Michigan Football: 3 Underrated Recruits Wolverines Couldn't Live Without
If you're a Michigan Wolverines football enthusiast, you've been pacing the floor with your Maize and Blue slippers all morning waiting to hear the news you've been waiting to hear.
Yes, Derrick Green, a 5-star rated running back according to Rivals.com, signed his national letter of intent today, which is the day to watch high school recruits moves—national signing day.
But what about the other guys? What about some of the under-the-radar or underrated recruits? Michigan's 2013 class is the No. 1-ranked crop in the country, according to Scout.com—so saying that the Wolverines have "underrated" or "under-the-radar" players coming aboard may be a stretch.
However, there are 3- and 4-star athletes making their way to Ann Arbor that haven't received the amount of attention as the standouts mentioned above have (Green, Morris and Dawson) but that doesn't mean that they won't be valuable contributors.
There at least three unheralded prep seniors joining the Wolverines, and the Wolverines couldn't live without them.
3-Star WR Jaron Dukes
A 3-star ranking is average, but Jaron Dukes is far from a run-of-the-mill receiver.
The Wolverines are desperately in need of quick, big-bodied targets for quarterback Devin Gardner to target in 2013.
And Dukes may be a prime candidate to start this fall.
The 6'4," 197-pound Marion Franklin High product (Ohio) will perfectly fit into Wolverines offensive coordinator Al Borges' scheme. Dukes's 4.6-second, 40-yard dash time isn't blazing fast, but he has a set of hands to make up for his lack of world-class wheels.
But when you're 6'4," a 4.6-second 40 can be utilized in different ways. Dukes is tall enough to be a viable downfield specialist. Instead of breaking away like a lightning bolt, he can use his length to make sky-high grabs over sub-6'0" defensivebacks.
Why Michigan Can't Live Without Dukes
Jeremy Gallon was incredible in 2012. He may be one of the most underrated receivers in the Big Ten—he's certainly one of the best, despite being just 5'8" and 187 pounds. Gallon will be a staple of the offense come fall, but Michigan absolutely needs a jump-ball receiver like Dukes to fully utilize Devin Gardner's arm.
At times, Gardner couldn't complete passes because of overthrowing. He'll likely improve his accuracy during the offseason, but let's be honest here: Having a kid that can get up—a kid like Dukes—should help Gardner in the long run.
4-Star ATH Wyatt Shallman
Wyatt Shallman may end up having a larger role with the Michigan Wolverines in the future than some have initially expected.
The 6'3", 245-pound, 4-star Detroit Catholic Central standout was recruited as an athlete, meaning that Wolverines coach Brady Hoke could dole out several jobs to him.
One of his primary functions could be at fullback, blocking for running backs Thomas Rawls, Derrick Green, Deveon Smith and Fitz Toussaint this fall, barring a redshirt, of course.
Shallman’s size is ideal for the brand of football that Michigan is trying to implement under Hoke, a throwback style that mimics the hard-nosed ground-and-pound made famous by legendary coach Bo Schembechler.
Shallman’s official 4.7-second, 40-yard dash certainly suggests that he’s fast enough to throw blocks for the running backs. Those blocks could open huge gaps for speedsters like Green, who runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash, according to Rivals.com.
Shallman’s versatility allows for him to play defensive end, although he is slightly undersized for the Big Ten. He could also contribute on special teams as a blocking specialist.
He's the nation's 18th-ranked ATH and is the sixth-ranked prospect in the state of Michigan.
Why Michigan Can't Live Without Shallman
As mentioned, Michigan is trying to reestablish its power running attack. With Shallman, that attack gets a great boost from an athletic standpoint. Although he probably won’t be asked to do much leaping, his 38-inch vertical is another testament to his agility.
It’s not unusual, but not exactly common, either, for a young man Shallman’s size to move in such a manner.
The fact that Brady Hoke is gobbling up the high-end recruits bodes well for the program. Letting a kid like Shallman get out of Michigan would be a huge mistake. True power programs are the No. 1 destination for in-state talent.
Michigan has reinforced that aspect by snagging other top-tier prospects.
Shallman fits because he’s incredibly talented and versatile. His skill set is tailor made for a team like the Wolverines who love yard-by-yard slugfests—and with Shallman in the fold, the running backs’ comfort level will likely increase because of his presence.
3-Star Safety Channing Stribling
The Michigan Wolverines' secondary was a weakness in 2012.
Well, maybe "weakness" is too kind of a word to use when describing the group of safeties and corners; they were incredibly inconsistent and difficult to watch.
Beat on the long ball, missed tackles—you name it, they did it.
Oddly enough, the Wolverines touted the second-best pass defense in the Big Ten, giving up just 169 yards per game. But it was painfully evident during the Outback Bowl that the Wolverines, despite improvements, need to bolster their secondary.
Gamecocks star receivers Ace Sanders and Bruce Ellington absolutely owned Michigan during their 33-28 Outback Bowl victory on New Year's Day. Ellington's 32-yard touchdown reception with 11 seconds to play shouldn't have happened.
However, 3-star safety Channing Stribling may provide a few answers for the Wolverines secondary within the next two years.
How will the Wolverines prevent getting burned in the middle by taller and faster wideouts? At 6'2," Stribling isn't a shrimp in the height department. He does, however, need to put on a few pounds; he's only 170, according to Rivals.com.
Stribling is the 28th-ranked safety in the country and the 10th-rated prospect out of North Carolina. He runs a solid 4.5-second 40-yard dash and commanded attention from programs like Ohio State and Alabama.
Why Michigan Can't Live Without Stribling
A sure-handed tackler with speed, Stribling can be an Ellington-like play stopper. Stribling needs to work on technique, which is one of the reasons why he carries a 3-star rating as opposed to a 4-star grade.
The Wolverines need bigger and quicker players on both sides of the ball. Stribling fits the bill. An outstanding overall athlete, Stribling could end up being a two-way player before his time in Ann Arbor expires.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81