Michigan needed, or wanted, another linebacker in the class of 2014. It got just that when Noah Furbush of Kenton High School in Ohio went blue, giving the defensive staff a player capable of playing everything from defensive end to middle linebacker. More on that a little bit later.
Furbush isn't a national prospect, mainly holding offers well within the Big Ten footprint, but that doesn't mean he was little-know, either. Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee and Vanderbilt all offered Furbush as well, and an offer from Ohio State seemed possible for quite some time. He visited Michigan and Ohio State unofficially before camping at the latter; he didn't earn an offer at the camp and probably didn't want to play the waiting game with the Buckeyes, who probably wouldn't come through with an offer if they didn't at camp. The offers from Michigan State and Nebraska are interesting, as both schools scout and recruit the position well.
Where will Noah play at the next level? Most believe that Furbush is destined for one of the rush or SAM positions because of his 6'4", 240-pound frame, but Michigan wants to start him out on the inside. Why? Michigan is clearly thinner on the outside than it is on the inside, especially if Michael Ferns is to stay at the MIKE, so why keep a long player on the inside?
There's a video answer for you. Furbush bangs skulls. His level of competition isn't the highest, but that doesn't change the fact that Noah is clearly at his best when he can stare a running play down, diagnose it and put his body through it. He doesn't run as well as most linebacker prospects, but such is life when you're easily large enough to play weak side defensive end. This is what separates him from players like Michael Ferns, who are just plain faster.
Furbush was one of the better prospects on Michigan's board in terms of hand use, leverage and the ability to read a play, which is probably why Greg Mattison and Brady Hoke fell in love with him. He's consistently taking the correct angle to the ball carrier while remaining aggressive, and he definitely isn't afraid of contact when he arrives. He also drops into coverage well for someone his size, mostly due to his great field awareness and discipline.
What if things don't work out on the inside? So be it, as Michigan can slide Furbush outside or drop him down to the weak side defensive end position, where he would be a solid run defender who can be replaced on long passing situations. I don't see Furbush ever being a real pass rusher: he lacks the pure explosiveness required to get around offensive lineman at the next level. This will also make him an average blitzer from the linebacker spot, but Michigan didn't recruit him to blitz and get into the face of the passer.
Michigan could be done at linebacker, although outside prospects Drue Tranquill and Jimmie Swain remain possibilities. Dwight Williams could be too good to turn down, and Michigan could take him and slide Furbush outside, but I don't see that happening. It wouldn't surprise me if Michigan didn't take another linebacker this cycle, and I don't think they really need another given the amount of flexibility they have with the three players they have in the bag.