2016's biggest needs
Michigan's coaching staff has already hit the recruiting trail hard in the days since the 2015 class has been wrapped up and finalized.
With 2016 now the main focus for the next 360 days and around 16-20 spots to fill, Michigan will again have to prioritize their needs in this cycle. I broke them down in detail on Friday.
The 2016 class will be Jim Harbaugh and staff's first shot at putting their entire stamp on a recruiting class instead of scrambling to finish it out like they had to do with 2015 due to the timing of the hire. Some were concerned by the lack of a huge splash being made to finish out the most recent cycle, but fans should be encouraged by the work ethic of the staff on the trail and the wide net they were able to cast in just a few short weeks.
The thing that the Wolverines need to address most is 2016 is the lack of playmakers on the roster. It is possible we could see a breakout from some of the guys at the skill positions, but there has not been enough shown to justify not addressing the absence of legitimate speed on both sides of the ball.
Position-wise, defensive will be a big point of emphasis for this cycle. A fair amount of their linebacker depth will be graduating after this season, so they'll need about three of those. One of the spots is already filled by four-star linebacker Dele Harding.
After that, they will have to address the cornerbacks, tight ends and wide receivers in that order.
We'll see what Harbaugh has up his sleeve, but with the maize and blue seeds already being planted in recruiting hotbeds such as Texas, California and Florida, this should be a good haul for the Wolverines.
Newsome talks signing with U-M
Michigan officially received the signature from 2015 four-star offensive tackle Grant Newsone on Wednesday, and he spoke to the Detroit Free Press about what it was like to sign with the Wolverines and going through the coaching change through the eyes of a committed player.
"It was definitely tough dealing with the adversity on and off the field and not knowing who they were going to hire once coach (Brady) Hoke was fired," he said. "But it was worthwhile and I'm really happy that I stayed with Michigan. Definitely a couple schools reached out to me during the layover between coach Hoke and coach (Jim) Harbaugh, but I really wanted to see who Michigan was going to hire because many of the reasons I committed to Michigan in the first place were still there, regardless of the coaching staff."
"We all kind of banded together, especially Alex Malzone, Tyree (Kinnel), we tried to band together as a class, especially when there was only six of us," he said. "To try to reach out and get other guys on board and you're seeing the fruits of that labor right now."
The six players that stuck with the program through the coaching change definitely could hold a special place in Michigan history in the coming years depending on what they can do on the field. It should be interesting to follow.
Scouting TJ Wheatley
Michigan's biggest signing day splash came from four-star tight end Tyrone Wheatley Jr., who chose the Wolverines over UCLA.
We took a look at what he brings to the table over the weekend:
Wheatley does not look like the type of tight end like a Devin Funchess or Jimmy Graham-type player that can stretch the field and create a huge mismatch as a vertical threat. He is more of a middle-of-the-field safety valve that has good hands and can make tough catches.
Some have suggested that he would easily be able to put on some more weight and slide over to offensive tackle. I don't see that happening for him at Michigan, but he does appear to be solid in run blocking at the tight end position. He's big enough and physical enough to lay a good hit and push some players around.
If this staff can find a way to get Wheatley a little bit faster and agile, he will be a very good tight end for this offense. There are a lot of question marks at the position heading in to 2015, so it is not out of the question that he plays early and often.
Look for a quick analysis on defensive end Shelton Johnson in the coming days.
Weekend MnB columns
Over the weekend, a pair of really well-written recruiting-related columns by a pair of our staff members were posted. Both were very well thought-out and I wanted to share them here.
The first came from Drew Hallett on Friday, where he touched on issues related to the Mike Weber and Roquan Smith sagas. Hallett says recruits with leverage should never sign National Letters of Intent.
Now, the key word is "leverage." If a recruit is a generic three-star and the staff tells him to sign his letter of intent or else they will find another recruit to replace him, then that three-star should sign it. But, if a recruit is a five-star or high four-star and is sought after by many programs, then that recruit should inform the staff he doesn't want to sign a letter of intent. The staff may not like it, but they're not going to tell that recruit to scram when they know that recruit will be an immediate contributor and help them win games.
And, if those recruits don't sign a letter of intent and such a situation arises where their new head or position coach leaves for other pastures, then those recruits will not be locked into the school to which they just committed and will have the option to play at another school without any ramifications regarding their eligibility.
That sounds like a much better deal than getting scammed on National Signing Day.
There's a lot more there. Hit the link above for the rest of Drew's piece.
The second column from over the weekend came from Ricky Lindsay, who says that Michigan did a good job finishing things up with their 2015 recruiting class.
Harbaugh and his staff made a mad dash throughout the recruiting landscape once the dead period was over. Filling a class that featured only six commitments is not easy task, and doing so in a stretch of time equivalent to trial periods required an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. Or something like that.
More than half of Michigan's 2015 class was assembled from Jan. 24 on. After signing day, it sits at 40th in ESPN's class rankings. Not too shabby for three weeks of work.
But there's another reason why Michigan will be OK with its 2015 class.
Michigan simply earned commitments from players that wanted to play for Michigan.
This may seem like a silly reason, but building a football program goes far beyond on-field results. The athletes play a minimum of 12 games in a span of three-four months. That's leaves two-thirds of a year loaded with off-field activities not predominated by football, including the transition from teens to adulthood. Remember, these athletes are people, too.
Be sure to check out Ricky's full piece, as well.
That's it for Monday. Check back in Wednesday for the latest roundup of Michigan football recruiting news and more.