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March 6, 2013If Devin Gardner utilizes a fifth year, Michigan - based on scholarship allotment today -- would have just 13 scholarships to offer to the 2014 class. That would represent the lowest figure in two decades (17 in 2003), but it's likely to swell considerably.
Taking 15 recruiting classes into account (from 1997-2011), an average of 7.5 athletes per class have not exhausted their eligibility, either leaving on their own accord for an opportunity elsewhere (or for the pros), because they are forced out of school for discipline or academic issues, or due to injury.
If that average continues, then U-M could have 20-21 scholarships to offer by February of next year. However, keep in mind that the Wolverines already need two early exits just to meet the 85-hard cap for the 2013 season after oversigning by two in this most recent class. With that in mind, the 2014 numbers would shrink by two unless more than the 7.5 average were to leave Ann Arbor over the next 11 months.
During the past 15 years, there have been three anomalies. In the 2005 recruiting class, 14 members among a 23-man class would not stay put through their fourth or fifth year of eligibility, including five removed from the team and four due to injury. There were more than 10 early exits again in 2008 (12 of 24) and 2010 (15 of 27).
If then those three outliers are removed, Michigan has seen an average of 5.9 departures per class, and that value may be more in line with what to expect going forward.