Michigan head coach Brady Hoke
The success of the 2011 campaign is barely behind them and the Michigan Wolverines head into National Signing Day (Feb.1) largely optimistic about the 2012 recruiting class.
Despite the recent de-commitment of offensive guard Caleb Stacey, Michigan will certainly finish with one the top recruiting classes in the nation.
Also taking into consideration Darryl Stonum's dismissal from the team, the Wolverines have sufficient scholarships to add four or five additional players.
In the next few slides, we'll take a look at who's already verbally committed, where the team still needs help, and which of the prospects will actually become Wolverines.
Finally, we'll predict how Michigan will rank with the other national powers.
Following are the 23 non-binding verbal commitments for the 2012 class, according to Scout.com (note: the three players in italics have already enrolled at Michigan).
Wide Receiver: (2) Jehu Chesson, Amara Darboh
Tight End: (1) Devin Funchess
Offensive Line: (5) Blake Bars, Ben Braden, Kyle Kalis, Erik Magnuson, A.J Williams*
Running Back: (1) Drake Johnson
Fullback: (1) Sione Houma
Defensive Tackle: (2) Ondre Pipkins, Matt Godin
Defensive End: (3) Chris Wormley, Tom Strobel, Mario Ojemudia
Outside Linebacker: (2) James Ross, Joe Bolden
Inside Linebacker: (2) Royce Jenkins-Stone, Kaleb Ringer
Cornerback: (1) Terry Richardson
Safety: (3) Allen Gant, Jeremy Clark, Jarrod Wilson
On offense, Michigan was hurt on the offensive line, wide receiver and tight end.
Lost to the offensive line were Rimington Trophy winning center David Molk and starting right tackle Mark Huyge. The Wolverines expect Jack Miller to win the starting center position, while Michael Schofield will move from left guard to right tackle. Chris Bryant will be first off the bench at either tackle or guard and Rocko Khoury will be the backup center.
Depth is still a concern, but the five committed freshman, and the chance of landing more linemen, will solve the problem.
Because of Darryl Stonum's dismissal and the graduation of Junior Hemingway, Kelvin Grady and Martavious Odoms, Michigan will be light on experienced wide receivers. Jeremy Gallon was a huge surprise in 2011 but Roy Roundtree was not. After catching 72 passes in 2010, his production dropped to 19 this past season. Drew Dileo and Jeremy Jackson are expected to play extensively and both Jerald and Terrance Robinson will get long looks at spring practice.
Freshmen can often step straight into the starting lineup at wide receiver, so don't be surprised if either Jehu Chesson or Amara Darboh are in the lineup against Alabama. Landing another wide receiver remains a priority.
Coach Brady Hoke promised an expanded role for Michigan's tight ends and Kevin Koger proved him correct. Not only did Koger display his excellent blocking ability, he also showed his reliable receiving skills.
Brandon Moore is in line to inherit Koger's spot, but the dropoff is significant. Ricardo Miller may push Moore, but an incoming freshman will be needed to provide some depth.
While the Wolverines are in relatively good shape at safety and cornerback, the front seven definitely needs help. Regardless if Michigan plays less 4-3 and more 3-4, the Wolverines are extremely thin at tackle.
Nose tackle Mike Martin, tackle Will Heininger and end/tackle Ryan Van Bergen are gone, so that leaves Will Campbell, Quinton Washington, Richard Ash and Chris Rock in a battle for the two tackle positions. (The strong side end in the 3-4 should be built more like a tackle).
Don't be surprised if incoming freshmen Ondre Pipkins (nose tackle) and Matt Godin (tackle) get some playing time early in the season.
Depth is the problem at linebacker, so early enrollees Joe Bolden and Kaleb Ringer will not only bring depth to spring practice, they will bring competition.
Michigan is down to five targets, and a few potential gray shirts. Cornerback Armani Reeves, tight end Sam Grant and offensive linemen Joshua Garnett, Jordan Diamond and Alex Kozan make up Michigan's final wish list.
Reeves, who earlier committed to Penn State, is also looking at Michigan and Ohio State. Reeves met with Hoke and secondary coach Curt Mallory Saturday and is expected to meet with Greg Mattison Tuesday.
Grant, who's a former teammate of Michigan commit Kyle Kalis, has narrowed his search down to Oklahoma, Michigan and Arkansas. A former Boston college commit, Grant could compete for playing time as a freshman.
Diamond, a former high school teammate of Michigan offensive tackle Chris Bryant, recently visited Ann Arbor.
The (Michigan) visit stacks up pretty high, he told scout.com's Sam Webb. I had a good time on all of my visits, but this one was kind of different. I don’t want to say it’s at the top because I don’t want to be misconstrued… but it was pretty high.
Garnett, a 5-Star recruit from just outside Seattle, was scheduled to meet with head coach Brady Hoke and offensive line coach Darrell Funk Sunday night. Garnett will decide between Michigan, Stanford and Notre Dame Thursday afternoon.
Kozan—who's narrowed his choices to Michigan, Iowa and Auburn—will decide after he meets with Coach Hoke later this week.
Potential gray shirts are quarterback Brian Cleary of University of Detroit Jesuit High School and offensive tackle Dan Gibbs of Birmingham Seaholm.
The longest of long shots, 5-Star wide receiver Stefon Diggs, has yet to commit. Diggs remains an interest to Michigan fans because he and Wolverine cornerback Blake Countess were high school teammates in Maryland.
Defensive coordinator and recruiting wizard Greg Mattison
Frosh to be
Who will be the most likely Wolverines? Well sometimes it's not what you know, it's who you know.
Of the five targets, Grant and Diamond will most likely commit. Mattison will win over Reeves and Kozan will come along if someone agrees to move over to defense.
Should Garnett become a Wolverine this week, Diamond may reconsider.
Diggs will end up at Florida.
Michigan's class rank
If Michigan could land four of these prized recruits, a top-three finish behind Texas and Alabama is entirely possible. Finishing ahead of Ohio State's Urban Meyer will definitely be a feather in Brady Hoke's cap.