Sandra Dukes-US PRESSWIRE
Michigan brought in two good linebacker recruits in yesterday's freshly signed class. Let's take a look at them.
A year after bringing in 2 terrific inside linebackers and a couple of projects, Michigan only added 1 in this cycle. In my opinion, however, he could end up being the hidden gem of the 2013 group.
Ben Gedeon isn't the type of player that a lot of people will get excited about. The same was sort of true of Joe Bolden at least until he blew up the Under Armour All American Game. He doesn't have the mind-boggling closing speed of a James Ross type, which is often the only thing that excites fans about linebackers. His 'solid' play isn't going to get him a fifth star or an All-American invite, but it certainly has the potential to win games down the road. Gedeon's a smart kid (chose Michigan over offers from Stanford, UVA, Boston College, Duke), a thumper of a linebacker, and displays the versatility and athleticism that should make a playmaker from sideline to sideline. I'm hoping he redshirts and eventually battles '14 LB Michael Ferns to be the heir apparent at the MIKE linebacker spot, although he could also fit in as a WILL.
While Mike McCray was initially recruited as an inside linebacker, I've always maintained that I think he'll end up a SAM. With Michigan potentially losing the only 2 SAMs currently on the roster (RS JR Jake Ryan and RS SR Cam Gordon) after the season, they need to start grooming an heir apparent. Since the staff has kept all 4 of the linebackers from the 2012 class on the inside, McCray is the only logical choice (barring some position changes during Spring/Summer practices). McCray recently confirmed that the staff was thinking about putting him at SAM ($).
They said I'll either play Sam [strongside linebacker] or Will [weakside linebacker]. We played with three, sometimes four [linebackers] in high school, so I know how to do all of that.
Whereas I think Gedeon is the hidden gem, my opinion of McCray when he committed was that he was horribly overrated. Of course, at that time, he was somewhere around the 40th player in the country according to Rivals. Quite simply, I don't think McCray is instinctive enough to play inside. Strongside LB, then, is a logical fit for him. While Jake Ryan seems like a quick thinker on the field, I think he's just quick, period. Cam Gordon is a WR-turned FS-turned RR SAM LB-turned Mattison SAM LB. Hardly seems like a natural fit, dont you think?
And I think a lot about McCray's game makes him a natural for the position. He plays well in space (think of how often Ryan is shadowed over the slot), he's a quality blitzer (both Gordon and Ryan put their hands in the dirt and blitz from time to time), and he's got the size to hold up the edge, as well. Of the 2, I would almost hope McCray doesn't redshirt, in case he has to take over starting duties during his sophomore campaign. A little experience this year certainly wouldn't hurt.
Grade: B- Gedeon seems like a pretty sure thing, McCray not so much. However, it wasn't really a position of need, so only grabbing those 2 isn't going to hurt Michigan. On top of that, there are only a few guys (Dorian O'Daniel, Michael Hutchings, Alex Anzalone, Jaylon Smith) that were offered and I was high on. Both O'Daniel and Anzalone very well could have ended up in the class, had it not been for the slots being taken.