When national signing day wound to a close, Michigan Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke had assembled a strong, diverse 2013 recruiting class.
According to 247Sports.com's composite rankings, the Wolverines have the No. 5 recruiting class in the nation. This crop of prospects solidifies the future of the offensive line but also features explosive playmakers on both sides of the ball—including the group's only consensus 5-star recruit.
It has been known for some time that two of these three following prospects were headed to Ann Arbor, and with the addition of Derrick Green, this trio should have a huge stake in the historic program's future.
Derrick Green, RB
Indubitably the prized recruit of this bunch, the 6'0", 220-pound star from Hermitage (Va.) High School is the perfect back for Hoke's pro-style offense. Not only is he a powerful runner between the tackles, but he is an exceptional pass-catcher out of the backfield.
Michigan football's official Twitter page provided video of Green's best highlights from 2012, which shows off his outstanding strength and his deceptive elusiveness and acceleration that make him such a tantalizing prospect.
In recent years, the Wolverines have relied on former dual-threat QB Denard Robinson to shoulder the load in the running game. Green allows for a more traditional rushing attack that should take a toll on opposing defenses.
Like many great power backs, the tape shows Green seeking out contact and delivering the blow to the defender. His hard-nosed style, exceptional field vision and well-rounded skill set should result in making an instant mark on the Wolverines in 2013.
Dymonte Thomas, S
Here is something wild: Thomas played running back and linebacker in high school but will make the transition to safety at the college level.
Despite the unconventional position jump on defense, his Marlington High School coach Ed Miley doesn't foresee Thomas having much trouble with the transition (h/t Detroit Free Press): "He’s so electrifying, so dynamic...He can hit full speed like that and he’s so physical. What’s so special about him is the combination of ability and character, it’s just off the charts, it really is. It’s his selflessness and teammate-first attitude."
It makes sense that a coach would talk up his own player, yet there is definitely some merit to what Miley is saying beyond the sentiment he has having mentored Thomas.
Once the Under Armour All-American Bowl was over, Thomas promptly went to Ann Arbor to enroll a semester early. He is clearly eager to get to work, and that early jump should allow him to see the field as a true freshman—possibly as a starter.
Replacing outgoing captain Jordan Kovacs in the defensive backfield is essentially impossible, yet Thomas provides so much promise to eventually fill that void.
Shane Morris, QB
Several factors will determine how quickly Morris takes the field as Michigan's quarterback of the foreseeable future. Primarily, it depends on how quickly Morris develops and adjusts to the college game.
But the current front-runner to start at the position is Devin Gardner. Incredibly enough, once Robinson went down with an injury in 2012, it was Gardner who filled in, despite playing receiver for the entire year before then.
Gardner did rather well, tossing 11 touchdowns to just five interceptions, and he brings unique mobility to the position, although he is a pass-first type of athletic quarterback.
Morris is left-handed and has a ton of arm strength, and, like Gardner, he has prototypical size for the position. He has an underrated ability to keep plays alive with his feet and is accurate on the run.
Another positive is that Morris played in a pro-style offense at De La Salle Collegiate High School, which is becoming increasingly rare with the prominence of spread schemes combined with throwback, triple-option attacks in high school.
Although an upper respiratory illness caused Morris to miss most of his senior season (h/t Rivals via MLive.com), there is still plenty to like about Morris' raw physical tools.
The downside to Morris, though, is his lackluster accuracy. That, along with the lack of reps as a high school senior, may result in a redshirt year to develop, but there is no doubt that Morris has the upside to be a prolific passer in college.