Denzel Ward: What Decommitment Means for Michigan's 2014 Class

Mike Hoag@MikeHoagJrCorrespondent IIJanuary 29, 2013

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We aren’t close to 2014 yet, but it is right around the corner.

The Michigan Wolverines have a top recruiting class in 2013, but have taken an early step back in next year’s class before this one is even finished.

Denzel Ward, a 3-star offensive tackle from Chicago, decommitted from the Wolverines program on Jan. 29 (via Twitter):

I am no longer a commit to the University of Michigan, I really appreciare the love from there but I just want to make the best decision.

— Denzel Ward (@DW75_) January 29, 2013

The huge 6’9” tackle verbally agreed to land in Ann Arbor in two seasons back in Oct. 2012, before Michigan’s 2012 contest against Michigan State.

Big Ten schools Iowa, Purdue, Wisconsin and Ohio State were also interested in the physically imposing lineman.

In the near term, Brady Hoke and his staff will take note of Ward’s decision, but they are all-in on securing and solidifying their fourth-ranked 2013 recruiting class (247Sports Composite ranking).

This season’s class, combined with Hokes’ No. 9-ranked 2012 group, could begin to show results on the gridiron as early as 2013.

That will have to be the case for a program that has seen great recruiting success but little in the shape of on-field improvement.

The bar is constantly being raised in the Big Ten, especially with the addition of Urban Meyer to the fold, meaning Hoke and his crew will have some significant work to do during this offseason.

Not just by game-planning and finding their go to guys for next season.

Landing some big and physical linemen is a priority for the type of football the Wolverines are going to have to play in order to challenge Ohio State at the line of scrimmage.

Ward has the size that could make him a very special player. That 3-star ranking on him is likely due to his limited experience on the field, as he only played one season before beginning to gain notice from college scouts.

Michigan isn’t in a bad position to make a move for other athletes to fill the void left by Ward. But, they will need to continue to deliver on promises and improve even more on the field in 2013.

All-in-all, any decommittment is disappointing, but Ward isn’t a sure-fire prospect and would not be a key contributor for a couple of seasons anyway.

Hoke has plenty of time to develop the six 4-star offensive lineman he just brought in with his 2013 class. If he succeeds with them, he'll be able to open up a strong pipeline to bring in some other big and physical maulers to help form the nucleus of his offense for years to come.