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Friday, August 11, 2006

Defensive End

Needs Going In: Minor since uber-LB recruit Brandon Graham showed up weighing 270 pounds and was immediately moved to DE. He joins raw but athletic Adam Patterson in the freshman class. Three more players from said class could end up at DE: John Ferrara, Greg Banks, and Quintin Woods. Woods is slated to start at TE but the other two will be somewhere on the defensive line.

Commitments To Date: Whitehall, Michigan's Ryan Van Bergen commited a month or two before camp

Potential Commitments: Four-star Delaware end Devon Still claimed a Michigan lead a few weeks ago but after him the prospects are few and far between. Perhaps he's enthralled with the uniform after years of growing up with Delaware Blue Hen football. Illinois five-star Martez Wilson continues to list Michigan but is widely presumed to be destined for ND -- there's no accounting for taste. Ryan Kerrigan from Indiana and Eric Thomas from Ohio were mentioned as Michigan possibilities a while ago but are marginal prospects who may not get offers.

You Should Panic This Much: Little. Van Bergen's been tearing it up over the summer. With a couple of top-100 athletes in the previous class and a multitude of Biggs types available, Michigan is probably done unless a pass-rushing Carlos Brown falls into their laps.

Defensive Tackle

Needs Going In: Like quarterback, Michigan has numbers over the past two classes but is short on high end prospects. Two of the aforementioned defensive ends will end up at tackle, probably Ferrara and Banks. As recruits neither was pursued heavily by high end schools; the gurus rated them regarded them as just another guy.

Commitments To Date: None.

Potential Commitments: With Joseph Barksdale and Josh Brent probably headed elsewhere the top name on Michigan's board is Louisiana's Rolando Melancon. Instate defensive/offensive tackle Ryan Wheat could get an offer sometime during his senior year; if he gets one he's likely to commit immediately.

You Should Panic This Much: Quite a bit. The only player who's favoring Michigan at the moment is Melancon and Louisiana prospects have a tendency to zig-zag dramatically. The last class is devoid of potential difference-makers and this one will probably be too.


Needs Going In: Depends on how many linebackers Michigan actually got last year. Quintin Patilla, Obi Ezeh, and Cobrani Mixon are all definites. Brandon Graham now seems like a defensive lineman. Nominal safety Jonas Mouton could go either way. In any case, Patilla and Ezeh were both lightly regarded by recruiting services and

Commitments To Date: Depends on how you view Jerimy Finch. Is he a safety? Is he a linebacker? He's filed under safety here.

Potential Commitments: There aren't any names I can give you aside from Lorenzo Edwards, a safety from Orlando Edgewater (freshman WR Greg Mathews' high school) who plans an official visit in the fall. Michigan is pursuing a couple of Tennessee linebackers likely to remain in the SEC and a couple of guys from New Jersey who seem only vaguely interested.

You Should Panic This Much: Somewhat. Michigan needs one or two linebackers this year and will probably end up offering someone obscure during the fall to make up their numbers.


Needs Going In: Pick an excessively dramatic noun and double it. Jai Eugene's inconvenient decommit late in the process left Michigan without a cornerback last year; the year before that they picked up two California sleepers and fast but molecule-tiny Brandon Harrison. Three commits are probable and if there's a fourth player who wants to commit Michigan will probably take him.

Commitments To Date: Michigan legacy Troy Woolfolk, Butch's son, was offered and committed at Michigan camp. He's a three star to everyone; ESPN likes him least of any of Michigan's ten commitments.

Potential Commitments: Two instate badasses have been presumed Michigan's to lose for about a year now: everyone's five star Ronald Johnson and everyone's near five-star Dionte Allen. That would be reassuring if Michigan hadn't just lost Allen to Florida State. Johnson remains interested. Highly regarded Californian Michael Williams has been down to Michigan and Notre Dame for a while now. Both are top-100 players.

You Should Panic This Much: Allen's FSU commitment removes Michigan's margin for error. Insiders are confident on both Johnson and Williams but were also making assurances that Allen would end up at Michigan right up until he committed to FSU. As long as Johnson continues looking good things will be all right, but you should be spooked.


Needs Going In: Moderate. Michigan picked up two top-100 players a year ago in Steve Brown and Jonas Mouton but was skunked the year before and needs some depth, especially since Brandon Harrison has returned to corner. Mouton is also a candidate to end up at linebacker.

Commitments To Date: Indiana's top two players, Jerimy Finch and Artis Chambers both commited a couple months into the recruiting year. Finch is well-liked by Scout and ESPN, featuring on their top-100 lists. Rivals, apparently deprived of film, said "meh" in their initial rankings but will move him up when they re-rank.

Potential Commitments: Michigan has offers out to Ohio's Eugene Clifford and California's Malachi Lewis but isn't expected to land either. Clifford seems earmarked for OSU; Lewis is being pursued by a ton of west coast teams.

You Should Panic This Much: You might privately express concern about depth in the future, but Michigan has stockpiled a lot of talent across two classes.


Michigan finds itself in a precarious position. Much like quarterback, Michigan doesn't need numbers at defensive tackle but could very much use a star. They probably won't get one with Brent and Barksdale looking to go elsewhere. They need numbers and talent at corner after two consecutive years of striking out on big names. All the right things are being said by and about Ronald Johnson but if he, like Allen, were to decide on another school Michigan would be staring at an unmitigated disaster on the defensive side of the ball.

Finch is an excellent player and the buzz on Van Bergen is growing, but Michigan has no linebacker prospects, only one defensive tackle who seems like a candidate to commit, and is living on the edge at cornerback.

Right-now grade: C+. Ron Johnson officially committing would bump that up to a solid B.