Big Ten Snapshots
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The long and the short of it is that new head coach Brady Hoke and his staff have come in, been very aggressive on the recruiting trail and had a lot of success so far in the 2012 class. The Wolverines, are actually nearing completion with this class, with only a handful of spots remaining. It has been a defensive heavy class, but we expect more offense in the remaining spots.
It doesn't get a whole lot bigger, if you're Michigan, then Kyle Kalis. A five star prospect, one of the top prospects in Ohio, and a one time Ohio State commitment, flipping him over was a significant coup. On paper, the aforementioned storylines alone make him a big get. On the field, he is a rugged, nasty lineman. A throwback that will fit in with the type of run attack this new staff wants to employ.
One that Got Away:
Kenton (Ohio) quarterback Maty Mauk had Michigan in his final group, but the wide open offense of Missouri lured the gunslinger to the Big 12.
Two positions are particularly loaded in this class right now: linebackers and offensive line.
At linebacker, two of the top in-state prospects, James Ross and Royce Jenkins-Stone are on board along with two Ohioans, Kaleb Ringer and Joe Bolden. Rankings wise, all are four-stars, but they are different types of players. Ross has started two varsity seasons for Orchard Lake St. Mary's and since his commitment, has kept a low profile, so I think some are forgetting how good he is. He's the least flashy, but has great instincts, strength and is a sure tackler. Bolden is a great athlete who excels in coverage and can run sideline to sideline. Jenkins-Stone may be the most raw, but might just be the most athletic of the group. Ringer, like Ross, is a productive high school player with a nose for the ball. What positions will they all play? That has not been set in stone yet, but there is versatility there.
The same goes for offensive line where several guys could play several spots. Rockford's Ben Braden had a great summer camp, moving him from being a solid right tackle prospect, to possibly a left tackle prospect and now considered as one of the gems of the class. Erik Magnuson, from California, had a nice showing at the Opening, and is a long, lean tackle prospect as well. Blake Bars may be one of the least hyped of the bunch, but he can play inside or outside, and had an impressive assortment of offers. Along with Kalis, another Ohio product, Caleb Stacey, is a mobile kid we see as a center or guard.
The Wolverines are also sitting pretty at defensive back with corners Terry Richardon and Anthony Standifer, and safeties Jarrod Wilson and Allen Gant committed. Richardson and Standifer are both talented, but different. Richardson is smaller with great feet and instincts. Standifer is big and has outstanding ball skills. That is a theme throughout this group. All are ball hawks, something the Michigan secondary has lacked. Wilson, an athletic 6'2 safety with range, may be one of the best bets for early playing time in the class. Don't sleep on Gant, a legacy who has been a four-year high school varsity starter.
On the defensive line, our Scout staff thinks Tom Strobel may end up as one of the best players in this class. 6'6, 240-lbs with a motor, he has the physical goods. Mario Ojemudia and Pharaoh Brown are athletic edge rushers. Both have filling out to do, so they won't be likely early play guys, but both know how to get to the quarterback. Defensive tackle Matt Godin has good size at 6'5 and over 270-lbs. He's light on his feet and improved a lot between his sophomore and junior year.
The Wolverines also have two tight ends committed, a position of new emphasis under this staff. A.J. Williams from Cincinnati Sycamore is 6'6, 270-lbs and will be akin to an extra offensive tackle as a blocker and should be a great short yardage-red zone weapon in the passing game. Devin Funchess is 6'5, and light at 205-210-lbs, but very athletic and has elite ball skills. He'll be a move guy, a flex guy who may moonlight as a receiver. He'll need to add physicality to his game, but he can create matchup problems.
Defensive tackle is need. Danny O'Brien and Ondre Pipkins are the two most likely candidates, although Aziz Shittu is also in play and Sheldon Day, although a bit of a longshot, has not eliminated Michigan. Between O'Brien and Pipkins, it is likely a matter of who commits first. Five-star defensive end Adolphus Washington should not be ruled out either. He has mentioned the Wolverines prominently.
The most likely commit left on the board, in our mind, is Toledo Whitmer defensive end Chris Wormley. A 6'5, 250-lb track star who has the Wolverines at the top of his list.
Washington's teammate, Dwayne Stanford is also on the board at a position of need: wide receiver. Four-star Amara Darboh is visiting soon and a couple other pass catchers with offers, Monty Madaris, Aaron Burbridge and Jehu Chesson are expected to be at the BBQ at the Big House.
Running back is another position that doesn't have a commit yet. Ohio State commit Brionte Dunn has takent visits to Ann Arbor since his pledge to the Buckeyes, and is expected in again at the end of the month. That said, he has reaffirmed his commitment to Ohio State several times. His is a recruitment that is likely to play out for quite awhile.
Five-star offensive tackle Jordan Diamond also has Michigan high on his list. He would likely be a guard in Ann Arbor in our opinion. Other highly touted guys like Andrus Peat, Adam Bisnowaty and Zach Banner are still possibilities, but spots on the O-Line are running thin.