The Michigan football program has experienced a reversal of fortunes under head coach Brady Hoke, and this year’s recruiting class is a prime example of how hard Hoke is working to improve his team.
The Wolverines have the No. 4 recruiting class in the nation this year (according to 247Sports’ rankings), with 27 total recruits, including a 5-star commit and 17 4-star commits. While many of them won’t be a key component for the team in their first year, this recruiting class is a solid foundation upon which Hoke can continue to build.
The Wolverines finished 8-5 last season, but they were a much better football team than the record indicates. Injuries and inconsistency at some key positions derailed Michigan’s offense, but an infusion of young talent will set the Wolverines up for sustainability going forward.
Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint was lost to injury during the 2012 season, forcing Denard Robinson to take over as the team’s starting back. Robinson has entered the NFL draft, but with Toussaint returning for the 2013 season and an impressive running back recruit in Derrick Green joining the team, the Wolverines’ running game appears to be a bright spot for the next few years.
While addressing some needs at skill positions was important, adding depth on its offensive line was paramount for Michigan this year. Hoke certainly addressed those concerns with fervor, adding six offensive linemen as part of his recruiting class.
Michigan addressed several other offensive positions as well, and we’ll break down the team’s biggest signings position by position.
*All rankings courtesy of 247Sports.
Junior Devin Gardner will be under center again next season, but Hoke did well in addressing the position for the future. He secured a commitment from 247Sports’ No. 4 pro-style quarterback, Shane Morris, who, at 6’3” and 201 pounds, has the size and arm strength to be the future of the position for Michigan.
Morris is the kind of passer the Wolverines have been missing. He has a big arm and solid accuracy, and his awareness in and out of the pocket is terrific. With a season or two to grow and develop, he could be a standout quarterback at the college level.
Swaying Derrick Green was one of the most favorable events that could have happened for the Wolverines this offseason. They needed depth at the position, but they got a whole lot more than that.
At 6’0” and 220 pounds, Green has the frame to take a pounding from Big Ten defenses. He’s also big and strong enough to give out some abuse, and he’s the kind of downhill runner teams look for as an early-down back.
Michigan also received a commitment from 4-star (91 overall) running back DeVeon Smith. He isn’t as special a runner as Green is, but he should find a spot in Michigan’s backfield in the coming years.
At 5’11” and 210 pounds, the Warren, Ohio, product is every bit the bruiser Green is. With the running backs and offensive linemen Hoke brought in this year, it’s no secret what kind of football he plans on employing in the near future.
Wide Receiver and Tight End
The Wolverines’ 2013 recruiting class is not particularly flashy, but Hoke managed to sway some talented athletes to play tight end and wide receiver in the future.
York is the highest-rated receiver Michigan secured this year, with an 88 rating from 247Sports. At 6’3” and 190 pounds, he has room to add some bulk, but he has tremendous height for the position.
Stribling and Jones both measure in at 6’2”, and Dukes eclipses them all at 6’5”. It seems Hoke had a specific type of receiver in mind when he began recruiting the 2013 class. With some time to groom this year’s crop of receivers, Michigan’s passing attack should develop into a formidable unit.
Khalid Hill, a 3-star tight end, will also attend Michigan in the fall. At 6’2” and 235 pounds, he is a versatile offensive player. He has good hands and runs quality routes, but is slightly undersized for the position. He may see some time in an H-back role, but he’s certainly versatile enough to find a role in the near future.
Tight end Jake Butt (89 overall) fits the mold of tall receiving threats Hoke recruited this year as well. He’s a 6’6”, 230-pound vertical weapon with solid hands and some room to add a little bulk. He’ll need to work on becoming a more consistent blocker, but he should be a key piece of the Wolverines’ offensive puzzle with a little polish.
Offensive line is arguably the biggest strength of Michigan’s new recruiting class. With six new recruits set to join the team next season, the Wolverines should have a ton of depth on their offensive line, and the future looks especially bright.
Hoke recruited at every offensive position and managed to secure commitments from three 4-star guards, a 4-star center, a 4-star offensive tackle and a 3-star guard rated 89 overall.
Kyle Bosch (6’5”, 305 pounds), Logan Tuley-Tillman (6’7”, 300 pounds) and Chris Fox (6’6”, 300 pounds) will all add serious beef to Michigan’s offensive line, And given the running backs the team added this year, a solid power running game could be in the cards for the Wolverines moving forward.
Recruiting is often a game of numbers. With six quality offensive linemen to teach and develop, Michigan’s offensive line will be a scary unit in the coming years.