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Re-Evaluating Michigan's 2011 Recruiting Class

Phil CallihanContributor IJune 16, 2014

Re-Evaluating Michigan's 2011 Recruiting Class

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    No. 57 Frank Clark
    No. 57 Frank ClarkCarlos Osorio/Associated Press

    When Brady Hoke was hired in January 2011 to replace Rich Rodriguez after a disappointing 7-6 third season, he quickly had to assemble his staff and build a recruiting class.

    Under Rodriguez, Michigan was capable of offensive fireworks but never found consistency on defense. Three seasons of defensive meltdowns were enough for athletic director David Brandon to send Rodriguez packing.

    Now, Hoke finds himself at a crossroads, trying to rally the Wolverines after his own 7-6 third season and retooling his offense to better compete in the Big Ten.

    He struck some gold in his first recruiting class but also missed—nine of the 20 commitments are no longer with the program.

    This is a look back at Michigan's 2011 recruiting class, which was ranked No. 26 overall by 247Sports.

    Position grades are determined by impact and whether the player is still with the program.

     

    All season statistics from MGoBlue.com, the official University of Michigan athletic department website.

    Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article were obtained via press conferences or in person.

Running Back

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    No. 5 Justice Hayes
    No. 5 Justice HayesMatt York/Associated Press

    Michigan signed two running backs in Hoke's first class.

    The top running back prospect was 4-star recruit Justice Hayes. Hayes has struggled to get significant carries during his career, appearing in only 17 games and carrying the ball 20 times for 89 yards.

    His best contributions may be ahead of him. Hayes has seized the fresh slate offered by the new offensive coordinator and was praised during spring camp for his tough running and blocking ability. He also ran with determination during the team’s spring scrimmage, churning for yardage after initially being stopped by the defense. Hayes may see significant time as the team’s third-down back.

    Thomas Rawls was a 3-star recruit who appeared in 27 games and carried the ball 73 times for 333 yards. He gained a career-high 242 yards during the 2012 season but only 12 yards last season before transferring to Central Michigan.

    GRADE: C

Quarterback

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    Nati Harnik/Associated Press

    Russell Bellomy was a 3-star player recruited to add depth behind Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner. Bellomy was pressed into action when Gardner was hurt during the 2012 Nebaska game and struggled under the pressure. He missed the 2013 season after injuring his ACL during spring practice.

    Bellomy is currently projected as the fourth quarterback on the depth chart for the upcoming season.

    GRADE: D

Offensive Line

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    No. 60 Jack Miller
    No. 60 Jack MillerNati Harnik/Associated Press

    Hoke signed three offensive linemen, but only one remains on the team.

    Three-star recruit Jack Miller started last season at center but lost his position as the year progressed. He’s projected to be in the mix again this season.

    Four-star recruit Chris Bryant’s career was cut short by multiple injuries, and he has retired from football.

    Three-star recruit Tony Posada left the program before his first season even began.

    Hoke really needed more production from his offensive line last season, and the failure of these players is a big reason Michigan struggled. There’s still hope for Miller, but he needs to improve a lot from last season to be a solid contributor.

    GRADE: D

Linebackers

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    No. 97 Brennen Beyer
    No. 97 Brennen BeyerTony Ding/Associated Press

    Four-star recruit Brennen Beyer was originally tagged as a defensive end, but he has been a solid contributor since switching to linebacker last spring. He has 57 career tackles (30 solo) and two sacks.

    Desmond Morgan came in as a 3-star recruit, but he has racked up an impressive 223 tackles (107 solo) and has been a starter for most of his career.

    Four-star recruit Kellen Jones never played for Michigan, transferring before his freshman season. Antonio Poole was another four-star recruit who never played a game. His career was cut short by injuries prior to the 2013 season.

    Beyer and Morgan bail out this position group.

    GRADE: B

Defensive End

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    No. 57 Frank Clark
    No. 57 Frank ClarkGregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Three-star recruit Frank Clark was originally slated to play linebacker but has made his mark at defensive end. Clark was a dominant force last season and won an award as Michigan’s top defensive lineman at the team banquet.

    Three-star recruit Chris Rock never played a down for Michigan and left the team to walk on at Ohio State.

    Clark looks to be fearsome this season. He makes up for Rock’s departure.

    GRADE: A

Tight Ends

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    No. 92 Keith Heitzman
    No. 92 Keith HeitzmanUSA TODAY Sports

    Keith Heitzman came in as 3-star defensive end but shifted to tight end this season. He made seven starts and contributed on special teams before switching positions this spring.

    Three-star recruit Chris Barnett departed the team during spring practice of his freshman year.

    Heitzman is a contributor and has a chance to help the team at tight end until Jake Butt returns from injury.

    GRADE: C

Kicker

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    No. 45 Matt Wiley
    No. 45 Matt WileyUSA TODAY Sports

    Three-star recruit Matt Wile has bailed out Michigan during out the suspension of Will Hagerup and the expulsion of Brendan Gibbons. Wile has handled kickoffs, punts and field goals during his career, and he has been a solid performer.

    Grade: A

Defensive Backs

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    No. 18 Blake Countess
    No. 18 Blake CountessUSA TODAY Sports

    Blake Countess came in as a 4-star recruit and has lived up to his billing with 90 tackles (56 solo) and six interceptions in two seasons of play. Countess missed the 2012 season after being injured in the first game but has developed into an elite cornerback.

    Three-star recruit Raymon Taylor is another solid fixture in the Michigan defensive backfield with 133 tackles (95 solo) and six interceptions.

    Three-star recruit Delonte Hollowell has been a reliable backup and special teams player.

    Three-star recruit Greg Brown transferred after falling behind Countess and Taylor on the depth chart, and 3-star recruit Tamani Carter left the team without seeing action.

    Countess and Taylor are two of the best players in the whole recruiting class.

    GRADE: A

     

    Star ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

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