A Glimpse Into the Future: 2014 Offensive Early Enrollees

Leon Halip

The 2014 recruiting class saw Michigan receive seven early enrollees on campus. We take a look into the future and see what the three new offensive faces have to offer.

It has been over a month since the 2014 recruiting class has concluded with National Signing Day festivities. With the recruits wrapping up high school classes and preparing themselves for the next big step, a small group of players are already on campus. Seven commits decided to expedite the high school graduation process and join the Michigan football team in January.

Early enrolling into a football program provides a huge advantage compared to those who come in during the fall. It allows the players to get into the strength and conditioning program earlier, focus on a weight regimen and familiarize yourself with the scheme.

On offense, Michigan saw four new members enroll early in hopes they could find an opportunity to compete for early playing time. Those four are Wilton Speight, Drake Harris, Mason Cole, Freddy Canteen

Who They Are

Wilton Speight

Recruit: Wilton Speight
Position: Quarterback
Star Rating: ★★★

Recruiting Profile

Oft-injured Wilton Speight did not see much fanfare in his recruiting game early on in his process. From shoulder issues to a broken collarbone, Speight was struck with a little bit of bad luck. However, that didn't stop him from impressing the Michigan coaching staff with his ability. After a visit from wide receiver coach Jeff Hecklinski, Speight was offered a scholarship which he later committed within hours of receiving it.

Michigan ended up being his only offer in the process. Although he saw plenty of attention from other schools, Speight shut down his process immediately after committing which prompted schools to look elsewhere. Speight had a great senior year and bounced back well from injury. He was invited, and participated, in the Under Armour All-America Game.

Speight alongside linebacker Michael Ferns were instrumental in helping the coaching staff with luring talent to Michigan. Speight and Ferns took the "Shane Morris recruiting role" to the next level with the Team 135 initiative.

Fun Fact: Speight attended the same high school as current Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson.

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Where He Fits

With quarterbacks Devin Gardner and Shane Morris competing heavily for the starting nod this season, Speight's place on the quarterback depth chart might be a bit low to start his career. However, don't expect him to be riding the pine his entire career at Michigan. Speight is a talented quarterback and fierce competitor, so it would not be surprising to see him be a starting quarterback at Michigan in the near future. With offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier being known for grooming quarterbacks, Speight could be his "project" quarterback. Which potentially could mean very, very good things in the future. As for this season, barring injury a redshirt year is likely.

Drake Harris

Recruit: Drake Harris
Position: Wide Receiver
Star Rating: ★★★★

Recruiting Profile

Originally a Michigan State commit, Harris decommitted from the Spartans and chose to be a Wolverine in April of 2014. It was unclear whether Harris was going to be a basketball player or football player at the time of his original announcement. When he chose Michigan State, his intentions were to play basketball. However, he decided against basketball and chose Michigan as his place to play football.

Harris was heavily recruited by schools all over the nation. Boasting over 20 offers from the likes of Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State he backs up the attention by being a top-five player in the state of Michigan. Furthermore, Harris also was a top-ten receiver in his recruiting class despite missing most of his senior season with a lingering hamstring issue.

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Where He Fits

It's safe to say that Harris has an excellent shot at seeing some early playing time this year. With losing seniors Jeremy Gallon and Drew Dileo, the wide receiver group is thin with depth. Harris has the ability to fill that hole by being a legitimate outside threat or at least competing for the starting job. He has the length that Gallon lacked and has blazing speed combined with a fantastic leaping ability.

With Devin Funchess having all but secured a starting role, Michigan will need to fill the other outside role with someone. Although there are some candidates who have experience, the competition is wide open and there is a very good possibility that a freshman could fill that role.

The big question with Harris is: How is his hamstring holding up?

If his hamstring issues hold up in spring, this can help him tremendously with seeing valuable reps. Michigan coach Brady Hoke has already stated that Harris is moving well, so this is a good sign.

Harris' chances to see some playing time this year is as good as anyone's at this point.

Mason Cole

Recruit: Mason Cole
Position: Offensive Lineman
Star Rating: ★★★★

Recruiting Profile

Another heavily recruited player out of Florida, Cole chose the Wolverines out of many other solid choices that had offered him a scholarship. Boasting over 20 scholarship offers, Cole ranked in the top 100 in 247Sports' top 247 rankings. He is also a top ten talent in his position and was ranked in the top twenty in the state of Florida. Considering he is ranked so highly in his position and the national ranks but only ranks in the top 20 in his home state shows just how loaded the state of Florida is with talent.

Cole participated in the US Army All America game and was arguably the best offensive lineman that was on display.

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Where He Fits

Considering Cole is entering a group that had a lackluster season the year prior, there might be a chance that Cole could receive early playing time. With that being said, I wouldn't hold your breath. With many of the positions mostly spoken for and many players are returning from injury or redshirt years, Cole could see himself dropping on the depth chart for now. Like Speight, I don't expect Cole to be a "filler" guy who just fills a depth chart. With an impressive spring and a year of conditioning to prepare for the next level, Cole could be a great lineman for Michigan. However, I see him taking a redshirt year and competing for a spot next season.

Freddy Canteen

Recruit: Freddy Canteen
Position: Wide Receiver
Star Rating: ★★★★

Recruiting Profile

Like his teammate and fellow early enrollee on the defense, Brandon Watson, Freddy Canteen is another example of a recruit who was not heavily recruited but worked hard at a camp to impress the coaching staff. Only receiving about eight offers from low-level schools, Michigan was by far his best offer. Like Watson, Canteen was not a highly touted prospect but was a top five player in the state of Maryland and did crack the top fifty nationally for his position.

Just a little shorter than Harris, Canteen still has the chance to pack on a few pounds and gain some size to withstand hits at the next level.

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Where He Fits

This section is going to sound like I am repeating myself, but Canteen has a solid shot of earning playing time just like Harris. Early enrolling puts him at a solid advantage compared to every other recruit who comes in the fall. Although there are players who are returning and are on the roster already, no one has proved themselves worthy replacements of Gallon yet. Which, at this point in time, could mean that a freshman like Canteen (and Harris) could come in and swipe it.

If Canteen ends up losing the competition, there's always a special teams role he could see early on to at least attempt to get him on the field. If not, he could be destined for another redshirt. There's a place for Canteen on this offense. Whether it is this year or in the future remains to be seen.

Be sure to follow Maize n Brew's Joshua Henschke on Twitter, @JoshuaHenschke
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