Michigan Football: Breaking Down Wolverines' 2014 Commits
After signing a monster 2013 recruiting class, the Michigan Wolverines wasted little time pursuing talent for the 2014 class.
Since Feb. 6, the Wolverines have landed three commits for next year's group of newcomers—and they're just getting started. The 2014 haul includes quarterback Wilton Speight, offensive lineman Mason Cole, defensive tackle Bryan Mone and linebacker Michael Ferns, the first 2014 commit ("Project 135").
Three of the four future Wolverines have been tabbed with a 4-star ranking. Speight, so far, hasn't yet been given a formal grade from Rivals.com, but he's earned a 3-star label from 247Sports, which has Speight weighed with an 86 overall ranking.
The Wolverines' 2013 crop was the fifth-best in the country, according to 247Sports. Michigan's 2014 class, although very early in the process, is ranked No. 12 by 247Sports.
We'll break down the potential, strengths and weaknesses of each of the four 2014 commits in this slideshow, while taking a brief glimpse into the future as to how each recruit could impact the Michigan program.
3-Star QB Wilton Speight
Speight's sheer size, arm strength and pocket presence could afford a boost in his overall rating of 86 (3-star mark) from 247Sports.
The 6'6", 217-pound pro-styler out of The Collegiate School in Richmond (Va.) definitely has the tools at his disposal to leave high school as a 4-star recruit.
Now a junior, all eyes will be on Speight next fall. Should he have an incredibly strong senior year, the Wolverines coaching staff could very well reevaluate the quarterback position's pecking order.
Devin Gardner was granted with an extra year of eligibility (medical redshirt), leaving incoming freshman Shane Morris and will-be sophomore Russell Bellomy in the background. Morris should leapfrog Bellomy in the ranks, barring a redshirt, of course.
But what happens in 2014? Gardner would likely be the starter, but upon Speight's arrival, the Wolverines could weigh options when it comes to the No. 2 job—Morris or Speight, who would likely contend for the No. 1 job once Gardner departs.
Speight's arm strength has been celebrated, but his footwork still needs development. He's college-ready in terms of size and football knowledge, so expect him to mesh well once he sets foot on campus.
4-Star OL Mason Cole
The East Lake High (Tarpon Springs, Fla.) standout is a developing blocker who will have to fine-tune his technique before getting a legitimate spot in the rotation.
Cole, a 6'5", 275-pound high school junior, has Wolverines followers buzzing with enthusiasm. He was one of Michigan's top targets, and now that he's committed, the only thing left to do is wait until he signs his national letter of intent.
For a guy his size, Cole is swift on his feet; he's ranked No. 62 in 247Sports' top 247 of 2014. By the time Cole arrives at Michigan, he could be part of a young offensive line that loses left tackle Taylor Lewan after 2013. Cole is projected to play guard, but if he continues to gain mass, he could find a home at one of the tackle positions.
The knock on Cole is that he's an on-again, off-again blocker. His quickness and ability to plant his feet, then move laterally, are his strengths.
4-Star LB Michael Ferns
Michael Ferns already has a reputation as a leader, and he's yet to play a down for the Michigan Wolverines.
Ferns, a product of Saint Clairsville High (Ohio), has gained national attention for his "Project 135" recruiting push, an internal effort to self-promote Michigan's 2014 class and gain verbal pledges along the way.
While his initiative is nothing short of impressive, wait until he actually takes the field—Ferns is an animal and certainly could develop into an elite Big Ten linebacker. Spending a little time with Jake Ryan, Michigan's star linebacker, would benefit Ferns.
At 6'3" and 235 pounds, Ferns is another college-ready recruit in terms of size. He could suit up today for Michigan and hold his own against Big Ten veterans. Ferns carries a 92 overall rating from 247Sports, which lists him at No. 157 on its list of 2014's top 247 prospects.
Ferns appears to have the highest ceiling of Michigan's four current 2014 commits. Something about his game, his demeanor and his commitment to the Wolverines suggests that he'll be a sensation in Ann Arbor.
4-Star DT Bryan Mone
Bryan Mone committed in February, just about a week after Wilton Speight gave his verbal Feb. 6 to Michigan.
Mone is a husky, Michigan-made defensive lineman. At 6'4" and 338 pounds, there is little doubt that he'll adapt quickly to the rigors of the Big Ten—he's a mountain to move.
Michigan already has Ondre Pipkins and Richard Ash set to earn a starting role, but having youthful depth never hurts. Mone carries a 4-star ranking from Rivals.com and 247Sports.
Mone was slapped with an overall rating of 93 by 247Sports and was pegged as the No. 8 strongside defensive end in the 2014 class; he's also No. 113 on 247Sports' top 247 of 2014.
The Big House Report's Josh Henschke was elated when Mone committed to the Wolverines, citing a loose but interesting connection to defensive coordinator Greg Mattison as the main reason for his excitement.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81