he'd moved to the slot from the outset or stuck with his initial commitment to Notre Dame—his skill-set was much better suited for Brian Kelly's offense.
The O-Line Class: Better Than 2010!
After Rich Rodriguez took only one offensive lineman in the 2010 class, Hoke brought in three in 2011, an alarmingly low number given the state of the depth chart.
That only got more alarming when guard Tony Posada, who entered the program in the 6'4", 340-pound range and got the requisite Alex Mitchell YMRMFSPA, proved unable to make it through his first fall camp. Fellow 340-pound behemoth Chris Bryant also got the Alex Mitchell comp, and while he at least saw the field—even starting a game as Michigan tried anything to fix the 2013 O-line—recurring injuries ended his career after his junior season.
The most impactful scholarship offensive recruit in the class ended up being three-star Jack Miller, who was listed as a nondescript defensive lineman by Rivals and ESPN. Brian labeled him a "generic non-Molk C," and that held true; Miller started 16 games, including 12 in 2014, when he won the team's offensive lineman of the year award essentially by default. Miller chose to forego his final year of eligibility in 2015 due to concussion concerns.
Gone Before The Profile
Touted Oklahoma tight end Chris Barnett had one of the most unusual recruitments in recent memory:
But while Flenory refused to reveal that advice, Barnett has transferred high schools five times, attended four different high schools and twice broke commitments to colleges. The bizarre recruiting odyssey of the 6-foot-6, 245-pounder is a window into Flenory’s influence among top recruits whom he befriended while working as a Dallas-based recruiting analyst for Scout.com.
“It all makes sense if you understand how dysfunctional (expletive) is,” Elzie Barnett said of his son’s recruitment. “But it doesn’t make sense to a layman. He’d be like, ‘What the hell?’”
Like Posada, he didn't make it through fall camp, and the rumblings of his departure began early enough that he didn't even get a recruiting profile here. I can't find anything on the internets that indicate he landed at another program.
The Good: The Walk-Ons
There's a bright spot here, albeit one that highlights the failures of this class. Michigan added a couple excellent walk-on prospects to this group in 2011. Graham Glasgow was the first of the Glasgow clan to come to Ann Arbor; he was M's steadiest lineman over the last few seasons and was chosen by Detroit in the third round of this year's draft. Joe Kerridge signed with Washington after a solid career at fullback. Glasgow easily had the biggest impact of any offensive recruit in this class, and Kerridge could very well be second—Miller is the only other player with a real argument.
Coming soon, I'll go over the 2011 defensive recruits. Try to contain your excitement.