It's still early in the race to 2009's signing day, but I'm going to take a look at the nine early commits the Michigan Wolverines have picked up and what could lay ahead.
Coming in, there were a few pressing needs. Picking up a couple of quarterbacks (done), offensive line help (nowhere near done), defensive end (ditto), as well as Rich Rod's penchant for small, hummingbird-ish backs and slot receivers (more to come).
It's still early but RichRod's current crop of commits shows exactly what he's after: small, versatile, speedy players whom he can plug in at a number of positions. He's also after big, mobile quarterbacks with the ability to be just as dangerous throwing as they are running.
While there are no offensive line or defensive end commits yet, RichRod is actively pursuing a few on both fronts and maybe get a couple of verbals once summer camps wrap up.
Now, with that out of the way, a look at the class of 2009 to this point:
VA QB Kevin Newsome (4* Rivals, #4 Dual-Threat QB; 5* Scout, #5 overall QB):
Newsome could be the home run of the class. He has been likened to Terrelle Pryor in the sense that he's a big kid with tremendous speed and athletic ability and a strong arm. His only knock seems to be that he has mechanical issues to work through, but that's what coaching is for.
Ideally, Newsome could be the Pat White of the Michigan offense with one twist: he can throw. It appears as though RichRod would like to run the spread option that he ran at WVU, but at Michigan he can finally get the running QB's who can throw. So don't expect a run-heavy WVU attack if Newsome is at the helm.
One quick note: Newsome could be a flight risk. With the continued recruitment of Tate Forcier and the fact that Newsome has asked that schools continue to recruit him, nothing is necessarily guaranteed. Hopefully he'll stick around because he's an exciting athlete who could potentially be the next Vince Young.
TX QB Shavodrick Beaver (4* Rivals, #8 Dual-Threat QB; 4* Scout, #43 WR):
As I touched on in my article about Forcier, Beaver seems less and less likely to stay at quarterback. He's around 6'3", 200 lbs and runs a 4.5 40-time so I wouldn't be stunned to see him end up at wide receiver or possibly somewhere on the defense.
He's basically Newsome with even less pollish and upside. His mechanics can be tinkered with to improve his accuracy, but he may do greater good elsewhere.
An interesting thing about Beaver: he was a virtual TCU lock before getting a last minute offer from Michigan. While offers don't necessarily tell the whole story, it's a little odd that a guy with this kind of rating only got one major offer. Time will tell, I suppose.
FL RB/ATH Jeremy Gallon (4* Rivals, #15 ATH; 3* Scout, #41 RB):
Gallon is right in RichRod's wheelhouse--water bug small and quicker than a hiccup. Gallon will either enter into the battle at running back or become another bite-sized slot receiver or possibly do both.
Size undoubtedly hurt his status, but he isn't really set at one position as he played QB in high school as well. Picked up offers from Auburn, Iowa and Kansas--not exactly a killer set of offers, but a decent group no less.
MI RB Tetric Jones (3* Rivals, #28 RB; 4* Scout, #25 RB):
See: Gallon, Jeremy.
Another mighty mite at 5'8", 186 lbs, Tetric (pronounced Tetris) flew in under the radar, not even being ranked at the time of his commitment.
According to his free Scout profile, he's quick, though not a home run hitter, has great hands and is very shifty. His only obvious detriment is his size. Seems to be a common theme so far.
He will join the battle with McGuffie & Co. in the backfield, could double as a slot guy like the rest of the WR/RB/ATH recruits. Expect a lot more like him.
OH RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (4* Rivals, #11 All-Purpose Back; 3* Scout, #59 RB):
Another under-the-radar commit as well as another spectacular name to join Tetris and The Beave.
Not much is known on him at this point with his only major offers coming from West Virginia and Michigan State.
What we do know is going to sound familiar--he's smallish and quick. Not a ton is expected from him at this point, so look forward to seeing him on special teams and rotating in at RB/slot receiver.
MN WR Bryce McNeal (4* Rivals, #12 WR; 4* Scout, #16 WR):
McNeal is the only true wide receiver commit to this point and he was a big addition.
He's straight out of the Mario Manningham mold, except for the lack of willingness to cross the field and minus the pot.
He's got size (6'2", 170) and will obviously add bulk once he gets to Ann Arbor and joins the Barwis Battalion. He has tremendous hands and play-making ability as well as a strong vertical. I could definitely see him being the big play threat that makes the slot guys that much more valuable.
Expect to see one or two more true wide receivers added before signing day, that of the bigger target variety.
MI DT William Campbell (5* Rivals, #3 DT; 5* Scout, #5 DT):
Michigan has it's space eating monster in Mr.Campbell. He was Michigan's very first commit of the '09 class and appears to be a blue chipper in every sense of the word, picking up offers from Miami (Fl.), Alabama, Notre Dame and Michigan State.
He's huge (6'5", 317) with good quickness and even has experience along the offensive line, though don't expect him to move off the defensive line.
During the Army All-American combine, he showed his mettle by dominating everyone in his path and impressing everyone. Nothing but good things to expect out of him, especially considering that Barwis will be around to make sure he doesn't turn into a cream puff like Gabe Watson.
OH DB Justin Turner (4* Rivals, #3 Safety; 4* Scout, #13 Safety):
Ignore the safety tag as it's very possible he could end up at corner. He has great size, listed at 6'2" 185 and runs a 4.49 40-time.
He's physical and has a tremendous skill set and is expected to be one of the top seniors out of Ohio for the class of 2009.
What is alarming, however, is that Ohio State is the only major program to go after him. Regardless, it's always nice to win a recruiting battle with OSU and we seem to have found ourselves another good defensive back in the process.
Don't be surprised to see another CB/S added to the mix. Like I said, I think Turner ends up at CB at some point, so that would leave a spot at safety to possibly be filled.
OH DB Isaiah Bell (3* Rivals, #31 Safety; NR Scout):
No one is really sure what to make of Bell yet as his ratings suggest.
Only things that can really be said are that he's around Turner's size and that he attended a Columbus camp and was offered by Michigan. So obviously they saw something they liked enough to give the guy an offer.
Hopefully more to come in the near future.
Outside of Forcier, I wouldn't expect much more action out of the quarterback position as the Wolverines are looking towards 2010 when some good in-state prospects will be available.
I would also expect to see two or three more smallish, running back/slot type of guys that can be shuffled back and forth or play all over the field.
Though there hasn't been much to report in terms of offensive line, end and linebacker, Michigan fans shouldn't be worried. He are rumored to be closing in on a linebacker and possibly two offensive linemen in the near future. Also, it's early and RichRod will undoubtedly find his guys.
Until next time---GO BLUE!