An Exercise in Optimism: The 2012 Recruiting Class

So far Michigan's coaches have laid out almost 140 offers to players in the class of 2012, but offers in the past couple weeks seem to have slowed a bit.  I assume that the coaches wanted to get a feel for what elite prospects would be interested in becoming Wolverines, and then they will expand the list where needed.  With the class scheduled to give out 16 scholarships (although that number will likely rise), here's a look at what 16 prospects could be part of the class next February.  This is probably an overly optimistic look at Michigan's recruiting status, but Brady Hoke and Co. have at least a fighting chance with each of the prospects listed below:

QUARTERBACK
Zeke Pike - Edgewood, KY
Pike is a borderline 5-star prospect to the recruiting services.  He's 6'5" and 220 lbs. or more with a rocket arm and good athleticism for his size.  Detroit News and Scout.com analyst Sam Webb has suggested that if National Signing Day were right now, Pike would be a Wolverine.  There's a long time between now and February 2012, but things are looking good for the position.  Michigan is likely looking to take only one quarterback in this class, but on the heels of taking a relatively lightly regarded prospect (Russell Bellomy) in 2011, it would be nice to get a blue chip player at the position.

RUNNING BACK
Donovan Roberts - Norman, OK
Brady Hoke stated that he would always like to take "a couple" running backs in each cycle, so it's possible that we might see up to two running backs in this class.  However, it's not necessary that one is a gamebreaker.  Despite the lack of production from Michigan's running backs in the past couple seasons, I think Hoke and offensive coordinator Al Borges will use their talents better.  There are scheduled to be eight running backs on the roster in fall 2011, and the only guaranteed departure will be senior Michael Shaw.  Michigan could afford to take a solid but unspectacular recruit this season and go for a home run in 2013.  Roberts is probably a 3-star prospect when all is said and done, and he reminds me a bit of current Michigan running back Fitzgerald Toussaint.

FULLBACK
E.J. Fatu - Klein, TX
The only reason Fatu appears on this list is because he's the only fullback to have been offered so far.  He only has a few tenders, but I have a hard time seeing him in Maize and Blue next year.  I expect other names to pop up as the recruiting cycle goes along.

WIDE RECEIVER
Dorial Green-Beckham - Springfield, MO
Green-Beckham is a consensus top-2 recruit, and Michigan could really use a stud wideout in the 2012 class.  If Michigan is indeed able to secure a commitment from Pike (who would like to reach a decision in the next couple months), then that would help the Wolverines' chances with the nation's #1 wide receiver.  Green-Beckham reportedly has a little brother who suffers from leukemia, and that's weighing heavily on him at this point.  He might not want to venture too far from home, but then again, it's hard to picture such a high-profile recruit going to a relatively nearby school like Missouri or Illinois.  I'm certainly not expecting him to choose the Wolverines, but Michigan has about as good of a chance as anyone.

TIGHT END
Ron Thompson - Detroit, MI
Thompson's pledge to Michigan seems to have been pending for a few weeks, and many people think it's only a matter of time before he drops for the Maize and Blue.  He recently relocated to Southfield High School after his old high school's staff was fired.  He's an athletic kid who surprised many Michigan fans when he was ranked the #137 overall prospect in the recently released Scout 300.  With the speed to be a possession receiver but the frame to add another 25-30 lbs., it's not hard to see why he would be a coveted prospect.

A.J. Williams - Cincinnati, OH
With the number of offers out there to tight end prospects, it seems apparent that Michigan would actually like to get two players at the position.  While Thompson is more of a pass-catching threat, there are also offers to guys like Williams and Mark Harrell, which suggests to me that Brady Hoke wants a blocking tight end, too.  Williams seems to be the most likely of the blocking bunch to choose Michigan.

OFFENSIVE LINE
Ben Braden - Rockford, MI
Braden, an offensive tackle prospect, committed to Michigan a couple weeks ago.

Caleb Stacey - Cincinnati, OH
Stacey, an offensive guard prospect, committed to Michigan a couple weeks ago.

Zach Banner - Lakewood, WA
Banner is 6'9" and 300 lbs. but moves very well for his size.  He doesn't really look like a football player right now because his weight is pretty evenly distributed over those 81", but as his body matures, he could very easily weigh 330 or 340 lbs. without looking sloppy.  Michigan's coaches seem to have done a good job of informing him of Michigan's tradition on the offensive line, and he seems intrigued by coming across the country.  Washington is a long way from Ann Arbor, though, so this might be a difficult pull.

Jordan Diamond - Chicago, IL
Diamond played high school football with 2011 Michigan signee Chris Bryant, and it seemed at one point that Diamond was close to pulling the trigger for the Wolverines.  His interest in Michigan doesn't seem to have waned, but he's put the brakes on his recruitment.  Some recruiting services think he's a borderline 5-star player, but I think he'll settle in as a solid 4-star.

Kyle Dodson - Cleveland, OH
Dodson is a 6'6", 310 lb. guard or right tackle who could very well choose Michigan . . . as long as Ohio State doesn't offer.  I'm not fully confident that the Buckeyes won't come forth with an offer at some point in the future, but if not, Dodson could be a big-time addition to the class.

DEFENSIVE END
Chris Wormley - Toledo, OH
Wormley is one of the top defensive ends in the country and ranked as the #57 overall prospect by both 247 Sports and Tom Lemming.  He's 6'4" and 255 lbs. with considerable speed and athleticism.  It's been rumored that Wormley has been a Michigan lean for a long time, but Ohio State might have something to say about that.

Matt Godin - Novi, MI
Godin is a 6'5", 253 lb. strongside end (a.k.a. 5-tech DT).  He was yearning for a Michigan offer and was publicly frustrated that the coaches hadn't offered him.  Now that he has the offer, he has said that he would like to decide on a school prior to the beginning of his senior year.  Unless something drastic happens, things look to be in Michigan's favor. 

DEFENSIVE TACKLE
Sheldon Day - Indianapolis, IN
Day is one of the quickest defensive tackles in the country.  He has visited Michigan and likes the defensive staff, but he could go almost anywhere in the country.  But at 6'2" and 268 lbs., he would be a perfect 3-tech DT for the Wolverines.

Ondre Pipkins - Kansas City, MO
Pipkins grew up in Michigan and seems to be headed to a midwestern school.  But whether that's Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, or some other school, it's hard to say.  But with Day as a possible 3-tech and Pipkins as a nose tackle, that would be a pretty formidable front for a Michigan team in dire need of defensive linemen.

LINEBACKER
Kaleb Ringer - Clayton, OH
All indications point to Ringer committing this Friday, April 15th, which is Ringer's birthday and the eve of the spring game.  He's the #206 player in the country, according to Scout.com, and would appear to be headed for the WILL linebacker spot.  Linebacker isn't a huge position of need when looking at pure numbers, but the quality of players at the position is somewhat questionable.  Ringer would be a welcome addition for his speed and hitting ability.

CORNERBACK and SAFETY
No defensive backs are necessary in the 2012 class with the glut of players Michigan has recruited in the past couple classes, but I don't expect a class completely devoid of DB's, either.  When (not if, but when) the class expands from 16 to somewhere between 18 and 20, you can expect to see the coaches go after some DB's, particularly an impact free safety.

MagnusThunder is the author of Touch the Banner, a Michigan football blog.

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