That's right folks. National high school football signing day has come and gone. It was the first chance for future college stars to sign on the dotted line and commit themselves to three to five years of this:
Side of bacon, fruit... and I'll take my brains scrambled, thanks.
For you creepy recruiting types, it National Signing Day is like Christmas in February. Weird creepy Christmas Where the decision of a 18 year old kid will throw thousands of college fans in delusional joy or suicidal depression. Woo! Merry Recruitingmas! Now come in off the ledge and listen to reason, you crazy bastards.
Is recruiting and/or National Signing Day that bad or that good? Neither. But it is fun. More importantly yesterday's signings lay the ground work for the next four to five years of Michigan football. Whether you're getting stars or backups, unless you have depth in college football you're never going to compete. Need proof? Look at Michigan last year. Three non-freshman DBs to play four positions. So yeah. Recruiting matters.
Going into yesterday, Michigan had several critical positions in ire straits: Defensive Back, Safety, Linebacker, Defensive Tackle, and Quarterback. As you read through this, you'll see that Rich Rodriguez and his staff addressed these issues fairly thoroughly in their recruiting this year. Sure there are holes. There are always going to be holes. But you'll never really have a gauge on how good or bad a recruting class is until three years down the line.
Given Michigan's good-on-paper-horrid-on-the-field defensive recruiting since 2005, you can't get too high or low on the numbers this year. What you should do is be thankful there are bodies coming in to fill the gaping holes in the secondary. Specifically bodies that are not walk-ons.
Overall, I think Michigan did an above average job of recruiting this year. Sure it's not littered with five star recruits, but this class fills a number of gaps that Michigan desperately needs to be filled. It's not an "A" type class due to the lack of "stars" on the list, but it is a solid B or B+.
So lets take a look at who's rolling into Ann Arbor for the 2010 football season, starting with the
Quarterback: Always a need. Especially when you only have two (real) scholarship on the roster.
Devin Gardner - Without a doubt, the crown jewel of the recruiting class. Gardner is Rivals and Scout's No. 1 Dual Threat Quarterback in the 2010 class and the perfect fit for the Rodriguez offense. For a big kid, measuring around 6'4"-6'6" depending on who you believe, he moves like the wind. To top it off, he's got a cannon of an arm. If you're looking for a comparision based on flimsy evidence:
Same frame. Same athletic ability. Please mop up your drool. There's only one problem. He's got a horrible throwing motion. It's Tebow-esque. Actually, scratch that. It's as bad as Young's was in college. Awful. Gardner had a great showing at the Elite 11 camps, actually fixing his mechanics and showing some great velocity when he had an actual quarterback coach to help him. But as the high school season went one it degraded. Bad. Here's what it looks like now:
Bottom line, he's not college ready. Not by a long shot. Gardner needs a full year of learning how to throw and reading a defense. If he's starting opening day against UConn, we're in real trouble. After two straight years of freshmen quarterbacks starting, we desparately need to let Gardner grow and mature. All that said, he's got the tools to be something special. Even better, he enrolled early. So he's ours. OURS! Muhahahaha! Gardner should not, barring something horrible happening to Tate and Denard, see the field this year. Best case scenario he redshirts year one, holds a clipboard year two, and sees some sporatic action in year three. Has two full years at the helm thereafter. Early Enrollee.
ahem.... moving on...
Conelius Jones - See above, except without the hype, half the upside and triple the throwing issues. Jones was a relative unknown until Michigan snake oiled him into the fold over the summer. Then (miracles or miracles) his recruiting profile rose and people started paying attention to what he could do. And he can pull the upset. Jones led is left for dead high school team into the state semifinals, knocking off teams loaded with ESSSEEEESEEE speed and recruits and surprising the hell out of everyone who passed him over. Jones is lanky and fast, but ain't the best passer in the world. In a word, raw. He's more of a prototypical rodriguez QB, but doesn't have Robinson's speed (who does, really?) and isn't anywhere as polished a passer as Gardner. Redshirt is a certainty. And no, there is no "r" in his name.
Running Back: Not a position of great need, but at the rate Rich burns thru tailbacks it's not a bad thing a have a few extra hanging around.
Stephen Hopkins - Hopkins is a big back out of Flower Mound Texas. Six feet, 230. 1115 yards, 17 touchdowns and no fumbles. My kinda back. Hopkins is a three star back on both recruiting services. He's not going to make anyone miss, but he's a strong, powerful back with decent speed. He's probably a good match with Mike Cox, though Hopkins recruiting hype is substantially higher. Knowing Rodriguez, he'll see some time on the field this season. Early Enrollee.
Austin White - The Livonia, Michigan standout has a bit of a split rating between the sites. Rivals pegs him a three star, while Scout gives him four. White is the perfect versa-back for the rodriguez Offense, though he doesn't have elite-elite level speed. He's a shifty guy (a la, Mike Hart), but a lot faster and with similar acceleration. White is an accomplished receiver out of the backfield, so he'll be able to take those swing passes out of the back field and make something happen with them. Between White and Hopkins, I'd expect White to see the field before hopkins does. Early Enrollee.
Receivers: Another pile of receivers and slot ninjas. No tight ends in this class. A good group, but no one that has Braylon written all over them. Yet.
Jeremy Jackson - Son of Michigan coach Fred Jackson, a lot of Wolverine fans are bouncing off the walls to see what Jackson can do. As the son of a Michigan coach, Jackson is a fairly polished route runner but he isn't a burn 'em deep kind of guy. He doesn't have top gear speed, so Jackson will probably fit the bill as a Greg Mathews/Jason Avant type receiver. However, at 6'3" his size will come in handy in the redzone. With the glut of receivers on the roster, I'd be somewhat surprised if he sees game time on anything other than special teams this season. Early Enrollee.
If only... sigh....
Ricardo Miller - Of the wideouts committed to Michigan, Miller gets the highest marks from the services. Miller possesses great size and athletic ability; one of those physical freaks that's quick, fast and big. With good speed, a great work ethic and a mean streak, Miller has the potential to turn into a No. 1 receiver down the line. If you're looking for something to temper your enthusiasm, both sites note he seems to have the occassional concentration lapse and he doesn't posses 6th gear speed. But whatever he lacks, he seems to make up for in work ethic. A great get by the coaching staff. Early Enrollee.
Jerald Robinson - Another of the higher level receviers the staff inked today. Robinson projects to be one of Rodriguez' core slot ninjas. He's not a burner, but has that "where'd-he-go" elusiveness that is perfect for this offense. Robinson has been called the best receiver in this year's Ohio class, so snagging him away from the sweatervest's clutches is a nice bonus. A polished route runner and great athlete, expect Robinson on the field sooner rather than later. Early Enrollee.
DJ Williamson - Kind of a "who dat" recruit. Michigan secured Williamson's pledge before anyone had a clue who he was. But shortly after Michigan came snooping, Williamson's rating gained a third star on Rivals though not on Scout. Williamson seems to be the "project" kind of receiver. As a track star with excellent wheels, Robinson looks like that diamond in the rough that's going to need a lot of polishing. But if they can teach him the routes, his speed will definitely stretch the field. Total redshirt.
Drew Dileo - Because he's short, white, and fast lets call him Don Beebe, Jr. Actually, no, lets not. Dileo was another total unknown Michigan seemed to pluck out of thin air to play the slot. Look, he's got going to grow four inches but good holy lord is he fast. Another slot ninja capable of going the distance, but not someone who's going to overpower anyone. With the number of slot receivers on the roster, I have to imagine he or Robinson (or both) takes a redshirt.
Offensive Line: Not a huge position of need. Michigan loaded it's last two classes with line recruits. Still, I really would've like to have seen more than one offensive line recruit this year.
Christian Pace - The big 263 pound center is the prototypical Rodriguez lineman. Quick feet. A nasty streak. An excellent run blocker. Pace doesn't have the measureables to be an effective tackle, so he'll stay inside, which is fine by me. What we're getting in Pace is an excellent interior lineman with the ability to play center. Anyone who saw the issues on offense once David Molk went down knows how important that is. Based on the depth on the line in 2010, I can't see anything less than a redshirt for Pace. But everyone who's seen the kid play seems to think Michigan stole a great interior player. Early Enrollee.
Defensive End/Defensive Tackle:
Jordan Paskorz - A rangy 6'4" 220 Defensive End/Linebacker/Quick commit. Of the defensive line group, Paskorz is probably the least well known and the player with the biggest set of question marks by his name. Paskorz has a modest offer sheet and checked in as the No. 23 player in Pennsylvania this year. That said, the coaching staff saw something they liked and took him over a couple of other higher rated LB/DE hybrids. Lock this one down: Redshirt.
Ken Wilkins - A Pennsylvania kid going to play somewhere else. Wilkins checks in at the No. 9 slot in the Pennsylvania top 40, garnering four stars on Rivals and three on Scout. As a DE, Wilkins looks to be a good north-south pass rusher. At 6'2" 230, he's going to need some time in the weight room, but he's ranked as the No. 15 DE in the 2010 class for a reason. 3/4 stars depending on the site.
Richard Ash - Another Pahokee kid ready to make his mark felt up north. Ash seemed like a Florida/Florida State lock not too long ago, but Michigan changed his mind. Ash possess a 6'4" frame and is already listed at 270, so there's plenty to work with. Of the DT group he's probably the rawest in terms of moves and technique, but it didn't scare off USC and half the elites in CFB. Ash's athleticism and strength are a rare combination, but he's not quite step on the field ready. But he's close. 3/4 stars depending on the site.
Terry Talbott - A consensus three star DT, Talbott popped into Michigan's consciousness as many of the higher profile DTs came off the board. Talbott's may be a little bit undersized, but that's just because he hasn't fully grown into his frame. The Ohio native is a big boy with a bigger motor and great work ethic. His technique could use some work according to the sites, but always seems to be disrupting things and has a good upside. A year in the weight room and coaching might make a world of difference for the kid. But realistically you have to imagine he'll see a little bit of playing time this year.
Linebacker: Oh god do we need linebackers. I'm not kidding. DESPERATELY. So desperately I'll write it again. DESPERATELY.
Marvin Robinson - Robinson is easily Michigan's highest rated linebacking recruit. One of those high school safeties that is just too damn big to keep at safety. Great speed and frame, Robinson is supposed to transition fairly well into the outside linebacker slot. Given Michigan's history of converting Safeties to LBs, I'm holding my breath. Even so, I think he's a great recruit with the most upside of Michigan's 2010 linebacking haul.
Davion Rogers - His distinguishing feature is that he is 100 feet tall. Seriously. A 6'6"-6'7" LINEBACKER? Yup, that's Davion. My money's out there that he ends up being some kind of paralysis inducing terror at DE, but he's a natural linebacker and we need those. Rogers had a decent offer sheet despite being seen as somewhat of a project due to his lanky size and weight (205!). He's very fact for someone 6'6" and shows good lateral quickness off the edge rush. Don't be surprised to see him on the field towering over eveyone in pass rushing situations.
Josh Furman - Furman's another guy I'm really excited about. Believe it or not, as a senior Furman carried the ball 239 for 2285 yards and 31 touchdowns. I mean, that's impressive. But Furman played linebacker as well, and was just as much a standout on the defensive side of the ball. He is fast. At 6'3" he's outrunning everyone. Kind of a Carson Butler without the penchant for beating up nerds and being a general pain in the ass. Even better, he takes good angles on tackles. At 6'3" with (alleged) 4.4 speed, you'll gotta love his potential at the linebacking spot.
Antonio Kinard - Kinard's a little bit of a mystery to me. A consensus three star LB, he committed to Michigan so early the recruiting sites didn't really do a lot of follow up on the kid. He's big at 6'4", but a little light at 210. Here's the thing, he's got an explosive first step and a great motor. Kinard played MLB in high school, and what do we need? Yeah. You're learning. With only Jake Ryan on the team as a natural MIKE, I have to figure that the two of them will battle it out with JB Fitzgerald for the starting job at MLB. If not, it's possible he may find himself at OLB. Again, because of depth issues, don't be surprised if he sees early playing time.
Safety: See Linebacker. Last year we had three non-freshmen defensive backs to play four defensive back positions, not including nickleback. We needed a haul here. We got one. And a good one at that.
Demar Dorsey - A last second switch to Michigan, and the Wolverines landed one of the elite safeties in this year's class. Dorsey is an Under Armor All-American who (like Furman) was clocked in the sub 4.4 range. Dorsey's a hitter and should compete for playing time immediately. He's a little raw in coverage, but he's a pure athlete. Because of the kid's athleticism, he's also capable of playing corner. Be happy about this. Given out problems at safety, if Vlad can't go this season there's a pretty good chance Dorsey sees the field immediately. Oh yeah, he's Denard Robinson's cousin.
Carvin Johnson - Johnson, like Ray Vinopal, was another kid that Rodriguez was fairly high on, but no one else seemed to know a damn thing about. He had a middling offer sheet and is reputed to have middling speed as well. However, he's another of those kids that breaths football that Rodriguez seems to love. As another plus, he's a big hitter. Long term, he's a little bit of a project.
Ray Vinopal - He wants to prove his critics wrong. "I'm constantly told I need to move to a position that requires less athleticism and speed, but I run a 4.42 40-yard dash. I was an all-state sprinter the past two years. They say I'm 5-8 and too small - but every knock on me is wrong. The information is wrong." Sweet. A pissed off safety. I can get behind this. Hopefully receivers can't. Vinopal is claiming people are underrating his speed because of his blinding, melanin deficient skin. Two years of track, opposing high school coaches singing his praises, a chip on his shoulder. Nice. But realistically... he's Jordan Kovacs.
Courtney Avery - I like this kid. The only reason he's not a four star corner is he played primarily as a quarterback until the last year or so there's not a lot to grade him on. Also, he's short. Not pocket sized. But short. Generously listed at 5'9", Avery is makes Cissoko look tall. But who cares? I've seen tiny corners at the college level shut tall dudes down. Avery is electricly fast and shift. Perfect for corner. Now let's strap him to the rack and add three inches.
Cullen Christian - Christian, like Dorsey, is a defensive jewel in this class. All the services love his game and see him as a potential NFL calibre DB. Scout's No. 3 corner and Rivals No. 8 corner. He's still learning the position but has the fluidity to excel at the position. Hips on a swivel is routinely used describing him. The only knock may be that he's not a Mach 7 burner, but everyone seems to agree he's got "closing speed", so FTW? Be excited for his future. He's probably going to play next year, so also be prepared for some freshman mistakes.
Terrence Talbott - When people say a player is young, I don't think they usually mean literally. Terrence is the younger brother of Terry Talbott. As you can imagine, when you have two non-twin brothers in the same recruiting class one of them's going to be a lot younger than everyone else. Even so, he's got no problem standing up at the line. Scout is fairly effusive for a guy who just burst onto the scene as a junior, "Talbott is a true cover corner with great hips and the willingness to come up and hit against top competition level. While some question his height, his ability to go up against taller receivers have never been a problem as Talbott has a great vertical leap and is fluid in going from coverage to battle a receiver for the ball. Talbott lost his sophomore season due to injury but made up for it with a strong junior showing." Sorry for the block quote, but wow. Again, if he was 5'11", he sounds like a four star corner. Temper your enthusiam a bit tho, he's going to have to grow a tad and show he can compete to see the feild.
Kickers: With Zoltan leaving, we need help.
Will Hagerup - Zoltan Part II. the No. 4 kicker in the country and a kid with the potential to be a boomer. Woo! He was extensively covered here.