February 5, 2009

In-depth look at the 2009 recruiting class



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Year

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width="150">href="https://michigan.rivals.com/viewprospect.asp?Sport=1&pr_key=73234">style="font-weight: bold;">Justin Turner

Massillon (OH) Washington



6-2, 185 pounds

Forty: 4.49










Rivals100

No. 44 overall prospect

No. 3 safety

No. 1 in Ohio

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Verbally
committed on:


March 28, 2008



Growing up a fan of the Wolverines, Turner received an offer from the
new staff in late February. He made unofficial visits to Michigan and
Ohio State in the spring before declaring his college intentions. He
was one of the stars of the Michigan summer camp and also performed
very well at the Army All-American Game.

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Turner has
one of the best shots of all of the freshmen to make a strong impact in
his first year. A talented athlete, he has the ability to play at
either cornerback or safety. Michigan returns two strong corners, but
lack depth at that position. At safety, the struggles of the returning
players and departure of seniors makes the door wide open to
competition. Expect Turner to see action early and often.
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href="http://rivals.yahoo.com/video/recruiting-football/Justin-Turner-Highlights-3-43225?done=true">
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style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(228, 231, 235);">href="https://michigan.rivals.com/viewprospect.asp?Sport=1&pr_key=72940">style="font-weight: bold;">Teric Jones

Detroit (MI) Cass Tech



5-9, 191 pounds

Forty: 4.4











No. 37 running back

No. 12 in Michigan


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Verbally committed on:

March 29, 2008



Jones favored Michigan prior to the coaching change, but was uncertain
if he fit the old offense. With Rodriguez taking over, he knew that his
size would not count against him. Playing a limited role as a junior,
he received major attention from recruiters, but no early offers. When
U-M offered a scholarship in the spring, he promptly committed.

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With three running backs
coming in, it is unlikely that all of them will see action as freshmen.
With the competition between the young runners determining who plays
and who redshirts, Jones will need to show that he is both physically
and mentally ready to play. His ability to fit as a slot receiver could
get him on the field quicker, but it may also present a new set of
skills to learn.

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href="http://rivals.yahoo.com/video/recruiting-football/Teric-Jones-Highlights-3-41125">
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style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">href="https://michigan.rivals.com/viewprospect.asp?Sport=1&pr_key=79465">style="font-weight: bold;">Isaiah Bell

Youngstown (OH) Liberty



6-2, 217 pounds

Forty: 4.6











No. 26 OLB

No. 27 in Ohio




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Verbally committed on:

March 31, 2008



Bell's commitment was one of the bigger surprises of the recruiting
class, with the Youngstown athlete receiving virtually no publicity
prior to making his pledge. He chose the Wolverines over Pitt,
Cincinnati and others. He played in the Under Armour All-American Bowl
and will be joined in the class by teammate Fitzgerald Toussaint.

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Given that Bell is
somewhat of a tweener between the safety and linebacker positions, he
could be a strong candidate to redshirt. He will enter as a safety, an
area where there is definitely an opportunity to make and impact, but
he's already weighing in at 217 pounds making a move to linebacker down
the road more likely. The potential adjustment to such a new position
would make redshirting a good idea.

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style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(228, 231, 235);">href="https://michigan.rivals.com/viewprospect.asp?Sport=1&pr_key=73886">style="font-weight: bold;">Fitzgerald Toussaint

Youngstown (OH) Liberty



5-10, 185 pounds

Forty: 4.5











Rivals250

No. 239 overall prospect

No. 8 all purpose back

No. 14 in Ohio


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Verbally committed on:

April 18, 2008



Joining teammate Isaiah Bell, who had committed just a month earlier,
Toussaint pledged to the Wolverines shortly after the conclusion of
spring ball. He chose the Wolverines over West Virginia, Pitt,
Illinois, Cincinnati and others. An extremely strong showing as a
senior helped to push him into the Rivals250.

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While Michigan is fairly
strong at the running back spot for the 2009 season, the Wolverines
will graduate three seniors who look to play a major role. As the only
pure running back that is unlikely to see action at slot receiver,
there is an opportunity for Toussaint to gain experience in the fall so
that he can compete for a starting job the following year.

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href="http://rivals.yahoo.com/video/recruiting-football/Fitzgerald-Toussaint-Highlights-2-40497">
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style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">href="https://michigan.rivals.com/viewprospect.asp?Sport=1&pr_key=77319">style="font-weight: bold;">Jeremy Gallon

Apopka (FL)



5-8, 165 pounds

Forty: 4.5










Rivals250

No.  151 overall prospect

No. 11 athlete

No. 31 in Florida


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Verbally committed on:

June 5, 2008



Probably the biggest surprise commitment of the recruiting class, it
was well known that Michigan was involved with Gallon, but the timing
of his decision caught everyone off guard. Without ever seeing the
campus, he announced in favor of the Wolverines over offers from
Auburn, Iowa, Iowa State and others. He played in the Army All-American
Game.

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Michigan is stronger this
year at slot receiver than they were in 2008, but there is still an
opportunity for Gallon to compete not only for playing time, but maybe
even a starting job. Overall a strong candidate to play, the one area
where redshirting would be very useful is in providing extra time to
adjust to the academic side of college.

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href="http://rivals.yahoo.com/video/recruiting-football/Jeremy-Gallon-Highlights-1-30412">
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style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(228, 231, 235);">href="https://michigan.rivals.com/viewprospect.asp?Sport=1&pr_key=79960">style="font-weight: bold;">Michael Schofield

Orland Park (IL) Sandburg



6-7, 272 pounds











Rivals250

No. 221 overall prospect

No. 18 offensive tackle

No. 6 in Illinois


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Verbally committed on:

June 16, 2008



Within a week of visiting Ann Arbor in early June, Schofield declared
that he would play for the Wolverines in college. He selected Michigan
over Notre Dame, Illinois, Iowa, Purdue and others. He attended U-M's
game against Utah and made his official visit in January.
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Michigan signed six
offensive linemen in 2008, with all of the players in that group
redshirting. With those big men now providing much greater depth, along
with every other offensive lineman returning, it should be expected
than the freshmen at the position will redshirt. Schofield will help
the scout team as a freshman while continuing to develop his skills.

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href="http://rivals.yahoo.com/video/recruiting-football/Michael-Schofield-Highlights-1-504">
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style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">href="https://michigan.rivals.com/viewprospect.asp?Sport=1&pr_key=80541">style="font-weight: bold;">Mike Jones

Orlando (FL) Edgewater



6-3, 200 pounds

Forty: 4.5











No. 25 safety

No. 70 in Florida


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Verbally committed on:

August 1, 2008



Jones only played in five games as a junior because of a shoulder
injury, but still earned scholarship offers from Michigan, Auburn,
Kentucky, Wake Forest, North Carolina and others. He narrowed his
favorites down to Michigan and Notre Dame over the summer, choosing in
favor of the Wolverines in early August. He has already enrolled.

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An area of weakness last
season, the safety position is wide open heading into the 2009 season.
As one of the early enrollees, Jones has a chance to get a jump on his
fellow freshmen in conditioning and in knowing the responsibilities of
the position. As a result, fans should probably expect to see the young
Floridian out on the field in the fall.

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style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(228, 231, 235);">href="https://michigan.rivals.com/viewprospect.asp?Sport=1&pr_key=64948">style="font-weight: bold;">Vincent Smith

Pahokee (FL)



5-7, 159 pounds

Forty: 4.4











No. 36 running back

No. 62 in Florida


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Verbally committed on:

August 29, 2008



Smith received a very early scholarship, becoming one of the first 30
prospects in the nation to boast such an honor. He and teammate Brandin
Hawthorne long held the Wolverines in high regard and the duo declared
in favor of Michigan in a joint announcement the day before the
Wolverines' season started.

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Smith has enrolled early,
which should help his odds of playing as a freshman, but his lack of
physical size will be a big question mark. Weighing in at less than 160
pounds, there is some question as to whether he will be ready in time
for the season. If he does play in his first year, he may have a better
shot at helping at slot receiver.

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href="http://rivals.yahoo.com/video/recruiting-football/Vincent-Smith-Highlights-2-33938">
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style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">Brandin
Hawthorne

Pahokee (FL)



6-0, 197 pounds

Forty: 4.5











No. 35 outside linebacker

No. 73 in Florida


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Verbally committed on:

August 29, 2008



From the same school as freshman wide receiver Martavious Odoms, the
Wolverines long held a strong standing with the Pahokee teammates
Hawthorne and Vincent Smith.

Announcing together in favor of Michigan in late August, they have both
gotten a head start on college, enrolling in January.

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Much like his Pahokee
teammate, Hawthorne has enrolled early, but may lack the physical size
to play his position at the college level. Slotted to compete at the
outside linebacker spot, he still weighs in at less than 200 pounds.
His best shot at playing in his first year would likely be on special
teams, an option that should not be ruled out.

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href="http://rivals.yahoo.com/video/recruiting-football/Brandin-Hawthorne-Highlights-1-32641">
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style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(228, 231, 235);">href="https://michigan.rivals.com/viewprospect.asp?Sport=1&pr_key=55584">style="font-weight: bold;">Tate Forcier

San Diego (CA) Scripps Ranch



6-0, 185 pounds

Forty: 4.55











Rivals250

No. 164 overall prospect

No. 5 quarterback

No. 18 in California


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Verbally committed on:

August 31, 2008



Despite Michigan having verbal commitments in tow from two highly rated
signal callers at the time, Forcier was not deterred in his interest in
Michigan, attending the one-day summer camp in June. Shortly after the
first of those two pledges decommitted, Forcier attended the Utah game
on an official visit, promptly announcing for the Wolverines.

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There is almost no
question that Forcier will play. A talented signal caller, he has
enrolled early for a chance to compete for the starting job. Whether or
not he is able to grab that responsibility away from incumbent Steven
Threet, he is certain to see some action given that his mobility
provides a better fit with the offense.

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href="http://rivals.yahoo.com/video/recruiting-football/Tate-Forcier-Highlights-9-19067">
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style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">href="https://michigan.rivals.com/viewprospect.asp?Sport=1&pr_key=78530">style="font-weight: bold;">Anthony LaLota

Princeton (NJ) Hun School



6-6, 260 pounds

Forty: 4.64











Rivals250

No. 215 overall prospect

No. 11 strong DE

No. 2 in New Jersey



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Verbally committed on:

September 12, 2008



LaLota made unofficial visits to all of his favorites during the
off-season, taking his time to narrow his list of favorites before
announcing in favor of the Wolverines on national television. He later
took his official visit when the Wolverines hosted Michigan State.
Playing in the Army All-American Bowl, he has already enrolled at
Michigan.

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LaLota's freshman year
contribution is somewhat difficult to predict. He should be physically
ready and he has enrolled early, but he has very little experience with
the sport itself. Ultimately, the factor that gives him a strong shot
at getting on the field is the severe lack of depth at the defensive
end position.

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href="http://rivals.yahoo.com/video/recruiting-football/Anthony-Lalota-Highlights-1-198">
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style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(228, 231, 235);">href="https://michigan.rivals.com/viewprospect.asp?Sport=1&pr_key=73836">style="font-weight: bold;">Craig Roh

Scottsdale (AZ) Chaparral



6-5, 230 pounds

Forty: 4.75












Rivals250

No. 156 overall prospect

No. 7 weak DE

No. 4 in Arizona





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Verbally committed on:

September 18, 2008



With family connections to the state of Michigan, Roh made a visit to
Ann Arbor over the summer as part of a family vacation. He made an
official visit to Ann Arbor for the Wolverines home opener against
Utah, and announced in favor of Michigan on national television just
over two weeks later.
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Roh may have an even
better shot than LaLota at playing as a freshman due to his incredible
skills as a pass rusher. While he is still undersized for the defensive
end spot, he could be used situationally to provide pressure. Given the
lack of depth at the position, that could be a valuable contribution,
helping to keep other players fresh.

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href="http://rivals.yahoo.com/video/recruiting-football/Craig-Roh-Highlights-4-41396">
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style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">href="https://michigan.rivals.com/viewprospect.asp?Sport=1&pr_key=64856">style="font-weight: bold;">Thomas Gordon

Detroit (MI) Cass Tech



5-11, 200 pounds

Forty: 4.6











No. 24 in Michigan


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Verbally committed on:

September 26, 2008



Spending most of his high school career at quarterback, Gordon
impressed at the Michigan summer camp while working at safety. Earning
scholarship offers early in his senior season from Michigan State and
Michigan, he took a few weeks to think over his options before
announcing in favor of the Wolverines.

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While Gordon has very
little experience at the safety position, playing there only one season
in high school, he should not be completely ruled out from the
discussion in his first year. He may provide better speed and quickness
than the other incoming safeties, and also has a strong knowledge of
the game. If he is unable to making inroads in the competition at the
spot, then he will redshirt.

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style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(228, 231, 235);">href="https://michigan.rivals.com/viewprospect.asp?Sport=1&pr_key=78726">style="font-weight: bold;">Brendan Gibbons

West Palm Beach (FL)



6-0, 202 pounds











No. 8 kicker

No. 3 strongest leg




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Verbally committed on:

November 13, 2008



Attending the Michigan kicking camp in the summer, Gibbons was one of
the top two kickers on the Wolverines' board. After losing a commitment
from the other kicker, Gibbons was offered a scholarship and promptly
made is intentions known to attend Michigan. He participated in the
Army All-American Game.

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Gibbons is among the
players with the best shot at seeing action as a freshman. Michigan has
no experienced kickers returning, which makes the competition wide open
for him to grab the job. He will need to work hard in the summer to
adjust to kicking the ball off the ground without use of a kicking
block.

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href="http://rivals.yahoo.com/video/recruiting-football/Brendan-Gibbons-Highlights-1-40845">
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style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">href="https://michigan.rivals.com/viewprospect.asp?Sport=1&pr_key=80213">style="font-weight: bold;">Vladimir Emilien

Lauderhill (FL) Plantation



6-1, 186 pounds

Forty: 4.5











No. 14 safety

No. 60 in Florida



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Verbally committed on:

November 24, 2008



Emilien tore his ACL during the summer and was not able to play during
his senior year as a result. Looking closely at Ohio State, he
eventually narrowed his focus down to Michigan, OSU, Stanford and
Wisconsin. Taking an official visit in late October, he announced for
the Wolverines one month later. He has already enrolled.

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The safety position is
wide open for a freshman to grab playing time in his first year.
Emilien has enrolled early, which should help his cause significantly.
The big question will be the health of his knee, having missed his
senior year with an ACL tear. If he is healthy, he has a strong chance
at playing. If not, then he will redshirt.

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href="http://rivals.yahoo.com/video/recruiting-football/Vlad-Emilien-Highlights-1-458">
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style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(228, 231, 235);">href="https://michigan.rivals.com/viewprospect.asp?Sport=1&pr_key=69545">style="font-weight: bold;">Cameron Gordon

Inkster (MI)



6-2, 210 pounds

Forty: 4.5











Rivals250

No. 233 overall prospect

No. 36 wide receiver

No. 6 in Michigan



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Verbally committed on:

December 11, 2008





A regular visitor at Michigan, Gordon attended the summer camp before
his junior year and was at the one-day summer camp before his senior
season. Transferring in his final year from Melvindale to Inkster, he
waited out the Wolverines for an offer, which he eventually got around
Thanksgiving time. He committed soon after.

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Gordon will come in as a
wide receiver, but also has strong potential at the linebacker
position. Given that Michigan returns several players at the outside
receiver spot, Gordon is a strong candidate to redshirt. That will not
only space out the talent at the position, but also allow he and the
coaches a chance to evaluate his best position.

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href="http://rivals.yahoo.com/video/recruiting-football/Cameron-Gordon-Highlights-1-732">
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style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">href="https://michigan.rivals.com/viewprospect.asp?Sport=1&pr_key=76823">style="font-weight: bold;">Taylor Lewan

Scottsdale (AZ) Chaparral



6-7, 272 pounds

Forty: 4.7










Rivals250

No. 194 overall prospect

No. 16 offensive tackle

No. 5 in Arizona



style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">style="font-weight: bold;">

Verbally committed on:

December 14, 2008



A teammate of Michigan commitment Craig Roh, Lewan focused on defensive
tackle for much of his career. Transferring schools late in his junior
year, he has placed a greater emphasis on the offensive side of the
ball and earned a number of big offers. He picked the Wolverines on his
official visit, passing up the chance to take three more trips.

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Lewan has loads of
potential and the intensity that you look for in a player at the
position. With that said, he has only one year of experience on the
offensive line and probably still needs to gain some additional
strength. As a result, there isn't much question that Lewan will
redshirt in his first year.

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href="http://rivals.yahoo.com/video/recruiting-football/Taylor-Lewan-Highlights-1-33560">
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style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(228, 231, 235);">href="https://michigan.rivals.com/viewprospect.asp?Sport=1&pr_key=64857">style="font-weight: bold;">William Campbell

Detroit (MI) Cass Tech



6-5, 317 pounds

Forty: 5.1











Rivals100

No. 26 overall prospect

No. 5 defensive tackle

No. 1 in Michigan



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Verbally committed on:

January 3, 2009



Campbell verbally committed to Michigan after earning an offer at the
summer camp before the start of his junior year. Sticking with the
Wolverines through the coaching change, he later decommitted at the
start of his senior year. After taking all of his visits, he announced
for Michigan a second time at the Army All-American Bowl.

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Along with Turner,
Forcier and Gibbons, Campbell is one of the players with the best shot
at making a major contribution as a true freshman. A very talented
prospect, he enters into a position where the Wolverines are
desperately lacking in depth. Campbell will play, but the big question
is if he will know the position well enough to defeat Renaldo Sagesse
in the competition to start.

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href="http://rivals.yahoo.com/video/recruiting-football/William-Campbell-Highlights-2-41081">
style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">href="https://michigan.rivals.com/viewprospect.asp?Sport=1&pr_key=66431">style="font-weight: bold;">Quinton Washington

St. Stephen (SC) Timberland



6-3, 315 pounds

Forty: 5.6












Rivals250

No. 213 overall prospect

No. 8 offensive guard

No. 10 in South Carolina


style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">style="font-weight: bold;">

Verbally committed on:

February 3, 2009



Washington took an official visit to Michigan in Sept., attending the
Wolverines' stunning come from behind victory over Wisconsin. Reporting
favorably on the trip, he waited things out, taking January visits to
South Carolina, Clemson, Tennessee and Miami. He picked the Wolverines
over the hometown Gamecocks.

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While it is unlikely that
any of the true freshmen will play in their first year, Washington is
probably the one who would have the best shot at seeing playing time.
However, unless there is a rash of injuries at the position, there is
no immediate need to force him into early action. Fans should expect
him to redshirt.

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href="http://rivals.yahoo.com/video/recruiting-football/Quinton-Washingon-Highlights-1-168">
style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(228, 231, 235);">

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(228, 231, 235);">href="https://michigan.rivals.com/viewprospect.asp?Sport=1&pr_key=78567">style="font-weight: bold;">Denard Robinson

Deerfield Beach (FL)



6-0, 180 pounds

Forty: 4.48











Rivals250

No. 188 overall prospect

No. 14 athlete

No. 35 in Florida




style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(228, 231, 235);">style="font-weight: bold;">

Verbally committed on:

February 4, 2009



Robinson favored Florida early on; however, he ultimately selected the
Wolverines over Central Florida. With Michigan losing a commitment at
the quarterback position in December, it opened the door for the
Wolverines to make a strong push for his services. Michigan also went
after his teammate Adrian Witty, which helped to secure his commitment.

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While many fans are
focused on Tate Forcier at the quarterback position, Robinson will be
given a fair shot to compete for the job with everyone else. A very
talented athlete, he should not be overlooked as having the ability to
earn playing time in his first year. While he will be behind the other
signal callers in knowing the offense, the fall practice field will
determine if he can make an impact.

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href="http://rivals.yahoo.com/video/recruiting-football/Denard-Robinson-Highlights-2-33739">
style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">href="https://michigan.rivals.com/viewprospect.asp?Sport=1&pr_key=91380">style="font-weight: bold;">Adrian Witty

Deerfield Beach (FL)



5-9, 175 pounds

Forty: 4.4










5.3 Rivals Rating




style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">style="font-weight: bold;">

Verbally committed on:

February 4, 2009



A teammate of quarterback recruit Denard Robinson, Witty injured his
knee during his junior year, which severely limited his exposure in
recruiting circles. With a late rise in interest from a number of
schools, he made official visits to Michigan and Kansas State. He
announced on signing day with teammate Denard Robinson.



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Michigan is lacking in
depth at the cornerback spot, which could provide an opportunity to
Witty for playing time. However, Justin Turner will be tough to beat
out, and it could be in Michigan's best interest to redshirt Witty if
he is not ready to make an impact in his first year.

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width="150">

style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(228, 231, 235);"
width="150">href="https://michigan.rivals.com/viewprospect.asp?Sport=1&pr_key=66082">style="font-weight: bold;">Je'Ron Stokes

Philadelphia (PA) Northeast



6-1, 180 pounds

Forty: 4.44











Rivals250

No. 104 overall prospect

No. 14 wide receiver

No. 4 in Pennsylvania




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width="150">

Verbally committed on:


February 4, 2009



Stokes committed to Tennessee in April, but wavered in his selection
after the firing of long-time head coach Phil Fulmer. Making an
official visit to Michigan in mid-January, he announced for the
Wolverines on signing day, choosing the Maize and Blue over Tennessee
and Illinois.



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width="150">





Able to compete at either
the outside receiver position or in the slot, Stokes has a strong shot
at seeing playing time in his first year. How much he plays and what
sort of contribution he makes will depend on how well he competes on
the practice field and how quickly he picks up the finer points of
playing the position.

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href="http://rivals.yahoo.com/video/recruiting-football/JeRon-Stokes-Highlights-1-9190">


style="vertical-align: top; text-align: center; background-color: rgb(0, 40, 79);">style="color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">style="font-weight: bold;">The 2008 Michigan Recruiting Class









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