Being the enormously inconsiderate jerk he is, Brady Hoke has stacked the 2013 class early on in the cycle. Sure, wonderful you say. Nay, my naive readers, nay. It has become crystal clear that Hoke's true motivations lie in removing the internet of pointless conjecture and infinite Stefon Diggs-type posts and rumors, i.e. the most common topics of my writing. Well, "Brady", if that's your real name, you can never truly silence me. Instead, I respond by taking a brief and altogether premature peek into the 2014 class, to give the Maize N Brew crowd a primer for what to expect. I'll start with a few storylines, then go into depth on some players with offers, and those that may be close to offers.
THE QUARTERBACK SITUATION
Brady Hoke and Gorgeous Al Borges have balls. Titanium balls. Most of us scoff at not having 4 scholarship quarterbacks on the roster; they respond by recruiting at a level that maintains 3, as well as periodically switching one over to WR. In the '13 cycle, it looked at one point as though they may pursue another option, in addition to MI QB Shane Morris, to bring that number up to 4 when Denard graduates. Instead, recent rumors have percolated through that the staff will, once more, stick with 1 QB after not taking a single signal-caller in the 2012 class. Some have suggested that this an effort to keep Morris happy, although I think a comet could wipe out Ann Arbor and InShanity (Copyright DGDestroys, 2011) would stay committed. Still, it begs the question; will they finally relent and take 2 QBs in the 2014 class? Who's the most likely to be the 1, if they go that route? There are some kids, such as Detroit Country Day QB Tyler Wiegers and OH QB Cody Callaway that could be options down the road, but the debate among Michigan fans centers around 2 prospects, at the moment; OH QB DeShone Kizer and MI QB Chance Stewart. Read below for a breakdown of the 2.
Big improvement between his freshman and sophomore years, which leads to excitement about his potential. Pressure in the pocket doesn't seem to really bother him. A bit slow making his reads at times. Still not seeing great zip in his throws. Moves around well in the pocket, but doesn't consistently set his feet when he's about to throw. Good downfield accuracy, but leaves it in the air for a bit too long. Throwing motion still inconsistent; has a tendency to both overthrow and leave touch passes too short. When he gets his feet set, he does do a good job of powering through his back foot.
Very good athlete for his 6'5 size. He's able to put above average velocity on his throws, although he still lacks touch in certain areas. Always a threat to leave the pocket and scramble, good speed. One thing I think Stewart has working in his favor- he plays from a much more pro-style oriented offense. Kizer plays almost exclusively from the Shotgun, so he'll need significant work on his drops. Kizer's delivery is a bit more elongated that I'd care for. You'd prefer a QB with a quick throwing motion, but that can be fixed. I think he needs to improve on his vision of the field-he can tend to force the ball and miss the open WR, something UM fans know can be costly. Locks in on his first option and doesn't read all of his options well. (Full highlights available on Hudl. Click on Kizer's name).
Conclusions: All of the aforementioned options are a ways away from the height of their physical maturity, but you can still see flashes in all of them. If I had to go with one QB, I think Kizer shows the most raw potential, which is reflected from early offers by Syracuse, Toledo, and Bowling Green (does that offer list look familiar to you?). He hasn't heard a ton from Michigan yet, but grew up a life-long fan, and doesn't seem to be scared away by Morris. Stewart is a long way away from achieving his potential, and at this moment, I'm not sure he's the B1G caliber player that most hype him up to be. There have been some rumors that he'd turn away from Michigan because of Morris, but I'm not even certain that that offer would come. Stewart is not the same caliber QB as Morris.
Skill players, you say? At this point, Michigan hasn't stocked up on skill players sufficiently for me to accurately prognosticate which positions will and won't be a priority. If we can land IL RB Ty Isaac later in the cycle, the need for a RB would be very low, so we may just pursue some elite options. In the midwest, there aren't a ton of underclassman studs to pick from. MI RB Lorenzo Collins goes to the same school as Devin Funchess and Mario Ojemudia, Farmington Hills Harrison, so the in-roads are there. At his age, his 6'0, 210 size is good for a RB, and allows him a powerful lower body which helps him plow his way through defenses. I don't see him as a particularly explosive runner, however, so he may be a second tier option unless he takes significant steps forward in the offseason. If he grows a bit (vertically), he could get some looks at LB, as well. IN RB Jamitreus Crockham is friends with basketball commit Zak Irvin ($), and has a family of Michigan fans; but he attends the same school as MSU basketball commit Gary Harris and Wisconsin seems to have gotten a leg up in his recruitment. His highlight tape is too brief for me to evaluate his play, but he does flash potential, and definitely has the size (6'2, 200). OH RB Ashton Jackson, besides having an awesome name (yes, his nickname is 'Action Jackson'), is a speedster from Trotwood-Madison, home of LB Mike McCray, although he doesn't look to be near the 5'11 he's listed on his highlight video. He may be a better fit for the Buckeye offense that Meyer's bringing.
The Wide Receiver picture, however, looks very promising for next year. For this reason, it wouldn't shock me to see the staff add only one more WR in this class, banking a scholly for one of the many talented receivers from the midwest in the 2014 class. The three most recognizable names to Michigan fans right now are MI WR Drake Harris, MI WR Damon Webb, and IN WR Dominique Booth. Harris, also a basketball star being recruited by Beilein, holds an offer from Michigan, as well as MSU, ND, and Florida ($). On the basketball side, he holds offers from Indiana and Michigan State. Weak, right? I'm not much of a basketball analyst, so I can't definitively say where his skills would better project, but I do know that he's one intensely gifted kid. I'm pretty sure he'll have a successful future regardless. Webb, formerly from U of D Jesuit, but now at Cass Tech, is visiting campus for the 3rd time this week. He's a bit on the smaller side, but his freshman highlights show a quick playmaker with a good pair of hands. I'd obviously like to see more recent highlights before evaluating his play, but from what I can tell, he looks as though he could be seeing a Michigan offer down the line. He's gotten a jump start to the recruiting process and seen several options ($), but I think that Michigan would have an excellent shot if they offer. Booth is another who's made a real head-start on his recruitment, already pulling in offers from MSU, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky. He visited Ann Arbor a couple weeks ago ($), but walked away without an offer. Still, I think he's simply too talented for the staff to ignore for long. His highlights show a legit speedster with surprising physicality. Hell, he can even throw the ball. According to Tremendous, he hopes to be back on campus April 27th. Booth attends the school as several former Michigan targets, including DE Pierre Aka, QB Aloyis Gray, (and to a certain extent) DE David Kenney. Other potential options include (teammate of Joe Bolden) OH WR Tre Hudson and OH WR Thaddeus Snodgrass (who will probably be one of the more highly touted WRs in the midwest),
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE BIG UGLIES?
That's a little mean of you to say, but I suppose it's a thankless job. After taking 9-10 in the past 2 cycles, room on the o-line is going to be severely restricted for this class. Michigan's shot out a few early offers here, more so than at any other positions, and the returns are promising. 2 of the offer recipients, UT OT Jackson Barton and MO OT Andy Bauer, have already committed; to Utah and Missouri respectively. Generally, early commits to hometown schools are tough to break, so I'd get them off your mind for the moment. 3 other OTs hold offers at the moment, however, and Michigan will face hefty opposition for them all. NC OT Bentley Spain was offered by Michigan on April 2nd, according to 247sports. There's not much out there about his connection to Michigan, but chasing 3 closer schools (NC State, UNC, and South Carolina) will be a tall task. In my opinion, losing out on Spain wouldn't be a huge deal; he plays a bit high and needs to add some serious weight before he can be relied upon, although he does have 2+ years to do so. MD OT Damian Prince is a big kid with serious early interest from perennial heavyweights in the college football world; including 'Bama, FSU (offer), Auburn, OSU, and Miami (YTM). He likes Michigan's offense (I'm assuming he means the pro-style transition?) and zone blocking, which he claims to be really good at ($). He's either 6'7 or 6'5, depending on whom you believe, and 247sports named him a Class of 2014 All-American. Tremendous recently reached out to him, and he mentioned Jake Long as the player he most looks up, and says he's going to try to visit Michigan in the summer.
The name Michigan fans are probably most familiar with is GA OT Orlando Brown, the enormous (and highly touted) son of the former Browns and Ravens OT of the same name. Although he has been offered by (close to) literally everyone that matters already, the buzz around his Michigan was offer was surprisingly positive for a kid with little to no tie to the program. Tremendous got a lot of good information out of Brown. Since I feel guilty about paraphrasing so much of their info for this post, I'm going to make you go over to their site for this one. I still think it'll be hard to pull him out of the South, but all early signs are positive. One thing that may not necessarily help Michigan out, but make his ties to the South less binding-he transferred from Dematha in Hyattsville, MD. In other words, he's a transplanted Southerner, so schools like UGA, 'Bama, and the Florida schools may not be as enticing as they are to others who grew up in the area.
Some other prospects that could see Michigan interest in the future? OH OL Jimmy Byrne already holds and OSU offer, and hails from the same HS as SLB Jake Ryan, St. Ignatius. FL OL K.C. McDermott is hearing from Michigan ($), but has an older brother at Miami (YTM) and is likely ticketed for the U, as well. Two instate OL showed up well at the recent Adidas Invitational, Curtis Doyle and Derek Brown, and could be two of the best instate in next year's class.