Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Michigan Recruiting Roundtable, the First Edition

Heres a recruiting roundtable that I, and many other Michigan bloggers participated in. Hope you enjoy!

In the best interest of the fans, I decided to put together a roundtable consisting of the Michigan blogosphere's best minds in terms of recruiting. The assignment? Five simple questions regarding the recruits Michigan has brought in and the job the coaches have done.

First, the participants:
Magnus Thunder (or Magnus....or Thunder) @ Touch The Banner
The MGoBlog.com Recruiting Ninja Ace Anbender
Tremendous's own Keith Thompson
MGoRecruit's Simply Complex
Maize Pages' Jeff and MGoShoe

And, the Q/A:

QUESTION #1: 1. Of the 2012 commits and targets that could legitimately commit to Michigan, which one are you most personally excited for and why?

Magnus: I'm most excited for Orchard Lake (MI) St. Mary's linebacker James Ross. He's a little on the small side, but I think people are going to be impressed with how quickly he reads plays and gets to the ball. Although maybe not as fast, he reminds me of Ian Gold and should probably be a starter within two seasons.

Keith: Joshua Garnett, and there are multiple reasons. The first being that he is an outstanding player that could contribute early finding a place in our thin rotation. The second reason being that he would possibly solidify the best offensive line class in Michigan history. With the front that is being developed it would be hard to not be considered a contender in any game we play.

Ace: I'm going to stick to players I've seen in person, since there's a lot that doesn't show up in the average highlight film. I had the chance to see James Ross play a couple times in the fall, and he impressed me more than any other recruit in terms of his production and consistency. Ross has great range, tackles well, and his instincts were well ahead of the vast majority of high school linebackers—if he can add a little bulk, which I doubt will be an issue, he should compete for early playing time and be a multi-year starter, with the potential to bring in postseason accolades down the road.

Jeff: Royce Jenkins-Stone. Kalis is probably the obvious answer here but he's already projected so high--many, including myself, are saying starting LG by Ohio--that I feel more comfortable instead of excited about him. What makes makes me personally excited for RJS, and the rest of the linebacking corps, I think stems from the talent gap between what Michigan has seen over the last few years and the potential coming in. He has the typical Michigan linebacker frame if you will--6'2", 215 lbs--and the speed and athleticism to go with it. He'll likely redshirt and put on weight but by the time he's ready, I see him as a 3-year starter earning 1st-team All-Big Ten honors.

DGDestroys: Jarrod Wilson. Why? The answer is simple. Speed. For the past few years, our safeties has consisted of converted LBs (before or after the fact), injured CBs, walk-ons (don't get me wrong, I love Kovacs and Van Slyke), converted WRs, and a lot of slower, lower recruited kids. Jarrod Wilson is simply a rangy free safety. And that by itself is enough.

MGoShoe: I expect this won't be an especially unique answer (ED: It was), but for me it's all about offensive line play. I don't know if he'll end up being the best of the 2012 offensive line recruits, but Kyle Kalis certainly has the best shot at contributing immediately at a real position of need. Michigan's lack of OL depth wasn't ever seriously challenged in 2011 but that isn't something Michigan fans should count on next season. Even if Kalis doesn't win a starting position, I'd expect that he'll be called upon at some point to fill in. Ultimately, I expect Kalis to live up to the hype and by his junior season, he'll be garnering All-B1G recognition and national attention.

Simply Complex: I'd have to say that I'm most excited for Jarrod Wilson. I just feel like Wilson is the ball-hawking safety that Michigan has been looking for since the departure of Marcus Ray. Wilson posses fluid hips, good body control, great hands, great instincts and diagnostic skills and has the speed and acceleration to track down receivers. Wilson does need to improve his tackling and needs to play better in the box, but those are things that can be tweaked at the college level. His stats are extremely impressive seeing as he recorded 12 interceptions(5 returned for touchdowns) in his junior year according to ESPN. As time goes on, I think he will play a vital role in Michigan's defense and could even be the "defensive quarterback" down the road, calling plays and audibles etc. as a junior and senior.

QUESTION #2: Which one will be the best college player and who has the most pro potential.

Magnus: Lakewood (OH) St. Edward's offensive guard Kyle Kalis looks like he has the most potential to be a long-term contributor and an NFLer. He has excellent technique and good size, plus the bloodlines to get to the NFL. He's not as athletic as a guy like Jake Long or Taylor Lewan and he plays a position that isn't appreciated as much, but he'll probably be a starter at Michigan by 2012 and I think he has as good a chance as anyone in this class to make it to the next level.

Keith: This is a tough one, but I'll go with Jarrod Wilson. I think he will be given an opportunity to be successful early in his career, and I believe he has the tools to rise to the challenge. Being 6'2" is going to give him a decided advantage over most receivers, and he has the frame to add another 20 lbs bringing him up to 210. If he can maintain his athleticism while adding to his frame, he will be any receiver's biggest nightmare coming over the middle and be able to cover the deep ball even if a receiver gets behind him using his that height.

Simply Complex: I think that Joe Bolden has the most pro potential out of anyone else in this class and will be the best college player. I think this because Bolden has been getting raved about from many recruiting analysts due to his performances in the Under Armour All American Game , as well as the Under Armour practices. Bolden is the total package at linebacker. He has tremendous instincts, great leader and communicator on the defensive side of the ball, excellent tackler, never gives up on a play, and has good ability in coverage. He struggles a bit in run defense, but that can be fixed with some good coaching. Some people have concerns with his size , but I have always believed that it's not the size of the dog, but it's the dogs bite. I would compare Bolden to Clay Matthews in his style of play and football qualities(and they do share similiar hairdos). With Greg Mattison and Brady Hoke coaching Bolden up, I think he has the ability to become a great NFL linebacker.

Jeff: These may go hand-in-hand so I'll just pick one player: Ondre Pipkins. When it's all said and done, I see Ondre Pipkins as our Immovable Force--an Alan Branch reaching his full potential, our Mount Cody. He already has the size covered--6'3", 320 lbs--but what impresses me most is how quick his first step is for a high school senior. His only weakness is consistency and technique which, given that Michigan has essentially 3 D-line coaches, should be shored up by the time he sees the field. Only concern is him keeping his weight in check at a strong and athletic 330 instead of letting himself slip to 350+.

Ace: It's tough not to look at Kyle Kalis and think "NFL guard." He's got the size and skill—he looked great in the Army All-American Game—and he's played against very difficult competition at Lakewood St. Edward. Kalis comes in with a ton of hype, but it seems deserved, and I think he'll not only be a great college player, but a guy who plays on Sundays for a while.

DGDestroys: Best College Player- James Ross. Ross has absolutely everything he needs to be a top tier college linebacker- besides the size. His quickness, instincts, ability to recognize and diagnose plays, as well as his penchant for sorting through the trash on his way to the ball carrier are absolutely electrifying. He'll need to add on some substantial weight if he plans on grinding through the games like MSU, Iowa, Nebraska, and OSU, but everything else is his for the taking. I'd expect him to, at the very least, get in the 2-deep rotation at weakside linebacker next year, ultimately claiming the spot by the end of the year (a la Blake Countess this year). As far as best pro player, I'll go with Ondre Pipkins. This was a close one- there are at least 5 players in this class that I could see blossoming into high draft picks (Kalis was a close second), but Pipkins sets himself apart for a couple of reasons. He balances an intensely competitive nature with a extroverted, yet well grounded attitude to make him a force on and off the field. His burst off the ball and array of pass rushing moves are the most dynamic we've seen in the interior line since...well...Mike Martin of course. He moves well for his size, and he's a high effort player (if anyone hasn't seen him bury Chad Voytik in the US Army All American Game, you should.) In my opinion, Pipkins and a few others on this team have their draft stock in their hands-they'll go as high as they work.

MGoShoe: Ondre Pipkins looks like he will be something special. Greg Mattison will surely find a way to use Pee Wee's ridiculous combination of size and agility to best advantage starting in 2012. I wouldn't be surprised to see Pipkins blow up his sophomore season and Michigan will be fortunate if he sticks around for all four years of his eligibility. Besides, he'll have three coaches. So he's got that going for him. Which is nice.

QUESTION #3: It's clear the coaches have effectively recruited the kids they've targeted for the most part. Do you think they've logistically followed the right strategies though? Are there any areas you feel they may be leaving themselves thin in? Who was our biggest miss?

MGoShoe: I don't think it's possible to criticize Michigan's recruiting strategy. They started strong and quickly built tremendous momentum. That said, while I'm excited about the potential of the wideouts and running backs who have committed, this class is missing a can't miss skill position player. I think that changes in 2013 as Michigan's success builds upon itself.

DGDestroys: I think the coaches have done a spectacular job covering their needs so far this year. Going in, it seemed as though OL, TE, and DL were three of our biggest needs. Right now, we have 11 guys committed between the three. The only area of need I feel could have been better addressed would be at the QB position. Although we have Shane Morris committed in the '13 class, depth is still important, especially when considering the chance that Devin Gardner isn't granted his redshirt. That being said, I was never a huge fan of the QBs that did end up with a Michigan offer. Obviously, landing Gunner Kiel or Zeke Pike would have been great. But outside of that, Maty Mauk, Bennie Coney, Austin Appleby (all of whom seemed like our backup plans), were underwhelming at best. Mauk has a weird side-arm throw and played in a system wherein his stats harshly overexaggerated his ability. Coney had some off the field issues and struggles to put a lot of zip on the ball. Appleby struggles to stretch the field vertically and is injury prone. Some will point to offers for Zach Kline and Jake Rodrigues in defense, but neither seemed to give Michigan a serious look. Recent interviews suggest the coaches really wanted Kline on campus, but that never worked out. In my humble e-pinion, the coaches whiffed on this position. In a more general sense, I think there were a few misses that could end up hurting us down the road. There were a few tackles, whose ceilings I really liked, that were fairly high on Michigan. Paul Thurston visited and then selected Nebraska. Shane Callahan, who has relatives in AA, visited in early Spring and seemed like a Michigan lean, then committed to Auburn at their Spring Game (Callahan is, perhaps, one of the best run blocking OTs I've seen all year). Taylor Decker added a fairly early Michigan offer before committing to Notre Dame. Landing any of these players would have been great, but we did end up filling out the position fairly well.I also feel like losing Burbridge to Sparty, even if we were the deciding factor, will hurt us as well. Compulsory, yet still painful, Brionte Dunn sentence.

Simply Complex: The Michigan coaches have followed most of the basic recruiting strategies (that I know of) to recruit mature, high character athletes that will be the face of the Michigan program going forward. Early in the process, the coaches focused most of their attention to in-state recruiting. They contacted prospects out of Cass Tech and Farmington Hills High Schools, which jump started the 2012 class and created good relationships with the coaches of those high schools. The coaches also took advantage of Ohio States problems and "tore down the fence around Ohio" to snag some high profile recruits from there. After they finished with local recruiting, they expanded their recruiting efforts to more of a national level. Early in the process I was skeptical of the coaches ability to recruit players to fill the needs at the skill position on offense, but that all changed with the commitments of Shane Morris. Jehu Chesson, Amara Darboh, and Devin Funchess. I would like to see one more wide receiver commit in this class because that's where I think our biggest area of concern is on the offensive side of the ball, but that can all be shored up in the 2013 class. I'd have to say that the coaches biggest miss was Stefon Diggs. I know that he has some baggage, but I never quite understood why the coaches waited so long to get in contact with him. He would of been a for sure playmaker and that he would of been a true game changer on offense, defense, and even on special teams.

Keith: The coaches have filled the missing spots to the best of their abilities with this 2012 recruiting class rather effectively, and for the most part, with the players that were on their short list, they also are already continuing to do do with the 2013 regime. However, the idea of recruiting and implementing a whole new system, offensively and defensively in just one recruiting year is nearly impossible. There are obviously a lot of gaps that need to be filled, and our depth is anything but ideal in many positions (DL, RB (Pro style),WR, OL (lack of experience), TE, QB (Pro Style)) . I trust the coaches have accurately assessed the talent they have on the roster now and decided the biggest immediate needs for the team. The first miss that comes to mind is Brionte Dunn, as a bruising back that can make one cut and go he would have been an immediate impact, but his role at Ohio will not severely impact us. That being said, the player that I feel was the biggest miss was Stefon Diggs. Stefon could have stretched out the field for us and made a huge impact on special teams. With the uncertainty of Stonum, this could be more harsh that originally thought. Stefon also has some interest in Ohio, and with the hire of Urban Meyer, Stefon could easily become Percy Harvin 2.0.

Jeff: When you look at the 2012 class as a whole right now, it's hard to criticize the way Hoke and Mattison put this group together. Whatever strategy they are using, it is working. They've thoroughly addressed our most pressing need, offensive line, with 5 OL (probably 6 by NSD) and 2 TEs--that's 8 guys on the line. I think we'll remember this linebacker class for some time too. I've said this before: I would have liked to seen a QB in this class to perhaps provide some depth before the almighty Shane steps on campus but if that's my biggest complaint, I'll take it. Biggest miss has to be Dunn, given the lack of skill players in this class, so it puts some early pressure to lock up Ty Isaac early in 2013.

Magnus: I think the coaches might regret not successfully recruiting a quarterback in this class. Michigan only has three scholarship quarterbacks right now. Denard Robinson will be a senior in 2012, Devin Gardner will be a junior (as far as we know), and Russell Bellomy will be a redshirt freshman. I think a school ought to take at least one quarterback in each class, because those kids often transfer if they don't like their playing time. I'm not suggesting that Bellomy is a transfer risk, but with a 2013 kid like Warren (MI) De La Salle's Shane Morris coming, Bellomy might see the writing on the wall. If an injury or something else unexpected comes along, Michigan might find themselves in a precarious position. The Wolverines have taken at least one quarterback in the past 14 classes, so I'm not sure why the trend is ending now.

Ace: Well, with a couple weeks left and up to four spots left to fill, I'm not sure it's fair to evaluate the class in terms of needs filled until we see the final product. If Michigan doesn't take another defensive tackle, however, and it doesn't seem like they will, I'm going to be pretty worried about the depth there. Ondre Pipkins looks like a phenomenal prospect, but heading into next year with Will Campbell and Quinton Washington as the only two DTs with even marginal playing experience (unless you want to count Richard Ash, who saw a few snaps this year) is disconcerting. Of course, a player like Matt Godin or Chris Wormley could become a DT, but both are coming in as defensive ends and I'm not sure either would be ready to contribute immediately on the inside.
Overall, however, I think the coaches have done a fantastic job of addressing need, especially along the offensive line—you aren't going to come out of every recruiting cycle with a fully-loaded roster at each position, but they have filled a lot of the holes in the roster in a hurry.

QUESTION #4: Give us the final four players you want and then give me the final four players you think we'll end up with.

Jeff: Want: Joshua Garnett, Yuri Wright, Sam Grant, Brionte Dunn (We can dream!) Get: Garnett, Reeves, 2 guys nobody is talking about right now.

DGDestroys: Want: Garnett, Reeves, (former UT commit) Kenny Crawley, JP Holtz. Get: Garnett, Reeves, Grant, and then bank the 4th spot.

MGoShoe: Want: Stefon Diggs, Joshua Garnett, Armani Reeves and Sam Grant Get: Joshua Garnett, Armani Reeves, Sam Grant, Mystery recruit (A big name)

Keith: Want: Josh Garnett, Yuri Wright, Armani Reeves, Sam Grant Get: Josh Garnett, Armani Reeves, Sam Grant, last one depends on Stonum outcome, it is hard to say.

Ace: Want: Josh Garnett, Armani Reeves, Sam Grant, Jordan Diamond. Get: Garnett, Grant, Reeves, ?.

Ace adds: I'd love to see Michigan really attack the lack of numbers on the O-line and grab both Garnett and Diamond, but I'd be shocked if that happened, especially since Diamond seems like he'll be a tough pull right now. I expect the coaches will take another defensive back, and Reeves seems like the most likely candidate, although Ohio State's late push and his continued commitment to Penn State could make that a difficult pull, too. Garnett and Grant are really the only players I think Michigan has a coin-flip or better chance at bringing in.
Every year, it seems like the Wolverines snag some player on or near signing day who was completely off the radar beforehand (Chris Barnett last year, for example, though he didn't work out). I think the same thing happens with at least one player this year, if not two. I think there are too many needs that still must be addressed for the team to pocket a scholarship for the 2013 class, but the odds of landing four players from the current list of targets (or at least the names being thrown around right now) seem slim.

Simply Complex: Want: Wright, Reeves, Garnett, Madaris Get: Garnett, Reeves, Grant, bank the last spot.

Magnus: Here's who I want that's still available: Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, Washington offensive lineman Joshua Garnett, D.C. defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, and New Jersey quarterback/athlete Devin Fuller. That's mostly an unrealistic list, so here's who I think Michigan will get: Garnett and two guys who are committed to other schools, with one scholarship left open. Garnett is good friends with Erik Magnuson, which I think will be enough to get him in the fold. New guys always pop up on the radar in January, so I think Michigan will probably grab a tight end and/or a defensive back (Armani Reeves, perhaps) from another school. And Hoke showed last year that he's willing to bank a scholarship or two for the following year, so I think he'll only take three more guys, not four.

QUESTION #5: How many B1G Championships does the 2012 class win? Do they win it all?

Simply Complex: I think this class wins two B1G championships. They could win more, but with Rich Rod's players still on the team, I think that, and lack of depth at the moment will limit there opportunities at winning more than two B1G championships. I do think that we win it all in the year 2016.
Keith: They win 3 B1G Championships, Ohio will trip them up once. I don't believe they will win a National Championship though.

Magnus: This class will win one outright Big Ten championship and no national championships. I like Hoke, but there's a big difference between winning the Big Ten and being national champions. Michigan needs to improve on the defensive line before talking about a national championship.

Jeff: 2 and a wishful yes. Non-con will be tough this year but I think the Big Ten is ours to lose so that's 1. And I think their senior season will be pretty special. Obviously, a lot will depend on Shane but a class this strong often builds the foundation for a potential National Champion when an extremely talented QB precedes them, like Denard and our newest group of graduating seniors. If Shane helps bring in a Top 5 class, those juniors and seniors playing in 2015 will be a force to be reckon with.

MGoShoe: It is significantly more difficult to win a B1G Championship now that there's no chance of a co-championship. That said, I'm ready to go out on a limb and predict that we'll see two B1G Championships during the next 5 years with 2012, 2014 and 2015 the most likely years. If, as expected a plus one (four team playoff) BCS system is implemented in 2014, I'd say this class has a chance because a one loss B1G champion is highly likely to be ranked in the top four. That's an easier feat than finishing undefeated and in the top two. I envision the 2014 and 2015 teams will both have outstanding chances of accomplishing this. Then it's just a matter of winning two incredibly high stakes games against ridiculously accomplished teams. Piece of cake!

DGDestroys: This class will end up with at least 1, perhaps 2 or 3 (depending on how long the kid stays around) Big Ten Championship games, and will be in the hunt for the National Title Game in at least 2 of their seasons.

All in all, this piece should give fans a pretty good idea of what to expect coming down the stretch to National Signing Day and also what to look for in the Class of 2012. Hope you guys enjoyed.


  1. that was the most reading, since highschool, tat i have done in a long time. nice info and thanks.

  2. I figured he would be. Who didn't see that coming. We really need to go hard after Payton and if not him then Monty. If we can't get either of those guys then I say we just use those spots for other positions. I really see Garnett coming for sure.I think our chances with Payton are good. After that I really haven't got a clue. I really hope we use all our scholarships though. I think we need to. Also, my guy i am most excited about, maybe a sleeper, is Drake Johnson. I got a feeling this kid could be special. Let's not forget that nobody knew anything about a young man named Mike Hart coming out of High school. I really think we got ourselves a stud with this guy. only time will tell.

  3. I find it peculiar that Ace is high on Jordan Diamond again and put him on his wish list. The previous chats that I read from him made me think otherwise...

  4. I hope we get Payton. At the Army All American game he looked like the 3rd best WR out there next to DGB and Diggs. He is a big WR that can go up and get the ball. If I had to compare him to someone I would say Junior Hemingway. Both guys can go up and make plays for their QB.

  5. Just a suggestion, can you throw in a [more] tag in there so that only a portion of the roundtable is shown on the main page?

  6. I saw at Hostpph website that Michigan is planning on buying several top football players and I can't wait to see who they are