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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Position by position grades:

  • QB: A+. Obviously.
  • FB: A. Not a hugely important position but Vince Helmuth is a highly regarded prospect there. Ready and willing to do the gruntwork of the position.
  • RB: C. Avery Horn is fast but Michigan struck out on some more heavily promoted kids.
  • WR: A. Don't believe the lack of hype about Junior Hemingway.
  • TE: B+. Webb is a boom-or-bust type, Watson a guy who will probably play but be uninspiring..
  • OL: D. Whiff places heavy pressure on the class of 2008.
  • DL: B-. Didn't need much. Van Bergen is highly regarded, Sagesse a wild card. If you want to fit Slocum in this category, then it's a good haul.
  • LB: C. Panter was an important recruit for right now. The other two are meh, IMO.
  • DB: B+. Got the blue-chipper they needed and a couple additional players, but the depth is lacking.
Overall? B+. There are some disappointing aspects to the class, but if you had told me on Signing Day I could draft one player in the country I would have taken Mallett. If the scuttlebutt on the Warren/Johnson trade is correct and Warren is more likely to help right now, I think I'd rather have Warren for a secondary that has no reliable corners at the moment. Michigan also loaded up on receivers/TEs.

OTOH, only two offensive linemen, one of them a center-only type because of his size and the other a sleeper who Michigan snatched from MAC schools, is the worst Michigan OL class in the Lemming era of recruiting (ie, since I've been paying attention). The two non-JUCO linebackers are both projects. Past Warren there are a couple of decent safeties who are unlikely to be stars and then Sears/Richards-type projects at corner. Michigan really needed a second blue-chippah at corner they did not get. There's a lot wrong with the class, but the slam dunk at the most important position on the field and the biggest need for Michigan going in makes up for almost all of it.

Panic! About Instate Recruits: Michigan only flagged down two of Michigan's top 15 prospects. But it's not that bad:

Ryan VanBergen and Martell Webb. Commits.

Justin Siller, Keith Nichol, and Steven Threet. Quarterbacks who are not named "Mallett." Michigan didn't pursue any of them.

Mark Dell, Quincy Landingham, Derek Knight. Michigan was clearly focused on other players from the start. For whatever reason, they never showed any interest.

Taurian Washington. Mutual flirting went on, but he apparently lost his scholarship offer when James Rogers outperformed him at camp and committed. No real loss; Michigan picked up two higher-rated receivers in the class.

Darris Sawtelle. Tennessee legacy.

Cedric Everson. Circus freak who claimed offers from every program in the country, then committed to Georgia Tech. GT later pulled his offer. He committed to State, then decommitted on Signing Day to Iowa. Michigan never pursued him, and even though he may be able to run fast Michigan doesn't have to put up with radioactive nuts like him.

Ronald Johnson, Dionte Allen, Joseph Barksdale, Chris Colasanti. Whiffs on players Michigan wanted. Barksdale was kind of a flake and Colasanti came from a school Michigan does terribly at (Brother Rice). He was set on PSU from the very beginning. Blaming Michigan for not getting him is like blaming Pitt for not getting Toney Clemons. Sometimes kids just like a particular school that is not the local one.

No excuses for Johnson and Allen, but they are but two players.

So... there were six players in the top 15 Michigan went after with some expectation of getting. (Can hardly blame them for Sawtelle.) They got two and there were extenuating circumstances why they didn't do better than that. Is that great? No. But it's certainly not the disaster it was made out to be by spreaders of FUD. I'd be more concerned if Michigan was losing recruits to Notre Dame and Michigan State, teams who can apply a consistent presence in the region. (OSU tapping into the state is kind of irritating.)

General impressions of the 2008 landscape: The Midwest seems much stronger than it was a year ago. Pennsylvania has a lot of high-end prospects. Ohio is back to its normal level. Michigan has a second consecutive good year, though one that's a bit of a step back from 2007.

Michigan's needs are primarily at offensive line, defensive back, and tailback. They've also offered a ton of linebackers already (the Midwest is overflowing with them). Names to watch out for:
  • CA RB Darrell Scott. Early favorite for this year's #1 back, he's transferring to freshman-to-be Michael Williams' school. With USC having locked up last year's #1 and #2 RBs, plus four others in the past couple years, he's more liabile to escape Trojan clutches than most California recruits. Ron English and an attractive depth chart -- the only significant competion appears to be Brandon Minor -- should have us in the running.
  • MI RB Jonas Gray. From Detroit Country Day and has publicly stated he was big into Notre Dame, but may be backing off that for similar depth chart reasons: ND picked up Robert Hughes and Armando Allen in the last class.
  • TX RB Sam McGuffie. McGuffie's the hurdling whiteboy as seen on Deadspin and every social video site you care to name. His father's from Michigan and there is thorough mutual interest between the two sides.
  • PA WR Jonathan Baldwin. Ty Law's cousin, the 6'6" Baldwin is one of the top five prospects in a good class of Pennsylvania prospects. Michigan has an early lead but it's tentative.
  • TX WR Daryl Stonum. A former teammate of Troy Woolfolk and Brandon Herron, he's been very vocal about Michigan's lead for his services. Ranked around #11 in Texas, Stonum will probably be at the tail end of top 100 lists or just off them.
  • MI OT Dan O'Neill. A solid-four star type, O'Neill is expected to commit sooner or later.
  • TX OT JB Shugarts. He's leaving the state, is friends with McGuffie, and has been up to Michigan. Will have to fight off OSU, UF, LSU, etc, but a decent shot.
  • PA LBs Christian Wilson, Shayne Hale, and Andrew Sweat all have Michigan in the top group of teams they're listing. OSU will be a competitor for all three.
  • CA DBs Robert Golden and Brandon Leslie. From Fresno Edison, the former home of Johnny Sears. Michigan's recruiting both. Golden has repeatedly said that Arizona(!?) leads for his services
There are more -- check the board -- if you're interested.

A successful 2008 class: Two running backs, one of them highly rated. A couple nice receiving targets. Three offensive tackles, two highly rated, and three interior linemen. A good defensive end, two highly rated linebackers, Boubacar Cissoko and two more corners. Add in a Mallett caddy, a defensive tackle, and a safety, and it's around 18 guys from our current starting point of 13.