When 4-star linebacker E.J. Levenberry (Woodbridge, Va.) picked up the garnet and gold hat and announced he would play college football for Florida State on Tuesday afternoon, he undoubtedly broke the hearts of thousands of Michigan fans across the country.
The nation's No. 15 overall prospect and No. 3-ranked outside linebacker pretty much had his mind up he wanted to be a Seminole after his week-long trip to Tallahassee in early April, but opted to visit Michigan one last time just to be sure of his decision.
"I felt really good about the FSU visit," Levenberry told Warchant.com after his commitment. "But I didn't want to make a quick decision before seeing Michigan again."
Although the Wolverines wowed Levenberry and both of his parents during their return trip to Ann Arbor a little more than a week ago, there was a feeling among the national analysts that Florida State was still the favorite to land the C. D. Hylton High School star.
If Michigan fans take a step back and look at Levenberry's recruitment from an analytical perspective, they would realize how difficult it was to try and sway the Virginia native away from the Seminoles and that the Wolverines are not exactly wallowing in sorrow over missing out on him.
The first strike against Michigan was the fact they did not have Levenberry's desired major, computer forensics, which would allow him to pursue a job as a federal agent if football does not work out.
The other knock on the Wolverines, and probably the biggest factor in Levenberry's recruitment, was the fact that Michigan's depth chart at linebacker is fairly crowded at the moment with rising stars and one of the most impressive linebacker hauls in the country in their 2012 recruiting class.
Jake Ryan earned a starting job at outside linebacker last season as a redshirt freshman for Michigan. Desmond Morgan is in position to claim a starting job this season as a sophomore, and although fifth-year senior Kenny Demens is out of eligibility at the end of the 2012 campaign, true freshman Joe Bolden (Cincinnati, OH) is expected to take over at middle linebacker in 2013.
Mixing the young starters with incoming 4-star linebackers Royce Jenkins-Stone (Detroit, Mich.) and James Ross (Orchard Lake, Mich.), in addition to early enrollee Kaleb Ringer (Clayton, OH)—who has impressed the coaches this spring—means that even if Levenberry was as good as advertised, it may have taken a few years before he became a starter for the Wolverines.
The Wolverines have also secured commitments from the nation's No. 8-ranked outside linebacker Mike McCray (Trotwood, OH), as well as Rivals250 linebacker prospect Ben Gedeon (Hudson, OH) in their 2013 recruiting class.
Comparatively, two of Florida State's starting linebackers will be gone by the time Levenberry arrives in Tallahassee, and the Seminoles have only brought in two 4-star linebackers in their last two classes.
The final important factor to Levenberry in the school he chose was their ability to win conference and national championships immediately.
This one was a tie because both Michigan and Florida State are favorites to win their conferences and contend for a national title this season and will be for the foreseeable future if both programs continue to recruit as well as they have since Brady Hoke and Jimbo Fisher took over their respective teams.
There is no denying that adding Levenberry to an already star-studded group of incoming and returning linebackers would have made Michigan a better team down the road; however, the Seminoles needed Levenberry twice as much as the Wolverines did.
Zach Dirlam is the Lead Editor of the College Basketball section as well as Big Ten columnist for the FOX Sports/MSN/YardBarker affiliate website Sports at Work. Check out his blog, Dirlam’s Dirty Dugout Sports Blog, which features this story, along with other articles and video reports on major sports.
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