Offense - Football Position Group Analysis Next 2 Years

Submitted by alum96 on January 3rd, 2015 at 2:17 AM

Thought I'd take a look at UM Football position by position (as a group not player by player) for 2015 and 2016 so we can have a little bit of an understanding of what is coming down the pike.   Of course going out even 1 year is fraught with unknowns (who will bust, who will come out of nowhere) so looking out 2 years will provide you with many more LOL moments when we look back at this in December 2016.   But we have a long offseason ahead with a lot of open spots on our roster and this helps one begin to roadmap where we really need players in the 2015 class.

My caveats are I don't give a damn what a guy did in HS or how many stars he has, I need to see it on a college football field.  I've been burned too much - and yes I will root for every damn 5 star to show up on campus and drink Maize Kool Aid when it happens but I've seen enough Henrys (throwaway 3 star added to the class in the closing days) over Pipkins to take HS ranks with anything but lots of grains of salt.  So my "assessment" will be more pensive than yours will be, because there are certain positions we are relying on guys that have not done much at all.   I realize most today will just say "Harbaugh" as an answer - and I hope it is simple as that!

I'll do a 1-5 grade for 2015, 2016 (1 being best, 5 being Danger Will Robinson) and then a variability (1 being most certain and best, 5 being least certain).

This post will focus on offense

Position 2015 Variability 2016 Variability
QB 5* 5* 3 3

2015 - I starred 2015 to allow for a senior grad transfer which would raise my grade from 5 to 2 overnight.  Right now I am scared and not afraid to say it.  Wilton Speight is an unknown product assessed by Borges, and Morris is a semi known product... and what is known is not good.  Yes limited action and Devin Gardner looked a mess in spot duties before taking over mid way in 2012.   But it is the most important position in this sport and we have nothing established coming back.  Yes I know Harbaugh but I'm still scared - you don't need Harbaugh to be an accurate QB and I see a QB who has a cannon but lacks accuracy.  I don't know what Wilton is and won't until I see him in a game.  The prospect of a true freshman worries me too (yes Henne but massive exception).  Most young QBs ripping up CFB are RS FR not true FR.   Please come here Hogan or Golson.  While a longshot this late in the process a 2nd QB may be added to the 15 class.

2016 - 2015 grad transfer (if any) will have come and gone and SR Morris, RS SO Wilton and (presumed) RS FR Malzone will be in competition after a year of Harbaugh whisperings.  I feel better at that stage that we will at least have someone average.   DeWeaver may or may not be part of the 2016 class, but I would bet the 2016 class has 2 QBs.   Jim Harbaugh signed 7 QBs in 4 years at Stanford.  Expect 2 most years at UM and I love that.  You want 2 lottery tickets not 1 at this critical position.  The 2016 signing(s) will be more of a 2017-2020 story but again 3 guys competing in 2016, we should be able to shake out 1.

Position 2015 Variability 2016 Variability
RB 3 3 2 2

2015 - I thought Drake Johnson was a product of his opposition when he ripped thru Indiana, and then did little vs NW the next week.  But good performances vs an average Maryland team, and an OSU D that is not elite but full of elite althletes made me happy and disgusted at our offensive staff.  Worst case Drake Johnson looks like the 2nd best RB on the 2014 squad and if not for a myriad of injuries would have never seen playing time in conference.  Pathetic.  But I digress.  Unfortunately Drake is coming off another ACL and will be an unknown quantity by fall 2015 healthwise.  If he comes back there is a 3 headed group of Isaac, Green, and Johnson.  That should be good even if we dont know what Isaac is.  As a FR he was 4th on the depth chart at USC, and was beaten out by another FR - and most of his yards came against bad teams in junk time.   Green lacks the ability to break tackles IMO, and his vision lacks at times but seemed to improve before he got hurt.  He has nice burst for his size but when I contrast him to a Henry of Bama who he was rated ahead of, I mumble.   But he should be an adequate back as a floor.  So we should have 3 backs as a floor with hopes for Isaac upside and Green putting it all together with Drake healing - still a lot of variables.  I've seen enough from D. Smith to see him as a guy with a lot of heart but tough to bring down but little in speed and escapability.  Behind Wisconsin's OL he probably runs for 800 yards.  I have him as a 4th back.  Hayes had opportunities in 2014 and did little.

2016 - everyone returns with Green, Johnson and Smith seniors.  Isaac a RS JR.  The backfield should be very good but again is there a star there? We won't know until next fall.  The 2016 recruiting class needs 2 RBs especially if we dont get 1 in 2015.

Position 2015 Variability 2016 Variability
FB 2 2 4 4

2015 - welcome back to the UM offense fullbacks!  Well that is not fair, we started seeing some nice Kerridge action mid 2014.  I think a healthy senior Kerridge could do some beautiful things.  SR Houma seems mostly a special teams player.  I would like to see Shallman get involved as well as he is going to be the man in 2016 from all appearances.

2016 - Dunno man.  Shallman or bust with Kerridge graduating  Might need to recruit a FB in the 2015 class or else Shallman's backup is a true FR.  Or you are counting on a walk on. Which is not out of the question but not ideal.  The other wildcard is trying to convert Deveon Smith to a FB.  Not sure if he will buy that stock.

Position 2015 Variability 2016 Variability
OT 3 3 2 2

2015 -  I will be starting into the OL guys now and I am going to be a lot more bullish than the crowd.  I do think bringing back the same players matters and you don't need to have a bunch of stars at all 5 spots to have a good OL.  A lot of guys on Wisconsin's lines or UM's 1990s lines were not stars - they were grizzly veterans and offset by 2 stars on a typical line.  Of which we will begin having in 2015 and a bevy of in 2016.  And Drevno is a serious OL coach.

It looks like we have a potential future all conference player in SO Mason Cole; a year of S&C to get him up from mid 280s to 300ish plus the strength that comes with that with a year of technique - yes please.  The other side is not so certain with RS JR Ben Braden who many who know OL much better than me said was the weak link of the 2014 OL.  But you now can have a true competition with RS JR Erik Magnuson.   The better man wins, the lesser man backups the tackle spots.  As for the 4th tackle, we see RS SO LTT and RS FR JBB.  Chris Fox has disappeared and I wonder if he is one of the medical departures Brian and Hoke hinted at.  Don't take that as gospel just conjecture.

2016 - our top 3 all return! And will improve even more! This is the year Cole is probably All Conference.  Guys like JBB and LTT will have Grant Newsome and Jon Runyan Jr behind them but that is a 2017 competition if no injuries.  We are set here for recruiting.

Position 2015 Variability 2016 Variability
OG 3 3 2 3

2015 - I am cheating in this group by putting Magnuson in both the tackle and guard group as he can flex between them.  I am going to assume RS JR Kalis and RS SR Glasgow retain their jobs.  But I assume Magnuson can challenge here too.  Kalis came to UM as a 5 star labeled "the most college ready" lineman we recruited.   Not so much.  A disaster 2013 campaign led to an inconsistent but meh 2014.  In a normal world Kalis should have not played in 2013 and 2014 should have been his first taste of real football, but UM has been living in the Twilight Zone lately.   Glasgow is like an old shoe - not appreciated but gets the job done.  Backups are a bit more troublesome past Magnuson as we have unknown quantities such as RS FR Dawson and I assume Bosch.  Bosch played 1 game in 2014 and we dont know why he left or if he is eligible for a medical redshirt.  Blake Bars is an older player who has never made any noise so seeing that change would be unlikely.

2016 - if RS SO Dawson or Bosch is not available to start I assume RS SR Magnuson starts at the guard opposite from RS SR Kalis.  The backups are Bosch and Dawson I presume with not much behind them so injuries could hurt this position.  Again this 2016 line should be loaded with experience at starters - with a potential star LT so I am very bullish on the 2016 line.  I would like to see a guard in the 2015 class as depth in 2017 becomes an issue.  If not 2015, there should be two in the 2016 recruiting class.

Position 2015 Variability 2016 Variability
C 3 2 4 4

2015 - if Glasgow is a shoe the UM fan base does not appreciate, than RS SR Jack Miller is the shoe they don't want to even look at.   Until the UFR's disappeared into the night in Brian's disgust, Miller seemed to be doing ok.  Nothing above average, nothing horrid - he is an ok player.  And he will be a stronger, smarter ok player in 2015.  If Kyle Kalis was the most "college ready" lineman of the past few classes, RS SO Patrick Kugler would have been 1B.  Thus far he not been seen which is fine - we've seen enough underclassmen offensive linemen the past 2 years for my lifetime.   That said I don't know if he is any good either.  Yeah yeah blood lines and all that but until he is seen we don't know what we have.  Again in case of Kugler bust and Miller injury Glasgow can be a center so we're ok in 2015.

2016 - Miller and Glasgow gone - it's all up to you Kugler.  A complete unknown quantity at the NCAA level.  A center is needed in the 2016 class.

Position 2015 Variability 2016 Variability
WR 3 4 3 4

2015 - I am going to throw all the WRs together, whether outside or slot.  UM has relied on a star system the past 2 years with Gallon as the lead in 2013 and Funchess in 2014.  2015 probably brings a more balanced approach.  The recruiting loss of Treadwell stings here as he is a mega star for Ole Miss and would have been the obvious center of the 2015 passing attack (with Butt).  Instead solid if not spectacular RS JR Darboh will be the #1 option.   After an injury nixed 2013 he should come back, improved and confident with a year under his belt.  He showed enough in 2014 to expect year over year growth.  Behind him are a lot of questions. 

RS JR Jehu Chesson is supposed to be a burner... but you almost never seen him fly past a defensive back.  IMO 2014 was a disappointment for this guy, who might turn out to be one of the best blocking WRs in UM history (and is a special teams ace).  But as a 3rd WR last year he did not  improve on 2013 (less catches, less yards).  And the speed is not as advertised.  He needs to be MUCH better for a very young group in 2015 but I don't know if his ceiling allows for it.   SO Freddy Canteen was recepient of the most hyped spring ball player and it was impossible to match expectations.  Some bad drops marred his 2014 and 5 catches for 22 receiving yards is basically zilch.  Throw in SR Dennis Nortfleet's 111 receiving yards at the slot and that is pretty much all the production you return.  It's not great.

Someone needs to catch lightning in a bottle in 2015 if not Canteen.  The 2 top candidates will be RS FR Ways and RS FR Drake Harris.  It is difficult to count on Harris who has essentially not  played a game in 2 years due to hamstrings.  Until he goes a full year healthy you simply cannot count on him due to these injuries which could be chronic.  Ways was making some noise in practice according to Hoke but according to Hoke we have the #1 team in America in practice so I don't know what to make of it -until it is seen on a NCAA field against real opponents salt must be ingested.   Guys like Dukes and Jones are from a lost class of WR (with York the 3rd) and seem like bit players at best - a damaging haul for a team in need of stud skill players.  FR Cole joins this group but again, counting on true FR is dangerous so we'll hope he sits, learns and makes an impact in 2016.

2016 - EVERYONE comes back but 'fleet.  With all these candidates you just hope somewhere a star can be born.  Darboh should be an efficient polished #1 and my hope is Canteen has a very good 2015 to grab the #2, while either Ways or Harris breakout as a "potential star" at #3.  Harris seems like the 1 guy with "OSU speed" - if those hamstrings can stick.  But it's all projection at this point outside of Darboh.  RECRUIT SPEED PLEASE HARBAUGH.

Position 2015 Variability 2016 Variability
TE 2 2 1* 3

2015 -  In my estimation, relative to position, JR Jake Butt is the best offensive player Michigan has.  That doesn't mean more athletic than a Gardner or Funchess but in terms of what his position is, he is the best.  I hope in 2015 we have the QB to prove me correct.  He was probably the most hurt by Devin's inability to find his 2nd or 3rd options on a read.  I can recall maybe 2 drops from Butt all year.  Unfortunately that number - 2 - is about how many times he was targeted most games. Which is criminal.   His blocking seems adequate if not special. Behind Jake is ....welp.  I'll skip him.  And then SR Heitzmen who is basically a DE playing TE.  RS FR Ian Bunting enters the fray and if is anywhere near the hype could be a big thing down the road as a flex TE in a Harbaugh offense.  But my entire 2015 grade revolves around Butt - he must remain injury free.  I hope Chris Clark returns home - he is already NFL size at 6'5 250.

EDIT - as noted in comments I forgot about RS SO Khalid Hill here.  Hill was injured (ACL) just as he seemed to making some modest strides.  2014!  Won't change the  grades much as we don't really know what he is but looks to have some upside and givesmore depth. 

2016 - The 2 little used backups graduate.  I think Butt is the one player on the 2015 offense that has the chance to declare early.  He blocks ok, he catches well, he is 6'6 250 lbs.  A 40 catch 2015 campaign could send him to the NFL - see Minnesota's Maxx Williams.  But if Butt returns, RS JR Khalid Hill is a contributor, RS SO Bunting is all that and RS FR/SO Chris Clark joins the team - oh boy.  But there are a lot of moving parts here.  No Butt means relying on 2 guys who have not played 1 single NCAA game in their life.


Overall - QB and WR are the worries in 2015.  For the first time in 3 years I see "average" as the floor for the OL.  With significant upside in 16 - I'd rather have experienced 2-3 year starters at OL who are "average in skill" then "high upside RS FR" in most cases at OL.  Butt should be a star.   RB is not a 3 headed "monster" but should be 3 headed - the hope is Isaac is near the hype but at minimum we should have guys who can get you 4 yards a pop.  Kerridge could be a surprise player in 2015.   2016 should bring stability to QB and OL, a senior laden RB core, and hopefully someone pops out of the WR corps to be a stud.  If Butt returns and a top 4 Big 10 QB emerges, that 2016 offense could be cool.



January 3rd, 2015 at 3:15 AM ^

Holy shit man. Do you not sleep?



Wait, I'm not asleep either... carry on!



Edit: I feel like a kid named Messiah deWeaver is just destined for the starting Qb gig don't you think? lol


January 3rd, 2015 at 3:33 AM ^

I agree with many of your points.  We have some question marks for sure.  I think Harbaugh and his staff with work magic with what we have on the roster.  Green looked like a very good running back prior to injury.  Another year of development and speed and strenght training could see him reach 5 star potential.  Isaac will be a monster.  Either Hayes or Drake will be more than serviceable.  At the WR position we do lack a star.  Hoke whiffed on this position every year and it is absolutely killing us.  We need to work magic this off-season and maximize what we do have.  We have nobody to peel the top off of the defense and that makes us easy to defend.  We truly need Chesson to become the burner he was advertised as.  Drake Harris and Moe Ways need to contribute big time also.


The Oline simply comes down to coaching.  No school aside from Alabama has more highly rated talent on the line than we do....look at the recruiting rankings.  We need to coach them up and get their asses in the weight room until they are all 300-315lbs.  We are too small.  Way too small.  I fully expect that to be fixed. 


Finally, Quarterback.  I have not seen "it" from Shane.  Likely not a fair shake given to him yet but he should have done better.  He just doesnt stand out in a positive way and a lot of younger qbs in other programs have.  Maybe it was all just coaching...likely not.  Malzone looks like a good player but not great.  Unfair to judge this early but he doesn't appear to be a Chad Henne or Ryan Mallett.   Wilton could be the answer.  He is mobile, albeit not as mobile as Shane and has the prototypical size.  He had a year to learn.  It's time to take the training wheels off.  This group is scary to think as the only options.  We need to really go after a grad transfer.  I would take Golson in a hiccup and Kevin Hogan would be a gift from above. A grad-transfer quarterback of that caliber takes our ceiling to 11 games or higher. 


January 3rd, 2015 at 12:21 PM ^

I genuinely don't think we can say anything about our quarterbacks or receivers. Our offense the last few years has been so badly schemed that we did things like almost never send Devin Funchess, who's going to be a top 60 draft pick, deep. A guy like Chesson may or may not have over the top speed - the previous coaching staff never even decided to see whether that was the case. When we did send a receiver longer than 7 yards down field, Devin Gardner's confidence was so shot he'd refuse to throw the ball.


It's entirely possible that every single receiver and QB on this team is a giant pile of flaming crap, but it's really, really unlikely. With a coach that will devise an offensive scheme more complicated than "Hope we play Indiana every week", there's going to be skill that's going to be showing up on the field on Saturdays that we don't think we have. These kids are not terrible. They were just terribly coached.


January 3rd, 2015 at 4:58 AM ^

I have watched a good amount of film on Wilton Speight. He is a great competitor, big, athletic, deceptively fast, has good to great pocket movement / awareness, and he is very accurate both In the pocket and on the move. With Harbaugh coaching him up his release and footwork will improve, and after a year in the weight room his arm strength undoubtedly has improved. Both his and opposing coaches say his game closely resembles that of big Ben roethlisberger, and I would agree. I believe that unless we get Hogan or Golson, Wilton Speight will start and develop into a nice quarterback.


January 3rd, 2015 at 4:21 PM ^

I like the optimism in your analysis of Speight BAMF, and i would feel much better about it if you hadn't just pimped DeVeon Smith too. We've seen enough of Smith to hope he's not relied on for anything more than a breather back when Green/Isaac need a blow. Zero explosiveness against any teams better than Appy or Miami Ohio. He is tenacious, a trait I admire, but he does not hit holes quickly or decisively enough.

The idea that Green could have been more highly rated than Bama's Henry in HS just makes you wonder what he MIGHT produce with a better scheme and blocking?! Or is he just a guy like Smith that doesn't find the right crease quickly enough vs top competition?

SO many ?? on our team for '15!!! Has it really all just been bad coaching? Or was that staff's talent evaluation just as bad? We better hope not!


January 3rd, 2015 at 7:53 AM ^

Agree with your concerned view on the WR group. I think that is the position group that consistently gets overrated the most by this board. Many thought that would be a position of strength this past season even though no one outside of Funchess had more than a couple of catches coming into the season. Again, It concerns me as no one has proven themselves to be a #1 receiver threat - Darboh was solid last year but needs to have a big leap to get to the point of being one of the top receivers in the conference. Outside of that, it requires a lot of projection and optimism to be too confident about guys who havent played yet (Harris/Ways), only have a couple catches (Canteen), or have shown themselves to be able to contribute a little but not be huge threats(Norfleet, Chesson).

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


January 3rd, 2015 at 8:34 AM ^

This is why I've never understood those who were positively inclined towards Hecklinski as a position coach.  We have a nice GIF of Chesson knocking down three ND players, but beyond that ... not much.  I honestly don't know if the talent is there but under-utilized ... or simply not there.


January 3rd, 2015 at 11:10 AM ^

One point to consider is Michigan's recruiting at WR was very mediocre relative to the rest of the team on a ranking basis. There was one year when Jones, York, and Dukes were the recruits and none of them were highly rated at all. Outside of D Harris ( who hasnt played because of injuries), Michigan never really got top national recruits at this position.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


January 3rd, 2015 at 4:37 PM ^

Oh YOU were that guy who predicted Jeremy Gallon would emerge into an All-B1G WR DonAZ?

Cause I DID NOT see that one coming at all! I gotta give Heck some credit there. Also 2013 Funchess, before he started spending more time checking where he was projected to go in the draft than studying his position and practicing - that guy wasn't too bad!

Hemingway also got as much from his talent as any skill-position player at Michigan (aside from Gallon) that I can remember. Heck wasn't the problem with the Hoke regime, I feel pretty sure of that.

That being said - if Harbaugh can upgrade that position's coaching, Hell Yes I'm for that! Not sure the guy who coached the 49ers WR the past few years is that guy though. I'm in the Bay Area and watch all their games. WR was not a strength, aside from the freakish skills of Anquan Boldin, but he came to SF with those skills!


January 3rd, 2015 at 11:01 AM ^

That Harbaugh could have more direct contact with the team prior to signing day. Things are likely going to toughen up, and I predict that some guys who got away with being slackers under Hoke won't be able to cut it under the new regime and will quit the team. It'd be nice to get those spots open sooner rather than later, but that's probably not possible.


January 3rd, 2015 at 11:16 AM ^

I fins myself very annoyed by "vague" posts like this that just blame things on "guys who got away with being slackers under Hoke". Who are these guys? Im not sure what basis you have to make a claim like that. Either you are A) making a silly generalization based on nothing other than the fact that Michigan lots alot of games so lets blame it on unnamed slackers or B) have some inside knowledge that none of the rest of us know about that you know of specific players that were slacking off despite you not being at practice. The reality just may be that the guys tried really hard and just couldnt get it done.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


January 3rd, 2015 at 1:21 PM ^

"blaming" anyone for anything.  But I do find myself very annoyed by posts that accuse me of saying things I never said.

And I don't have to have been at practice or to have "inside information" to know that there are guys on this team who haven't been playing as hard and as tough as they're capable of.  Aside from the fact that there are guys like that on EVERY team, four years of watching the team and recognizing that his players were not afraid to play less than their best for Hoke tells you a lot.  Look at a guy like Funchess...lots of dropped balls, afraid to make tough catches over the middle..definitely an underachiever.  And he's hardly the only one.  Countess...slacked off completely this year.  Pipkins...a slacker from day 1.  All of our 4 and 5 star recruits panning out as average at best.   That's not just bad luck, trust me.

Want more?


January 3rd, 2015 at 1:54 PM ^

Countess slacked off? Im not sure I saw anyhting to make that claim...getting beat by a quicker receiver is not the same as slacking off. Yes - there are guys on every team that may not give as much effort as others. I take issue with the common complaint here that players were able to get away with being slackers under Hoke. Sure - this could have been an issue but there is no way to know that was the issue. There is a possibility that some of these guys arent as good as originally thought.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


January 3rd, 2015 at 4:41 PM ^

OK, question then pearl:

Why will that change in '15? Or are you saying this team will also try real hard and just not get it done? I'm not sure where you're leaving much room for improvement there?

And if your answer is a simple HARBAUGH then that's actually pretty much what the post you replied to was saying.


January 3rd, 2015 at 6:31 PM ^

I didnt really state any opinion on whether things will change or not. Perhaps I extrapolated too much from the post I  replied to....but my post was mainly in response to the common view on this site that since A) the players liked Hoke and B) Michigan lost a lot of games, then it must be that Hoke didnt work the players hard enough and let them slack off. (I know the poster I replied to didnt state this exactly).

But since you did ask me what I think about '15, I will answer you but the real answer is I have no clue. First off, I think the team would be much improved even under Hoke due to another year of experience at OL, DL, and RB so any improvement is not solely due to the new staff. That said, I think there is some optimism as there will be a more experienced staff that has gotten results at previous locations but there are still alot of holes due to poor recruiting at several offensive positions so its hard to predict too much of a jump. While Hoke had good classes overall, his mistakes at QB recruiting (Bellomy in 2011, no QB in 2012....yes 2yrs and only QB was Bellomy) and some key misses at WR (Treadwell) means there is a talent gap vs where they need to be to win a B1G title.

So I would guess a baseline of 8-4 with potential variation of 2-3 games better/worse either way depending on luck and if any breakout stars emerge. But Harbaugh should be able to get a top 2016 class which will bring future optimism but the concern will then move to defense as alum96 has suggested. Michigan's poor record the past couple years has had them missing out on most of their top targets (Hand and McDowell last year alone) and there is a scary lack of depth at DE and LB after next year.


January 3rd, 2015 at 9:02 AM ^

Good stuff.  I mostly agree, though I guess I'm a bit lower about the WRs than you are, and I still think Smith finds a place on this team.  Green looked fine at times, but a RB who struggles to see the hole and get past it bothers me more than a slower guy who can make you miss, especially if neither are "burners".  But I do think Green has the higher upside, so I expect him to compete with Isaac and Johnson for most of the carries.

It feels like Harbaugh will probably focus on bolstering the line a bit more than you'd think given the names  versus skill positions; sure you want to take a QB and RB, but you have to think he'll look at some of the "depth" on the offensive line and want to bring in guys he's evaluated and have a better sense of their ceilings.  We've seen this line be okay, but there seem to be some major projects there that probably won't pan out, and I trust Harbaugh's player identification skills over the last guys at the helm. 


January 3rd, 2015 at 9:42 AM ^

Thanks for the continuing excellent content - a few thoughts:

- QB: Malzone will be the guy in '16.  We all crave Hogan or similar to get us through '15, but if that does not materialize the JH effect on both Speight and Shane will be positive.

- RB: Isaac will be the star in '15, and I think there is a good shot to flip Weber. Drake is good if healthy; Green was always over rated; Smith would be wise to make the move to FB where he could be excellent.

- FB: Insert Wasted Redshirt Rant! Houma should be a RS soph grrr. Kerridge is a stud for '15 with a solid back up who will depart with him. In '16, hopefully Shallman embraces the role, and/or Smith makes the move.

- OL: MOAR recruits.  Our OL pipeline is like a snake that swallowed two large meals with nothing before or after. Hopefully we will take at least three this year and four next year. 

- WR: We will be fine. Harris, Ways and Canteen all have star potential as will Cole. I still have hope that we will offer (and flip) Grant Perry = baller.

- TE: You forgot about Khalid Hill who could be a very valuable H Back if he comes back strong from the ACL.


January 3rd, 2015 at 1:39 PM ^

Good point on Hill, totally forgot about him for some reason. He had a good game just as he got hurt.  Maybe I mixed him and Kerridge up mentally in that respect even though they play diffferent positions.  Well my TE ranking is pretty high with or without him and he is a bit tough to judge.  He did seem to finally figure things about but it was about 1.5 games he really seemed to be noticable before injury so not sure what we have there.


January 3rd, 2015 at 9:22 AM ^

More context for the numerical system such as comparing to previous Michigan/recent B1G units or say a 1 for RBs means X yards per game with the headliner at Y yards/game


January 3rd, 2015 at 1:42 PM ^

I dont really have that sort of context in terms of stats (OL don't have stats per se)  1 is basically potential All Big 10/NFL potential with some depth behind it..  5 is welp.  3 is average.

In a well developed team seriously contending for a conference championship (and therefore playoffs) we should have a ton of 2s everywhere.  A few 1s, and a 3 here or there.


January 3rd, 2015 at 10:56 AM ^

in great detail. But it all boils down to the uncomfortable fact that we have no proven talent returning. We have nobody back at any position who was better than "decent" or "solid" last year. Everyone is crossing their fingers that Harbaugh can wave some kind of magic wand and crank everybody up a notch, but that simply isn't realistic. And it's rather ironic that the people who expect Harbaugh to turn everything around in a year are the same ones who were always making excuses for Hoke's poor player development, arguing that "it takes time" to develop players.

We can hope that Harbaugh will pull in a few decent recruits before signing day, but he won't start to get significant recruits of his own signed until 2016, and it will be at least 2017 before any of them start to have a real impact. Until then, he's stuck with the undercoached underachievers that Hoke left behind. 8 wins is certainly possible for this year, but double-digit wins and any chance for big road victories and championships are probably at least 3 years away.


January 3rd, 2015 at 11:21 AM ^

Agree...there is proven talent returning on defense but not on offense. Offensively, there is too much hope based on guys who didnt play (Isaac, Speight) or have potential (Harris, Canteen)none of the guys on offense who have played have shown themselves to be potential first team B1G next year (other than maybe Jake Butt). The strength of the offense will likely be a better than average offensive line.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


January 3rd, 2015 at 1:51 PM ^

And to your last statement I don't think it will be 3 years - Harbaugh took down USC at its height with worse talent than UM has.  But he needs a QB.  And we need to find some gems in Hoke's 2013/2014 classes. 

The other issue is 2016s defense which I will address in a separate post.  It is just our luck that just as our offense jells in 2016 our defense has the potential to take a serious step back in 2016 - we lose our entire LB starting group and will have Gedeon and 2 guys who no one has seen as starters.  Our only reliable safety leaves.  And our DE will be Charlton and someone we have never seen like Marshall with no backups other than Poggi.  We have some serious donut holes on D in 2016 that remind me of our OL situation in 2013.  I will address that in its own post and why I wanted to look 2 years out.  The offense in 2016 will have tomake up for what might be a very pedestrian defense.   Unfortunately we are going to be back to "youth" excuse on defense in 2016.  But OSU had a very young D this year except their DL and did well - we better have coaching that matches theirs to compensate.


January 3rd, 2015 at 2:32 PM ^

Yes which is why I took issue with Ace saying no big deal on the Ferns transfer long term as we have plenty of other candidates.  We do?  Not only was that guy a natural born leader, and character guy he led the 2014 class recruitment and was our highest rated LB recruit.  Again - rankings - but right now for 2016 we have Ben Gedeon and a cast of guys who play special teams or don't play at all.  I thought Ferns and Gedeon would be 2 of our 3 starters in 2016. 

McCray and Gant need to show something in 2015, otherwise you are all the way down to class of 2014 guys like Winovich Furbush and Wangler as starters in 2016.


January 3rd, 2015 at 3:12 PM ^

if we're any better off on defense.  Ryan was the only real impact player we had last year, and he's gone.  What we've got back is a lot of "good", "solid" and "decent", but nobody playing at even close to a championship level.  We've got bodies, certainly, quite a few guys who have seen a reasonable amount of time on the field, so our floor won't be too low, and injuries shouldn't have too much an impact, but no clear all-conference candidates Tthis defense probably won't cost us too many games, but it's not going to overwhelm anybody, either.


January 3rd, 2015 at 3:34 PM ^

Lack of pass rush might be the issue in 2015.  Same issue as 2013.  Clark was the 1 true force on pass rush and Beyer was ok.  Charlton is inconsistent and Mario has been a backup.  As for the backups  - Poggi plays little and Marshall redshirted.  You get an injury to either Charlton or Mario O and you are pretty screwed here.  Losses of Hand, McDowell etc hurt here.

I disagree with you on potential star players - I think both Henry at DT and Lewis at CB have potential all conference ability.   It was overlooked in how horred the season went but by game 8-9 teams started avoiding Lewis altogether.  Maybe thats because Countess and Taylor were such easy targets but Lewis to me is very overlooked as everyone is too focused on Peppers.

As for Henry if he has a big year like I think he will this might be his last in a Michigan uniform.  I expect him to be the focus of double teams since Clark is gone.


January 3rd, 2015 at 6:12 PM ^

guys with the "potential" to be all-conference, even though they've never even been close before. Every team has those. I'm talking about guys who are clear, unquestioned all-conference candidates the day that fall practice starts. Ezekiel Elliot, for example. 200+ yards in the BT title game AND the National Semi-final against one of the best defenses in the nation. You need some serious finger-crossing and wishful thinking to put guys like Henry or Lewis in that category. Henry is decent, but not even close to being an early departure.


January 3rd, 2015 at 7:24 PM ^

Did you think Connor Cook on Jan 3, 2014 was a serious early entry candidate?  He had 2 really good games that year - OSU in the BTCG and Stanford.  A year later he was being mocked anywhere from mid 1st to mid 2nd in this year's draft and anywhere from 3rd QB to 5th QB before he decided to go back to school for his senior year.

I think if Henry has a serious year he could go - I don't think a guy like Jerel Worthy was that much better than Henry was as a SO and he left early.  Worthy had a breakout JR campaign and left.  Henry has potential oozing out of him.  I am not saying he will be a top 10 draft pick but a big JR campaign and mocked in the 2nd he could go.  I hope he stays 2 more years.


January 3rd, 2015 at 7:53 PM ^

and have an elite season. But to EXPECT it in the case of someone who has never been better than average, like Heny, is just finger-crossing and wishful thinking. To reiterate, I'm talking about PROVEN, returning talent, not guys who might be really good if everything goes well.


January 3rd, 2015 at 1:46 PM ^

Before I wrote this I was thinking to myself if someone wanted to make a 2015 UM football hype video and ONLY use players from 2014 who are going to return to the team, you'd have a very difficult time for our offense.  You have some Green clips running, and you'd have some Darboh clips.  Drake Johnson.  And some catched by Butt.

But it was basically Gardner and Funchess - and both lacked for different reasons; the former due to development/PTSD ...the latter for seemingly seeming to check into the NFL post Utah. 

After seeing all the hype on this player or that player I am sure by the time we get to August our fanbase will have Ty Isaac at Melvin Gordon level and "X" unseen wide receiver at Tony Lippett level.   I mean every fanbase does it but the truth is the QB and WR outside of Darboh has no returning plus players that we know of.  Our coaches have a big job ahead there.

Moonlight Graham

January 3rd, 2015 at 11:53 AM ^

Harbaugh and staff can keep the "variability" on the positive side. Hoke and staff took those degrees of variability and skewed to the negative, now we're about to see it go in the other direction and we'll see what happens. 

I do know this for sure: I wish, wish, wish Michigan were somehow in the West division, knowing we'd probably lose MSU as an every-year crossover but o well. Over there I think they'd become dominant more quickly and have opportunities to face down MSU or OSU in the B10CG ... being in the East is going to make the road tougher, but I get the sense that Harbaugh likes himself a challenge. 


January 3rd, 2015 at 1:55 PM ^

I love me some Jake Butt so the 2015 rating might be justified. I also am eager to see if K Hill can get back healthy and be a JH-back.  After Butt though, I'd use similar caution that you used with QB. TE is a one-man show at the moment even with Bunting, and Clark is not in the fold yet.


January 3rd, 2015 at 3:27 PM ^

But of course I have quibbles.

  • QB - if this group is a 5, what was Sheridan-Threet?  It seems like we have a 4 now with potential to be a 3 in 2016.  I'm not sure a grad transfer necessarily turns us into a 2.  It depends on the guy.  Hogan or Golson would be a 2, Driskel would be a 3 IMO. Also, I wouldn't yet rule out a second QB commit in 2015 if they don't feel good about transfers. This is a position of great uncertainty.
  • RB - I completely disagree with dismissing Smith and Hayes.  Smith looked like the best short-yardage back and is a great fit for the Stanford-style offense.  Hayes was the best 3rd down back and will continue to play a key role, IMO.  Isaac was a 5th string guy at USC.  Green has consistently risen to the top of the depth chart under Hoke -- will that still be true for Drevno/Harbaugh?  Sorting through this depth chart is impossible right now, but we have great depth and talent.  (On that note, dismissing recruiting rankings entirely is unwise given limited data.)  The ratings are fine, but I'd give us a 2 for both years, since I do not expect major improvement at the position between 2015 and 2016.  None of these guys is a superstar -- most of them a serviceable to very good.
  • FB - agree with the ratings, but I think Shallman will be more of an H-back and (as you suggested) one of the RBs could be shifted over in 2016 (including possibly a yet unknown 2015 recruit).
  • OT - agree with the ratings, but concerned about the size of Cole/Magnuson.  There is some potential here for moving guys around between OT and OG.  Disagree STRONGLY that we are done for recruiting.  You need to look at OL needs more than 1-2 years out.
  • OG - really you can just lump all the linemen into one group.  I agree with the 3 turning into a 2 ranking for the OL as a whole as Glasgow and Miller should be offset by returning experience.
  • OC - would not be shocked if someone listed at guard today starts at C in 2016 though Kugler is clearly the favorite, he isn't the only option.
  • WR - pretty good writeup but I expect the 3 to turn into a 2 in 2016 with everyone back plus recruiting reinforcements.  This is an above average Big10 unit IMO, even in 2015.  Harbaugh turned a 2-star and a walk-on into NFL WRs and our talent is vastly superior.
  • TE - I think you're overrating Butt a bit.  Good solid player but needs to get a lot better at blocking. Getting legit coaching for the first time will help, but this group is behind where they should be.  If they get Clark this could indeed warrant a 1 in 2016, but we have to see if the poor play by TEs was the coaching staff or the players still.  Hill, Shallman (if you're including H-backs), Bunting, Butt and hopefully Clark could make for a very dangerous power offense.  The potential is certainly there but I'd like to see Michigan keep adding athletes (Wheatley?) to this position.


January 3rd, 2015 at 3:48 PM ^

Well at least we agreed on Mullen not coming here - you because you think Miss State is a better job than Michigan;  me because I am not a fan of Mullen as an elite coach.

As to your position comments, I meant Golson or Hogan for my transfer.  If its Driskel I wouldn't budge from 5 - he is horrid.  He played as badly as Devin did this year.  I'd rather go with Morris or Speight at that point and bite the bullet - you bring a grad transfer in as a stop gap, not to try to develop a project - we have projects already on the roster.

Not sure on tackles v guards - depends on what Newsome is, and what Runyan is.  It seems the former is a tackle and latter a guard (I wrote in error both are tackles above).  But you just don't know on some of these guys til they got on campus.  Dawson looked like a guard but there was talk of him working at tackle in spring.  Magnuson was a tackle and he played guard quite a bit.  I just see a bit more depth at the tackles in the younger guys with JBB and LTT and neither starter will be a senior next year.   I am not even counting Chris Fox who I assume might be gone due to medical. Guards are more of an issue to me since we'll lose a starting SR after 2015.  But we I'd like to see another OL or 2 in this class.

I might be over rating Butt - just think he is very underutilized and his talent is not being shown.  If he played for Stanford in 2009 I think he might be All American.

Yes Stanford didnt have a great WR corps in terms of recruits but had Luck throwing to them.  Much like Tom Brady can make any WR look great that helped.  Meanwhile the second Calvin Johnson gets injured Matt Stafford looks inept.  So we need top end WRs - we dont have Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers.  Hell we dont have Matt Stafford.


January 3rd, 2015 at 4:28 PM ^

I do not think MSU is a better job than Michigan.  I think it's a better situation for the sitting head coach with established recruiting ties to stay where he is when he is in a more prestigious (for now) conference.  Brian says he has info that I was wrong about his desires to coming to UM, so maybe UM folks think Mullen was gettable.  Maybe so.  In my defense, I did not know we were going to pay 5-8M per year.  Regardless...we all win with Harbaugh.

I suspect if Driskel comes he would start for us, and he would play a lot better for Harbaugh just as Denard and Devin would have played better for Rodriguez than Hoke.

OLmen are mostly very flexible.  Obviously there are exceptions like Molk and Braden but most guys can shuffle around.  It's a highly uncertain position, which is why I want to see heavy numbers cycled through the program until we establish veteran depth.  I dont know enough about any of our young guys after Magnuson to have any confidence. Keep the recruits coming.  We grabbed some raw guys with high floors and low ceilings and then took some 3 stars and have had normal injury issues.  We need bodies bad for when the '12 class skips town.

Don't agree on Butt. He's a quality above average pass catcher, but he's not exactly Eric Ebron or Devin Funchess. He's not Maxxxx either, who makes highlight plays routinely AND is a very good blocker. He (Butt) is going to need to be a better blocker to be an all-conference player and he's never going to be the main guy to build your offense around like Gronkowski or Gates have been in the NFL.  All - american?  No chance IMO.  He's just not that talented.

Butt is a little like Martin and Graham -- good players who looked better than they are because of the weakness of the players around them.  Butt isn't even on their level but could get to that all-conference level easily in the next couple years.

Not sure I buy "Luck throwing to them" argument for Stanford WR when these guys survived without him to make NFL rosters for multiple seasons.  Harbaugh pushed Baldwin to be a great player and Baldwin is still upset by how hard he got pushed.  I have full confidence that our talented WR corps will be good.  Hoke sucked at recruiting WR - he wanted big slow guys whose HELLO posts talked about jump balls and high pointing as if that could sustain an offense.  Well, Canteen isn't that type of player and quickly passed most people on the depth chart.  By the OSU game he was #3 WR.  Chesson had some injury issues but is a solid player.  Darboh isn't great but is a good #2.  Harris and Cole have talent.  Harbaugh will put these guys in a position to succeed and i am not remotely worried about that position.


January 3rd, 2015 at 3:33 PM ^

Have said it in other threads, but with the Stanford offense, the WRs simply were not integral to the teams success.  They used guys like Baldwin (a 2-star) and Whelan ( a walk-on) and turned them into NFL players.  We have kids with talent (Harris and Canteen), reliable pass-catchers who can block (Chesson and Darboh), and a bunch of other options who could step up.

I'm less worried about WR than almost any other position.

  • QB - duh
  • RB - so many options and a high floor, but this position is more important to Stanford-style attack than WR
  • FB - OK, I'm not worried here AT ALL
  • OL - plenty of reason for optimism but still a weakness in 2014
  • TE - hoping for depth to emerge around Butt, another important position in the stanford offense. Need guys who can block AND catch. Nobody is proven besides Butt.


January 3rd, 2015 at 3:47 PM ^

2 years out always looks good. no one ever says we are going to suck in two years.  right now PSU, OSU, and MSU are all talking about 2 years from now with glowing optimism. 2 years ago we talked about 2014 with glowing optimisim. "2 years from now" is awesome for everyone always and forever


January 3rd, 2015 at 3:51 PM ^

For most yes.  I have serious concerns about the 2016 defense which I will outline in that post.  I think the 2016 defense could take a serious step back from the 2015 version - outside of DTs and CBs that defense is going to be full of first year starters and unknowns.


January 3rd, 2015 at 4:33 PM ^

I'll probably disagree with you, because I'm pretty bullish on our defensive recruiting over the last few seasons and think that most youngsters are 'unproven' because of the depth in front of them.

However, I think LB recruiting has been a major failure since the Ross/Bolden class.

Also will guess that you will bring up safety as a worry but I believe that many of our big CBs can be moved to corner. Some of them probably should.

But I'll save my thoughts for that diary...


January 3rd, 2015 at 6:33 PM ^

2014 was a decent QB away from 8 or 9 wins.  Fortunately (maybe?) that didn't happen.  If Harbaugh can make a decent player out of Shane/Wilton or we get a decent grad transfer (Hogan) then 2015 will be a 9-10 win team.  It was hard to tell whether the WR made Devin look bad, vice-versa, or if it was just one big shit show from everyone.


January 3rd, 2015 at 10:25 PM ^

Alum 96 - Nice balanced job overall.  I've seen to many threads and posts of late with Malzone or some other unproven player taking us to the promised land.  

What I see or hope to see next year team wise(not by position group).

- A tougher/smarter team that get 8 wins by out toughing lesser teams and the turn overs that killed us stop.  We beat ourselves or played well part of the game to many times.  Jim H's teams will give us 60 full minutes.  

-Position groups

QB - Wilton is the guy until a JH recruit takes over.

RB - Issac then Green.  Hayes will play and I like his game as a 3rd down or change of pace RB.  If Drake gets helathy I'd like to see him to.  We need to keep Issac healthy. 

OL - Let the war begin - I think we will see 2 new starters in this group next season.  We will also see a transfer or 2.  

I think Coach Hoke was to much of the nice Father figure.  This team needs some fire and butt kicking to get it over the hump.  We hired the right man for the job.