The successes. [Patrick Barron]
In his four-year tenure at Michigan, Brady Hoke accepted commitments from eight recruits who entered the program as wide receivers. With Drake Harris' move to cornerback, one remains at the position on the current roster: senior Moe Ways, who has five career receptions and doesn't appear likely to play a significant role this fall.
After the Harris news broke, The Mathlete posed a question to the group in the mgo-slack chat:
Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson are obvious; both just went in the NFL draft after productive college careers. If we take this question literally—including only players who were recruited as wide receivers—then the third answer tells you all you need to know about Hoke's recruiting at the position: Moe Ways, he of the five career catches.
Here are Hoke's recruits ranked by receiving yards. I've listed them by the position they began their careers playing, because this staff well and truly thought Devin Funchess was a tight end for two years before getting it right:
- WR Amara Darboh, 2062
- TE/WR Devin Funchess, 1715
- TE Jake Butt, 1646
- WR Jehu Chesson, 1639
- RB De'Veon Smith, 251
- TE/FB Khalid Hill, 226
- TE AJ Williams, 164
- RB/WR Dennis Norfleet, 157
- FB Joe Kerridge, 123
- TE Ian Bunting, 118
- RB Drake Johnson, 107
- RB Justice Hayes, 105
- FB Sione Houma, 91
- S Jabrill Peppers, 82
- WR Moe Ways, 64
- RB Ty Isaac, 54
- WR Drake Harris, 50
- FB Henry Poggi, 47
It's understandable, in this relatively short time period, to have the type of chasm that exists between Chesson and Smith—a team can only have so many top targets. Having not one, not two, but three fullbacks rank ahead of the next player recruited as a wide receiver (and a fourth threatening to pass him), however, is not.
You may note that the entire 2013 wide receiver class—Jaron Dukes, Da'Mario Jones, and Csont'e York—is missing from the above list. The trio produced two catches for 13 yards at Michigan, all by Jones. In retrospect, perhaps this wasn't the best recruiting strategy:
Michigan signed three receivers last week, none of whom ranks better than a three star.
They seem to be big on size, but lack elite speed.
That doesn't concern receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski.
"Speed is overrated," he said last week. "Obviously, it's something we have to have. But speed is overrated. How can you truly judge the speed of a high school kid on the perimeter when maybe he touches the ball three times a game?
This is how a true sophomore, Kekoa Crawford, wound up as the old man among expected two-deep contributors at receiver this year. Thankfully, Jim Harbaugh followed up on a strong 2016 receiver haul with, by recruiting rankings, the best receiver class in program history. One look at Donovan Peoples-Jones will dispel any notion that this staff believes speed is overrated. Thank the football gods.