Assessing Michigan's Recruiting Needs in the Class of 2014

Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Brady Hoke, Greg Mattison and the rest of the Michigan football staff have done major work in the past two recruiting cycles and are looking to put together another top class this time around. Which positions are thin in numbers, and which need an injection of talent?

The Brady Hoke era at Michigan began with a football team that had holes all over its roster. Rich Rodriguez' recruiting classes fell apart by the seams as time went on, leaving the current staff with the unwanted task of recruiting young talent that was expected to contribute immediately.

Some positions have been filled nicer than others in the past two classes. The offensive backfield has been recruited well, as has the offensive line, but the tight end and wide receiver spots still need help. The situation is nearly the opposite on defense, where there's talent and numbers at the skill positions with less to offer in the trenches. That's the gist of the story, but roster analysis is a numbers game.

Needs and Numbers

Included is a more thorough rundown of Michigan's needs at each position. The Wolverines should be able to take somewhere around 18-20 players once attrition is accounted for.

Quarterback
Scholarship players at position in 2014: 4
2014 commitments: 1 (Wilton Speight)
Needs left in the class of 2014: 0

Michigan fans have become all too familiar with a shallow QB depth chart. No worries, as the Wolverines will have a signal caller in every class, freshman through senior, when Devin Gardner starts as a senior. Taking a utility athlete who's capable of playing QB isn't totally out of the question, but quarterback recruiting is basically wrapped up for this class.

Halfback
Scholarship players at position in 2014: 6
2014 commitments: 0
Needs left in the class of 2014: 1-2

Running back will be stocked as well in 2014. Dennis Norfleet isn't a true running back, so this number could be shaved down to five if you want to get technical. Of those five true running backs, one of them could easily transfer after being buried. Derrick Green also plans on being drafted as a junior, so the Wolverines could be left stranded in the future if someone transfers and he leaves. This means the staff needs to take at least one running back, with a second coming if he's good enough to warrant an offer. The move to the power offense also puts more stress on the position.

Fullback
Scholarship players at position in 2014: 2
2014 commitments: 0
Needs left in the class of 2014: 0

Michigan took Sione Houma and Wyatt Shallman in back-to-back classes, so this position should be good for a year or two. Adding another h-back type like Shallman is a possibility, but I don't see it happening.

Tight End
Scholarship players at position in 2014: 5
2014 commitments: 0
Needs left in the class of 2014: 2

Jordan Paskorz will be a redshirt senior in 2014; I doubt the staff grants him a fifth year if he has his degree in hand. The number could be as low as four, and the move to a tight end-heavy system means that the Wolverines probably need to take two here in this class. Only taking one is a possibility, but the amount of offers out to tight ends makes me believe that they're looking for a second.

Wide Receiver
Scholarship players at position in 2014: 4
2014 commitments: 0
Needs left in the class of 2014: 2-3

Receiver is thin and full of mostly three-star players, so getting multiple elite receivers would work wonders here. I'm hoping to see a well-rounded receiver class that includes a big, possession player, to go with a polished kid and someone who can stretch defenses.

Slot Receiver
Scholarship players at position in 2014: 1
2014 commitments: 0
Needs left in the class of 2014: 1

The slot is no longer an important position on the roster with the power system slowly moving in. Still, Da'Mario Jones will be the only player at the position in 2014, and even he's capable of playing outside. Finding a sure-handed slasher should be a priority in this class.

Tackle
Scholarship players at position in 2014: 3
2014 commitments: 0
Needs left in the class of 2014: 2-3

Michigan has recruited the offensive line well, and although tackle has talent it won't have numbers. Finding lineman with the length and agility to play on the outside is by far the biggest priority up front. Two will be necessary, with a third coming if he's elite.

Guard
Scholarship players at position in 2014: 8
2014 commitments: 1
Needs left in the class of 2014: 0-1

The situation at guard is the complete opposite of the situation at tackle. Michigan already has consensus four-star guard Mason Cole secured, so another guard will only be added if he's truly elite.

Center
Scholarship players at position in 2014: 2
2014 commitments: 0
Needs left in the class of 2014: 0-1

Taking a center isn't completely necessary in this class. Michigan will have junior Jack Miller and sophomore Patrick Kugler on the roster in 2014, and it has a few guards capable of being backup centers if something were to happen to one of the true centers. Taking an interior offensive lineman capable of playing center still wouldn't be a bad idea.

Safety
Scholarship players at position in 2014: 6
2014 commitments: 0
Needs left in the class of 2014: 1

Michigan has numbers at the free safety position, but it needs an elite talent at strong safety. The two positions are similar in Greg Mattison's system, so finding one elite safety is the overall goal here.

Cornerback
Scholarship players at position in 2014: 8
2014 commitments: 0
Needs left in the class of 2014: 1

Oh, how times have freaking changed. Remember when Michigan was moving receivers to cornerback in order to salvage a dying defense? The roster is so stacked with corners that someone like Jourdan Lewis could actually move from corner to receiver. The numbers here could be deceiving, with players like Channing Stribling capable of moving to safety, but for now things are very safe. Finding one truly elite talent remains a priority.

SAM Linebacker
Scholarship players at position in 2014: 3
2014 commitments: 1
Needs left in the class of 2014: 1

People need to start freaking out more about this position. SAM isn't interchangeable with the WILL or MIKE at all, and moving a weak side defensive end to this spot often doesn't end well. Mike McCray and 2014 commitment Michael Ferns will be the only true SAM players on the roster by the time Jake Ryan exits, so finding another talented outside linebacker remains a priority.

WILL/MIKE Linebacker
Scholarship players at position in 2014: 7
2014 commitments: 0
Needs left in the class of 2014: 1-2

Michigan has recruited the hell out of the middle linebacker position, loading it with future Ray Lewis' in the last few classes. Finding another true middle linebacker like Joe Bolden is a priority, and taking two is a possibility if he's an elite talent. Sound familiar? 'Tis the case with a handful of positions every year.

Weak Side Defensive End (Rush)
Scholarship players at position in 2014: 4
2014 commitments: 0
Needs left in the class of 2014: 1-2

This number could drop to three if Brennen Beyer never moves back from the SAM position, but I'm counting him here under the assumption that he'll be more useful here than at SAM in 2014. Michigan still needs at least one player who can get to the quarterback, and a second would be welcome if he has a solid skill set too.

Strong Side Defensive End (5-tech)
Scholarship players at position in 2014: 3
2014 commitments: 0
Needs left in the class of 2014: 2

Michigan has to have two players here, and it's thankfully in great position with two of the best SDE prospects in the country. If Michigan lands both Da'Shawn hand and Malik McDowell I will cry sweet, sweet tears of joy. The talent here isn't too great, so pairing at least one of the above mentioned recruits with another four-star would be great.

Defensive Tackle (3-tech)
Scholarship players at position in 2014: 4
2014 commitments: 1
Needs left in the class of 2014: 0-1

Chris Wormley's move inside makes the situation at the 3-tech a bit better, giving them 4 players at the position in 2014 when you count current commitment Bryan Mone. Some think that Mone is destined to be a nose tackle, so taking another here would be a good thing.

Nose Tackle (1-tech)
Scholarship players at position in 2014: 3
2014 commitments: 0
Needs left in the class of 2014: 1

This number depends on whether or not Mone ends up at the nose, but we'll count him at the 3-tech for now. This means that Michigan needs to find an elite mauler that fits the mold for nose tackle in 2014.

P/K
Scholarship players at position in 2014: 1
2014 commitments: 0
Needs left in the class of 2014: 1

Matt Wile is the only remaining scholarship punter or kicker left on the roster in 2014. The staff needs to find someone who can boot it.

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The roster is slowly becoming more and more stable, and the talent level is rising as well. Michigan needs to keep its momentum on the recruiting trail in order to fill the holes it has at receiver and in the trenches, but this class is mostly about building depth and adding elite talent. Positions like tight end and SAM linebacker need help as well, but the talent at both spots will be enough to keep them stable in the coming years. Overall, this roster is two years away from being one of the nation's elite.

Coming soon: a closer look at Michigan's top targets at each position.

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