2012 Recruiting Needs: Defense

This post is a sequel to last week's offense portion, which doled out 10 of Michigan's estimated 16 scholarships.  How should Michigan use the remaining six?

(Note: "Needs" are defined as the bare minimum.  Also, depth charts are listed in order of seniority, not starters and then backups.)

DEFENSIVE END

Projected 2012 Depth: Craig Roh (Sr.), Jibreel Black (Jr.), Jordan Paskorz (RS So.), Ken Wilkins (RS So.), Brennen Beyer (So.), Keith Heitzman (So.), Chris Rock (So.)
Needs: 1
A team should always take at least one guy at each position.  So even though the defensive end spots look pretty good from a numbers standpoint, the two most talented players (in my opinion) will be upperclassmen.  After that the talent gets a little bit murky, and so do positions - guys like Wilkins, Heitzman, and Rock all might have the ability to become 3-tech defensive tackles if they add some weight.  Michigan needs at least one guy here, and with the number of offers being handed out to DEs so far in the recruiting cycle, the coaches are more likely looking to add two.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Projected 2012 Depth: William Campbell (Sr.), Quinton Washington (RS Jr.), Richard Ash (RS So.), Terry Talbott (RS So.)
Needs: 2
This is obviously the most pressing defensive need in the Class of 2012.  None of the above players have made an impact yet at Michigan, and the stalwart for the past few seasons - Mike Martin - will be gone after 2011.  It's possible that a couple players from the above "Defensive End" category will move to tackle, but it's still not a position of strength going forward.  Teams should go at least three-deep at each position, and there are two DTs on the field most of the time.  Washington impressed me with his limited play at DT this past season, and Ash has created some practice buzz, but it's a very thin group.

LINEBACKER

Projected 2012 Depth: Kenny Demens (RS Sr.), ,Brandin Hawthorne (Sr.), Isaiah Bell (RS Jr.), Cam Gordon (RS Jr.),  Mike Jones (RS Jr.), Josh Furman (RS So.), Jake Ryan (RS So.), Frank Clark (So.), Kellen Jones (So.), Desmond Morgan (So.), Antonio Poole (So.)
Needs: 1
It seems a little odd to take only one player at a position where three are usually on the field, but Demens will be the only senior in the group.  There is some position flexibility here; for example, Ryan could play defensive end.  But the Wolverines took four linebackers in the Class of 2011, so it's not a pressing need in the immediate future.

CORNERBACK

Projected 2012 Depth: J.T. Floyd (RS Sr.),  Courtney Avery (Jr.), Cullen Christian (Jr.), Terrence Talbott (Jr.), Greg Brown (So.), Blake Countess (So.), Delonte Hollowell (So.), Raymon Taylor (So.)
Needs: 0
With so many freshmen coming in 2011, at least a couple are virtually guaranteed to redshirt.  There will also probably be some movement in positions, as Floyd, Christian, Brown, and Taylor could all become safeties.  But as you can see above, there are eight spots allotted to cornerbacks, and the only departure after 2012 will be Floyd.  Michigan will probably end up taking a cornerback in the upcoming class, but it's not necessary if all the above players remain at the position.

SAFETY

Projected 2012 Depth: Jordan Kovacs (RS Sr.), Thomas Gordon (RS Jr.), Carvin Johnson (Jr.), Marvin Robinson (Jr.), Ray Vinopal (Jr.), Tamani Carter (So.)
Needs: 2
The byproduct of playing so many freshman safeties in 2010 is that by 2012, all three will be upperclassmen.  Unless somebody redshirts in the next two years by choice or injury, there will be four senior safeties on the roster in 2013.  The likelihood of that scenario actually playing out is somewhat thin (unfortunately, one will probably get injured, transfer, etc. before then), but the point is that the talent isn't spread evenly over several classes.  Carter would be the only underclassman, although it's a near certainty that one or more of the cornerbacks will be safeties by then.  Michigan should probably be searching for one free safety and one strong safety by the end of the class.

SPECIALISTS

Projected 2012 Depth: Brendan Gibbons (RS Jr.), Will Hagerup (Jr.), Matt Wile (So.)
Needs: 0
Michigan already has one more scholarship kicker than is necessary, so unless something drastic happens, the Wolverines shouldn't be looking for another specialist.  If Gibbons happens to be beaten out for the kicking job by Wile or a walk-on, I wouldn't expect him to be given a fifth year beyond 2012.

MagnusThunder is the author of Touch the Banner, a Michigan football blog.  Also, he likes Reese's Peanut Butter Cups if you have any extras.

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