According to 247Sports, Michigan had the No. 20-ranked recruiting class of 2014. Merely weeks away, this season could serve as a launching pad for some of those Wolverines freshmen, but it could also serve as a learning experience for others--as in, the vast majority who won't see the field.
Of course, Jabrill--who will now go by the symbol "5&@&5" (artist formerly known as) due to his fame--will make an impact. As a matter of fact, during our phone conversation Sunday (more to come on that this week), John U. Bacon told me that he feels that Peppers will be an immediate starter and instantly add firepower to Greg Mattison's defense.
That's correct. That will happen. Write that in stone.
But what about everyone else? I'm glad you asked, because I'm going to run down the list of Hoke's new guys and summarize my expectations for them. As always, feel free to contribute your opinions to the comments section.
Head of the Class? Meet 2014's Sweet 16
Note: Heights, weights, positions and star-rankings are via 247Sports (view the class). Generally speaking, most of the players have put on somewhere in the neighborhood of five to 15 pounds since reporting their weights and measures to the good folks at 247.
Drake Harris (6'4", 180; 4-star WR)
If his hamstring becomes a larger problem, the former Grand Rapids Christian star won't get the quick start that most imagined. At this point, expecting him to be an immediate contributor isn't realistic. Plus, look at the depth--not to mention healthier options--at wide receiver. There's no need to rush him. Sparse play at worst, a handful of games and 20-some catches at very best.
Bryan Mone (6'4", 338; 4-star DT)
Mattison's D-Line looks good, but it could be better if Mone gets on the fast track of progression. So far, I like Willie Henry and Ondre Pipkins in the middle. But that's not to say that I'm opposed to Mone. He's a monster once he reaches the backfield.
M'nB football editor Josh Henschke and I have had numerous conversations about Mone's potential. He loves Mone. I like Mone. If I see more of Mone--and what Henschke tells me to expect--I'll also love Mone.
Mason Cole (6'4", 285; 4-star LT)
Up the ladder he goes, where he lands...OK. You get it. But instead of "nobody knows," it's "only Mason knows."
It's not easy being a freshman in the Big Ten. Likewise, cracking the Wolverines' starting rotation as a first-year player is pretty rare. Cole has an uphill climb ahead of him. But with uncertainty along the O-Line, I can't imagine Doug Nussmeier and Darrell Funk overlooking Cole, who's quickly establishing a solid reputation as rising star within the program.
And he's yet to see the field, which is an added bonus.
Frank Clark on Michigan frosh Mason Cole: 'He's developed faster than I've seen a kid develop at 18' http://t.co/W1xMbookLA— Wolverines News (@WolverinesMLive) April 9, 2014
Michael Ferns (6'3", 238; 4-star ILB)
This year. I see a few big hits during kick and punt situations for the former Ohio prep standout.
If the Wolverines weren't so deep at linebacker, I would give him an outside shot at seeing large amounts of PT. Although the 2014 class wasn't ranked as highly as previous collections (No. 20 compared to top 10), I feel that Hoke really got it right with more than a few newbies.
Ferns is one of them. High-motor linebackers are invaluable.
Lawrence Marshall (6'4", 250; 4-star WDE)
The former Southfield incredi-kid is versatile and nimble for his size. I think that he'll be a disruptive quarterback-flattener...but not for at least another year. And again, the D-Line isn't being manned by nobodies. Mattison has plenty of push without using Marshall.
Chase Winovich (6'3", 225; 3-star OLB)
Depth at linebacker could cause Winovich to be shelved. Not a bad thing. He's one of three solid linebackers in this class. However, enrolling early may help--there were seven: Harris, Cole, Ferns, Canteen, Speight, Watson and Mone--him get a head start on the internal competition.
Freddy Canteen (6'1", 175; 4-star WR)
You watched the spring game. He's going to do that this fall.
Ian Bunting (6'7", 230; 4-star TE)
A lot of rapping in the weight room. Maybe he can battle Breezy during team trips, in the locker room and in class (if they happen to have any together).
Juwann Bushell-Beatty (6'7", 318; 4-star OT)
He's big enough to get in there and make a difference. But he's behind a few guys who know the system and have more experience. But since this is Michigan's O-Line that we're talking, I won't rule out anything.
2014 Michigan Recruit Profile: Juwann Bushell-Beatty http://t.co/7Zi3eKuT4X— Joshua Henschke (@JoshuaHenschke) June 6, 2014
Yeah, you know me (harmony, harmony)
Wilton Speight (Peyton Manning size; 3-star QB)
At 6'6" and at least 220, Speight is the next guy. I repeat, he's the next guy. But we won't see much of him this year, I'm afraid. Shane Morris is also pretty good, and he's a sophomore with a solid bowl performance to his credit. The stuff would really have to hit the fan in order for Speight to see a lot of snaps.
Noah Furbush (6'3", 240; 3-star OLB)
I was going to say special teams. Maybe some spot play. But after his latest stunt, I'm going to be mean and say no chance of anything. I'm kidding. But "OH-IO"?! Come on, Noah. You're ENROLLED at Michigan, dude...
For the record, I support Furbush. He's one of those high-motor linebackers that I referenced earlier.
Future Michigan LB Noah Furbush (Kenton) and Ohio teammates broke practice Wednesday in Findlay with "OH-IO!" cheer.— Dave Briggs (@DBriggsBlade) June 12, 2014
Brandon Watson (6'0", 185; 3-star CB)
He's optimistic about his chances, per Matt Pargoff of Maize and Blue News. I'll go with that.
Brandon Watson optimistic about chance to contribute at Michigan http://t.co/BI5DN2Bs8z— Matt Pargoff (@MaizeBlueNews) April 3, 2014
Jared Wangler (6'2", 226; 3-star S)
Limited spot play? I can't see an awful lot in 2014 for Wangler. The secondary is stacked. So are the linebackers. Chalk up this one as a learning year.
Brady Pallante (6'1", 280; 3-star DT)
Sidelining it this fall.
Maurice Ways (6'4" 195; 3-star WR)
Super slept-on recruit who may end up in red this fall. But I like him; he's a great example of the prototype pro-style, deep-ball threat.
Peppers (6'1", 205; 5-star EVERYTHING)
About a week ago, I made a promise that I wouldn't write about Jabrill until mid-August. I'm keeping that promise. This post isn't about Jabrill, it's about his classmates. So we'll save this topic for another day (he's going to be the man, by the way).
Hey, that kind of sounded like a song. Hey, Breezy. Throw those lines into a rap. Thanks!
Follow Maize 'n Brew's Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81