February 7, 2013

2014 Needs: Michigan must sign talented receivers

Michigan doesn't have as many stark needs as it did two years ago when Brady Hoke first took over as head coach. However, the Wolverines are desperate to sign high-end talent at the receiver position ...








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2008 Scholi Chart

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style="font-weight: bold; color: rgb(246, 246, 248);">2014
Eligibility Distribution Chart



2014
Commitments


Rs-Freshman or
Soph.
Sophomores

Juniors

Seniors

QB

Wilton Speight

Shane Morris (1)

Brian Cleary (W)

Russell Bellomy (41)style="font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"
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Alex Swieca (W)









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TB



De'Veon Smith (2)

Wyatt Shallman (3)

Derrick Green (4)

Drake Johnson (28)

Bobby Henderson (W)

Justice Hayes (42)



Thomas
Rawls
(60)
FB







Sione Houma (43)

Joe Kerridge (W)



WR



Jaron Dukes (5)

Csont'e York (6)

Da'Mario Jones (7)

Jehu Chesson (29)

Brad Anlauf (W)

Bo Dever (W)

Amara Darboh (44)

Jonathan Keizer (W)

Devon Micou (W)






Baquer Sayed (W)



TE



Khalid Hill (8)

Jake Butt (9)


Clark Grace (W)

Michael Jocz (W)

Devin Funchess (45)

A.J. Williams (46)


Alex Mistropouls-Rundus (W)

Jordan Paskorz
(61)


Nate Allspach (W)

Dylan Esterline (W)

Chris Eddins (W)


OL



Logan Tuley-Tillman (10)

Chris Fox (11)

Kyle Bosch (12)

Patrick Kugler (13)

David Dawson (14)

Dan Samuelson (15)

Erik Magnuson (30)

Ben Braden (31)

Blake Bars (32)

Kyle Kalis (33)

Dan Gibbs (W)

Ben Pliska (W)

Chris Bryant (47)

Jack Miller (48)

Graham Glasgow (W)

Kristian Mateus
(W)

Joey Burzynski (W)




CB



Jourdan Lewis (16)

Channing Stribling (17)

Ross Douglas (18)

Reon Dawson (19)

A.J. Pearson (W)

Terry Richardson (49)

Blake Countess (50)

Dennis Norfleet (51)



style="font-style: italic;">Raymon
Taylor
(62)

Delonte Hollowell (63)

S



Dymonte Thomas (20)

Delano Hill (21)

Allen Gant (34)

Jeremy Clark (35)

Andrew Offerdahl (W)

Jarrod Wilson (52)



Josh Furman
(64)




LB

Michael Ferns

Mike McCray (22)

Ben Gedeon (23)

Kaleb Ringer (36)

Mark Lawson (W)

Dan Liesman (W)

Antonio Poole (53)

Joe Bolden (54)

Royce Jenkins-Stone (55)

James Ross (56)

Jake Ryan
(65)

Desmond Morgan (66)



DE



Taco Charlton (24)



Chris Wormley (37)

Tom Strobel (38)

Matthew Godin (39)

Mario Ojemudia (57)

Keith Heitzman (58)





Brennen Beyer
(67)


Frank Clark (68)



DT



Maurice Hurst Jr. (25)

Henry Poggi (26)


Willie Henry (40)

Ryan Glasgow (W)

Ondre Pipkins (59) Ken Wilkins
(69)


Richard Ash (70)

K/P



Scott Sypniewski (27)

Kenneth Allen (W)



Matt Wile (71)

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As Michigan turns its attention from the 2013 class to the 2014
class, numbers are the chief concern. Yesterday, the Wolverines
signed 27 football recruits but they have just 14 scholarships to
mete out in 2014 at the moment. That figure does not include the
likelihood that quarterback Devin Gardner will receive a fifth year
of eligibility also, dropping the tally down to 13 scholarships. As
always, attrition will take place, and U-M should have three to four
more openings, but 2014 is likely to be the first class since 2006
(19) to not sign at least 20 prospects. 



So far, U-M has landed players at:



QB: 1


RB: 0

WR: 0


TE: 0


OL: 0


LB: 1


CB: 0


S: 0


DE: 0


DT: 0


PK/P: 0



For now, this is what the current state of the team looks like, and
here is an updated comprehensive look at U-M's needs for 2014.



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Quarterback





2014
Scholarship
Quarterbacks:
2

Commitments: 1

Need on Feb. 7: 0



Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges said this week that it is
U-M's intent to sign just one quarterback in each recruiting class,
thus it is expected that with Wilton Speight's commitment Feb. 6,
the Wolverines are done, just as they were for the 2013 class when
four-star Shane Morris pledged to wear the winged helmet. In
Speight, the Maize and Blue land a 6-6, 217-pound pro-style pocket
passer with better-than-average mobility. He certainly appears to
possess the physical tools to be a quarterback of the future, though
he'll need to be developed. The good news is there will be no rush
in 2014 or even 2015 to play, with Morris and Russell Bellomy
jockeying for the starting job after Devin Gardner's departure.



Gardner isn't listed on this current scholarship chart because his
redshirt status remains unofficial. However, he is expected to be
granted a fifth year of eligibility, and would be the de facto
starter in 2014. If that is indeed the case, Michigan will have four
scholarship signal-callers on the roster for the first time since
2007 (Chad Henne, Ryan Mallett, David Cone and Steven Threet).
That's an ideal number to carry, with two capable starters, one
prospect being refined and a rookie.



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Running
Back






2014
Scholarship
Running
Backs:
7

Commitments: 0

Need on Feb. 7: 1



Michigan's signing of five-star Derrick Green was met with the most
fanfare but Borges said not to overlook De'Veon Smith, and in fact,
when he committed, he was considered a major coup for the
Wolverines. Both Green and Smith project as future starters, and
should, at some point, provide U-M with the capable No. 1 rusher it
has consistently lacked since Mike Hart's departure in 2007.



The signing of those two, plus Wyatt Shallman, combined with the
four ball carriers on the roster already, limits the need for a
running back in the 2014 class dramatically. The Maize and Blue
don't need a class of three or even two. They might look to sign a
fullback and a tailback, but if Shallman eventually moves to the
role as a lead blocker (and the coaches should have a better idea on
that by next fall), Michigan could afford to take just one player at
the position. Probably not another five-star until U-M shows it can
get enough carries for multiple backs, but a talented speed back
with soft hands and the ability to play in the slot would be ideal.





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Wide
Receiver






2014
Scholarship
Receivers:
5

Commitments: 0

Need on Feb. 7: 3



Even with smaller allocations for scholarships in 2014, Michigan
will still sign a good class. Its greatness will depend considerably
on the receiver position because U-M needs studs, not projects. The
Wolverines also need numbers, with just five scholared wideouts
slated to return that year -- at the moment none of them having
caught a pass. Of the five, four were three-stars, and while they
could develop into difference-makers, Michigan is in need of some
instant impact talents like a Mario Manningham or David Terrell. In
other words, guys with size, speed, an ability to make a big play
after the catch and the physicality to win the battle at the line of
scrimmage, creating necessary separation.



Michigan has already offered five wide receivers in the 2014 class,
all five earning an early four-star ranking. In-state phenom Drake
Harris (6-4, 180 pounds) was a Michigan State basketball commitment
but has changed his mind, focusing on football and backing off his
pledge. He appears to have eyes for the SEC, but U-M won't go down
without a fight, especially after missing out on five-star Laquon
Treadwell in 2013. There will be others that emerge too, and while
it isn't easy to sign three studs, the Maize and Blue need to pull
off at least a double whammy with a pair of top-10 wide receivers.



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Tight
End






2014
Scholarship
Tight
Ends:
5

Commitments: 0

Need on Feb. 7: 1-2



Michigan has signed a pair of tight ends in back-to-back recruiting
classes, and is expected to bring back Jordan Paskorz in 2014, but
the Wolverines will need to snag at least one end and possibly two
if Paskorz doesn't stick around for a fifth year of eligibility. U-M
could probably get away with a single tight end in this class if
it's a Jake Butt-type -- a combination of blocker and receiver that
doesn't need to be subbed out for on running plays or on passing
plays. Butt and Khalid Hill could play immediately this season,
creating even further proof of how the Maize and Blue intend to use
their tight ends and thus proving attractive to the top players at
that position nationally.



Overall numbers will be tight in this 2014 class so tight end is a
position where the Wolverines could be satisfied with just one
player, though much rides on Paskorz. If he leaves, and Michigan's
allotment increases by one, that spot would probably go directly to
a player aimed to replace his depth.



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Offensive
Line






2014
Scholarship
Offensive
Linemen:
12

Commitments: 0

Need on Feb. 7: 4



Even though U-M has signed 10 linemen over the past two recruiting
classes, including seven four-stars and five-star Kyle Kalis, the
unit still doesn't have the desired 15 scholarship bodies on the
roster, and the Wolverines will look to finally bring their totals
up to proper standards with the 2014 class. That means signing at
least three linemen, and probably four because offensive and
defensive linemen are the most difficult to accurately forecast for
and the Maize and Blue are intent on rebuilding their line to the
physical, dominant championship units of an era long gone by.



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Cornerbacks





2014
Scholarship
Cornerbacks:
9

Commitments: 0

Need on Feb. 7: 1



There is a reason Michigan's scholarship opportunities are limited
in 2014 -- it has signed 52 players over the past two recruiting
cycles, including six cornerbacks and five safeties. There just
aren't as many glaring needs, allowing U-M to be selective at
certain positions like defensive back. With nine on the roster
already competing for only two starting jobs (plus a nickel back),
the Wolverines don't need, nor can afford, to sign more than two
cornerbacks and, really, they only need one. With this in mind,
Michigan can cast its rod into a smaller pool of elite talents or
great fits, and if there isn't a five-star on the board that makes
sense, the Maize and Blue could even look for a true diamond in the
rough.



But what a luxury at such an important position. In 2014, Raymon
Taylor will be in his senior year and Blake Countess will be a
junior. The two presumed starters will have to fight off a slew of
other four-star athletes and some really intriguing prospects, like
Channing Stribling and Reon Dawson.



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Safety





2014
Scholarship
Safeties:
6

Commitments: 0

Need on Feb. 7: 1



Like cornerback, Michigan can be very picky when it comes to safety
because of a flush of numbers at the position. The Wolverines should
be on the lookout for a high-end performer in the mold of a Dymonte
Thomas or Jarrod Wilson, both four-stars that seemingly represent
the future of the strong and free safety positions, potentially as
early as this fall.



This should be an interesting recruiting cycle because it will
reveal plenty about the strategy of the coaches. Recruiting
coordinator Jeff Hecklinski has always said U-M will recruit from a
position of strength, meaning the Maize and Blue could sign players
at positions without a need because it wants to add greater overall
talent there. However, with such limited scholarships, that
philosophy may alter some, and we even saw that in the 2013 class at
linebacker when Michigan stuck to its plan and accepted just two
commitments even though there were others that wanted to play in Ann
Arbor.



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Linebacker





2014
Scholarship
Linebackers:
9

Commitments: 1

Need on Feb. 7: 0



Could Michigan really just sit on one commitment at linebacker? When
that recruit is four-star Michael Ferns, quite possibly. U-M took
two linebackers in the 2013 class, had four in the 2012 class and
will still be relatively young and deep when the 2014 rookies arrive
on campus. That said, there is the potential for considerable change
at linebacker. Jake Ryan could go pro after his junior season,
opening up another scholarship, while it is unlikely that so many
players will patiently bide their time without seeing game action
and not think to try their luck somewhere else. In other words, by
the end of spring ball, with the writing more obvious on the wall,
the linebacker position could lose a player or two, changing the
needs for this class.



If that doesn't happen, expect Michigan to either sit tight with
Ferns alone or look to add one more linebacker, but not two, and
definitely not three. There isn't room for that.



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Defensive
End






2014
Scholarship
Defensive
Ends:
8

Commitments: 0

Need on Feb. 7: 2



It wasn't so long ago that Michigan was desperate at defensive end,
left wanting for bodies and ability at the position. Heading into
the 2013 season and beyond, the Wolverines are stacked, with four
weakside (rush) ends and four strongside ends. There should be
tremendous competition this spring, with all eight scholarship ends
already on the roster (Taco Charlton is an early enrollee). With
that in mind, the Maize and Blue could probably forgo a defensive
end altogether and be fine, but like the offensive line, the
defensive line is difficult to predict and a stockpile of bodies is
the best way to ensure future success. Consider also that redshirt
freshman Chris Wormley is seeing more and more time inside, and U-M
would be wise to recruit the position.



What Michigan could really use is that explosive, top-five talent to
rush the passer. Charlton might emerge that, and both junior Frank
Clark and sophomore Mario Ojemudia have that potential, but U-M
hasn't had a bona-fide pass rusher since Brandon Graham departed
after the 2009 season. Both five-star De'Shawn Hand and four-star
in-stater Malik McDowell fit that profile and the Wolverines would
absolutely find room for both of them in this class if the
opportunity presented itself.



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Defensive
Tackle






2014
Scholarship
Defensive
Tackles:
6

Commitments: 0

Need on Feb. 7: 2



On the surface, Michigan looks to be just fine at defensive tackle,
with six players competing for two spots. But consider that juniors
Ken Wilkins and Richard Ash haven't given any indication they can be
reliable performers for the Wolverines and suddenly there is a
greater need at that position. As noted, Wormley will see more and
more reps at the three-technique, giving U-M's coaches another
athlete to work with inside but the Maize and Blue will look to add
a big, run-stuffing, blocker-occupying tackle and a playmaking
interior player that can create havoc in the offensive backfield.



There is potential that the answer to defensive tackle could come
from within. Redshirt freshman Matthew Godin could also move inside,
joining Wormley, especially if Michigan were to land both Hand and
McDowell. But just as likely the Wolverines will sign two players.



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Specialists






2014 Scholarship Specialists: 2

Commitments: 0

Need on Feb. 7: 1



Michigan signed a long snapper in the 2013 class, and if all goes
according to plan won't need to do so again for four years. Junior
Matt Wile stands to inherit the place-kicking job when Brendan
Gibbons graduates, and Wile has shown he can punt too. If the
coaches feel he can do both effectively without the other area
suffering, they wouldn't have to use a scholarship in the 2014 class
on a punter. However, chances are U-M will want to bring in a punter
and potentially a punter/kicker like Nebraska's Brett Maher as
insurance and to ease the transition in 2015 when Wile is gone.









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