Michigan Football Recruiting: Why Brady Hoke Has Wolverines Back on Track
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Depending upon the source—and the ranking will vary as national signing day progresses—the Michigan Wolverines have a 2013 class that's ranked between No. 1 and No. 5 in the nation.
Considering that Michigan is coming off an 8-5 season without a Big Ten title compounded by an Outback Bowl loss, a class of that caliber is simply phenomenal.
However, it shouldn't be a complete shock to see one of the country's most-heralded football programs have immense success in recruiting.
No. The Michigan brand, the winged helmet, legends like Charles Woodson and Bo Schembechler, top tier facilities—all of the above are enough to lure the who's-who's of the prep football star pool.
But don't think for one second that coach Brady Hoke's presence hasn't bolstered Michigan's recruiting push.
Former coach Rich Rodriguez had the luxury of landing a few high-end prospects because of the aforementioned factors. But he wasn't landing top five classes. During his three-year tenure, Rodriguez, now the head football coach at Arizona, couldn't crack the top 10.
Hoke's been consistently in the mix for top class bragging rights.
Has Brady Hoke's progress surprised you?
In 2009, the Wolverines stumbled to a 5-7 record after an embarrassing 3-9 mark in 2008, Rodriguez's first season in Ann Arbor. The 2008 class wasn't Rodriguez's doing; it was ranked No. 6 in the nation (sense the sarcasm there?). But Rodriguez's drastic changes from a pro-style offense to the spread look caused players to transfer.
The ones who stuck around weren't used properly.
But the 2009 recruits were all Rodriguez's, including Denard Robinson, who headlined a 14th-ranked class, according to Scout.com.
Will Campbell and J.T. Turner were the only 5-star rated prospects, and only Campbell completed his term with Michigan.
Granted, the 2009 class had 4-star defensive end Craig Roh, who had a respectable career with the Wolverines, but it pales in comparison to the past two bunches of prep phenoms that Hoke has landed.
Like the 2009 bundle, the 2010 class had just three top 100 recruits.
Now, look at Hoke's 2013 class, which, as of early Wednesday, had seven top 100 recruits signed, sealed and delivered—second only to Ohio State's eight top 100 signees. Hoke garnered six top 100 kids in 2012, his first go as head man of the Michigan program.
Score: Hoke 13 top 100 prospects in two years, RichRod 6.
That's proof enough—Hoke, despite winning just eight games in 2012, is a far superior recruiter. He understands the needs of Wolverines football, and a down year has had little impact when it comes to getting the best-of-the-best.
Michigan is getting back to its roots; it played the style of football that the SEC is revered for today. The SEC is famous for physical football, running supremacy and successful pro-style offenses. The Wolverines are indeed catching up to the rest of the elite—where it belongs.
What's the Main Difference Between RichRod and Hoke?
Brady Hoke is a football coach's football coach. One thing is clear when analyzing his desire for success: He eats, breathes and lives the game, and holds the Michigan prestige near-and-dear to his heart.
Michigan was known for being Michigan, but Rodriguez tried to alter the program's style to resemble something similar to the wild and crazy offenses he employed at West Virginia.
Rodriguez isn't a bad person or a bad coach; he wasn't the right guy for Michigan, plain and simple.
Hoke, on the other hand, is the right man for Michigan. He's been the right man for Michigan before he hit Ann Arbor.
Being the Wolverines' coach was Hoke's dream job; he would have walked from San Diego State to Ann Arbor just to accept the position.
His dedication is that deep.
What Type of Recruits to Expect From Hoke
Wolverines fans want the 5-stars, they want the top-tier players that SEC schools fawn over and dream about getting.
Derrick Green, the nation's No. 1 running back (according to Rivals.com), is a prime example of how Hoke competes with SEC powers.
How much does a top 5 class mean to you?
Not to discount Denard Robinson's contributions to the Michigan program, but he was never the ideal fit for quarterback. Prior to Hoke's arrival, the Wolverines had 5-star stud Ryan Mallett, a 6'6", 220-pound (at the time) prototypical pocket passer with a cannon-like arm.
But he transferred to Arkansas. He now plays second fiddle to Tom Brady, a Michigan product who's pieced together a hall of fame career with the New England Patriots.
Not a bad guy to play behind.
Shane Morris could give Hoke a similar weapon on offense. Although not the NFL-bound man-child that Mallett was, Morris is more of a traditional pro-style passer. There won't be anymore 6'0," 190-pound running signal-callers.
That skill set works well for other programs, but not at Michigan and not against Big Ten schools.
The RichRod Era is in the past. Hoke is bringing back the Bo style to Ann Arbor.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81
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