Michigan has a strong class of recruits faxing in their letters of intent today, but a group of six 2013 recruits enrolled early in order to get a head start on their studies and lifting sessions. Who are these players, and how will early enrollment help their progression?
Early enrollment has become more and more common in recent years. Enrolling early allows recruits to acclimate themselves with the lifestyle of a college athlete before the competition, and it also allows the school that signed them to assign their scholarships to the recruiting class before them. This gives schools across the country more flexibility in their recruiting efforts, as schools can bring in more than 25 recruits without over signing.
Michigan had six players come in early this year: OL Kyle Bosch, TE Jake Butt, DE Taco Charlton, CB Ross Douglass, S Dymonte Thomas and OL Logan Tuley-Tillman. Let's take a look at each player and the impact that enrolling early will have on them.
OL Kyle Bosch (6'5", 305)
(Rivals: 4; Scout 4; 247: 4)
Kyle was one of the most sought after offensive lineman in his class, holding offers from Alabama, Miami, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Stanford and many others. Alabama turned out to be Michigan's main competition in his recruitment, and after visiting both schools he decided that Michigan was too much to turn down.
Bosch comes into Ann Arbor capable of playing both inside and outside, but many believe that he'll end up at guard at Michigan. His mean streak and ability to land nasty punches on defensive lineman make him one of the best run-blocking offensive lineman in this class. We all know that Hoke wants to turn this offense into a power machine, so enrolling early will allow Bosch to go through spring ball, get stronger in the weight room and compete for playing time on the inside of the line. Kyle Kalis and Chris Bryant should start opposite each other at the guard spots, but don't count Bosch out.
TE Jake Butt (6'6", 235)
(Rivals: 4; Scout 4; 247: 3)
Jake is one of the few truly elite skill players that Michigan has signed on the offensive side of the ball, so it's no surprise that he was also wanted by programs across America. He had taken unofficial visits to Ohio State, Tennessee, and Northwestern before officially visiting Michigan. He committed to Michigan, spurning offers from Boston College, Iowa, Northwestern, Stanford, Tennessee, UCLA, Wisconsin and others.
Butt will be one of the players to receive the most from his decision to enroll early. The knock on him early in his recruitment was his strength, and although he has since added weight he still needs to get stronger. Weight training and spring ball will help him improve at run blocking before the season rolls around. He's too talented to redshirt and should see time in heavy and red zone packages beside Devin Funchess and A.J. Williams.
DE Taco Charlton (6'6", 240)
(Rivals: 4; Scout 4; 247: 4)
One of my favorite recruits in this class, Charlton held offers from Iowa, Ole Miss, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Tennessee, UCLA and others. He visited Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State before going blue.
Charlton is one of my favorite recruits because of his upside, which is huge. Standing at 6'6", 240, he has the frame to become and elite pass rusher in college football. He's also athletic enough to jump over football dummies and garner major interest from smaller schools like Bowling Green for basketball. He still has major work to do before competing at the next level, as he relies on his explosive first step far too often, so if an offensive tackle gets his hands on him it's all over.
This is where the coaching staff comes in. Enrolling early gives Charlton an opportunity to go through spring drills and weight training before fall camp comes around, and I think he'll improve dramatically in a short amount of time. He'll be the most gifted defensive end that Michigan has from day one and could easily find himself in a long down and distance package sometime during the season. It will be at least a year before he's ready to be an every-down type of weak side defensive end.
CB Ross Douglas (5'10", 180)
(Rivals: 4; Scout 3; 247: 4)
Douglas is one of many recruits that found themselves stuck in a bad situation when Penn State came crumbling down. Once committed to the Nittany Lions, Douglas quickly opened up his recruitment and changed his verbal to Michigan. He held offers from Boston College, Louisville, Ole Miss, Penn State, Tennessee, Wisconsin and others.
Douglas will find himself behind a decent amount of talent when he arrives on campus, making a redshirt probable. He can still help build depth at the nickel position behind former Cass Tech prospect Terry Richardson. He's also a player that could use some time in the weight room.
S Dymonte Thomas (6'1", 190)
(Rivals: 4; Scout 5; 247: 4)
Thomas' recruitment makes Wolverine fans laugh. The entire state of Ohio knew that he would be a nationally recruited prospect, and Buckeyes remained confident that he would end up playing at Ohio State despite his early commitment to Michigan. Hoke and Mattison's bond with the young man turned out to be far too much for Urban Meyer to handle, and Thomas is now taking classes in Ann Arbor. Smart kid. He held offers from Notre Dame, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, UCLA and others.
Early enrollment could be big for Thomas, who could himself in the same situation that Jarrod Wilson found himself in last year. Thomas is already the quickest safety on Michigan's roster, so he could be useful in nickel and dime packages. A redshirt is also a possibility, especially if Marvin Robinson locks down one safety spot while someone like Jeremy Clark breaks out.
OL Logan Tuley-Tillman (6'7", 300)
(Rivals: 4; Scout 4; 247: 4)
Tuley-Tillman is another highly-touted Midwestern offensive lineman who garnered interest from programs across the country. He visited Alabama, Illinois and Michigan before going blue. Rumors of him planning a visit elsewhere arose leading up to his signing, but they never came true and he's now in Ann Arbor. He held offers from Alabama, Florida State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, USC, Wisconsin and many, many others.
Enrolling early will help Logan build strength in the weight room and acclimate himself with the college lifestyle. He sits behind Taylor Lewan, Michael Schofield, Ben Braden and Erik Magnuson on the the tackle depth chart, so he'll probably redshirt.
Every last player who is enrolling early is rated as a four-star prospect or better by at least one site, if not every major recruiting site. Bringing in two offensive lineman like LTT and Bosch will help to add more depth to an offensive line that desperately needs it, and players like Jake Butt, Taco Charlton and Dymonte Thomas could help fill other holes across the roster. It will be interesting to see which one of these freshman makes a name for himself in the very beginning of his career here in Ann Arbor.