Michigan Football's 2009 Summer: Chasing the Boredom Away
The dog days of summer.
As a sports fan, it's the worst time of the year. Unless of course, you like baseball, but not even hardcore baseball fans can sit through a whole game.
Hockey is over, hoops have finished up, and it's been months since the last football game.
There are things for the sports fan to follow during the summer, especially if you're into the collegiate football scene.
For me, the days of summer involve following the camp and recruiting battles for my favorite college program—the Michigan Wolverines.
Anyone with a T.V., radio, newspaper, Internet connection, or ears knows that things didn't go well for Michigan last year.
Struggles were expected, but not like that. Don't worry, things improved as the year went along, and they can only stand to get better this year.
As far as this summer goes, the most interesting thing, as usual, is the recruiting.
The class so far isn't quite up to Michigan standards, but a 3-9 season should be accompanied with an expected dip in recruiting.
The main complaint is that it seems that Rich Rodriguez is still recruiting the three-star sorts he did at West Virginia. Which, I guess would be fine if this was, you know, West Virigina.
Still, you can look at his first class and a half with Michigan and see a parade of four-star recruits, so the guy knows he has a better choice of talent.
Quarterback was, obviously, a sizable need entering the summer. Steven Threet, last year's oft-injured quarterback and producer of so many "just keep the damn ball!" moments, has transferred out.
Left over are two true freshmen; one with loads of potential, but some serious mechanical issues (Denard Robinson) and one who is polished, accurate, and mobile. Though Tate Forcier is somewhat scrawny.
After them, there is the "quarterback who should never, ever see the field ever, even if the rest of the quarterbacks transfer, are abducted, or die" (Nick Sheridan).
As far as who will enter the fall as starter, this should be the easiest one to answer. Tate Forcier will be that guy. I'm confident enough to say that, unless he is crippled, maimed or decides, "Screw you guys, I'm going home."
I would risk my limbs on the thought that he will start.
The goal for recruiting surrounding the 2010 class was to get one real-deal QB and another who essentially is a project that needs work.
Call it mission accomplished, provided no one backs out.
Michigan recruit QB Devin Gardner fills the quota of "big-time quarterback". He's big, mobile, and apparently has a strong arm.
Like all running quarterbacks, he has some mechanical issues. With Forcier in front of him, this is manageable.
The second quarterback in the class is quarterback Cornelius Jones from S.C. Jones is a project in every sense of the word. Being recruited as an athlete, this is his first major offer.
Thankfully, with Gardner and Forcier ahead of him, there is time to work with him.
That's probably it for this class, though I'd love to see La. quarterback Muncie Legaux brought on board because, I mean, have you seen that name?
He could be a one-star with lesser skills than me.
I don't care, he wins.
Running back looked like standard procedure heading into this summer, thanks to the departure of Sam McGuffie, the probable dismissal of Kevin Grady, and the potential testing issues with Fitzgerald Toussaint and Jeremy Gallon.
Michigan has already picked up a pair of commits at the position; one a tiny, rocket-propelled Texas running back named Tony Drake, and the other commitment from the very Brandon Minor-like running back Stephen Hopkins, also from Texas.
Not a ton is really available on either, so that's pretty much all I've got on them.
Look for another addition to the class, probably running back Austin White, from Michigan. He's a high four-star back with two brothers at MSU, so that's something to keep an eye on. It's a definite plus if he can be added to the class.
Flip-flopper extraordinaire, Calif. running back Brennan Clay, is also still on the radar.
He went from a Michigan lean to Oklahoma commit in a matter of no time, but still lists Michigan among his schools of interest. So, there's that.
Wide receiver seems to be locked up, but you really can't tell, as RichRod seems to like these electron-sized slot receivers, so we have either seen the last or there will be 14 more.
Leading the way as Michigan's first commit of 2010 was universal four-star Florida wide receiver Ricardo Miller. He's a stud and at the absolute bottom of the list of potential de-commits, having moved to Michigan to play his senior year there.
Joining him are Mich. wide receiver Jeremy Jackson (son of RB coach Fred Jackson), Ohio wide receiver Jerald Robinson, and Ohio wide receiver DJ Williamson. Speed is the theme here. Lots and lots of speed. Universal mid-high three stars all around. Quota filled on this one.
The offensive line isn't quite the need it has been in the past few years, even with the departure of heralded recruit Dan O'Neill. Ohio offensive lineman Christian Pace is a nice start; big, lanky frame with room to add bulk, and good footwork.
On the board are two very important names: Minn. offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson, the universal No. 1 overall prospect in the nation, and four-star Fla. offensive lineman Torrian Wilson. Michigan apparently leads for Wilson, which is awesome.
Though linemen are hard to predict, you can't have enough of the highly rated kind.
Henderson seems to like Michigan and will plan an official visit, but doesn't plan on deciding anytime soon so keep hope limited. A massive coup if he can be corralled.
Expect Wilson to commit, and possibly one other if not Henderson.
Defensive tackle is going to be a huge area of need because of standard attrition. Offers are out to high four-star Pa. defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, but PSU appears to be the early leader.
Texas defensive tackle Ricky Heimuli and Jay Guy also lurk, but Texas is the team to beat. After that, it's basically adding and removing guys, then praying.
I would like to see the team pick up another pure defensive lineman, as the two commits on board (Pa. recruits Ken Wilkins and Jordan Paskorz) are more fitted for this new "Spinner" LB/DE hybrid role in Greg Robinson's defense.
Michigan DE/LB Will Gholston (cousin of NYJ LB Vernon Gholston) would be great, but he is an MSU lean.
Antonio Kinard is the lone linebacker to commit, and he seems to be of the middling three-star sort. Florida. LBs Christian Jones and Jeff Luc have offers, but appear to be long shots at this point.
Texas linebacker Holmes Onwukaife tried to commit but was told, "Hey man, come back if all the guys we want go elsewhere." He would significantly up the "awesome name quota."
Corner is a pressing need.
Three-star Ohio cornerback Courney Avery is on board, but he isn't exactly instilling confidence in the position so far. Highly rated Pa. cornerbacks Cullen Christian and Brandon Ifill are on the board. Michigan is leading for Christian but trailing on Ifill.
Michigan also leads four-star Mich. cornerback Dior Mathis.
I expect two of the three to commit, which would lock down the position and leave Michigan in a very good position.
Safety, eh...wow. Short on depth and those remain are frightening to even think about (Stevie Brown, please, PLEASE tackle someone).
Florida safety Marvin Robinson, a high four star across the board, is a great start.
After that, the only true safety on the board is LaTwan Anderson of Ohio.
Solid prospect, but he is transferring to Glenville, aka Ohio State Jr.
So, this is not looking great. Still, until he officially drops Michigan, he's there.
Overall, Michigan should push the scholarship ceiling and hopefully fill out the remainder of the class with more highly-regarded sorts.
I trust Rodriguez because of his track record, but the rest of the fan base isn't necessarily so understanding.
Sit tight, Michigan fans. I'll have more pieces over the course of the summer, including a full-out season preview and predictions.
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