With the winter semester at the University of Michigan upon us, as is the season of speculation for early enrollees into the football program.
The amount of players that choose to enroll into school are typically low in Michigan's case, this winter is no different. With the lack of recruiting news due to Michigan not having a coach, the 2015 recruiting class will see two in-state prospects in quarterback Alex Malzone and athlete Brian Cole enroll early for winter conditioning.
Those who decide to enroll early are at a significant advantage to the rest of the recruiting class that joins in the summer. For Malzone and Cole, both will undergo a collegiate winter conditioning schedule and will be able to participate in spring drills (including the spring game).
For a program like Michigan where everyone, experienced or not, is trying to get on the same page with a new head coach, new strength and conditioning programs and figuring out a new offensive and defensive schemes as well, this puts early enrolling freshman in a good position to get ahead of the learning curve.
With that being said, where do Malzone and Cole fit into Michigan's 2015 plans? We break down the possibilities.
Position: Pro-Style Quarterback
School: Brother Rice
Height/Weight: 6-1, 200 lbs
247Composite Rating: 4-star
Originally recruited by former offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, Malzone could be finding himself entering an open competition for the quarterback spot in 2015 under new head coach Jim Harbaugh. Although junior-to-be Shane Morris will be coming back with the most on-field experience, he didn't exactly prove himself worthy of a guaranteed starter at quarterback.
Malzone is fortunate enough to be entering a staff where his head coach could also be his position coach, one that has a track record of mentoring successful quarterbacks. Even if Harbaugh doesn't assume the QB-coach role, Malzone will benefit from his tutelage. Could Harbaugh see Malzone as his first freshman project during his time at Michigan and groom him to be the next starting quarterback at Michigan? It's possible, but there will be competition at that position.
Malzone had a very effective 2014 senior season at Brother Rice. Finishing the year with 2998 passing yards, 38 touchdowns and only throwing five interceptions. Malzone has the skills, it's clear they just need to be refined at the next level.
The final verdict as to where Malzone may end up in 2015 is too hard to call right now. If winter conditioning goes well, Malzone could find his way sneaking right into the thick of things for competing for some playing time this season.
School: Saginaw Heritage
Height/Weight: 6-2, 190 lbs
247Composite Rating: 4-star
Michigan landed the number one player in-state in Brian Cole. Having someone like him coming into the system early is a major benefit for Harbaugh and his staff. The only area of concern for those trying to determine if he will see playing time in 2015 is where exactly does he fit? If his skills are better suited as a receiver, he could see some time. If he's a corner, then opportunities might be scarce.
Cole will be listed as an athlete for now because he's still a little bit of a mystery. He isn't suited to be a two-way player, it's either one way or the other. A judgement can't exactly be made right now, but the quickest path to the playing field is at wide receiver. With the departure of Devin Funchess, a space for a playmaker has opened up with a returning cast that hasn't exactly proven its capable of big plays.
Cole could see a Freddy Canteen-like spring where he could make a lot of noise preseason, but also needs to back it up throughout the fall (which was the opposite of Canteen). In time, we will learn more about where Cole stands and will do a further analysis when that happens.