In case you haven't heard, Michigan landed a solid verbal commitment from No. 1 running back Derrick Green on Saturday.
Seriously, check it out. It's kind of a big deal.
Green's commitment showed, nay, proved what everybody already knew: Hoke is an excellent recruiter who can go toe-to-toe with the best of them.
However, a few months ago, this was hardly the narrative.
There was some mild to serious concern when it became known that Laquon Treadwell cooled on his interest to Michigan, after months of having named them his favorite. The 6'4" wide receiver from Crete, IL, was considered a crucial target for Michigan, who are still looking for a playmaker at the position in the Manningham/Arrington-mold.
When Treadwell eliminated Michigan from his top three, the general fear amongst the fanbase was that Hoke (much like Rodriguez and even Lloyd Carr somewhat) simply cannot close the deal when it comes to top-ranked prospects at skill positions.
So, when the time came for Derrick Green to make his decision, the Maize and Blue nation waited with bated breath and trepidation. Would he go somewhere else, even with Michigan seemingly so far in front as the leader?
Well, if you still doubt Hoke's ability to land top-ranked skill recruits, you're probably the only one. Green picked Michigan, and the celebrating began.
If you didn't get to see Green's announcement, here the entire press conference reproduced IN FULL. Courtesy of Go Blue Wolverine at Scout.com:
Let's discuss this.
Green's commitment to Michigan was 50 percent luck, 50 percent Brady Hoke. It was luck in the sense that Green's other two choices had undergone coaching changes within the last two to three months. It's tough to say with certainty that Green still chooses Michigan (or, at least, that Michigan leads by such a wide margin) if either Gene Chizik or Derek Dooley remain at their programs.
Hindsight is 20/20, so we can say now that it made absolutely no sense for Green to choose a place that either ran the spread with a new coach (Auburn) or a place that had a new coach and where it was too soon to know exactly what the offense was going to be (Tennessee). Granted, there were some fans bringing this up before Green made his decision, but it was still all hypothetical. Even then, the choice for Derrick Green to pick Michigan felt like a no-brainer.
Does Michigan still get Derrick Green with any other coaching staff? This, too, is hard to say. The die-hard fanatic in me wants to say OH HELL NAW when comparing the classes of Rich Rodriguez to Brady Hoke. But it is still worth noting that Hoke's passion for Michigan has been the primary driving force in his landing of recruits. I know that constant ripping of Rich Rod is both popular and unpopular in the Michigan fanbase (just shows how divided you left us, Rich!), so I won't go that route too much.
Brady Hoke's ability as a recruiter shouldn't really be all that surprising at this point. It's not like Derrick Green was the first five star guy he landed. There was also Kyle Kalis, Ondre Pipkins, and although rankings have changed for better or worse over the past few months, at one point Shane Morris, Patrick Kugler, and Dymonte Thomas were all five star prospects. If you look at how Michigan's doing according to Scout, your only reaction has to be WHOA. They have Michigan miles ahead of anyone else.
If you follow Scout's coverage of Michigan recruiting, it's really tough not to get jump-up-and-down excited. After Derrick Green's announcement that he would become a Wolverine, the beat writers did a radio podcast where they raved about Green (obviously), but also DeVeon Smith, who Scout considers the No. 1 running back in the state of Ohio. The combination of Smith and Green should eventually make Michigan's rushing game a serious force to be reckoned with.
With Green you're talking about a guy who was impressive at the U.S. Army All-America Bowl, where he drew comparisons to Eddie Lacy and Ladell Betts, and who Rivals.com compares to Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks.
And take a look at the guys Michigan has on the offensive line coming in:
David Dawson (4-stars) 6'4", 282 lbs.
Kyle Bosch (4-stars) 6'5", 311 lbs. (early enrollee)
Logan Tuley-Tillman (4-stars) 6'7", 307 lbs. (early enrollee)
Chris Fox (4-stars) 6'6", 297 lbs.
Patrick Kugler (4-stars) 6'5", 280 lbs.
Dan Samuelson (3-stars) 6'5", 275 lbs.
Two early enrollees (Bosch and Tuley-Tillman), five of six offensive linemen are four-stars (Kugler's a five-star on Scout and considered the best offensive tackle in the country), not to mention Taylor Lewan, Kyle Kalis, Erik Magnuson, and Michael Schofield are all coming back. That's some serious beef.
Sure, when you lay it all out like this it looks mighty impressive. But, some ask, who cares about offensive linesmen? Can Hoke close with the top-ranked skill position players? Well, Wolverine nation, I think you have your answer.