Not everyone can stay at Brady Hoke's Michigan program, but "those who stay will be champions," as the saying goes.
The wave of attrition is a bit alarming, to an extent, but it shouldn’t be much of a surprise for those who follow Michigan Wolverines football.
During the past couple of months, a handful of players have fled Ann Arbor for greener pastures, leaving some to ask the obvious question of “Why”?
For starters, it’s not because there is “something negative going on” within the program, at least from what we can tell now. No, the reduction of personnel is a direct result of coach Brady Hoke’s recruiting.
Nothing more. Nothing less.
When analyzing who left, the situation becomes clear: They’re players who wouldn’t have much of an impact on the field, and they’re also players who are being replaced by younger, stronger, faster and, simply put, better stock.
Without ever playing a down for Michigan, freshman linebacker Kaleb Ringer departed Hoke’s program for Ferris State. The formerly 3-star-ranked prep was talented, sure. But the Wolverines are bringing in the likes of Michael Ferns, a 4-star linebacker (2014), who will most certainly contribute to giving guys like Ringer time on the bench.
Reserve linebacker Mike Jones, a senior, saw action on special teams during his time with the Wolverines. However, the seasoned collegiate veteran would have a hard time cracking the starting rotation this fall, even with stud Jake Ryan out with an ACL injury.
Are you worried about the sudden departures?
Youngsters like Joe Bolden and Desmond Morgan are making sure that there is a healthy competition for the starting roles—and that’s just what defensive coordinator Greg Mattison wants. There is no room for anything but that now that Michigan is shelving 4- and 5-star recruits at a breakneck pace.
Senior defensive back Marvin Robinson won’t be around for 2013, either. Although he left Lake Region High (Eagle Lake, Fla.) as a 4-star sensation and top-20 player at his position of the 2010 class, he hasn’t impressed Michigan’s coaching staff enough to gain favor over other members of the secondary, like Blake Countess, Courtney Avery, Raymon Taylor, Thomas Gordon and Jarrod Wilson.
Out With the Old, in With the New
The departures directly coincide with incoming talent.
Ben Gedeon, a 4-star prep from Hudson High (Hudson, Ohio) is on his way to Michigan this fall. At 6’3” and 220 pounds, Gedeon has the frame of a should-be successful Big Ten linebacker.
Had Jones stayed, he would have struggled to leapfrog Gedeon on the depth chart. As a senior, that’s a difficult pill to swallow. Leaving Michigan was a perfectly understandable decision for Jones to make. The same goes for Ringer.
Competing with Taylor, Avery and Countess and the rest is a difficult task, but throw in Jourdan Lewis, Delano Hill and Ross Douglas—each of whom are 4-star defensive backs—and Robinson was staring at an upward climb.
And don’t forget about Dymonte Thomas, who could end up starting this fall. The 4-star safety out of Marlington High (Alliance, Ohio) was the No. 80-rated player of the 2013 class, according to 247Sports.com’s composite rankings.
How Attrition Impacts Wolverines Moving Forward
Athletes who fail to improve are typically passed by—that’s the nature of the business. With the way Michigan is recruiting, it wouldn’t be a stretch to expect others to jump ship in the future, either.
Michigan’s 2013 class was ranked No. 5 in the nation, according to 247Sports.com—that spree, alone, brought in 27 new faces for coach Hoke to supervise and develop. Competition won’t be light, so the chances of each of those 27 staying all four years are slim.
Look at the 2014 class, already packed with talent at wide receiver with 4-star playmaker Drake Harris joining the fold.
Sophomore Jerald Robinson left Michigan prior to the Wolverines’ Outback Bowl loss to South Carolina. As an upperclassman, Robinson would have been foolish to think that his job was safe—not only due to Harris, but also because of the arrival of 2013 talents JaRon Dukes, Da’Mario Jones and Csont’e York—each 6-foot-plus, 190-something-pounders that better fit offensive coordinator Al Borges’ needs in terms of size at position.
Robinson entered Michigan with similar credentials as the aforementioned; he was a 3-star prospect and had good size at 6’2” and 175 pounds. But programs like Michigan are always on the hunt for the next best thing, so considering Dukes, Jones and York safe and sound, at least at this juncture, wouldn’t be the wisest choice.
They’ll encounter hurdles, too. That’s how the game goes.
No Need to Panic
Racing to a knee-jerk reaction would be a mistake. Just because departures have been common since the conclusion of the 2012 regular season doesn’t mean that Michigan’s coaching staff is doing something wrong—it means it’s doing something right.
And by “doing something right,” that means Hoke’s associates are doing their jobs—and they’re doing them well.
Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81