In late December of 2005 the Michigan Wolverines wrapped up one of the most frustrating football seasons in recent memory. Michigan started out the season 3-3, rattled off 4 straight victories, then suffered 2 bone-crushing losses to Ohio State 21-25 in Ann Arbor and 28-32 in the appropriately-named Alamo Bowl to Bill Callahan's Nebraska Cornhuskers 28-32. Michigan finished the year 7-5-0.
When the 2006 Wolverine recruiting class was signed in February of 2006, there was considerably optimism. In the Big Ten, Penn State had landed the best class (ranked 6th nationally by Scout.com), but Michigan had landed the second best (ranked 9th nationally by Scout.com). Defensive consistency was the Achilles' heel of this Michigan team, giving away leads and big plays in the 3rd and 4th quarters of these 5losses. As a result, the Wolverines dismissed Jim Herrmann as the defensive coordinator at season's end. Former secondary coach Ron English would be taking over for the 2006 season.
20 players signed on to the 2006 Michigan football recruiting class. There were 12 defensive players and 8 offensive players. According to Scout.com recruit tracking, half of Michigan's '06 class was considered top caliber talent. The Wolverines landed five 5 star players and five 4 star players. Seven UM players received 3-star ratings, and the remaining players had 2-star ratings. Also, 13 of the 20 signees were ranked in the top 40 in the nation at their respective position. All told, this was a fine class for the future of the Maize and Blue.
As we fast forward to 2009 and the upcoming final season for many of these 2006 signees, we observe some very interesting results.
Of the 20 players signed by Michigan, 6 players (0ne-third of the entire class) either left the Michigan football team or were dismissed from it. This staggering number of flame outs in the was similar in many ways to the disasterous 2005 recruiting class, which ironically finished 2nd in the nation behind the No. 1 ranked Tennessee class.
2006 Flame Outs & Departures:
Marques Slocum DT 5 star No. 4 DT
Dismissed from team. Did not qualify academically
Justin Boren OT 5 star No. 7 OL
Left team pre-2008 season for Ohio State.
Cobrani Mixon LB 4 star No. 30 LB
Left team in 2006. Today plays LB at Kent State.
Quintin Patilla LB 3 star No. 58 LB
Left team pre-2008 season. Today plays LB at GVSU
Jason Kates DT 2 star NR DT.
Left team in after 2008 season.
Quintin Woods DE 2 star NR DE
Did not qualify at UM in 2007.
Played JC level (Bakersfield College?). Today signed with KU Jayhawks to play DE.
Of the 14 players that remained from the 2006 Michigan football recruiting class, only 8 have earned "starting positions" entering the 2009 campaign:
Steve Schilling OG 5 star No. 3 OL
Brandon Graham DE 5 star No. 3 DE
Jonas Mouton S 5 star No. 6 Safety
Stevie Brown CB 4 star No. 10 Cornerback
Brandon Minor RB 4 star No. 29 RB
Greg Mathews WR 3 star No. 39 WR
Obi Ezeh LB 3 star No. 72 LB
Brandon Graham is a very probable All-Big Ten Candidate at DE for Michigan
Perhaps 8 out of 20 is not such a bad recruiting yield afterall? With multiple coaching changes at both head coach and coordinator levels, as well as several academic qualification issues, perhaps Michigan should call itself "lucky". Unlike 2008, many of the 8 listed players above are genuine candidates for All-Big Ten honors for the 2009 season, particularly Schilling, Graham, Mathews and possibly Brandon Minor and Obi Ezeh as well.
Hopefully the 2006 recruiting class - many of them seniors this fall playing in their final games -will have a fine season for Michigan in 2009.