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Thursday, April 26, 2007

A long time ago a reader sent in a request for an update on the 2006 recruiting class and opinions on how they'll fare now that we've had a full season of internets scuttlebutt about them, and, hey, that's a good idea, so let's do it.

Already Starting

Brandon Graham. Similarities to Woodley's career are welcome: five star with a brief dalliance at linebacker who put on too much weight to play there effectively, starting as a sophomore, garnering plenty of hype along the way. A major reason not to panic about this year's defensive line.

Steve Schilling. Still presumed to be the favorite at RT despite his ongoing absence. Mark Ortmann might wrest it from him. But even to be in a battle at RT is a little victory for Schilling, since he's a bit short for tackle and for Michigan to leave him on the outside for reasons other than "oh god we have no tackles" -- which would only be the case if he was clearly behind Ortmann and Zirbel -- means that the guy is very likely for real.

Steve Brown. Impressive on kick coverage as a freshman and the projected starter next to Jamar Adams this fall. Everyone says he could be good and stuff, though Michigan's history with safeties makes me leery.

Justin Boren. First offensive lineman I can remember who didn't redshirt. Actually started a game when a couple interior linemen were injured. Carr's basically announced he will be the starting center this fall. Definitely on a stardom track.

Greg Mathews. Assuming the problems at fullback and tight end make the third wide receiver a functional starter even if the ceremonial role goes to Helmuth or Moundros or whoever, Mathews will be in the lineup as a true sophomore. He didn't do a whole lot last year but did have a few nice catches. After spending the entire spring as Henne's #1 option, should have a comfort level with the quarterback; seems poised for an Avant-like career.

On Track

Jonas Mouton. A hair's breadth away from the first category, Mouton moved from safety to weakside linebacker and has been generating nonstop hype since. Did well in the spring game and will challenge Chris Graham for the starting job this fall.

Brandon Minor. Zipped past Grady and Brown; now favorite to start in '08.

Should Contribute

Adam Patterson. Probably should have taken a redshirt last year, instead burned a year of eligibility for a few garbage snaps. Has received extensive praise for his athleticism, though he's likely stuck behind Jamison and Graham for the next two years.

Obi Ezeh. Has moved past everyone in his eligibility band except Mouton and now seems the odds-on favorite to replace Crable next year on the strong side. Another instate find for the coaching staff.

John Ferrara. Classic pre-Branch Michigan defensive lineman: mildly undersized white kid who works ass off. Has worked ass off so far and is getting moderate amounts of practice buzz. Doubt he's ever a killer, but a probable contributor who might start in a couple years.

Carlos Brown. If he sticks with Michigan will be in a battle with Minor to back up Hart this year and will be one of three juniors vying to replace him next year. Probably the fastest back Michigan has but was buried last year. Will have to improve quickly to play consistently.

Ask Again Later

David Cone. We all hope and pray Cone does not take a meaningful snap in his career. No offense, David, but Mallett and all that.

Greg Banks. Three-star Colorado defensive end redshirted; the rumor mill has been silent except some scattered work-ethic praise. Still developing. Unlikely to ever be a star, may find a Biggs career in there somewhere.

Jason Kates. Hasn't really done anything to warrant hype but did drop from 352 pounds to 318 in a matter of months. Rivals and Scout had vastly different assessments of the defensive tackle based on projections of his work ethic. Scout, thinking he would eat Gabe Watson and turn into Peter Griffin, gave him two stars. Rivals gave him four based on his ability to move despite being ginorbous. He fell in both sites' estimation after a lackluster senior year in which he was, well, 352 freakin' pounds and damn lazy because of it. Before that nastiness he was a top-100 kid to both sites who picked up four BCS offers as a sophomore. So if he's no longer fat and lazy the flier Michigan took on him may just work out.

Perry Dorrestein. Have heard zero.

Stock Down

Cobrani Mixon. Was nowhere to be found during the spring game. Cincinnati transfer rumors are flying a la Mister Simpson. [update: commenters say he was present. I must have missed him. In any case, he was not running with either of the top two units.]

Bryan Wright. It seemed that KC Lopata was the first string kicker at the spring game. Wright missed a short chip shot and was just short on a 56-yarder. He obviously has a big leg but didn't look particularly inspiring in action.

Quintin Patilla. Patilla was the recruit with the famously Mallett-shredded gloves. He was a wide receiver then. When he committed he was a linebacker. Now he's a fullback. At this rate he'll be a defensive tackle next year, Aaron Gibson in 2009, and collapse into a neutron star in 2010. I guess you can argue that the severe lack of depth at fullback means the move might not bode so unwell for his future, but the position has long been the repository of outcasts incapable of hacking it elsewhere on the field.

Quintin Woods. Not in school. Carr said he might arrive in the fall, but no word has come down. Highly unlikely to ever put on a Michigan uniform.


Caution should be exercised, as it's this point at which a recruiting class is most vulnerable to severe hope-based overrating. Many players have shown potential and are poised to move into the starting lineup early in their careers but none have been on the field long enough to expose whatever flaws they have.

That said, the '06 class looks to be a very good one. The stars are all on track to live up to their ratings. A few players appear to be outperforming their rankings (Ferrara, Minor, Ezeh, and possibly Kates) and only Mixon is a highly-rated player who finds himself struggling. (Maybe you could lump Brown in there if you're so inclined.) Attrition has been minimal. So... like, good.