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Recruiting Roundtable: Michigan’s win on Saturday was a boon for recruiting

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Michigan’s win over Florida had recruiting implications - and also helped us appreciate the difference between three-stars and Harbaugh three-stars.

Photo credit: Chris Cook, MGoBlog

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Maize n Brew’s recruiting roundtable. Nick, Von, and Michael (who’s away this week) will break down various storylines around Michigan recruiting every other week. Next week, keep an eye out for the Big Ten Roundtable with Nick, Andrew, and Ed, with special guest Patrick Koerbler. Thanks, and happy reading!

Nick: Hello! So how’s life, Von? Treating you good?

Von: Life is treating me well now that football is finally back! How are things with you?

Nick: Very well, it’s so nice having football back. August for various reasons was killing me, but September has been much kinder.

So, I wanted to get your thoughts about a few things we learned, recruiting-wise, from Michigan’s showdown with Florida. For one, and most obviously, the recruits have to like how this coaching staff can turn guys into superb players in what seems like very little time.

Von: Yeah, absolutely. It seems like a lot of these players who started their first ever game down in Jerry World played real well. And the fact that Michigan had big-time recruits down watching them dominate Florida is even nicer when it comes to thinking about the team way down the road.

Nick: Yeah, it helps that Michigan-Florida was ESPN’s highest-rated non-primetime opening ever. Not only is there a great atmosphere in Arlington, where a team from Florida is playing Michigan in the state of Texas (and those two states are maybe the best recruiting hotbeds in the country, except for maybe California), then you’re gonna have a good time. And Michigan did everything they needed to show guys they were the real deal.

Von: Exactly. Don Brown proved to the nation that it doesn’t matter who is playing in his defense. As long as he gets his players in his scheme, the defense is going to be electric. It always helps when a guy like Mo Hurst elects to come back to school for one more year, but to be able to produce the results he did with the amount of turnover the defense had from last season, recruits watching this game are going to be salivating at the thought of playing for Michigan.

Nick: You’re right, that is incredible, and I don’t know if it still hasn’t sunk in or if Michigan fans are just used to how amazing this staff is, that Jim Harbaugh and Don Brown managed to replace ten starters on defense and they looked like that against a ranked team. So just imagine what impact this has on a kid who’s just finding out about Michigan for the first time.

Von: And the fact you had to replace three offensive linemen, and not even to the NFL Draft, and guys like Nolan Ulizio and Patrick Kugler are able to get their time to shine in the big spotlight. Kugler, in my opinion, had the best day on the O-line, and even though Ulizio had his moments of poor play, he rebounded nicely in the second half. So, yeah, it’s real good the staff is able to take these guys, some of them barely recruited at first, and turn them into stars.

Photo credit: Chris Cook, MGoBlog

Nick: The other thing for fans to get used to is that - say, with Kugler, he’s a fifth-year guy who’s just getting his first start. Harbaugh’s recruits are coming in - and not all of them, mind you, but a fair number of them - are coming in and starting as freshmen and sophomores or competing for starting roles.

Von: Yep, spot on. Ambry Thomas, for example, forced a fumble on special teams against Florida on what would’ve been its first possession of the second half. It was a game-changing play that gave Michigan all the momentum. Devin Bush did the same thing last year, as he was mainly a special teams guy. So these young guys are definitely getting a chance to shine.

Nick: Bush did play some linebacker if I remember right, but point well taken about the young guys. Florida didn’t really know what hit them, haha.

In fact, I’m not sure who noticed this, but Devin Gil was getting some reps at linebacker in the early going, right alongside his fellow Flanagan teammates, Devin Bush and Josh Metellus. I’m not one to overanalyze every move that Harbaugh makes, but you know that was designed to get those boys pumped up and ready to prove something to the Gators.

Von: Yeah I actually noticed Gil right away! My first thought was “where the hell is Mike McCray?” but I quickly realized what was going on, haha. If that was intended to pump up the defense, it worked out pretty well.

Nick: And that kind of segues to another point from that game - Harbaugh knows what he’s doing with three-star talent. Devin Gil and Josh Metellus were originally seen as second and third wheels to getting Devin Bush out of Flanagan, and while Bush has undoubtedly been a star in the making, Harbaugh doesn’t hand out scholarships like candy. All up and down the last few recruiting classes, there are three-stars who are doing an amazing job.

Photo credit: Chris Cook, MGoBlog

Von: Without a doubt. One of the guys who was a three-star that sticks out to me as a play-maker is Eddie McDoom. When he was being recruited by Harbaugh and his staff, I could just envision the lightning speed from him on the field at The Big House. Then I witnessed it firsthand a few times last year and was blown away by his sheer speed. He has been a real nice toy for Harbaugh and Tim Drevno so far, and I think he will continue to get those quick sweeps that we saw last season.

Nick: Yeah, that’s a great choice. Khaleke Hudson is another - he was almost a four-star, but that guy just replaced Jabrill Peppers in his second year.

So, who are some 2018 guys who have stood out to you? The attention to the 2018 class hasn’t been as intense as previous classes, because now we have Harbaugh recruits actually wearing the Maize and Blue and making plays, and also because it’s been sort of high on three-stars. But as we’ve seen, three-stars are still capable of coming in and starting in their first two years.

Von: One guy that stands out to me in the 2018 class who isn’t a three-star recruit is Myles Sims. He is a four-star defensive back from Georgia and he has some real nice ball-hawking skills. He is a good cover corner who has good speed and can make plays on the ball. But another guy for me who is a three-star is Christian Turner, a running back who is also from Georgia. He’s quick, too, and has looked pretty good at finding open lanes in the tape that I have seen. Who are you looking at in this class so far, Nick?

Nick: Yeah, Turner is a guy who I wasn’t sure about at first, but some highlights from him at summer camps have me converted.

I really like Otis Reese, to be honest, as my absolute favorite in this class - he’s another kid from Georgia, listed at 6’4”, 206, and he plays a mean Viper/outside linebacker. He’s basically a bigger Khaleke Hudson? I mean, we’ll see, but I’m really high on him.

And for some of those overlooked, three-star guys, I think Luke Schoonmaker is a stud. He’s a lanky tight end with all the speed in the world. Raw from a technique standpoint, but Harbaugh will take care of that.

Von: Those are some pretty good choices. Reese is a monster, and honestly I think he is a perfect fit for the Viper position. And when I first saw anything from Schoonmaker, I was kinda skeptical, basically the same way you were with Turner, but I think he has a chance to be a great fit in Harbaugh’s offense. The kid is 6-foot-6, and if Harbaugh is able to get ANOTHER tall tight end like Schoonmaker to gel in his system, Michigan is going to have some great blocking for a long time.

Nick: I think I’m the only person who’s still blown away by this, but I remember when Harbaugh offered a scholarship to tight end Carter Dunaway before he had even started a game for his high school team - and he had close to zero catches, I think, too. But Harbaugh saw him camp, gave him an offer, and a year later Dunaway was rising up recruiting boards. Unbelievable.

Von: Harbaugh sure has an eye for talent, doesn’t he? It’s nice to have a coach like Harbz.

Nick: You can say that again.