Now that all the dust has settled from the firing of Rich Rodriguez, new head football coach Brady Hoke must get down to business and return Michigan to the national power it once was. Always considered a good recruiter (albeit in a much lower conference), Hoke has a knack for convincing recruits to buy into his system.
Now in Ann Arbor, let's see how Hoke does this time around recruiting top high school talent. Here are some of the players that are committed to wear the Maize and Blue next season in the Big House.
According to Rivals.com, Beyer is a four-star recruit out of Canton, Michigan. At 6'4", Beyer is an extremely fast defensive end, with a 40-time of just 4.5 seconds.
In new Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison's defense, Beyer will likely play on the outside as a speed rusher. He will probably be utilized immediately, as the defense was the glaring weakness of the Wolverines last year.
Giving more help to the weak Michigan defense, Countess will try and step in to assist the porous Michigan secondary. Although he is quite small (5'10", 170 pounds), he runs a quick 4.48 40-time.
Countess, a 4-star recruit out of Maryland, will probably redshirt a year, trying to gain some size. He will then play a major role in stopping the wide receivers of the Big 10 the following season.
Ranked the fourteenth best athlete in the 2011 recruiting process, Taylor will most likely play on the defensive side of the ball, where he had 7 interceptions as a junior.
Taylor is extremely quick, and might even be able to assist in the return game. Look for him to develop a little more size (he is 5'10", 170) though, before he contributes for the Wolverines.
Hollowell is another player who likely will red-shirt his freshman year in order to gain some more size. He is a 5'8", 162 lb cornerback from Detroit, Michigan, which made his choice quite easy, as he has visited Ann Arbor multiple times.
It seems as if the trend is for defensive players to be recruited small, and then be developed once coming to Michigan. Hopefully Coach Hoke and Coach Mattison, who helped build that stout, championship winning 1997 Wolverines defense, can develop another great defensive unit for this current Wolverines team.
Coming into the 2011 season, Michigan will have to replace two great four-year linebackers, Jonas Mouton and Obi Ezeh. Their first step in that direction is inking Kellen Jones from Texas. At 6'1", 209 pounds, Jones has decent size, and will be called upon to step up and anchor the linebacking core for years to come.
With 110 tackles and 8 sacks his senior year in high school, Jones is an agile defender, and will serve as a ball-hawk for this defense.
Moving over to the offensive side of the ball, Justice Hayes is probably the biggest recruit for the Michigan Wolverines. Rivals.com ranks him the third best running back prospect (Michigan had a commitment from #1 running back Demetrius Hart, but he de-committed after Rodriguez was fired).
Although Michigan is pretty solid in the running game (with Vincent Smith, Mike Shaw, Fitzgerald Touissaint, let alone Denard Robinson), Hayes will try and step in immediately and contribute. Rivals says that Hayes' agility is "as good as it gets," so he could possibly spell Shaw, a more bruising, between-the-tackles runner.
Chris Bryant, from Chicago, Illinois, is a 6'5", 330 pound giant on the offensive line. He will play Offensive Tackle for the Wolverines. Recruited by schools all around the country (Ohio State, Illinois, Colorado, Stanford, etc.), Bryant chose to come to Ann Arbor to play for Coach Hoke.
He will most likely be the anchor of the offensive line for years to come, as his size and strength will likely protect Denard Robinson's blindside for the next two years.
With sophomore Tate Forcier transferring out of Michigan after losing his starting quarterback spot, Michigan only has two quarterbacks on its roster (Denard Robinson and redshirt freshman Devin Gardner).
In steps Russell Bellomy, a dual-threat quarterback from Arlington, Texas. After receiving scholarship offers from schools like Boise State, Colorado, Marshall, etc., Bellomy could not turn down the great offer from the Wolverines.
This is a great signing by Hoke and Co. While it gives Michigan some quarterback depth, it also is not that big of a signing to scare off future top-tier quarterback recruits.
One of the most glaring weaknesses of the 2010 Michigan team was its special teams. The pitiful performance of the Michigan kickers (Broekhuizen, Gibbons, etc.) called for a replacement.
Michigan hopes they found that in Matt Wile from San Diego, California. Hoke had recruited him at San Diego State, and swayed his allegiance over to Michigan after he accepted the job there.
Not much is known about Wile, but any small improvement will be accepted from the Michigan fans, who had to hold their breath every time an extra point, let alone a field goal, was taken.
The 2011 Michigan Wolverines will look like a different team. Brady Hoke runs a pro-style offense, yet will be forced to implement some aspects of the spread offense in order to utilize Denard Robinson most effectively.
The 2011 recruiting class is definitely not first-rate, but it is a good starting point for Hoke and his coaching staff. In years to come, Hoke will become more acclimated with the Big 10 hotspots (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan) and will be able to recruit more high-caliber recruits.