Amidst all the clamor about the Michigan/Ohio State game I thought I'd do a little research and analyze recruiting comparisons between Michigan and West Virginia the last six years.
I took the last six years of recruits from scout.com, so this doesn't correlate with position changes, transfers, or players leaving the team. I will mention those however.
If you look at West Virginia's recruiting you see some fairly simple patterns develop. They've always had consistently solid class sizes (aside from 2006), which is always a good thing in my mind. Competition brings out the best in your players, and it also helps with graduation/transfers each year as well.
Michigan, on the other hand, a typical top-10 recruiter, hasn't had very large class sizes, especially at quarterback. We've had enormous talent pass through, but as I look through all the names I've realized how many players we never saw play, or see major game time.
Taking a deeper look at things, you can kind of see the kind of team each was designed to be. As WVU moved to the spread, Rodriguez recruited a lot more QB's, RB's, and WR's, or players that could play any of the three.
Lloyd Carr was able to handpick the best offensive players, and focused his recruiting on a lot more defensive prospects (mostly on the D-Line and Linebacking Corps), while Rodriguez had more balance in the defensive recruiting.
Also, Rodriguez was able to get a lot more out of his recruits. Now I know the argument that the Big East is weaker than the Big Ten is relevant, but when you look at Michigan's recruits, they were loaded.
I think what's killed the Wolverines in recent years is A. Lack of QB's—Carr recruited "his guy" then left it at that. B. Offensive line attrition—Almost all the 04/05' linemen for Michigan either graduated or left the team. That, and Carr has been recruiting a lot more "power" style football players rather than speed.
Something Rodriguez has already improved on is safety recruiting. This year's class features four safety recruits, which Carr hadn't ever done. He needs to work on wide receivers, as Michigan hasn't really always been about going out and grabbing a lot of them, but taking their pick each year (Breaston, Edwards, Manningham, Hemingway, Clemons, etc).
So will we start to see a shift from the Michigan graph to the West Virginia graph? Probably. Rodriguez is learning more about the program and the Big Ten is different from the Big East, but look for Michigan to grab a lot more skill position players, like Justin Feagin, that can play more than one position.
Hopefully we'll be able to continue to recruit nationally, as evidenced by Rodriguez's connections in Florida he should be able to continue that. But California, Texas, and the southern states are great as well.
(Now as a side note, I've included the national rankings of each school's class from 2003-2008 as well, for reference)
- 2003- 8th
- 2004- 5th
- 2005- 2nd
- 2006- t9th
- 2007- 10th
- 2008- 6th
- 2003- 57th
- 2004- 53rd
- 2005- 33rd
- 2006- t56th
- 2007- 18th
- 2008- 36th