Earlier in the year this space featured a post detailing the carnage that had been wrought on the offensive line by poor recruiting, player development, and retention. As I was watching two sophomores and a redshirt senior who's not exactly ticketed for pro stardom, it occurred to me that the situation at LB was equally dire.
A season-by-season accounting with available players in bold:
2004 (would be fifth year seniors)
- Chris Graham didn't redshirt and is thus out of eligibility. Not that having him around would have helped much.
- John Thompson is the current starting SLB. He was a low-three star recruit.
- Brandon Logan is the only LB recruit in the class. A meh three star recruit, he was clearly not going to be a player from day one.
- Cobrani Mixon transfers to Cincinnati after a semester.
- Quintin Patilla moves to fullback, then transfers to GVSU.
- Obi Ezeh, a meh recruit, is the starting MLB.
- Jonas Mouton is a big recruit rated around #50 as a S. He is the starting WLB.
- Michigan's first JUCO in ten years, Austin Panter, arrives.
- Marell Evans is an unrated two-star with other offers from Temple and Buffalo.
- Brandon Herron is a meh three-star who redshirts; he hasn't been seen or heard from so far.
- Taylor Hill transfers.
- Marcus Witherspoon has Clearinghouse issues and ends up at Rutgers.
- JB Fitzgerald is playing on special teams as a freshman.
- Kenny Demens is looking likely to redshirt.
So, yeah… of course they're bad. Michigan has one four-star recruit on the roster outside of a JUCO and a true freshman, and has all of four guys with more than a year of experience in the program, one of whom has never threatened to get off special teams. So you're relying on either 1) an unheralded recruit being really good really fast or 2) all three of your upperclassmen being hits.
Neither one nor two has occurred, and finding a strongside LB next year is going to be problematic; the losses of Hill and Witherspoon are going to be damaging.