Brady Hoke and the Wolverines will look to rebound on National Signing Day after missing out on four top end prospects.
The Michigan Wolverines had three opportunities this weekend to improve on what is already one of the country's top 2012 recruiting classes, but came up empty in their pursuit of 4-star prospects Josh Garnett (Puyallup, Wash.), Armani Reeves (West Roxbury, Mass.) and Alex Kozan (Castle Rock, CO).
Garnett, who is ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 2 offensive guard and No. 33 overall prospect, chose Stanford over the Wolverines last Thursday. This decision hurt the most, because Michigan had been considered the favorite to land the 6'5", 295-pound lineman.
"I know academically they're almost equal and even football-wise they're both great schools to go to," Garnett said after his announcement. "But I felt in my heart Stanford was the right place for me to go."
The Wolverines also whiffed on their first true recruiting battle with new Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer late Sunday night, when Reeves decided to become the 24th commit in the Buckeyes' incoming class.
"I'm going...(to) BuckeyeNation, SilverBullets, GoBucks!" the nation's No. 17 cornerback and No. 219 overall recruit announced on Twitter. "God led me here and in god I trust! Lets go BuckeyeNation!"
Reeves was committed to Penn State until a few weeks ago when both he and his Catholic Memorial teammate, Camren Williams (West Roxbury, Mass.), opted to re-open their recruitment processes.
Williams made the switch to Ohio State shortly after he de-committed from Penn State, but Reeves took a little bit longer to decide due to his high interest in the Wolverines, who were his runner-up in August when the 5'9", 185-pound cornerback chose the Nittany Lions.
Whose commitment were you least surprised by?
Although recruiting guru Mike Farrell believed the battle between the Wolverines and Buckeyes was even a few days prior to Reeves' commitment, members of TheWolverine.com were not as optimistic.
"(Reeves and Williams) were committed to Penn State together, and when that fell apart, the schools that popped on their lists were schools they could attend together," Chris Balas said Monday morning. "Though those close to him insisted they were 'separate cases,' they really weren't."
The Wolverines were already set at linebacker with commits from 4-star prospects Royce Jenkins-Stone (Detroit, Mich.), Joe Bolden (Cincinnati, Ohio), James Ross (Orchard Lake, Mich.) and 3-star recruit Kaleb Ringer (Clayton, Ohio), so the Michigan coaching staff did not offer Williams.
Michigan could have benefited from the addition of Reeves to this class, which would have given them two cornerbacks and three safeties, but the Wolverines have plenty of talent returning in the secondary and can make up for the lack of young cornerbacks in the 2013 class.
Kozan's decision also came late last night, and there have not been many on-record comments about his commitment. Michigan also had a lot of ground to make up on Iowa, who had been recruiting the 4-star guard the longest.
It was no surprise Kozan picked the Hawkeyes last night; however, Michigan fans were overly optimistic about landing him after 3-star lineman and projected center Caleb Stacey (Cincinnati, Ohio) de-committed last week to attend college closer to home.
Whose decision surprised you the most?
More bad news for the Wolverines came in Monday morning, when it was reported by Rivals that 3-star tight end Sam Grant (North Royalton, Ohio) committed to Oklahoma over Michigan.
Grant's decision may have once again surprised Michigan fans, but when you look at it from the perspective of a high school kid being recruited at his position, Oklahoma and their prowess of putting tight ends in the NFL over the past few years is second to none.
This more than likely was the deciding factor in Grant's decision to become a Sooner.
So, where do the Wolverines go from here after missing out on four top-notch prospects and very few options left on the table to fill out the 2012 class?
One of the final pieces on the board for Michigan is 4-star offensive tackle Jordan Diamond (Chicago, Ill.), who will announce his decision on Feb. 3, two days after National Signing Day.
Scout.com's analysts believe Diamond will choose Michigan over Arkansas, Wisconsin and Auburn. This would give the Wolverines a big boost on the offensive line and undoubtedly give them the best haul at that position if Diamond chooses to bring his talents to Ann Arbor.
Finally, Michigan got some good news on the recruiting trail Monday afternoon, when 3-star defensive tackle Willie Henry (Cleveland, Ohio) became the 24th commitment in Michigan's incoming class.
Who will land Jordan Diamond on February 3rd?
Henry's biggest offers came from Big East schools, but Rivals Midwest Recruiting Analyst Josh Helmholdt believes the Wolverines are getting an extremely underrated prospect.
"He's a kid who can play three technique on U-M's defensive line, and that's important in their scheme," Helmholdt said. "They need to add depth there with Mike Martin leaving and clear heir apparent. He's from a great program at Cleveland Glenville and shows good potential with a quick first step."
The recent recruiting losses should not irk Michigan fans, and the lack of prospects committing around signing day should also not be seen as a negative, but be viewed as a testament as to how well Brady Hoke and his staff did on the recruiting trail last summer.
Zach Dirlam is the Lead Editor of College Basketball and Big Ten Columnist for the Fox Sports, MSN and YardBarker affiliate website Sports at Work. He is also undergoing a trial period as a Michigan Football Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Check out his blog, Dirlam’s Dirty Dugout Sports Blog, which features this story along with other articles and video reports on the major sports. Follow him on Twitter @ZachDirlam_SPAW!