One of the true blessings of being a member of the Michigan blog-o-sphere is the honest sense of community you feel with other writers. Although we all come from different (sometimes competing) sites, I've rarely had any trouble reaching out and relying on other writers to help me out. It's with such a collaborative effort that I bring to you Maize N Brew's June Recruiting Roundtable, featuring some of the brightest minds in the Michigan recruiting-sphere. I'm truly thankful to each and every contributor that took time to help us out here.
5. Based on the early offer list and interest from 2014 kids, it looks as though that class will have a much more national feel to it. If you had to pick one region or state (besides the midwest) that may be especially well represented in that class, which would it be?
Magnus (Touch the Banner)- I'll say the southwest, but only because you're forcing me to pick. I think the coaches are offering distant players first in the hopes of getting in on them early, whereas they can offer the Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois kids later and still be in the running. The "national" feel is only because it's early, in my opinion. Last year the coaching staff learned that if/when they offer in-state kids, a lot of them are going to jump at the chance to play for Michigan. They'll make a play for the kids far away, strike out a few times, and then reel in some next-tier guys from the Midwest.
MGoBlueGr (Tremendous)- I believe the Michigan coaches will make moves in Texas for the 2014 recruiting cycle. In the past two recruiting cycles the coaches were unsuccessful in Texas, but 2014 could be different. Offensive Lineman Tyus Barrett of Skyline High School grew up as a Michigan fan and already holds 2 BCS offers. Tyus has family in Michigan and is planning on visiting Michigan this summer. Potential five star DB Nick Watkins is another Texas name to watch, his mom's side of the family lives in Detroit and he plans on visiting Michigan this summer. These are just two examples of top Texas recruits being very interested in Michigan, and I'd expect Michigan to be involved in the recruitment of many more.
Sarah (Maize N Brew)- I love that Coach Hoke is recruiting nationally, and the 2014 offers certainly do have a more national feel to them. Other than the Midwest, which is going to be stacked in 2014, I would guess the southwest region will be well represented. I see quite a few verbal offers to kids from Texas.
Jeff (Maize Pages)- Home to where I am now, the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area. Based on some of the early 2014 defensive offers--Da'Shawn Hand (VA), D'Andre Payne (DC), Jalen Tabor (DC)--and some of the elite 2013 players we did chase or are still chasing now--EJ Levenberry (VA), Derrick Green (VA), Kendall Fuller (MD)--it seems like Hoke is trying to established a mini Beltway base. High schools like Our Lady of Good Counsel have consistently produced top players that go national so it's a good region to tap into and snag a few away from the SEC.
Anthony (Maize N Brew)- The east coast. Michigan is going to recruit the southeast, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to lure players from the talent-rich region because of the success the SEC is having. There's talent in the New York and Maryland regions, and thankfully not many local schools to contend with when it comes to prestige. The offers to the likes of Peppers, Tabor, Payne and others could pay off.
DGDestroys (Maize N Brew)- The southeast. While early offers might not indicate this as strongly as, say, the mid-atlantic, I think Mattison and staff will be pushing hard to snatch a couple of kids from SEC powerhouses, as they will be attempting to do with McQuay and Bailey types (EDIT-Maybe not so much).
6. Many will attribute the success of the 2013 class on the 11-2 finish and BCS victory from last year. If Michigan dips in production this year (say to 7-9 wins), how much would you expect the 2014 class to differ from 2013, if at all?
Magnus- I don't think a nine-win season would affect the 2014 class much at all. If you win nine games - and the three losses aren't embarrassingly bad - then it's easy to see the potential for double-digit victories, BCS bowls, etc. But seven wins would make it tough to pull in a top five class. Either way, the class will probably be top-15 because of Hoke's charisma and the winged helmet, but you can't win just seven games and still beat teams like Alabama, Texas, and USC in recruiting battles.
MGoBlueGr- I don't think it will affect Michigan very much, I haven't talked to many 2014s who attribute their interest in Michigan to their success last season, so I don't think they will be phased by a down year. With Michigan bringing in top five classes in the past two cycles, prospects will still view Michigan as a place where they could win championships.
Sarah- I really don't think our success last year played a big a part in our incredible class. We have 21 commitments because of the coaching staff and their ability to sell these recruits on Michigan, the family atmosphere, and the fantastic education. And also, these kids were sold on the idea that they would be the class to bring Michigan back to prominence. If anything, our lack of success probably had as much to do with their commitments as our success did. If Michigan has less wins this year, which is very possible (although 7 sounds pretty depressing), I don't think it will play a big part in our 2014 class. It's already out there what Coach Hoke can do, given his 11 wins his first year coaching here.
Jeff- Very little, if at all. The most consistent feedback you hear from commits / recruits is about how much they like the coaches, not record. Players understand what it means to be part of Michigan in terms of its academics, tradition and national spotlight; they won't flip based on a 11-2 vs. 9-3 or 8-4 season. Or at least they shouldn't.
Anthony- Not much, if it does at all. History shows that wins don't always equate to recruits, and vice versa. Take Notre Dame and Michigan State for example. One recruits nationally yet is consistently irrelevant, while the other is a conference champion contender who still fails to recruit at an elite level. The Michigan staff is going to win kids over through an honest approach, with or without an appearance in a BCS bowl.
DGDestroys- Nine wins? I think we can still pull in a top 5 class. But 7-8? That's when it starts to get hazy. I know plenty of recruits will say that the coaches are one of the primary pulls for them, but there are a lot (okay, maybe not a lot) of good guys out there in the coaching profession. A good deal of the hope they've bought into comes from Hoke winning a BCS game in his first year. With that kind of introduction, the sky seems to be the limit for these kids-with a regression, Hoke comes back down to earth. Still, a top-10 type of class would be possible, but shooting for number 1 might be a bit less possible.
7. Last question- With most of the needs in the 2013 class filled, what's the biggest position of need in the 2014 class, and why?
Magnus- Quarterback. I don't think a lot of people realize how dangerously thin Michigan is at the quarterback position. As of now, the only two guys scheduled to be on the roster in 2014 are redshirt junior Russell Bellomy and true sophomore Shane Morris. If one of those guys tears up his shoulder (like Matt Gutierrez) or transfers, that's very bad news. Michigan doesn't need to get an absolute superstar at QB for 2014, but they need one or two guys who can compete. Michigan goes three-deep at quarterback, which is the most important position on the field, but they have twelve linebackers when only three (or sometimes two) play at once.
MGoBlueGr- At the moment, I would say landing a few big time wide receivers, but if Michigan finishes with Treadwell and Bailey/Harris that wont be an issue. I'd say landing a star quarterback will be very important to the 2014 class. When the 2014 class gets on campus, Michigan will have only two scholarship quarterbacks. While the development of Bellamy is promising, I'm not sure if he will be starter material. This leaves the fate of Michigan in Shane Morris' hands, if he does not live up to his billing (it happens a lot with top QB recruits) or if he gets injured, Michigan might have to turn to the 2014 QB very early in his career and he needs to be able to perform.
Sarah- In my opinion, the biggest position of need in the 2014 class is probably nose tackle and defensive end. It never hurts to strengthen the backfield either.
Jeff- Well, depending on Treadwell, we could enter our 3rd year in a row with WR as a major need. I also get the feeling the coaches aren't totally satisfied at RB; they're building a good stable of backs but still searching for that game-changer. On the defensive side, with Kovacs graduating, I'd like to see us build some depth at SS/FS, maybe even some hybrid LBs for our nickel package. And I say this all the time, but you can never have too many OL; I will gladly take another 4-5 in 2014. Lastly, Mike Roarty, fellow blogger at MaizePages, chatted me up recently about the need for another 4-5 star QB in there behind Shane. It won't be easy but having immediate QB depth will be key. Ideally, he redshirts and gets a 2-year buffer between him and Shane.
Anthony- The defensive line. Championship teams are built from the inside, and the offensive line is set. Look for the staff to continue working toward filling a defensive line rotation that could still use an infusion of talent and depth.
DGDestroys- Building depth at the offensive skill positions. Quite simply, we need more playmakers at RB and WR, and Morris needs a serviceable backup. I wouldn't be upset if we grabbed two QBs in the 2014 cycle, as well as some more explosive options (say, OH RB Ashton Jackson) for the skill positions. Some quality depth at safety wouldn't hurt, either.
Once again, I'd like to give a huge thank you to all of our participants. Give them all a follow or a read, because they know what they're talking about.