Roster Balance and the 2012 Class

Submitted by umhero on February 12th, 2011 at 3:28 PM

Frequently posters lament the position breakdown of our team.  We hear we have too many slots, or not enough O-linemen; we hear that the defense is under-recruited or that we should have signed a particular player last year since we’re recruiting that position this year (Devin Lucien).

Inspired by the various posts debating the makeup of this team, I decided to analyze what a balanced roster would look like, how our current roster is allocated, and what the future may hold.

As we all know, the NCAA allows division I football teams to provide scholarships to a total of 85 players each year (while most players keep their scholarships for at least 4 years they are technically all one year scholarships).  Despite what the SEC may do with their scholarships, Michigan plays by the rules so 85 scholarships works out to 5 classes of 17 players in each class (5 classes assumes everyone takes a redshirt year).  A perfectly balanced roster would have no attrition; all players would stay five years; and 17 RS seniors would be replaced by 17 recruits each season.  Here’s what a roster like that would look like:

    SR JR SO FR RS Recruit
TOTAL 85 (17) 17 17 17 17 17 17
QB 4 (1) x   x x x x
RB 6 (2) x x x x x x
    x         x
FB 1     x        
WR 10 (2) x x x x x x
    x x x x x x
TE 5 (1) x x x x x x
OL 15 (3) x x x x x x
    x x x x x x
    x x x x x x
DT 8 (2) x x x x x x
    x   x   x x
DE 8 (2) x x x x x x
      x   x x  
LB 8 (1) x x x x x x
      x   x x  
S 8 (1) x x x x x x
      x x x    
CB 9 (2) x x x x x x
    x x x   x x
K 1     x      
P 1         x    
LS 1 x          
TOTAL 85 17 17 17 17 17 17
    SR JR SO FR RS Recruit

While we could debate the numbers by position group, this gives a pretty good blueprint for an ideal roster.  A team like this would rely primarily on upper classmen.  The structure would eliminate the need for desperation recruiting where the makeup of a position group is so dire that the coaches are desperate to land freshman to fill in the two-deep.  Obviously player attrition would make managing a roster so precisely impossible, however that doesn’t mean it’s not something quality programs should strive for.  Realistically, we could probably expect to lose anywhere from three to five players each season to the draft, injury, ineligibility, or home sickness; that would mean our recruiting classes would be 20 to 22 with 17 being redshirted and the remaining recruits added to the active roster.  It is well known that Wisconsin and Iowa start a high percentage of fifth year players each season, which may account for their quality play despite lackluster recruiting.

Let’s take a look at our current roster compared to the “ideal” roster:

Ideal   Actual
    SR JR SO FR RS Recruit       '11 '12 '13 '14 '15 Recruit*
TOTAL 85 (17) 17 17 17 17 17 17   TOTAL 83 15 19 20 11 19 20
QB 4 (1) x   x x x x   QB 3   x   x x x
RB 6 (2) x x x x x x   RB 8 x x x   x  
    x         x         x x   x  
FB 1     x                 x        
WR 10 (2) x x x x x x   FB              
    x x x x x x   WR 13 x x x x   x
TE 5 (1) x x x x x x       x x x x   x
OL 15 (3) x x x x x x       x x x x    
    x x x x x x       x          
    x x x x x x   TE 3 x x     x x
DEFENSE                 x
DT 8 (2) x x x x x x   OL 11 x x x x x x
    x   x   x x       x x x   x x
DE 8 (2) x x x x x x         x       x
      x   x x           x       x
LB 8 (1) x x x x x x                 x
      x   x x     DEFENSE
S 8 (1) x x x x x x   DT 5 x x x x   x
      x x x                 x   x
CB 9 (2) x x x x x x                 x
    x x x   x x   DE 9 x x x x x x
SPECIAL TEAMS       x     x x x
K 1     x                     x  
P 1         x       LB 11 x x x x x x
LS 1 x                 x x   x x x
TOTAL 85 17 17 17 17 17 17               x  
    SR JR SO FR RS Recruit               x  
                  S 7 x x x     x
                          x     x
                  CB 10 x x x   x x
                          x   x  
                          x   x  
                  SPECIAL TEAMS
                  K 2     x   x  
                  P 1       x      
                  LS 1   x        
                  TOTAL 83 15 19 20 11 19 20
                      '11 '12 '13 '14 '15 Recruit*
*Recruits are projected for this class

As you can see, the team lacks consistency from season-to-season.  We have an abundance of WRs, a dearth of O-linemen and D-tackles, and a cluster of safeties all in one season.  I suspect that over the next couple of seasons Coach Hoke will try to remedy this by balancing recruiting the way I described above.  For some insight into the coach’s thinking, here’s a look at our current offers and the way I suspect the class will break down:

Targets         Offer Rivals 250
Zeke Pike 6'5" 220 4.7 Dixie Heights HS, Edgewood, Kentucky Yes Yes
Gunner Kiel 6'4" 220 N/A East HS, Columbus, Indiana Yes Yes
Bennie Coney 6'2" 205 4.8 Plant City HS, Plant City, Florida Yes Yes
Maty Mauk 6'2" 185   Kenton HS, Kenton, Ohio Yes Yes
Running Backs
Matt Jones 6'2" 200 4.53 Armwood HS, Seffner, Florida Yes Yes
Wide Receivers
Stefon Diggs 6’1″ 185 4.4 Our Lady of Good Counsel, Olney, Maryland Yes Yes
Dorial Green-Beckham 6’6″ 215 4.4 Hillcrest HS, Springfield, Missouri Yes Yes
Dwayne Stanford 6'4" 200 4.5 Taft HS, Cincinnatti, Ohio Yes Yes
Aaron Burbridge 6'0" 175 4.35 Farmington Harrison HS, Farmington Hills, Michigan Yes  
Derrick Woods 5'11" 180 4.5 Inglewood HS, Inglewood, California Yes Yes
Deontay McManus 6'0" 209 4.5 Dunbar HS, Baltimore, Maryland Yes Yes
Tight Ends
Sam Grant 6’6″ 230 4.8 St. Edward HS, Lakewood, Ohio Yes  
Sean Price 6'4" 206 4.9 North Marion HS, Citra, Florida Yes  
Devin Funchess 6'5" 205   Farmington Harrison HS, Farmington Hills, Michigan Yes  
Ron Thompson 6'4" 225   East Detroit HS, Eastpointe, Michigan Yes  
Taylor McNamara 6'5" 235   Westview HS, San Diego, California Yes Yes
Offensive Linemen
D.J. Humphries 6’5″ 265 4.9 Mallard Creek HS, Charlotte, North Carolina Yes Yes
Jordan Diamond 6’6″ 289 5.0 Simeon Vocational HS, Chicago, Illinois Yes Yes
Zach Banner 6'9 295   Lakes HS, Lakewood, Washington Yes Yes
Dan Voltz 6’5″ 289 5.3 Barrington HS, Barrington, Illinois Yes Yes
Defensive Ends
Chris Wormley 6’4″ 255   Whitmer HS, Toledo, Ohio Yes Yes
Ifeadi Odenigbo 6’4″ 210 4.44 Centerville HS, Centerville, Ohio Yes  
Pharaoh Brown 6’6″ 220 4.7 Brush HS, Lyndhurst, Ohio Yes  
Tom Strobel 6'6" 240 4.9 Mentor HS, Concord, Ohio Yes Yes
Mario Ojemudia 6'3" 215 4.65 Farmington Harrison HS, Farmington Hills, Michigan Yes  
Defensive Tackles
Tommy Schutt 6’3″ 301   Glenbard West HS, Glen Ellyn, Illinois Yes Yes
Eddie Goldman 6'4" 307   Friendship Collegiate Academy, Washington, D.C. Yes Yes
Vincent Valentine 6'3" 300   Edwardsville HS, Edwardsville, Illinois Yes Yes
Sheldon Day 6'2" 268   Warren Central HS, Indianapolis, Indiana Yes  
Danny O’Brien 6’4″ 255 5.1 Flint (MI) Powers Catholic Yes Yes
Greg Kuhar 6'3" 265   St. Edward HS, Concord Township, Ohio Yes  
Deaysean Rippy 6’2″ 198   Sto-Rox HS, McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania Yes Yes
James Ross 6’0″ 203   Orchard Lake St. Mary’s HS, Orchard Lake, Michigan Yes Yes
Royce Jenkins-Stone 6’2″ 215   Cass Tech HS, Detroit, Michigan Yes Yes
Vince Biegel 6'3" 210 4.53 Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln HS, Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin Yes Yes
Terry Richardson  5'9" 160 4.5 Cass Tech HS, Detroit, Michigan Yes Yes
Elijah Shumate 6'1" 205 4.5 Don Bosco Prep, Ramsey, New Jersey Yes Yes
D.J. Singleton 6'3" 195 4.5 St. Peters Preparatory School, Jersey City, New Jersey Yes  


QB x DT x K  
RB     x P  
FB     x LS  
WR x DE x TOTAL 20
  x   x   Recruits
TE x LB x    
  x   x    
OL x S x    
  x   x    
  x CB x    

Currently we have made 37 offers, and we’ll probably make another 50 to 60 between now and signing day.  Based on what TomVH told us about signing percentages and our expectations for some of the players listed above, we can probably expect to sign around 12 or so of the players above and eight from future offers.  It will be interesting to see how close this projection will be.  It would be nice to return to the days when our teams didn’t rely on underclassmen too much.  Hopefully, roster management and recruiting will be some of Hoke’s strengths.



February 12th, 2011 at 7:30 PM ^

Thanks.  I did my best to compile all of the offers listed on both Scout and Rivals (they each have some different players) and those that Tom had announced.

I'll add McNamara to my personal spreadsheet.  I assumed he would be on our list since he's from San Diego and so highly rated at a position of need.  It's interesting that even though TE is a real position of need, it's the only position that we hadn't offered any top 250 watch players until McNamara.

Marc 71

February 12th, 2011 at 3:59 PM ^

Enjoyable and informative.  No rocket science statistics or advanced football teminology...just here's what it ought to look like and here's what it currently does look like.


February 12th, 2011 at 4:15 PM ^

Nice work on the roster breakdown and the look ahead to our next recruiting class.  You may want to adjust a little on the ideal roster based on the fact that you don't want every player staying 5 years.  Well, in an ideal world perhaps, but in reality some guys just aren't going to pan out or will get hurt and as such you don't really want them taking up a scholarship spot if you can help it (and much of the SEC is bending/breaking the rules to accomplish just this goal). 

For example, losing a guy like Vlad or Justin Turner or Austin White who would be very unlikely to see the field next year is a good thing when you can then go out and sign an additional player because of the transfer (say Rawls, Barnett, and Clark, since they were the last three to commit to this past year's class). 

Going forward, I think we'll see a big dip in our wideout numbers (even below your ideal roster numbers), in part because we'll use fewer (from a formation standpoint) and in part because it is a spot where you can swap a scholarship for a depth position (namely along the lines) without losing too much.  Borges can run a successful offense where only two guys get the overwhelming bulk of the action at wideout (SEE SDSU, 2010).  Considering how much easier it is to have a young guy make an impact at that spot, I think you'll see Michigan targeting no more than one or two blue-chip guys going forward and ending up with something like 7-8 on the roster as a whole.


February 12th, 2011 at 7:03 PM ^

I realize that most players won't stay for five years.  As I said, their will typically be attrition of three to five players per season . That attrition could come from not returning a fifth year player. 

Also, I agree with you about the WRs.  Candidly, when I first put this together I had 8 WRs and when I added it all up I had 2 left over so I threw them into that group.  You could make the case that one should be a fullback or another runningback.  That layout was merely intended to provide an example.  Obviously there will be years when an elite LB wants to commit on signing day and that might skew the mix, or our kicker can't handle fieldgoals in front of 113,000 fans so we need to give a schollie to another one.

The point of the diary was to illustrate the concept of roster management and point out some of the inconsistancies within our current roster. 


February 12th, 2011 at 5:00 PM ^

Would love to see some of the Harrison kids end up at Michigan. The coach at Harrison has been around since the beginning of time (he was old when I went to school there in the late '80s!) I'm still chafed that Mill Coleman went to State instead of Michigan in '90... he was our class Valedictorian and a good guy all around. 


February 12th, 2011 at 6:09 PM ^

Great analysis. Thank you for doing it.

I was surprised that you predicted no running backs in the '12 class. In two years we will be down to 4 RB's and that seems too thin. I would do one RB at least.

I agree completely with your 2 safeties and 1 CB. Also 5 DL and 5 OL are right on.



February 12th, 2011 at 7:14 PM ^

That guess was for three reasons:

  1. We only lose Shaw at the end of next season, leaving us seven (unless Cox isn't invited back).
  2. The staff has only offered one so far, so I assumed it wasn't a priority.
  3. We have a number of slots that could pick up a few carries.

Bonus reason for the conspiracy theorists out there if Devin beats out Denard then he might end up a RB for his senior year (I don't really believe this will happen, but many people do).


February 13th, 2011 at 12:25 PM ^

thanks for that work.     aside, i am very very high on bellomy, and i think he was what it takes and think we may see bellomy play qb and have gardner kick out to wr, where many scouts said he is a five star wr prospect.  not saying it will happen but i actually was impressed over bellomys video than i was gardners, coming out of high school.


February 13th, 2011 at 6:42 PM ^

I really think that's unlikely.  I've seen both of their films as well and while Bellomy seems to be "gritty" and a good decision-maker, Gardner is an uber-elite athlete with a great arm.  It has been stated many times that he is poised and a great leader.  As a matter of fact, several people who watched practice last season said he had the most upside of the three QBs.

If the coaches believe that Bellomy can be the answer at QB then I'll bet they try to redshirt him this year.  If they play him, then they probably see him as a career back up.  Watch and see how  they use their QBs this year for a clue.

Roy G. Biv

February 12th, 2011 at 11:06 PM ^

For the numerous not-quite linebackers on the team, I don't often hear Josh Furman's name.  Isn't he insanely fast and hugely athletic?  Isn't that exactly what we're lacking in the safety position?  Any thoughts as to how he may or may not fit in to the plans?


February 13th, 2011 at 6:45 PM ^

I think it's rare for a high school LB to become a college safety. you usually hear about CBs moving over. Furman played RB and LB in high school.

It will be interesting to see how he's progressed in the spring.


February 15th, 2011 at 11:50 AM ^

I stand corrected.  

I was just looking at the roster and it shows Furman listed as a safety.  While I assume that it was the previous staff who assigned him there it will be interesting to see where he winds up with the new staff.

He's listed at 6'2" 207 so that would be pretty small for a LB.