Recruiting and a Hoke/Mattison vision of what a Michigan defense is

Submitted by Blue boy johnson on October 12th, 2012 at 1:09 PM

Mattison talks incessantly about a "Michigan Defense". What exactly is it's makeup? Can we catch a glimpse of it in Hoke's defensive recruiting so far?

Much like Alabama kicked our ass, we seem intent on kicking ass in the future. We might lose some games to teams with superior skill and speed in the future but opponents are going to take a physical pounding along the way.

I think we have a good idea what type of offense M is going to run in the coming seasons with big physical OL/TE , big receivers, and big RB's getting recruited en masse, but what about the defense?

Absent from recruiting on the defensive side of the ball is players with great speed. This doesn't seem to concern Hoke and Mattison at all. Hoke wasn't BS'ing when he talked about being physical at the point of attack and seems to be a primary focus of defensive recruiting

Linebackers is where Hoke's vision for M's defense is most evident. Looking at the recruits here now and coming in the future, they are all physical kids but not freak athletes

Linebackers recruiting:

Desmond Morgan LB SO 6-1/227
Antonio Poole LB RS FR 6-2/224
Royce Jenkins-Stone LB FR 6-2/213
Kaleb Ringer LB FR 6-1 231
Joe Bolden LB FR 6-3/223
James Ross III LB FR 6-0/225
Ben Gedeon LB HS 6-3/215
Mike McCray LB HS 6-4/230
Michae Ferns LB HS JR 6-3/235

Defensive Tackles are big uglies by trade so no surprise here

Defensive Tackle recruiting:

Willie Henry DT FR 6-2/314
Ondre Pipkins DT FR 6-3/340
Maurice Hurst Jr. DT HS 6-2/305
Henry Poggi DT HS 6-4/260

Defensive Ends, there appears to be a speed rusher on the way in Taco Charlton, but nobody on the roster at this point, though Frank Clark and Mario Ojemudia show promise. A couple of the D Ends seemed destined for the interior, though I know not who.

Defensive End recruiting:

Brennen Beyer DE SO 6-3/252
Frank Clark DE SO 6-2/262
Keith Heitzman DE RS FR 6-3/270
Matthew Godin DE FR 6-6/277
Mario Ojemudia DE FR 6-3/231
Tom Strobel DE FR 6-6/252
Chris Wormley DE FR 6-4/279
Taco Charlton DE HS 6-6/249

DB's: I am lumping Safety's and Corners together. A bigger more physical brand of safety is certainly on the way. Corner are coming in two kinds: Boundary and Field is how they are referred to, but again no speed burners in the group.

Delonte Hollowell DB SO 5-9/176
Blake Countess DB SO 5-10/180
Raymon Taylor DB SO 5-10/182
Jeremy Clark DB FR 6-4/200
Jarrod Wilson S FR 6-2 194
Terry Richardson DB FR 5-9/162
Allen Gant DB FR 6-2/199
Gareon Conley DB HS 6-2/165
Ross Douglas DB HS 5-10/180
Jourdan Lewis DB HS 5-10/159
Channing Stribling DB HS 6-2/170
Dymonte Thomas DB HS 6-2/192




October 12th, 2012 at 1:15 PM ^

I kind of disagree, at least based off what I've heard on our recruits from the various recruiting services.

Gedeon plays running back

Dymonte is supposed to be kind of a freak athlete

Taco Charlton also seems to fall into freak athlete type of category

James Ross is known for his speed and decisiveness

For every big CB we've recruited a tiny one to go with

Doesn't one of our incoming DTs play running back also?

I see lots of speed/athleticism in the future...


October 12th, 2012 at 1:21 PM ^

Well if you're interpretation of their vision turns out to be true, then I will be very sad. The coaches better be recruiting speed as well as size, as you need both to be elite. I in no way want to become a team where opponents say how 'physical' we are but we don't win many of those games because they have that little extra elite speed. That would be depressing. We need both, and I think the coaches are doing a decent job at recruiting both, but time will tell if that turns out to be true.


October 12th, 2012 at 4:26 PM ^

One thing Hoke and Mattison "get" is the rilvary with Ohio State.  Just like Bo built his teams to be able to beat Ohio State, Hoke will be well aware of what he needs to do to beat Urban Meyer's spread offense.  

It won't be enough to shut down the Wisconsin's of the B1G if Ohio State runs wild like Oregon.  Hoke and  Mattison know that they have to recruit players that can play in space as well as be physical at the point of attack.


Blue boy johnson

October 12th, 2012 at 4:33 PM ^

I was generalizing for sure. However, I don't know about Willie Henry's speed since he put on so much weight.

Love James Ross but he looks so tiny out there. Credit to Ross that he can be so effective when he is so undersized as a freshman. I've seen Ross jump on guys backs to tackle them, he won't be resorting to that after a couple of years of strength and conditioning.


October 12th, 2012 at 1:54 PM ^

I made this a while ago, but never quite got around to inserting it into a diary or any kind, but it seems useful here for purposes of spotting potential trends. It separates the average size of the current team's sophomores through seniors, the 2012 freshmen, and the current 2013 recruits by position group on defense. Keep in mind, of course, that the incoming 2013 class still has some growing to do yet, or I would think so anyway. Still, as others have mentioned,  looking at some of the metrics on Rivals, many of the 2013 recruits on defense have great athletic ability and decent speed, or better than one may think in these position groups. In many cases, we're getting bigger, but not necessarily slower.

Defensive Back (SO-SR) 71.7 188.6
Defensive Back 2012 73.3 191.3
Defensive Back 2013 72.2 169.8
Defensive End (SO-SR) 75.3 243.3
Defensive End 2012 77.0 243.3
Defensive End 2013 78.0 249.0
Defensive Tackle (SO-SR) 75.7 288.0
Defensive Tackle 2012 75.7 288.3
Defensive Tackle 2013 75.0 282.5
Linebacker (SO-SR) 73.8 225.0
Linebacker 2012 73.0 217.0
Linebacker 2013 75.5 222.5



October 12th, 2012 at 1:32 PM ^

But I'm confused.  You list heights and weights, and then assert none of these guys have "speed" or "freak athletic ability".  That sounds pretty subjective unless you're trying to say that big = slow, which is not necessarily the case.  You could pull the "fake" 40 times if you want, but we all know those are suspect data..

Being both big AND fast is what makes you elite.  Generally speaking, our recruiting ranks are saying that's what these kids are.

For instance, here's Bama's depth chart:

Only 2 DBs in all of the 2-deep are less than 6'0", and they're both listed at 5'11".

The "smallest" linebacker is CJ Mosley @ 6'2", 232.  (Of course upperclassmen should generally be heavier as they add good weight in college).

His Dudeness

October 12th, 2012 at 1:36 PM ^

 "they are all physical kids but not freak athletes"


All big time D-1 football players are freak athletes.

Stand next to one and you will find that out pretty quickly.



October 12th, 2012 at 1:38 PM ^

Yeah, I think you're a little mistaken here Gordie.  A good numbr of our defensive players coming in are very good athletes.  All of the DTs you list have been praised for their athleticism, all four of them. 

Don't assume that because the LBs are bigger, it means they're not elite athletes.  Obviously RJS is.  But Gedeon, McCray and Ferns are all extremely athletic.  Ferns is a track star at 235, fergodsakes. 

As people have said, Dymonte Thomas is about as good of an athlete as you'll see, and a number of those other DBs are dangerous weapons on offense as well. 

As far as the defensive ends, a number of those guys will be SDE/3-tech types, so they aren't speed guys.  But both Wormley and Strobel are very good athletes for their size, and if Charlton and Ojemudia aren't athletic then nobody is. 

I like how our D is being recruited.  Ideally you want guys who are both big and fast, but for those who aren't, you an even split of speedsters and thumpers.


October 13th, 2012 at 12:51 PM ^

If I may add on to this post (which I 100% agree with), the main thing that I love about our recruiting is the versatility in the front 7 guys.  McCray, Gedeon, Ferns, Poggi, Godin, Taco, Mario, RJS, and our DT's can all play multiple positions which will give us a ridiculous amount of flexibility on D so no matter what type of offense we play or game situation we find ourselves in we can put ourselves in a great position to succeed.  Not to mention the fact that our depth will allow us to keep everybody as fresh as possible.  Given the cordinators and players we're bringing in, this defense is going to be terrifying in years to come (especially if we can land guys like McDowell and J. Peppers).  I can't wait until these guys are ready to roll, depending on how our DB's pan out this could potentially be BETTER than the 97 defense due to it's depth and versatility.  Of course not every guy will pan out but the potential is just astounding.

Sten Carlson

October 12th, 2012 at 1:44 PM ^

Hoke & Mattison understand that to be an "elite defense" there has to be a blend of size and speed, and that is what they're recruiting for.  It's a delicate balance, especially, but I think that they know what they're looking for, and they'll get it. 

To me, what is most remarkable, is the progress that the Team 132 and 133's defenses make from week to week.  I am really looking forward to seeing a Mattison lead defense in which every player on the defense has only known Coach Mattison as their DC, and the majority are "elite" recruits.  That is when the Michigan defense is going to among the top 5 in the nation every year.  Right now, DC Mattison is doing the best with what he has -- a mix of young elite players, older mid-range players, and some who if not for depth issues, wouldn't be getting any playing time at Michigan.  I love the fact that he feel personally responsible for their individual and collective development, and knows that if they work hard, and are given the best coaching possible, they can become a very good defense.


October 12th, 2012 at 1:56 PM ^

by the lack of speed assertation? I see no 40 ot shuttle times. Nor do I see a size / weight comparison to Bama.

I personally was surprised by how big and fast Bama seemed. Especially at DB. Are you suggesting Bama can recruit big fast athletes but Michigan can't?


October 12th, 2012 at 2:17 PM ^

I thought speedy LBers was exactly what we were getting in that whole group.

People have gotten caught up a lot in comparing recruiting styles on offense and that has merit, but in what I've seen, we've been recruiting the same big, fast guys on D all along, as well as (trying) to recruit some big WRs and big enough RBs.


October 12th, 2012 at 2:22 PM ^

I'm missing your point i guess. I looked at that list again and aside from a "40 time" here and there that big time athletes are exactly what we're getting. Dymonte anyone? Lewis had a high 40 time recently but that kid is very fast with pads and a helmet on.

I'd like to see a comparison to another roster with other guys who are noticeably faster/ more athletic than these guys.


October 12th, 2012 at 1:56 PM ^

I know this isn't a direct response to the recruiting aspect, but I always took "a Michigan Defense" to mean an unquantifiable, inspirational, and normally unreachable standard that preaches Hoke and Mattison's values for how Michigan should play on that side of the ball - competitive, tough, proud, resilient, disciplined - and acts as a motivational tactic for any defensive player.

In corporate speak, I guess I see playing as "a Michigan Defense" as the Vision Statement that the defensive performance should always be striving for but can almost never quite achieve* - it encompasses the values of what makes a defense great (as so many past Michigan Defenses have been), rather than listing the defense's mission (the goal this week is allowing only x number of points, making x number of sacks, creating x number of takeaways).

Whether you're Jordan Kovacs or Charlie Zeller, Mattison and Hoke have done a great job of instilling the mindset that each player needs to do their job in making this defensive unit a Michigan Defense each Saturday.  This is because being considered one is the highest honor and ability that you could possibly achieve.  It's a lofty goal to be sure.

*Mattison's proclamation after the unit's performance in last year's Illinois game, notwithstanding 

True Blue Grit

October 12th, 2012 at 2:03 PM ^

have a great defense.  One or two of them can help, but it's not necessary.  I'd rather have a D made of super-tough, disciplined, smart guys who all play as a team and follow a superior defensive strategy set up by excellent coaches.  Mattison, Hoke, and staff are well on their way to building this (IMO).


October 12th, 2012 at 8:58 PM ^

That's what I was thinking when I saw the reference to "freak athletes."  If your definition of a freak athlete is Charles Woodson, then there are probably less then 5 of those in each class, so you're not going to have an entire team of them.  Much of what made Woodson such a freak was pure instinct though, and it's hard to identify that in high school athletes because the game speed is so different.  I could argue that many of the players in the top 100 and some outside are "freak athletes." It just depends on how strictly you define the term.  I really like the guys Hoke has gotten, and I'd say considering several of the guys we've recruited for defense are lighting it up on offense this year that they could be called freak athletes.  From the limited exposure we've gotten, Dymonte is the guy I'm most excited about in this mold.  I think he's very underrated.


October 12th, 2012 at 2:21 PM ^

can I ask why? He did some research and came up with a conclusion based off his research. There seem to be problems with his method and possibly his conclusion, but isn't that better stated in the comments with an OP like this?

I feel like all the negging of posts based on personal observations leads to less posts of this kind, and I don't think that's a good thing.


October 12th, 2012 at 2:40 PM ^


But I can see why someone would. There’s a couple assertions made in the first few paragraphs and the only evidence is height and weight for incoming recruits.  Because the height and weight charts look pretty it does not mean any real research was done. I have no idea whether or not the OP’s assertions are correct but I can tell you that I gained no new insight from this post. Also, Desmond Morgan committed a month before Hoke was even hired.

Blue boy johnson

October 12th, 2012 at 3:11 PM ^

I'm on Mgoblog and I assume many here are familiar with our recruits, and if you're not, then I'm not here to inform you.  I was merely listing the recruits and included their size and weight.

I often hear coaches talk about team speed and the need to get faster. I never hear this from Hoke, so while speed is essential, it is not the primary factor when the M coaches talk about  the team or recruiting.  I find this interesting, certainly could do a better job of expressing myself, but it's Friday, so, whatever.