Cincinnati middle linebacker Joe Bolden committed to Michigan on Friday (Touch the Banner profile here). The 6'2", 225-pounder didn't quite have A-list offers from around the country, but B+ might be an accurate description of that list. The presence of Bolden might give the Wolverines some flexibility to put Royce Jenkins-Stone at SAM linebacker if they want.
Scout.com's Sam Webb has also said that there is a silent commit who's waiting to announce publicly. Michigan fans on the interwebs have a pretty good idea of who it is, but I don't really like to speculate about silent commits, because I don't like to steal their thunder. We should be hearing about this guy openly within a couple weeks.
OFF THE BOARD
Wisconsin linebacker Vince Biegel committed to the Badgers. Michigan was in his top three, but it was pretty clear from early on that he would choose either BYU (his father's alma mater) or Wisconsin. There are plenty of linebacker prospects who are either committed to or interested in Michigan, so he wasn't a huge loss.
Texas defensive end Devonte Fields committed to TCU. Fields never seemed extremely interested in coming to Ann Arbor, but he is from the same school as incoming freshman Russell Bellomy. Defensive end is a spot where Michigan needs some depth, so it's not a great development, but hopes were slim for Fields, anyway.
California defensive tackle Aziz Shittu committed to Stanford. Michigan's main hope was that the intelligent Shittu would value a Michigan education, but Stanford's kind of good at making smart people, too. I'm a little disappointed that Stanford doesn't get much publicity on the east coast, though, because I'm looking forward to seeing announcers stumble over his name. I wonder what his friends call him for short.
Texas running back Jonathan Williams committed to Missouri. Michigan threw its hat into the ring too late to really have a chance with Williams. He only had 2,000 yards rushing as a junior, which is pretty crappy. He did have one nice run, though (fast forward to :55 in this Youtube highlight).
The recent and semi-recent departures of cornerback Cullen Christian and safety Ray Vinopal made this recruiting class swell to about 17. There has also been a roundly accepted (but as yet unofficial) report that wide receiver D.J. Williamson has left the team. Josh Helmholdt, a quality moderator at The Wolverine, has stated that the coaches have been recruiting for approximately a 22-person class. They obviously expect some attrition or early NFL entrants next winter. If the Williamson rumors are true, Michigan seems to be at 18 and counting for the 2012 class.
As for linebackers, a lot of Michigan fans have been wondering if the coaches would accept a fourth linebacker, particularly Orchard Lake's James Ross. None of the three current commits (Bolden, Jenkins-Stone, or Kaleb Ringer) has the size or frame to become a defensive end like Brandon Graham. If those three follow through and sign with Michigan in February - and none of the current linebackers transfer - that would give the Wolverines 12 linebackers for three starting positions. It's not outside the realm of possibility for Michigan to take a kid like Ross, but that could make the roster somewhat linebacker-heavy. It's a bit of a balancing act with the numbers, especially with only 18 scholarships. Of course, if that number swells to 22 or more, then the chances increase that another linebacker could be added.
It's way too early to get a good handle on the final recruiting class rankings, but for some perspective, Michigan has four kids who seem like 4-star recruits (Bolden, Devin Funchess, Jenkins-Stone, Ringer) and three who look like 3-star players (Ben Braden, Caleb Stacey, A.J. Williams). That would make for an average star ranking of 3.57, which would have put Michigan at #8 in average star ranking on Rivals last year and #9 on Scout.
MagnusThunder is the author of Touch the Banner, a Michigan football blog.