Thursday, June 7, 2012
There’s not a whole lot going on in the world of Michigan football these days. All’s generally quiet in Ann Arbor with the exception of the looming season opener with Alabama only three months away, and of course the stellar effort Brady Hoke and his staff have put together on the recruiting trail.
Probably the biggest reason why I don’t post about recruiting is very simply because I don’t want to get my hopes up until these players put pen to paper. A million things could happen before or even after signing day.
They could switch commitments, they could get in trouble with the law and lose their scholarship offer, they could not qualify academically, or even if they do commit and show up on campus, they decide for whatever reason to leave the team. Every team in college football faces this, and frankly it’s not worth devoting all kinds of energy to recruits who might not even pan out. People mainly talk about recruiting during the off-season because there’s nothing else to talk about.
I especially hate the notion that “you’re always going to have some attrition.” Brady Hoke is not the first coach to say this, but that doesn’t make it any better. Yes, I’m well aware that in an ideal world every recruit who commits stays in the program until he graduates, and in the real world this simply doesn’t always happen. I guess it’s because it happened more often than usual during the Rodriguez years that puts me a little on edge. You know the old saying about “once burned” and all that.
However, as should be obvious by now, there are a certain number of stories in Michigan’s recruiting world that have piqued my interest and have forced my hand. By “forced my hand,” I mean that I feel somewhat compelled to weigh in. This isn’t something that I’ll do frequently. I’m better off saying that I may do it once in a while than never at all. The point is you shouldn’t expect it.
For anyone who thought that Michigan’s amazing 2012 recruiting class was just a flash in the pan and that Brady Hoke was simply benefitting from the honeymoon period of a first-year head coach, you might be surprised to learn that Michigan’s 2013 class is shaping up to be just as impressive, if not more so.
After the initial commitment from Shane Morris (pictured above), Michigan landed nine commitments from February 18 to February 22, all of whom were four-stars. This clearly took the Michigan recruitniks by surprise and became one of the most intense recruiting weekends in recent memory. What now appears to be happening in recruiting circles is the debate about to whom the remaining offers should go to and from whom the remaining commits will come. In other words, “Who’s left?”
Michigan is currently up to 21 commitments (colloquially called “commits”) and has filled all of their positions of need: Shane Morris (Warren, MI) at quarterback, Jaron Dukes (Columbus, OH) and C’sonte York (Harper Woods, MI) at wide receiver, Deveon Smith (Warren, OH) at running back, Patrick Kugler (Wexford, PA) and Logan Tulley-Tillman (Peoria, IL) on offensive line, and defensive tackles Maurice Hurst Jr. (Westwood, MA) and Henry Poggi (Baltimore, MD). The assumption going forward was that Michigan was going to potentially use their remaining time (the rest of the year) and offers to pursue elite athletes.
This is called “star chasing.” The term emerged as a concern of USC coach Lane Kiffin’s recruiting tactics of pursuing the highest-rated skill players in the country instead of filling position needs, and especially in the wake of scholarship reductions. While most schools go “star chasing” when their needs are already met, Kiffin goes “star chasing” from day one. The results speak for themselves: Kiffin and USC have landed the No. 1 players at quarterback (Max Browne), running back (Ty Isaac), and most recently safety (Su’a Cravens), but virtually no guards or offensive tackles.
Ironically, Brady Hoke’s staff filled their needs with highly rated players in a recruiting effort that some believe is on par with Alabama. Patrick Kugler, the Michigan commitment to offensive guard, is the No. 1 rated offensive guard in the country. Recruit Wyatt Shallman is the No. 2 fullback. Kyle Bosch, Chris Fox, and David Dawson are the No. 4, No. 5, and No. 7 offensive linesmen in the country, respectively. Shane Morris is the No. 3 quarterback. Dymonte Thomas (Alliance, OH) is the No. 4 safety. Some might say this is ironic, but others would say it is to be expected.
It’s almost amusing to see how far Michigan has come from the days of constant attrition, lack of qualifying academically, and surprise injuries under Rich Rodriguez. The concern is now what Michigan will do now that all of its needs are met. Who will be the last remaining commitments? Michigan is reportedly holding a spot for Laquon Treadwell, a four-star wide receiver from Crete, Illinois. Treadwell has said that he doesn’t plan to choose a school until signing day (nearly eight months from now), but by that time it may be too late. Personally, I’m not going to hold my breath on Treadwell. The fact that he hasn’t committed yet only means that he isn’t as interested in Michigan as everyone thinks. If he was, there’s nothing to stop him from committing.
Michigan’s most recent commitment from a long-snapper Scott Synpiewski (Ottawa, IL) is an interesting story in and of itself. Synpiewski is not rated and not ranked. This is not because he isn’t good; it’s probably because he’s a long snapper. That position is typically filled by a walk-on rather than a scholarship player, not just at Michigan, but practically everywhere. Most long-snappers are the anonymous, unsung heroes of field goal teams. Even place kickers get more recognition. So why did Michigan offer him a scholarship at all? Well, the purveying rumor is that Hoke’s staff wanted to lock down someone after Michigan State poached their last walk-on long snapper.
The greater concern is that this significantly limits the remaining spots available, assuming one is still open for Laquon Treadwell. In a class that is supposed to finish at 22 to 23 signees, Michigan currently has 21 commitments. That means that there are only one or two spots left.
This all must be frustrating news for Berkley Edwards, who has been hoping for an offer from the Wolverines but has yet to receive one. Berkley is the younger brother of Braylon Edwards, who wore #1 at Michigan as a wide receiver and famously caught the touchdown that won an overtime thriller against Michigan State. Braylon took to Twitter a while ago and publicly complained that his brother was getting overlooked and that Michigan should offer Berkley a scholarship. Berkley plays running back at Chelsea High School in Chelsea, MI. He supposedly can also play wide receiver, but running back is reportedly where his heart is. This is a problem because most of the Big Ten powers (Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Nebraska, etc.) are all set at running back, and while he may be underrated, it’s just as possible that he’s suffering a case of bad timing.
Braylon Edwards claims that his brother has elite speed, and indeed he does (4.4 is nothing to sneeze at), but Michigan already got a running back with Berkley Edwards’ size and speed when Dennis Norfleet of Martin Luther King High School in Detroit signed with the class of 2012. Berkley Edwards’ two best offers are currently from Cal and Minnesota. More offers could be on the way, and it will be interesting to see where he ends up. If Michigan does offer him it will be as a wide receiver, not as a running back. Berkley would then have to decide which is more important to him: the position, or the school.
Michigan has largely taken the recruiting world by storm by landing so many commitments in such a short amount of time. Their class is practically full, and it’s only June. This has intimidated some of the fans of Michigan’s rivals, while both placating and worrying Michigan’s fans. Even Hoke’s staunchest supporters don’t entirely know what to make of this. Before he arrived at Michigan, the general truism with regards to recruiting was “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Hoke has apparently changed the game on that.
He’s also looking more and more like the real deal.