Michigan Football Recruiting: Grades and Analysis for Class of 2012
Michigan has reached just one Rose Bowl since 2005, an unfamiliar slump that, no doubt, hasn't gone unnoticed by Wolverines faithful.
The primary reason was the square-peg/round-hole hiring of Rich Rodriguez that saw a program once built around tough, but talented players like Jumbo Elliott, Ty Law, Dan Dierdorf, Tom Brady, LaMarr Woodley, Charles Woodson and Steve Hutchinson attempt to become an outfit based on speed and finesse.
Rodriguez lasted three years, going 15-22, which led to his firing and the hiring of a "Michigan Man," Brady Hoke on Jan. 11, 2011.
An assistant in Ann Arbor from 1995-2002, Hoke made no secret that his goal was to bring the Wolverines back to glory.
Hoke's first full recruiting class proved to be a great second step (2011's 11-2 record was the first).
Here is how the Wolverines' 25-player haul graded out.
Led by 5-star tackle Kyle Kalis (6'5", 302)—an old-school-style Michigan player if ever there was one—the Wolverines signed 11 offensive players in the class.
A former commitment to arch rival Ohio State, Kalis will be joined up front by three other beefy blockers, all of whom are at least 6'5", 275 pounds. The group will get even better if 4-star tackle Jordan Diamond signs a national letter of intent with UM on Friday.
They will be in charge of opening holes for a trio of running backs, led by surprise signee Dennis Norfleet.
A 4-star prospect from Detroit, Norfleet was committed to Cincinnati but switched his pledge Wednesday morning, just a few days after Hoke offered him a long-dreamed-about scholarship.
Michigan went a little New England Patriots on everyone by signing different-sized two tight ends.
Similar to the Pats' 2010 draft, where they selected 270-pound Rob Gronkowski and 245-pound Aaron Hernandez, UM signed 3-star A.J. Williams (6'6", 260) and 3-star Devin Funchess (6'5", 205).
The Wolverines also added a pair of athletic wide receivers in 4-star Amara Darboh and 3-star Jehu Chesson.
The Wolverines brought in 14 new defensive players, led by 5-star tackle Ondre Pipkins, who Rivals rated as the nation's 14th-best prospect overall.
At 6'3", 323 pounds, Pipkins isn't like most 17- or 18-year-old linemen because he already has the bulk necessary to compete in the Big Ten. He can bench press 385 pounds and squat 520.
One of two DTs signed, Pipkins also is a good athlete, with a 29-inch vertical leap on record.
Michigan also added tall and lanky ends in 4-star Tom Strobel (6'6", 245) and 3-star Christopher Wormley (6'6", 270), as well as a potential combination DE/OLB in 3-star Mario Ojemudia (6'3", 217).
Even with those signees, it's probably accurate to say UM did even better at linebacker and in the secondary.
The Wolverines signed 4-star linebackers Joe Bolden, Royce Jenkins-Stone and James Ross, as well as 3-star Kaleb Ringer.
At 6'2", 225 pounds, Bolden might be most-ready for Big Ten play.
Two 4-star defensive backs (Jarrod Wilson and Terry Richardson) and a pair of 3-stars (Jeremy Clark and Allen Gant) were inked. At 6'4", 205 pounds with 4.47 speed in the 40-yard dash, Clark is an intriguing safety prospect who could grow into a linebacker.
Michigan found itself ranked in the top 10 of every recruiting service, as listed below.
Rivals (Michigan ranked sixth)
Additionally, Tom Lemming of CBS Sports rated the Wolverines fourth, while Allen Wallace of SuperPrep Magazine listed them eighth.
In all, it was an outstanding class—the type of group that could lift the Wolverines to the 12th national championship in school history within a few years.
Grade: A- (A if Diamond signs)