National Signing Day began for Michigan when Shane Morris' letter-of-intent rolled into Schembechler Hall. The lanky left quarterback vowed to have his in first, and delivered, kicking off a productive day for Michigan's coaching staff.
The day also proved "uneventful," in head coach Brady Hoke's estimation - and that was perfect. Some 27 letters-of-intent due, and 27 of them arriving safely inside Schembechler Hall by midday. No last-second surprises, changes of heart or anything causing a glitch in a pre-printed roster.
Hoke likes it already, for reasons that go far beyond the talent level putting it solidly in the top 10 in the nation.
"It's a unique class, in how closely knit of a class that it is," Hoke said. "As a class, they've grown together from afar, which is really neat, when you're in the homes and you talk to them, talk about the parents knowing each other, and the kids and how much they've had conversation."
Hoke credited not only his assistant coaches, but their families, who assist in the recruiting effort by being understanding of all the time that has to go into the travel necessary to bring home a class of 27. What U-M brought home meets its needs very well, he said.
Hoke has emphasized building up both lines of scrimmage since the day he arrived. U-M took another step in that direction on signing day, with six offensive linemen and three defensive linemen coming into the fold.
"The needs we focused on, we met," Hoke said. "It was very important for us to establish guys who can play at the line of scrimmage the way we want to play Michigan football. We took four offensive linemen a year ago, and redshirted all four of those guys. We took six this year, and two of them are in school now. For the style of football that we need to play, that was important.
"Defensively, a year ago we took six guys up front. A couple of them contributed during the course of the year, but we added three more guys - three quality football players that really fit in how we want to play on the line of scrimmage."
While building up the lines, U-M also culled considerable skill-position talent, including Rivals.com's No. 1 running back in the nation in Derrick Green. The 5-11, 220-pounder joins 5-11, 218-pound De'Veon Smith and 6-3, 245-pound Wyatt Shallman in considerably ramping up the competition in the backfield.
"The running backs, with the three big backs, that was an important piece for how we want to play - vertically, downhill, and how we want to run the offense that we are gradually getting to," Hoke said. "All those things were very helpful to us, from that standpoint."
Meanwhile, he noted the Wolverines also improved themselves at wide receiver and tight end.
"We wanted some range and length at the wide receiver position, guys who could go up and compete for the football," he noted. "I think we accomplished that.
"We wanted to continue to enhance our tight ends from an athletic standpoint and on-the-line-of-scrimmage presence that we need to have in what we want to do."
In addition to beefing up the defensive line, Hoke said, Michigan focused on obtaining some bigger defensive backs and pulling in a talented pair of linebackers in 6-3, 215-pound Ben Gedeon and 6-4, 230-pound Mike McCray.
"We took two linebackers who are both very physical guys, guys that we're really excited about," he said. "When you look at your class and you look at your needs, the physicality we want to play with and need to play with, the right fits when you look at it positionally
in the last two classes, there has been considerable development in the genetics of the guys on the team.
"We really tried to give us a little more length and range in the back end. At the corner positions, you have a couple of guys who are six foot-plus - long-armed guys who can play man coverage and be a presence out there, and at the safety position being physical."
Bottom line, Michigan brought in not only players who can perform on the field, but will fit with the type of program he's looking to maintain in Ann Arbor.
"It's guys who understand the great value of a Michigan degree, and guys who understand what it is, and have passion to play the greatest team sport there is," Hoke said. "The character and the integrity are very important to what we do.
"Believe me, I'm not na´ve enough to think there might not be a bump in the road here or there, but at the same time, these are really quality and character individuals that we're very proud of."
...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now for a FREE Trial