Some Justification For The Recruiting Tizzy Comment Count

Brian June 14th, 2011 at 1:21 PM


he wants you (probably not you unless you're 6'6")

Brady Hoke's swashbuckling recruiting start has put Michigan fans in a tizzy, yrs truly included. Whenever anyone's in a tizzy there's someone there to say "hey, wait a minute," and this is no exception: amongst the many threads that can be summed up with three punctuation marks—!!!—is a small cadre of very rational people who note a significant number of three stars and lack of top 100 types.

One of them did some research:

I looked at Rivals data for every year since 2002, when they first started rating. I looked at the total number of 4 and 5 star recruits each year, and then calculated that as a percentage of the overall class. As we know, 4 and 5 star recruits are what fans think of as "elite" recruits, and if you look at elite recruits as a percentage of the overall class, you can get a rough idea of the "quality" of that year's class.

There are major caveats with this approach, starting with a huge one; this year's class isn't finished being rated, since none of have even played a game as a senior in H.S. Also, the class isn't, like, complete. Finally, the usual caveats of recruiting ratings apply as well. But since fans are typically using ratings to proclaim their happiness with recruiting, it seems fair to at least look at the early ones, just as we do around here in Tim's "Hello' posts. So here goes:

YEAR- #4/5* of # in class (%)

2002- 11 of 21 (52%)

2003- 13 of 17 (77%!)

2004- 13 of 22 (59%)

2005- 10 of 23 (44%)

2006- 11 of 19 (58%)

2007- 7 of 20 (35%)

2008- 17 of 24 (71%)

2009- 14 of 22 (64%)

2010- 6 of 27 (23%)

2011- 6 of 20 (30%)

2012 to date- 7 of 16 (45%)

So of the 11 years that Rivals has recruiting rated, there have been 4 of those years that, by looking at 4 and 5 star percentage of class, this year's class so far has beaten. And of course 6 that had a higher percentage of the class rated as elite by Rivals. Again, I don't draw any conclusions here because of the above caveats, but I do find it interesting. What do you think?

I think the above guy does have a point. Michigan is not suddenly recruiting on par with USC at its apex. That's fine. We are a beaten down fanbase that reached for the spread stars and melted its bowl streak and self respect. A return to, say, the #6 program in the country—its record during the Carr era—would be a welcome change. Michigan's recruiting from the early part of the survey contributed to that and a return to it is a good thing.

But just glancing at the number of four stars sells Michigan a little short. Here's why:

Rivals Is Relatively Down On The Class

247 and Scout are higher on Michigan's commits. The original poster returned to make this point when asked by commenters: 56% of Michigan's commits have four stars on Scout, which puts it above six of the previous ten classes.

Big Classes Are Tougher To Fill

Michigan is apparently headed to 26 this year, a number that should strike fear into every 5'8" guy on the roster other than Vincent Smith*. There's a set number of highly touted guys interested in you no matter how big your class is, so getting to 16 so early with seven four stars (or nine or whatever) should mean Michigan can hold out for bigger fish and come to rest with an impressive, large class.

*[This does make me uncomfortable: they have about 19 spots now and while a standard attrition rate gets them close-ish to that number, outright planning on sending guys out is approaching Saban territory. I hope there are completely legitimate reasons the guys who leave do so but that's getting into "but he really wanted to go to South Alabama!" territory. We'll see.]

Not All Three Stars Are Created Equal

Rivals actually breaks down players into eight tiers: a five star gets 6.1, four stars 6.0, 5.9, or 5.8, three stars 5.7, 5.6, or 5.5, and two stars 5.4. Michigan's committed three stars all get a 5.7 from Rivals save Mario Ojemudia, who gets a 5.6. They've all got good offers from program established at a BCS level:

  • Ben Braden: Wisconsin (and Michigan State)
  • Devin Funchess: Nebraska (and Michigan State)
  • Matt Godin: Wisconsin (and Michigan State)
  • Kaleb Ringer: Iowa
  • Anthony Standifer: Notre Dame
  • AJ Williams: Arkansas (and Michigan State)
  • Ojemudia: Iowa, Stanford (and Michigan State)
  • Allen Gant: Stanford

Only Caleb Stacey (best other offer: BC or Illinois) doesn't have an offer from a program that's done pretty well for itself over the last five or so years.

While none of those offer lists says "you have obviously ranked this prospect wrong (or he's fibbing about who wanted him)" there's a big difference between a 5.7 three star Nebraska was after who is a four star to the other sites and the three stars in Michigan's 2006 class. Only Quintin Patilla got a 5.7. Patilla and Obi Ezeh were snatched away from the MAC; Quintin Woods had an Iowa offer but didn't qualify, something that no current commit seems to be on watch for—certainly no three star. John Ferrara (Penn State) and Perry Dorrestein (Nebraska) each had one other good-ish BCS offer but didn't get that 5.7 and Nebraska then was Callahan Nebraska. Greg Banks shows an Oklahoma(!) offer on his profile but I'm not buying that; he was nondescript 5.6.

Similarly, of Michigan's 11 three-star-or-worse commits in 2005 only two (La Terryal Savoy and Mister Simpson) got a 5.7.

This is where some light Carr tsking has to go: Michigan's strike rate in the late Carr era was dismal. Exactly one three star* from 2006 or 2005 can claim to be anything other than a desperation starter: Mark Ortmann. In just 2005 Ohio State dug up Brian Hartline, Malcolm Jenkins, James Laurinaitis, Anderson Russell, Donald Washington and Brian Robiskie. That's six guys currently in the NFL rated three stars or lower by Rivals. We can talk all the crap we want about Terrelle Pryor but the current Buckeye dominance wasn't just built on loaner cars and birthday parties. They annihilated Michigan when it came to unplucked gems.

Similarly, Rich Rodriguez's classes were laced with academic washouts, insta-transfers, and guys with offer sheets nowhere near the solid lists Michigan's current commits have.

While we've got little evidence Hoke can manage the same trick OSU did the chances he comes up as empty the Carr regime did towards the end are slim, and the chances he suffers as much attrition as Rodriguez are zero.

*[Other than Zoltan Mesko, who is a punter. He got three stars but for recruiting sites giving a kicker three stars is the equivalent of giving anyone else five.]

Michigan State: Goo

This has already been established. Brady Hoke has turned Michigan State recruiting into a national endeavor. Good luck with that, kids.

Notre Dame Is Not Invincible

Recruiting against Notre Dame became virtually impossible for Michigan after Charlie Weis (of all people!) ascended to the top job in South Bend. Throw a rock at Notre Dame's highly touted, highly disappointing offensive line and you have about an 85% chance of hitting a guy who Michigan had offered and pursued heavily. (Don't worry: in response he will only mewl pitifully and see his draft stock plummet.) When Michael Schofield committed to Rich Rodriguez, this was a tremendous outlier.

Notre Dame always did well against Michigan since they had an edge with upstanding gentlemen from Catholic schools and upstanding gentlemen from elsewhere were a dogfight, but in the late Carr/Rodriguez era that went from a slant to an avalanche.

Hoke hadn't fought with Notre Dame much early but four of the last five commits—Erik Magnuson, Tom Strobel, Anthony Standifer, and Terry Richardson—had offers from Notre Dame. Richardson is Cass Tech and his buds are commits and etc etc, but

  • Standifer is from Chicago, where Notre Dame has been kicking Michigan's head in for decades,
  • Magnuson is from the West Coast, where Michigan recruiting had evaporated under Rodriguez and Notre Dame does pretty well, and
  • Strobel is from the Cleveland area, which is historically one of the least-friendly places for Michigan recruiting. (Information per Misopogon, his past diary, and his upcoming Hail To The Victors article.)

That's a burst of success against the Irish unlike any Michigan has seen in a long time.

Ohio State: Self-Immolated

This is impossible to judge in a vacuum; recruiting against the Buckeyes is going to be a lot easier for the foreseeable future. Does Tom Strobel swing to Michigan if Jim Tressel forwards that email to compliance? Maybe, maybe not. Probably not. However, even if Ohio recruiting's skids are considerably greased the next few years Hoke has an opportunity to become an equal(-ish) force in the state comparable to the Bo/Mo/early Lloyd era when recruiting an Ohio player was like going up against Notre Dame: yeah, there's a subset of that population you're basically Sisyphus with but you are going to win a sizeable chunk of those battles.

Shane Morris

Shane Morris. In a similar vein, the things people are hearing about Wormley, Pipkins, Diamond, and even the buzz on Adolphus Washington.

Evaluating A Proper Level Of Giddiness

I do think the research guy above has a point. While Rivals is the most pessimistic data point at the moment, Michigan killing the Midwest without pulling in any of the truly big time recruits from Ohio, Illinois, or Pennsylvania (yet, anyway) is a  baseline for Michigan's success if it's going back to a This Is Michigan strategy. Hopefully over the next eight months we'll see them pare back to an elite corps of guys they're after and close out with VHTs. If they don't it's going to look like a pretty good Carr class. If they do it's going to crack the top five and set the stage for a major realignment of power in the region.



June 14th, 2011 at 1:28 PM ^

I don't wanna be Saban-esque either, but a theory that was floated on the board (Not mine, can't remember who thought of it) was that the coaches are saying "26" because they want to be able to slow play recruits. If recruits KNOW that we only have 2 spots left, they'll committ right now to save their spot, and maybe rush their decision. By saying "26" the coaches can let recruits take their time, even if it doesn't end up being 26 come February

Jon Benke

June 14th, 2011 at 3:13 PM ^

Maybe it's 26 because they know their roster, know of where people stand and on who and who won't be offered a 5th year.  This isn't SEC, Saban-esque, it's knowing your roster.  I was hoping Brian's post, while an awesome post -- good read, but I was hoping it would address the number and put out some of the flames of those who are freaking out...  That said, I have to disagree with them saying "26" as a way to mean anything other than they plan on taking that many recruits.  Now, of course, could there be a plan that has us taking less than 26 -- sure, I'll buy that, but I am guessing the main plan - PLAN A, if you will - is to get to 26, and I am guessing that means we landed the likes of Adolphus Washington and Dwayne Stanford.  I trust this coaching staff.


June 14th, 2011 at 1:29 PM ^

Michigan could of course help make room for a class of 26 by not offering 5th years to players who are currently 4th-year juniors.  I see this as not ideal but also not Saban territory.  A kid who has had four scholarship years has been given the typical amount of time to graduate.  Also, if that kid has graduated, he can transfer and play immediately at some schools (not an SEC school). 


June 14th, 2011 at 1:39 PM ^

Our Redshirts:


Terrence Robinson

Mike Cox

Brandon Moore

Patrick Omameh

Ricky Barnum

Elliot Mealer

Rocko Khoury

JT Floyd


Of those, Roundtree, Omameh, Floyd, and Kovacs have been regular contributors. Cutting them would be very iffy.

Moore, Barnum, and Khoury are on the two deep, and are primary backups at their respective positions. Either Barnum or Khoury will take Schilling's spot this year, the other will likely replace Molk next year - both are pretty much safe. Moore is the most likely to be our #2 TE (Hoke says he likes 2 TE sets) this year, as Barnett and Heitzman both have gotten "he needs to RS to get bigger" comments. I guess Ricardo could take that spot. We'll call Moore a "maybe".

Mealer isn't on the 2-deep, and isn't in line to start. But cutting him just strikes me as ice cold. We'll call him a maybe.

Robinson seems to be fated to be a non-contributor, and there is a distinct chance Cox is as well - these are guys that any coach would likely release after 4 years.

So we have 2 definites: Terrence Robinson, Mike Cox (sorry Magnus).

2 maybes - Moore and and Mealer.

Best case, that's 4 spots, and we get up to 22.


June 14th, 2011 at 1:45 PM ^

While I do agree that cutting guys is sketchy, and it's unlikely that a lot of these guys aren't on the team in 2012, I don't think not offering a 5th year is all that sketchy. You've given the guys enough time in school to graduate, they can finish their degrees, and they've spent as much time in college as the average student.

If they start going Saban-esque and booting 2nd- and 3rd-year players, count me among those who are skeezed out.


June 14th, 2011 at 1:51 PM ^

e-greed, though the rumor on the street is that Floyd's injury is something that will take more than a year to recover from. Given that his redshirt year as a true freshman was not due to injury, he's ineligible for a 6th year of playing eligibility, so he might not be able to contribute due to his health going forward.


June 14th, 2011 at 3:29 PM ^

False. There has to be documentation of an injury during the original redshirt year (you may recall that this is why Cincinnati's Tony Pike was denied a 6th year a couple years back, despite having an injury and not playing in his 4th or 5th year of college).

This may be easy documentation to BS your way into having, but it is indeed required. (Pike's main issue in that case would have been that he redshirted at Wake Forest as a true freshman, and the Demon Deacons had no stake in providing documentation to get him a 6th year of eligibility at a different school).


June 14th, 2011 at 5:44 PM ^

You mean Ben Mauk. The biggest problem with his application was he wanted it to be applied retroactively. He redshirted his freshman year got hurt in the first game of his fourth, but then only applied for a medical redshirt after his fifth year was over.


June 14th, 2011 at 6:34 PM ^

Regardless of which player it was, the point remains the same: you need to have a documented injury in your original redshirt year to get the benefit of the doubt from the NCAA. With no vested interest, Wake Forest wasn't willing to play ball, which meant no 6th year.


June 14th, 2011 at 6:58 PM ^

Yeah, of course you need documentation although I'm not sure it was an issue of Wake Forest not being willing to play ball. You need both the documentation AND present it in a timely manner. Regardless my point is Mauk's situation was really peculiar and Floyd would be unlikely to run into either snafu.

Jon Benke

June 14th, 2011 at 3:22 PM ^

I don't think offering a kid a 5th year is cutting them, sorry.  You're making it sound much more harsh than it really is, especially since every school does this, not just the SEC.  Jordan Kovacs, to whom everyone is quick to say will be back, could very easily be told otherwise.  Seriously, going forward, who would you rather have, a 5th year of Jordan Kovacs, who is what he is, or Jarrod Wilson?  To me, that's a no brainer.


June 14th, 2011 at 3:27 PM ^

Eh, I'll take the guy who's a proven all-Big Ten player (regardless of his limitations) over a guy who will be a true freshman.

On that point, it's important to note that Kovacs was a student-body walkon. Would he be willing to pay his own way for his fifth year, opening up a scholarship? Considering he was likely planning to pay for 4 years of college, paying for 2 while playing football for 4 doesn't necessarily seem like a bad deal. I have no idea if this is something he's be willing to do, but it's something to consider.


June 14th, 2011 at 3:48 PM ^

I agree it sounds logical to "take the guy who's a proven all-Big Ten player over a guy who will be a true freshman."  But consider this, would you take one year of a former all-Big Ten player who shared time in a new system over a highly-rated true freshman who can give you 4 years? 


June 14th, 2011 at 5:35 PM ^

I agree that Kovacs being a walk-on makes this much different.  It's very likely that Kovacs was told he would get a scholarship for one year because we had one available, and then he got it again last year because we again didn't have a full 85.  I think the coaches will tell him he can stay on the team as a walk-on again, but his scholarship will be going to a recruit.  If we are back under 85 by the start of practice in 2012 (very likely, since we often have transfers between NSD and the season) Kovacs would be the first walk-on to get the extra schollie again.

Mr Miggle

June 14th, 2011 at 5:43 PM ^

I expect that the staff wants to keep Kovacs for a fifth year, but will also use his scholarship on a freshman if necessary. I expect he and several other walk-ons will be told they will have a scholarship available if one opens up after signing day. There is some attrition between February and the fall semester pretty much every year.

-edit-  beaten to the punch


June 14th, 2011 at 4:19 PM ^

Like, for serious, what the heck does Jordan Kovacs have to do to get some respect around this place?

If he is a four year starter, who was all Big Ten as a freshman and whatever else going forward, you're not going to offer him a 5th year because you'd rather have some 18 year old?

All because, at one time, Kovacs was a walk-on.



June 14th, 2011 at 5:32 PM ^

Griese was a highly recruited player who had an NFL dad (see: $$$) who was told if he walked-on his first year he'd get a schollie as soon as one was available.  It was available right away, and Griese was a scholarship player for his whole career. 

No coach knew Jordan Kovac's name until he showed up for try-outs, in fact he was cut the first time he tried out.  Not at all the same.


June 14th, 2011 at 6:36 PM ^

He wasn't "cut the first time he tried out." Rather, he had an injury as a true freshman that prevented him from trying out, and he tried out for his sophomore season, and made the team as a redshirt freshman.


June 14th, 2011 at 10:19 PM ^

As a "preferred" walk-on. You are recruited, but you don't get a scholly right away. And actually, Griese was pretty close to NOT coming back, with his troubles, and getting a job. So he was hardly a 5th year lock. Just dumb fate.

Blue in Yarmouth

June 15th, 2011 at 8:28 AM ^

I am glad the guy got to realize his dream of playing at UM and think he has done very well with what he has to work with. What my hope has been since the beginning of last season was that one of our other (more athletic) safeties would be able to emerge and take his spot. Nothing against him at all, but lets be honest for a minute...The reason he got the job was because we had no one else.

I don't think it is out of the realm of possibility that at some point this year M Robinson finally puts it all together and starts taking over at SS. We need an athletic player that can play run and pass at the position because as Magnus said in another thread, in this defense the safeties will be required to take on roles of both SS and FS.

I have nothing against the guy, I just remember why he made it on the field to begin with and hope that we have solved that problem. People are posting that they would rather have a 5th year player on the field than a true freshman and I agree with that, but that isn't what would happen. You would have M Robinson on the field and (hopefully) an elite recruit like J. Wilson. I would give up a fifth year walkon who out performed expectations but still has very serious limitations in his game if this was the other choice. That might make me unpopular, but that is my opinion.


June 15th, 2011 at 9:54 AM ^

I agree generally with this, but there is a huge difference between (1) another player beating-out Kovacs for the starting job, and having Kovacs on the bench as an experienced back-up, and (2) not having Kovacs on the team at all.

Even if M-Rob and a couple other players improve enough to take the starting S jobs, I really can't envision a scenario in which Kovacs is not still on the 2-deep.  What happens if Robinson or some other player gets hurt?  I don't think it's wise to sacrifice experienced depth just to squeeze in some new recruit.  

That's in addition to all the sleeze factors that would be associated with cutting a guy like Kovacs.

OMG Shirtless

June 14th, 2011 at 1:45 PM ^

The Beaver had a post a while back about 2-3 guys who may be in line for a switch to a medical scholarship.  I can't find the post anymore, but I'll keep looking for it.  The one name I remember was the Talbott who had back surgery.


June 14th, 2011 at 1:48 PM ^

If the coaches are serious about taking a full class I don't think they get renewed.  Moore's fifth year would see five other TEs on the roseter (counting Ricardo and Frank Clark) with three of those guys already having a year in the program. Also, I would image as long as Denard is here two TE sets will be less of a priority.  And JT Floyd won't start this year and with the big DB hall coming in this year I think its a decent bet that he wouldn't be on the two deep in what would be his fifth year. I think Mealer getting a fifth year is all about his health and if any high four or five star guys are interested in us in the run to signing day.

Its strange to be talking about this though with attrition and paper thin depth its been ages since thinking about renewing a fifth year guy has even be a thought.


June 14th, 2011 at 1:59 PM ^

The plan was for T. Gordon top be the nickel.  I do agree that Floyd will contribute next year, but depth shouldn't* (*never forget) be an issue in Floyd's fifth year and I think there is a decent shot he gets best on the depth chart by young guys. 

I do agree that it is strange to not renew a player who has gotten significant playing time, but the last few years the things happening to our DBs have been strange as well.


June 14th, 2011 at 2:12 PM ^

I guess I don't see this army of CB's.

This year, our starters are likely Woolfolk and either Floyd or Avery. We have Countess, Hollowell, and Brown coming in - two of which we haven't seen, nor, really, has Hoke and his staff.

Hoke seems to like Brown, so maybe, at absolute worst, Floyd is #4.

Then, the following year, we have Richardson and Standifer showing up - again, haven't been on campus.

I'd think it odd, given he's healthy, that the staff would be planning on getting rid of a guy who is high on the depth chart, with significant playing time, for dudes who haven't walked on campus yet.


June 14th, 2011 at 4:39 PM ^

Don't laugh, I think he's more fully ingrained in the current 2-deep than we realize.  His stepping up and taking playing time this spring is likely the reason CC left.  But what the hell do I know?

Not on scholarship, and if he remains a non-starter hovering around the 2-deep area (with the addition of Countess, Brown, Taylor), not sure if he gets one. 

Blue in Yarmouth

June 15th, 2011 at 8:36 AM ^

but when that experience is littered with getting burned almost everytime you are targetted than it loses some value IMHE. Floyd wasn't really good to begin with and now he is coming back from a serious injury. I think you are making a pretty big assumption saying he will be at worst the nickle back. Especially since I have seen multiple places say T. Gordan is going to be the nickle back this year.

We have a few freshmen coming in this year and even more on the way the following year. I will go out on a limb and say that I would be surprised if one of Hollowell, Countess or Brown won't be as good an option (probably better) than Floyd next year. That means there would be no dropoff in the personnel and it would fre up a scholarship for a player with 4-5 years of eligibility instead of one (and who also is likely a better prosect as well).

I guess what I am saying is I don't see Floyd getting his 5th year as being an absolute as you seem to.

Jon Benke

June 14th, 2011 at 3:27 PM ^

What if the recruit that takes their spot becomes an instant contributor?  We're in on some kids right now that could easily play as true freshmen.  Not all of them, I understand that, but there are some that could easily become a regular contributor the minute they step on campus, though with much more upside.


June 15th, 2011 at 8:21 AM ^

Next time you question a play call or a personnel decision, I'm going to say "You don't know more than the coaches."

Next time you criticize some sort of political policy, I'm going to say "You don't know more than the President."

I know I don't know more than the coaches.  That doesn't mean they can't be wrong.