I swear, this has been the most exciting spring for Michigan football since I started following Michigan recruiting closely about five years ago. In the Rivals/Scout era, Michigan has never had 10 commitments for the upcoming class by early May . . . and that number jumped to 11 on Thursday.
The long awaited silent commitment finally dropped publicly in the form of Novi (MI) Catholic Central defensive end Matt Godin (Touch the Banner profile here). If you hadn't figured out that Godin was the silent, then you're either reading about Michigan recruiting for the first time or you're an MSU fan. Godin isn't the world's most talented athlete, but he's a big body (6'5", 253 lbs.) that the combo of Brady Hoke, Greg Mattison, and Jerry Montgomery might be able to turn into an eater of blocks.
Also, some kid who just grew his first armpit hair committed to the Wolverines on Tuesday. He's 2013 quarterback Shane Morris (TTB) from Warren, MI. It's impossible to project recruiting rankings this far out and with so many sophomores who are absolute unknowns right now, but there's been chatter amongst recruiting types that he'll be a top-5 quarterback when all is said and done. I won't pretend to know what the 2013 quarterback class looks like, so I'll just say that Morris looks pretty good. He ought to be Michigan's best left-handed quarterback since the days of Clayton Richard.
Lyndhurst, OH, defensive end Pharaoh Brown (TTB) became a Wolverine last Saturday. He's 6'6", 220 lbs. and is your average DE/QB combo for his Brush High School team. If you think that's thin for a defensive end, consider that Terrelle Pryor was listed at the same height but 15 pounds heavier coming out of high school. Brown isn't quite as fast as Pryor and doesn't have the same ability as a thrower, but if Brown's not a thousand times smarter, I'll be very surprised. He's a pass rushing end who should be able to create some havoc down the road with his long arms clogging passing lanes.
And finally (or first?) defensive end Mario Ojemudia (TTB profile; pronounced OH-juh-MYOO-dee-uh, from what I understand) committed to Michigan early last Saturday, too, making him the second Farmington Hills (MI) Harrison commitment of the class; teammate Devin Funchess became a Wolverine last month. Ojemudia is 6'2", 215 lbs. right now and will likely become a weakside end in college. Their teammate, wide receiver Aaron Burbridge, has reportedly started smellin' what Brady Hoke is cookin', which is a good thing because Burbridge is Rivals' #134 overall player.
OFF THE BOARD
EXPLAINING THE RANKINGS
Now that Scout, Rivals, and 24/7 Sports have all released at least some of their rankings, we can take a look at some of them and see what the reasoning might be. For full disclosure, I have been a Rivals member for several years, but I've followed all the rankings to some degree. However, I'm not exactly a Rivals shill, because I've had my go-rounds with those guys over there at times. I've thought long and hard about canceling my subscription, but I don't figure any site out there will give me 100% satisfaction. All that being said, I have more insight into how Rivals does their rankings than any of the other sites.
Royce Jenkins-Stone (Rivals: 4-star, #87 overall): Jenkins-Stone is a 6'2", 215 lb. middle linebacker (who could also play SAM). He has all the size, athleticism, and aggressiveness you would want in a high school middle 'backer with the frame to add another 25-30 lbs. Since 6'2" and 245 lbs. is approximately the ideal size for an NFL middle linebacker, it's not surprising that Rivals would rank him so high. But he's not exactly a man-child or a physical freak, so he's out of 5-star reach.
James Ross (Rivals: 4-star, #143 overall): Personally, I think Ross is the better player. He's more fundamentally sound (except for a minor tackling flaw of dragging his feet at times) than Jenkins-Stone and a better all-around athlete. But at only 6'0" tall, he lacks ideal height to be an NFL linebacker. If Ross shoots up 2" or 3" in the next year, I wouldn't be surprised to see him leap over Jenkins-Stone. NFL potential is weighed heavily in Rivals' rankings, but the 2010 All-Big Ten linebackers weren't particularly tall (all were 5'11"-6'2" except Martez Wilson at 6'4"). Since height isn't a major factor in college linebacker success, this knock on Ross doesn't concern me much at all, especially since Michigan had a couple pretty good, small linebackers in the late '90's and early '00's who went on to NFL careers (Larry Foote, Ian Gold).
Joe Bolden (Rivals: 4-star, #167 overall): Bolden has the size to be good, but he's not quite the athlete that Jenkins-Stone and Ross are. I think his instincts and fundamentals are a notch above Jenkins-Stone's, but athleticism rules over all. Still, for Michigan to have three linebackers in the top 167 players in the country, you have to think that at least one (if not more) of these guys will turn out to be a major player at the next level.
Pharaoh Brown (Rivals: 4-star): I wasn't quite sure if Brown would get a fourth star from Rivals or not, but the analysts liked what they saw. He's a relative string bean at 6'6" and 220 (Bolden is four inches shorter but five pounds heavier), but he has oodles of athleticism. The technique isn't there yet, but athletes like this don't grow on trees. Shawn Crable might be a natural comparison, but Brown doesn't look like he has Crable's bird legs, so Pharaoh might end up a bit bigger from head to toe.
Michigan's other seven commitments are unranked as of yet, but all should end up as 3-stars:
Devin Funchess is a WR/TE tweener. I could see him getting a fourth star at some point, depending on whether he adds some weight or gets faster between now and the fall.
Mario Ojemudia is a DT/DE/LB tweener. I only include DT because that's where Scout lists him, but he's only 6'2" and 215 lbs., which is the same height and weight as our prize middle linebacker, Royce Jenkins-Stone. He's another one whose best chance of getting a fourth star would be to pack on another 20 lbs. or so by the fall.
Kaleb Ringer is considered by some to be the #1 linebacker in Ohio, but I don't know that Ohio is rife with linebackers this year. Obviously, Rivals thinks Bolden is better, and so do I. There's a bumper crop of defensive linemen in Ohio this year, so you can't have everything. There's still a shot for Ringer to move up, though.
As for Ben Braden, Matt Godin, Caleb Stacey, and A.J. Williams, I think three stars might be their ceiling. The combination of their offer lists, early commitments, positions, and solid-but-unspectacular athleticism could very well stagnate them pretty stagnant in the rankings.
THE WORMLEY QUESTION ANSWERED (MAYBE)
If you're like me, you were surprised when Toledo (OH) Whitmer defensive end Chris Wormley was ranked as a 3-star by Rivals. Some considered him to be a 5-star player and the #1 player in the state of Ohio for 2012. I didn't think he was quite that good, but I thought he was 4-star material for sure. So I had to go back to the videotape, and maybe I found an answer.
Here's what he looked like as a sophomore in 2009. You see a kid listed at 6'5", 250 who explodes off the ball and gets after the quarterback.
Below is a small sample of his junior highlights from 2010:
Those two people are not the same player. First of all, if he was 250 as a sophomore, then he's 265 or 270 in his junior year. It looks like he put on some weight, and it doesn't necessarily look like pure muscle. Secondly, it looks like he's either favoring some part of his body or he just lacks aggression. On that first clip, he lays on the ground for a second after making the tackle. In a couple of the other ones, it almost looks like he's afraid to hit people. I'm not calling him a wimp. I'm saying it looks like something is wrong. Additionally, he doesn't get off the ball as quickly in his junior film, and it looks like he lost a notch in the speed department.
After watching his junior highlights, I'm no longer surprised that he's a 3-star to Rivals. And if he plays like this as a senior, I'm betting his lofty rankings on the other sites (#3 SDE to 24/7 Sports, #57 overall to Tom Lemming, #13 DE to Scout) begin to slip. A recent Inside The Fort article ($) suggests that Wormley might not have the temperament for defensive end, and that he might actually have more upside as an offensive tackle. Michigan happens to need both.
MagnusThunder is the author of Touch the Banner, a Michigan football blog.