Brady Hoke, Greg Mattison, and Co. finished the 2011 recruiting class with a flourish, ending up with a #21 recruiting class on Rivals when the Wolverines had slipped as low as #38 in the aftermath of the firing of Rich Rodriguez. Hoke and Mattison, who have both received rave reviews for their recruiting abilities, look to carry on that momentum into the 2012 class.
The Wolverine coaches now have approximately twelve months to finish the next recruiting class, but until August 1, 2011, teams may not give anything more than "verbal" offers. Official letters offering scholarships cannot be mailed until that time. (This is a change from the class of 2011, when kids were allowed to receive offers on September 1 of their junior year. For example, Class of 2011 cornerback/safety Greg Brown received his official offer from Michigan on September 1, 2009.)
Here's a rundown of how Michigan might use the 16 scholarships available for 2012 (depth charts are in order of seniority, not starters then backups). Keep in mind that the defense-heavy Class of 2011 prevents Michigan from having to recruit a lot of defensive players in 2012.
Projected 2012 Depth: Denard Robinson (Sr.), Devin Gardner (RS So.), Russell Bellomy (RS Fr.)
Michigan should be aiming to take one quarterback each year. Robinson would be a senior, and the quarterback job might be up for grabs once he leaves. The sky is the limit for Gardner, but if his talent is unproven at that point, a blue-chip prospect might see an opportunity to come in and contribute early. Bellomy is a developmental prospect and might not be ready to contribute until late in his career. I don't expect Michigan to pull in a top-notch quarterback in 2012, but don't be surprised if a solid 4-star kid wants to restart Michigan's tradition of spitting out NFL-ready quarterbacks.
Projected 2012 Depth: Michael Cox (RS Sr.), Vincent Smith (Sr.), Teric Jones (Sr.), Fitzgerald Toussaint (RS Jr.), Stephen Hopkins (Jr.), Justice Hayes (So.), Thomas Rawls (So.)
Hoke stated during his 2011 Signing Day press conference that Michigan will always take "a couple" running backs. Even though Cox, Smith, and Jones will likely graduate after the 2011 season, Michigan would still have a solid group of four young running backs. That means Michigan could take one true tailback, but would also likely be looking to take a scholarship fullback. The fullback under Hoke will likely reappear in Michigan's offense, even though some of Michigan's tight ends and bigger tailbacks might be able to do some fullback duties.
Projected 2012 Depth: Terrence Robinson (RS Sr.), Roy Roundtree (RS Sr.), Je'ron Stokes (Sr.), Jeremy Gallon (RS Jr.), Drew Dileo (Jr.), Jeremy Jackson (Jr.), Ricardo Miller (Jr.), Jerald Robinson (RS So.), DJ Williamson (RS So.)
Michigan didn't take a single wideout in the Class of 2011, even though a few were ready to jump for Michigan. Roundtree and Je'ron Stokes will likely be heavy contributors as seniors, although Terrence Robinson's role is a little murky right now. Of the six non-seniors at the WR position, three were recruited to play slot receiver. Additionally, Jackson and Miller aren't exactly the field-stretching, big-play guys that Michigan used to employ. Both are more possession receiver types. Receiver is a position where young guys can contribute, so it's not necessary for a bunch of kids to come in and develop for a year before playing. Michigan only needs one guy, but these coaches will likely look for a guy around 6'2" or 6'3" who can stretch the field with his speed.
Projected 2012 Depth: Brandon Moore (RS Sr.), Chris Barnett (So.)
Michigan has been lagging in tight end recruiting for the past couple classes, and that will catch up to the Wolverines soon. Moore has barely played in his three seasons so far, and Barnett's talent is vast but I question his motor. The Wolverines would need at least one tight end just to run its base sets, but I wouldn't be surprised if they try to grab two. It would be nice if a young guy could redshirt and develop physically, but that might not be an option for the next couple seasons.
Projected 2012 Depth: Ricky Barnum (RS Sr.), Rocko Khoury (RS Sr.), Elliott Mealer (RS Sr.), Patrick Omameh (RS Sr.), Taylor Lewan (RS Jr.), Michael Schofield (RS Jr.), Christian Pace (RS So.), Chris Bryant (So.), Jack Miller (So.), Tony Posada (So.)
And when I say "five," I mean at least five. As far as numbers go, offensive line recruiting has been abysmal for the last few years. To top it off - and this is why OL recruiting is so important - Christian Pace is rumored to have a pretty serious injury that might end his career prematurely. After the 2012 redshirt seniors leave and if Pace's career is over, there would be only five remaining offensive linemen for the 2013 season. So the 2013 offensive line two-deep could literally include five redshirt freshmen, and that's assuming that the rest of those linemen stay healthy, remain eligible, and stay at Michigan. The "early playing time" recruiting pitch would be 100% genuine if used on 2012 recruits.