2012 Recruiting Hotlist: Offense

Submitted by JC3 on February 4th, 2011 at 6:57 PM

[Ed-M: Edited and front-paged for great content.]

Now that National Signing Day 2011 has finally come to a close, the Michigan coaches have been reviewing film and sending out offers to 2012 prospects. As mentioned many times before, the 2012 class is extremely strong in the midwest, including Michigan and Ohio, as well as Illinois and Indiana as well.

Here are some local and regional prospects to look out for, on offense.

Note: Sorry for the massive wall of text as well.


QB Gunner Kiel – 6'4, 220 lbs, Columbus, Indiana.

With Michigan’s move to a more pro-style offense Kiel becomes an even more important prospect. Kiel was offered by the previous staff as well, and he has some mobility (600 yards rushing) to go with his big-time arm (2,700 yards passing). However, Kiel is an Notre Dame legacy recruit, and he’s also been offered by Alabama, Cincinnati, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Purdue, TCU, and Tennessee among others.

QB Robert Gregory – 6'3, 180 lbs, Chicago, Illinois.

Gregory is the teammate of 2011 signee Chris Bryant and 2012-super OL Jordan Diamond. Though Simeon ran a spread offense, Gregory possesses very good arm strength and could develop into a solid pocket passer. There are rumors out there that schools are looking at Gregory as an athlete, but he is only interested in playing quarterback. An interesting note as well, as Gregory recently said in an interview he and Jordan Diamond would be attending the same school.

RB William Mahone – 5'10, 200 lbs, Austintown, Ohio.

There is some serious talent at running back in the state of Ohio next year, and Ohio State has already locked down two studs in Warren Ball and Bri’onte Dunn. Michigan’s coaches are looking for another big-time back, and Mahone visited the campus twice last year, so there is mutual interest in both parts. Other offers: Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Miami (NTM)

RB Juwan Lewis – 5'11, 200 lbs, Muskegon, Michigan.

Many of you Michigan west-coasters will recognize the name, as Lewis starred on a very good Muskegon Big Red football team this year. Interestingly enough, Lewis played fullback in Muskegon’s shotgun/pistol offense. Like Mahone, Lewis has good size, but deceptively good speed as well. Lewis camped at Michigan last year, and is very interested in the Wolverines. Offers: None

Farmington Hills Harrison defensive back Aaron Burbridge (16)attempts to make an interception as Lake Orion receiver ?? (21) looks on during grid action against Lake Orion at Harrison Saturday.WR Aaron Burbridge – 6'0, 175 lbs, Farmington Hills, Michigan.

Burbridge was one of the stars on a 14-0 Harrison squad that captured the state title this year. An excellent athlete, Burbridge played RB, WR, CB, and KR and excelled everywhere, though he will be a receiver at the next level. He reminds many of fellow Harrison alumni Mark Dell, and it is rumored Burbridge is very close to Dell as well. That is not true. Michigan State has offered and appear to be the early leader for this top 10 player in the state next year [Ed-M: Farmington Hills Harrison (Drew Stanton, Agim Shabaj) was a Michigan State feeder in my day, but haven't produced a Spartan since Dell; M got Charles Stewart from there] , but there is no doubt he will be interested in Michigan.

WR Amara Darboh – 6'2, 190lbs, West Des Moines, Iowa.

A big athlete with great speed, Darboh has the ability to stretch the field vertically and is very dangerous in space as well. Darboh will likely be the #1 player in Iowa, and that may not mean much but he is a very talented player. He has yet to narrow down his list, but if Michigan offers I fully expect Darboh to visit in the fall. Other offers: Iowa, Iowa State, Notre Dame, Wisconsin.

WR Stefon Diggs – 6'0, 175 lbs – Olney, Maryland.

Diggs is the teammate of 2011 signee Blake Countess. While he doesn’t possess great size, Diggs does have blazing speed and great hands to boot. He’s a crisp route runner and has dominated every camp he has shown up at. Diggs, along with Dorial Beckham-Green, will likely challenge for the top receiver spot in the nation in 2011. Just a few weeks ago Diggs said he was interested in Michigan, with Countess signing with the Wolverines. I don’t expect Michigan to land him, but there it is good to see interest there. Other offers: Cal, Florida, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami (YTM), Rutgers, Virginia Tech, Pitt

TE Sam Grant – 6'6, 230 lbs, North Royalton, Ohio.

Grant only caught 16 passes last season, but that’s because St. Edwards ran a primarily run-based offense. Grant has already tripped to Ohio State and Michigan State, and he will be a premium talent at the next level. With Michigan looking for more Tight Ends in their offense, look for them to get Grant up on campus soon. Other offers: Toledo

Athlete Drake Johnson – 6’1, 205 lbs, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Johnson is a very talented athlete at Ann Arbor Pioneer, who played running back this season and excelled as a national track runner as well. In college Johnson’s career may take a number of possible routes, as he could play running back, wide receiver, or even linebacker. Being right across the street from the Big House, I expect Johnson to be very well-scouted by the Michigan staff and definitely a possibility for an offer down the road.

As for offensive linemen, I haven’t spent enough time looking at all the film, but there are a lot of talented linemen in the Midwest this year. It’s not quite as talented as the past, but there is much better quality throughout the area. I fully expect Michigan to stock up on at least 3-4, maybe 4-5 this recruiting cycle. Along with Jordan Diamond, whom we’ve known about for a while, here are names to watch.

OG Kelby Latta, 6'4, 295 lbs, Battle Creek, Michigan.

OT JJ Denman, 6'6, 305 lb, Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania.

OT Jake Meador, 6'6, 280 lbs, Whiteland, Indiana.

OG Caleb Stacey, 6'4, 275 lbs, Cincinnati, Ohio.

OT Ben Bradem 6'6, 285 lbs, Rockford, Michigan.



February 4th, 2011 at 7:27 PM ^

Good to start hearing some new names to get ideas of guys to watch out for. It should be an exciting few weeks as we learn who this new staff is going to make a priority for '12.


February 4th, 2011 at 7:52 PM ^

ND offered Kiel on NSD, I am pretty sure that is the first/second QB offer to go out this cycle.  If ND misses on Kiel or the QB out of alabama, Gregory will be a strong candidate for a later offer

Darboh will be a great outside receiver, expect it will come down to ND and Iowa like it did with Christian French until Oregon came in and swooped him away.  



February 4th, 2011 at 10:04 PM ^

'On campus' is a little misleading. Normally that suggests at least an unofficial visit, with the coaches touting what they've got. In this case, he was here for the Badger Sports Combine, and only got to see the indoor practice facility. Nothing's really telling until he comes up to campus (in the visit sense) during the spring, which he plans on doing. Until I hear otherwise, I'm gonna probably guess he's not coming here.


February 4th, 2011 at 8:09 PM ^

Following the last coaching change, Sparty got 6 early commits for the 2008 class, including 4 of the top 6 players in the state.  The reason cited most often was the relationship with the Sparty staff that didn't exist with the Michigan staff.  Of course, there wasn't much time for the new coaching staff to establish the relationship, but you've got to admire the aggresive move by Sparty at the time.  That's why there can be no letup for Hoke - even though it took a mammoth effort to bring the 2011 class in, the 2012 class needs to be worked now.

Hugh Jass

February 4th, 2011 at 8:48 PM ^

Michigan lands a big-time pocket passer then you will see high flying receivers signing up.  I am not saying that our current receivers are poor quality -  not at all - but the 6'3" 5 * guys.


February 4th, 2011 at 9:45 PM ^

Nowadays, "pocket passer" might as well mean "plays pocket pool while waiting for pigeons to shit on his helmet."

Even though Michigan may or may not have given up on joining the 21st century on offense, they still need to keep recruiting "dual-threat" QB's.  Immobile statues at QB doesn't get it in this century.  Even with a terribly misused and underachieving Terelle Pryor, TSIO went 12-1 and salvaged what was left of the Big Ten's bowl reputation this year.  His ability to escape trouble was a great part of that.  

A mobile QB forces the defense to cover another man.  This opens up a lot more opportunities for recievers, and in Denard's case, with a good enough play fake, can take an LB out of a hole that a RB is hitting.  This gets the RB into the secondary.  

If Michigan is to ever be "leaders and best" again, they won't do it with a 1990's throwback scheme or an 1990's throwback QB.   

Eye of the Tiger

February 4th, 2011 at 11:34 PM ^

Given that many of the most innovative, dynamic spread offenses feature primarily pocket passers, while plenty of pro style offenses--in college or the NFL--have featured mobile quarterbacks.

There are huge advantages to having a guy who can pull off designed runs or scrambles. There are also huge advantages to having a guy who can read the field quickly and accurately and get the ball to the open man consistently, i.e. in Mike Leach's or Brian Kelly's offenses.

There are multiple ways to rack up points and multiple types of effective, "21st century" quarterbacks.


February 5th, 2011 at 3:38 AM ^

Escapability and pocket movement are becoming essential for a top NFL QB.  Both Rodgers and big Ben owe much of their success to being able to extend plays with their legs and occasionally make key yards on the ground - not to mention M. Vick....   We will attract better recruits wanting to go to the next level by keeping some "duality" in our offense rather than returning to the days of the QB statue.

Eye of the Tiger

February 5th, 2011 at 5:25 AM ^

Aka the two best quarterbacks currently playing, and two of the best ever, are both pocket passers I could probably beat in a foot race. Both have "escapability" through pocket awareness, not through anything even remotely approaching a dual-threat arsenal. Rodgers, Brees, Rivers and most of the other top pro QBs fall into that category too. Big Ben is more mobile, Vick a lot more so.

I'm not trying to make a "statues first" argument, but rather explode the myth that mobility is "the future." It's one set of powerful weapons that's of growing prominence in the college game, but less so in the pros. Denard's gifts bring a lot to our game. So did Mallet's at Arkansas. It all depends on how coaches use these talents.


February 5th, 2011 at 2:08 PM ^

He's second on the Packers in rushing with 356 yards on 64 attempts.  Manning and Brady have 18 and 30 yards respectively.  They are completely different types of quarterbacks.  And yes, the mobile quarterback is "growing in prominence" as both Super Bowl teams have mobile guys.


How can you possibly make an argument that being mobile is bad?  If you can make the quick reads, be accurate, and have a strong arm, how could the ability to run ever be a bad thing?  Doesn't make sense to me to argue that adding another weapon to your arsenal would be a negative.

Eye of the Tiger

February 6th, 2011 at 4:58 AM ^

I never said being mobile was a bad thing.  Actually I said it was "one set of powerful weapons that's of growing prominence in the college game, but less so in the pros."  What I am arguing against is the position that mobility defines "the future" of the quarterback position.  

FACT. We are entering a period--in college football certainly, but less so in the pros--where there are more and more mobile quarterbacks.   

FACT. There are new and innovative offenses that take advantage of running abilities of quarterbacks.

FICTION. The primarily pocket passer is a dinosaur.  

In the NFL, this should be self-evident.  Rogers, put forward as a mobile quarterback, has 356 yards on 64 attempts.  Meanwhile, he has 3,922 passing yards on 475 attempts.  That means he throws 7.3 times more often than he runs, for 11.0 times the yards.  By any measure, that makes Rodgers primarily a pocket passer.  Now, yes, granted, he uses his mobility to make passing plays, something Big Ben also does.  Plenty of other super bowl quarterbacks in the NFL have done this in the past too: Steve Young, Donovan McNabb, Steve McNair, etc.  This kind of mobility is definitely viewed as a plus in the NFL.  But so is "pocket presence," the mixture of rudimentary sack-evasion skills with being able to read and spread the ball around the field at will, like you see with statuesque Brady or Manning.  Actually this is generally valued even more.  

Meanwhile, the kind of skillsets demonstrated by quarterbacks in spread-n-shred style college offenses, like with Denard, Pat White and so on, are only valued when the quarterback makes the commitment to changing into a pocket or "scrambling from pocket to pass" type quarterback (as with McNabb).  Rightly or wrongly, of course.  Perhaps the NFL is just conservative.  But the fact remains: the pros are not spread-n-shred friendly.  As long as that's the case, there is a market for pocket passers.  

The other important point is that plenty of pocket passers in FBS are wildly successful.  



February 5th, 2011 at 1:48 PM ^

who got drafted out of Oklahoma last year #1 and just got voted rookie of the year is unacceptable?  Oh and that other guy the Lions drafted out of Georgia?  He sucks too?  No way would we ever want another Tom Brady........thanks for clearing that up for me

Gustavo Fring

February 5th, 2011 at 2:04 PM ^

Bradford is mobile enough to extend play, as are Stafford and Brady.  You don't need to be Michael Vick, but feeling pressure and being able to extend the play is almost essential these days at the qb position.

Look at Aaron Rodgers, arguably the best qb in the game right now.  He's very, very mobile (second in the league to Vick probably), and Roethlisberger is big and quick too.  Quarterbacks have to be more athletic these days.

True Blue Grit

February 5th, 2011 at 11:19 AM ^

I agree with you, and Tater on this.  Once we establish ourselves as a pro style offense with a good drop back passer, it will be easier to attract field-stretching, big receivers.  But, IMO our future QB's need to have some mobility - as well as size, arm strength, and accuracy.  We need a QB who can move out of the pocket (and out of trouble) and is a threat to run for first downs.  Michigan has had problems on offense in recent years because of immobile QB's (Henne and Navarre) who were zero threat to run.  The other teams' defenses always knew where they were going to be on most plays, which makes it much easier to mount a pass rush.  I can see Gardner having the ability to be a very good QB in the new offense.  Robinson will have some challenges due to his lack of height.  But, the coaches can design plays that enable him to move around where he can see the field more. 


February 4th, 2011 at 8:55 PM ^

...Blair Kiel of Notre Dame and NFL backup fame (with quite the recent rap sheet, BTW). His father, Kip played at Butler. I guess that makes him an Irish legacy?

Gunner's grandmother was my mom's best friend when my parents lived in Columbus back in the late 80s/early 90s and she says she remembers when he was born. So I suppose I have another reason to root for Gunner to choose Michigan.


February 5th, 2011 at 8:57 PM ^

I hope he chooses Michigan too.

His oldest brother Drew is a Redshirt Junior quarterback that attends Illinois State. His other brother is a Redshirt Freshman QB at Indiana University. Gunner has been heavily recruited by Tennessee.

Also, Gunner Kiel comes out of the same high school that Stevie Brown came out of.


February 5th, 2011 at 10:15 AM ^

Well we can offer the #1 overall recruit, the possibility of earning the #1 jersey, which is a tradition here like none other in college football.... giving the #1 jersey to the top wr in the program who earns it.  We have a shot, and a good one.

And as a side note.... when you see Hoke issue the #1 jersey, you'll know we fully returned as a powerhouse.


February 4th, 2011 at 9:50 PM ^

Eagerly awaiting D. Read at Tharinger today that Richardson, Ross, RJ-S, and O'Brien are in their 150 for '12. Wormley as well
<br>But I'm stealing your thunder aren't I

Dilla Dude

February 4th, 2011 at 10:17 PM ^

I went to school with Juwan and let me tell you, the kid can ball. A strong, physical runner with great speed. He's one of the fastest players in the state. Juwan is perfect for Hoke's system and Hoke should definitely go after him hard.


February 5th, 2011 at 2:22 AM ^

I was hoping zeke pike would be on this list. green-beckham is a pipe dream bur what a nice dream it is. I have allot of hope in this class but i'm getting nervous with all this tOsu and ND talk. I hate the fact there are 3 major recruiting/ football powers within 200 miles of each other.

Can't wait to see the defensive side of this list, might as well pick what 5 stars you want mattison to sign and he will go out and do it.


February 5th, 2011 at 8:40 AM ^

I know you're probably just kidding with the last statement, but I think we all need to manage expectations a little here. Did Mattison just totally blow our doors off with the recruiting job he did in the last two/three weeks? Oh yeah. Blew my mind. But to expect him to go out and get whatever kid he wants...All I'm saying is that people have a very high expectation for Mattison now, and while he's a very strong recruiter, he can't do everything.


February 5th, 2011 at 10:37 AM ^

it was mild sarcasm with a little optimism mixed in. trust me if can land one or two those coveted 5 stars I will be the happiest man in the world. Don't worry my reality is in check and if I had star wish list which really doesn't matter unless your playing a video game I would want 1 or 2 5* with 5-8 4* next year. That would look like an early 2000's class to me and i can go to sleep at night knowing recruits still like michigan for prestige, academics, and hell it's michigan. We don;t need a 5* hotel/ i mean faclities like the quack attack. If you don't know what I mean here.


Damn you Phil Knight even half of Oregon's stuff looks terrible. cough cough basketball floor.