Positions most difficult to recruit

Submitted by Bluestreak on May 18th, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Over the past few years (read the RichRod era) and that is when I enrolled and graduated out of Michigan, we have excelled in bringing in talented offensive and skill position players while screwing up our defensive recruiting.

This year we are looking like a more balanced class. This may have multiple factors like attrition, coaching changes and need based recruiting behind it.

However, I'd love to hear opinions or if someone has some epic research on which positions are tradionally the most difficult to recruit for at Michigan?

From my observations over the past 3ish years - Defensive Line, Safeties



May 18th, 2011 at 12:28 PM ^

I'm not an expert at evaluating talent but the position I consistently hear as being the toughest to gauge is offensive line.

My guess as to what some of the reasons are is that a lot of d-1 prospects can just use brute strength as opposed to technique to dominate the competition in high school so film doesn't help a lot. In addition, most kids that big in HS are carrying some bad weight and its hard to predict who or how well they can deal with that come college.



May 18th, 2011 at 12:53 PM ^

If defensive players are needed only to fill space - there are a lot more options than while choosing an offensive lineman.

Or if Defensive players need to take care of double teams, then we need strong men who also eat space

Also - if the skillsets are nearly the same - are they easily interchangeable? ie can a DE easily transition to OG or a DT to Right/Left Tackle?


May 18th, 2011 at 1:12 PM ^

I never said it was a stupid question, but one where the answer isn't all that important.  Sure, conventional wisdom would tell you a center is taller than a PF, but usually by mere inches, and sometimes not at all. Still, height is very important for both.

Same for linemen.  On most teams, the starting OL are probably stronger than the starting DL, but probably not by much (unless they have a bad DL) and guys like MM are certain exceptions.


May 18th, 2011 at 12:58 PM ^

To answer you second question, the DL/OL guys who are most interchangeable are the interior DL (DTs) with the interior OL (OG and C).  Sometimes DTs can move over and play tackle, but usually DTs are shorter than you like your OTs to be.  Example - when BWC moved to the OL, he was a guard.

If a DE moves to the OL, he would probably be a TE unless he was a very big DE.  Even our biggest DE, RVB, would be undersized on the O-line.  Sometimes you have a DE prospect who could project OL, and it would be tackle or guard depending on his skill set (and height), but it usually means they have to put on significant bulk.  You want your starters on the OL to be 300 or close to it, and DEs are very rarely within 20lbs of 300.


May 18th, 2011 at 1:08 PM ^

It's crazy that the extra twenty pounds does so much for guys already that huge. At not quite 66% of their weight, twenty would be a lot for me, but in terms of percentage, that would add only add about 13 pounds to my 190 frame. I can imagine I'd be a little stronger/harder to move, but it doesn't seem like a game changer.

Obviously there is a difference, since any good college offensive line is going to average ~300 and in the NFL they're another 5-10-15lbs bigger than that, but it is kind of odd when you think about it. Especially since it doesn't seem like the skillsets between O and D line are terribly different.


May 18th, 2011 at 1:17 PM ^

Part of the reason you see D linemen lighter than O linemen is because of what they do on the field.  You need to be in better shape to be a DL, because pass rushing is a not more tiring than pass blocking, and getting through/around a run block is more tiring than run blocking.  Also, DTs are often shorter for leverage reasons, so their ideal maximum weight is often lower than a 6'7" OT.


May 18th, 2011 at 1:22 PM ^

I understand that their jobs are different, just making the comment that the extra couple percent seems like it shouldn't matter as much as it does. Also especially considering that guys that play at this level probably learned to play both positions at a young age and can conceivably play their counterpart position at least competently, even if they're not a BCS/NFL talent at the other position.


May 18th, 2011 at 1:27 PM ^

You hit the nail on the head with leverage. DL will bull rush the OT with everything they have got trying to push the OT into the QB. The OT must remain in more of an upright position with his weight balanced or he runs the risk of the DL doing a push pull move that will leave him off balance and the QB on his ass. So the extra weight actually compensates for not being able to get as low as the DL trying to bull rush him. Long arms also are a tackles best friend. A good strike keeps the DL from getting under his pads.


May 18th, 2011 at 12:52 PM ^

Strength is very important on both lines, but I think it's needed more on the OL than the DL.  On the DL you can get away with having less strength if you have great technique and/or quickness/athleticism.  Those things are important on the OL too, but a lot more of being an OL is brute strength, which is why those guys are usually the biggest guys on the field. 


May 18th, 2011 at 12:28 PM ^

Defensive Back and it's not even close.  

Michigan finished second-ish for Justin King, Macho Harris, Jai Eugene, Myron Rolle, Taylor Mays, Ronald Johnson and Dionte Allen.  They finally started getting elite corner recruits the last few years, but every one of them has busted out except for Donovan Warren.   

DL has actually been one where Michigan has done really well historically.  Woodley, Graham (LB, but came in DT size), Branch, Terrence Taylor, Mike Martin, Gabe Watson, Patterson, Will Campbell etc.  


May 18th, 2011 at 12:37 PM ^

If you're only looking back the past 4 years, you're not going to find anything encouraging about any part of the defense (save the occasional good individual performance).

I was just watching a game from the 2006 season a few nights ago (don't remember which one), and had forgotten how dominant and absolutely crushing that group was. They held opponents to under 50 yards/game rushing!


May 18th, 2011 at 12:40 PM ^

"recruits who were highly rated" and "recruits who panned out."  From a "getting highly regarded guys" perspective, Michigan has done very well at every position except the defensive backfield (and, to some extent, linebackers, because we take every highly rated lb and turn them into a DE). For a like 5 year span, we couldn't buy a highly rated DB.  

And I'd strongly disagree on the "never had a strong line" thing.  The 2006 DL was epic (and full of highly rated guys; Graham, Woodley, Jamison, Branch and Taylor were all top 100 guys or better).


May 18th, 2011 at 12:54 PM ^

but prior to that, we couldn't land a top 100 DB who wasn't immediately converted to linebacker.  The only highly rated guys I can think of during the last 5-6 years of the Carr era were Mouton, Burgess, Warren and Mundy, 2 of whom were linebackers the day they set foot on campus.  We went through a brutal stretch where we finished runner up for every 5 star DB we went after. 


May 18th, 2011 at 12:31 PM ^

I'd agree with safety, based off of (many) recent years. I'd disagree with D-Line, though. I think D-Line is arguably the position group on defense right now.

Not that I've noticed this watching Michigan specifically, but I have heard that O-Line is notoriously hard to evaluate for the exact reasons wlubd mentions above.


May 18th, 2011 at 12:36 PM ^

is the hardest position to project at, but Michigan has gotten a ton of highly rated recruits on the OL.  Off the top of my head, Long, Dann O'Neill, Bryant, Lewan, Schilling, Boren, Gallimore, Zuttah, Alex Mitchell, Schiafano, Barnum and Quinton Washington were all 4 or 5 star guys.  

King Douche Ornery

May 18th, 2011 at 12:34 PM ^

You really don't sound (as it were) like a guy who has "enrolled and graduated out of Michigan"

Nice try--but you don't have to make a phony credentials grab to be liked here. Just post stuff like "Golden Poop" and watch your points grow!


May 18th, 2011 at 12:37 PM ^

Hard to find players who has the athleticism, hips and confidence to play at CB in the next level. Most don't play CB in HS level because they either play offense or S and they're typically the best athlete on the team so coaches does not want to waste them by putting them at CB.


May 18th, 2011 at 12:47 PM ^

that based on pure size, the number of players you are likely to find suitable to play at CB would be a lot more than number of players at OL/DL (the big guys)

I'd assume that bigger guys (who are not used as space eaters alone) are a lot more difficult to find

Also - I find it interesting that consensus No. 1 recruits have never been CBs.


May 18th, 2011 at 12:53 PM ^

I don't really see how you can say that cornerback has been the most difficult position to recruit for at Michigan.  First of all, we've brought in a ton of them (4 or 5 in 2011; 3 in 2010).  Secondly, Michigan has historically put a bunch of corners in the NFL (Woodson, Hall, Trent, Jackson, Law, Lesueur, etc., not to mention Warren).  Our cornerback play has been excellent over the last 20 years, although there have been occasional glitches.

Safety has been the biggest issue.  Michigan has very little track record for turning safeties into NFL-caliber players.  Jamar Adams latched on with the Seahawks a little bit, Shazor left early but wasn't drafted, and Cato June turned into an NFL linebacker.  Our safety play - and NFL production of those safeties - has been poor for the last couple decades.


May 18th, 2011 at 12:57 PM ^

are from the distant past (Woodson, Law) or weren't highly rated (Trent, Leseuer, Adams).  In terms of OMG shirtless guys, Michigan has gotten fewer DBs than pretty much any other position on the field that I can think of.  


May 18th, 2011 at 1:03 PM ^

OK - are you talking guys who were highly rated recruits or guys who played well once they got here?  Because I believe we've recruited an Army All-American CB for 5 straight years (Warren, Cissoko, Turner, Christian and Countess) not to mention lower ranked guys who exceeded expectations (Woolfolk, Avery, perhaps JT Floyd).  Now, some of those higher ranked guys didn't work out, but the discussion is about how well we've done atteracting top talent, and all five of those guys had a mega offer list and picked UM.


May 18th, 2011 at 1:09 PM ^

and like I said, we've gotten more highly rated recruits since Donovan Warren.  But there was a period in the middle 2000s where we just could not buy a highly rated DB recruit to save our lives, and it probably cost us a national championship in 2006.  


May 18th, 2011 at 1:38 PM ^

I don't particularly care about getting highly rated recruits.  I mean, I WANT highly rated recruits, but those rankings are predictors of success or failure.  Obviously, looking back at recruits' success is much more useful/accurate than projecting success before college.

We've had highly rated cornerbacks (as WolvinLA2 said, five Army All-Americans in a row) and we've produced good NFL cornerbacks.  I don't see how one can look at that position and say, "We haven't recruited well at the cornerback spot."  Even the combo of Woolfolk and Warren was a pretty good combo in 2009.  The only truly horrible year (IMO) was in 2010, but we suffered a great deal of injuries and attrition prior to the season.  That was just a blip on the radar.


May 18th, 2011 at 2:05 PM ^

was "positions most difficult to recruit" not "positions most difficult to develop NFL draft picks."  Recruiting rankings easily have enough meaning where you can just add up stars to determine how well we're recruiting a given position (with the caveat that predicting OL seems to be harder than any other position).  

During the RoJo, Justin King, Macho Harris period, Michigan had more trouble recruiting elite talent than I've ever seen them have in recruiting any position on the field, and I think it cost them a crystal football.  


May 18th, 2011 at 2:37 PM ^

RoJo committed in 2007, which was the same year as Donovan Warren.  Are you saying that if we got RoJo instead of - or even with - Warren that a crystal football would have gone to Michigan?  Somehow I don't think Ronald Johnson was the missing piece in creating a national championship-caliber football team.


May 18th, 2011 at 12:49 PM ^

There is something to be said for Defensive Tackle. These players, even in the NFL, are difficult to find much less replace. 


May 18th, 2011 at 2:31 PM ^

Part of the problem is that a lot of high school DTs also play offensive tackle, and they often prefer playing on offense.  And it's just an usual skillset to have - huge size, relatively low center of gravity, good feet. 


May 18th, 2011 at 12:53 PM ^

to enroll and graduate? 

Are you a grad student or do you hate life outside of class?

To answer your question -- I think Safety is the hardest to project because it generally takes both brains and athleticism to be really good and trying to project both is pretty hard.  Michigan's had issues recruiting elite safeties for a long time.