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July 16, 2012

Wolverines unseated by Trojans

Since the Rivals.com 2013 team recruiting rankings debuted June 4, one team has stood atop the list: Michigan. With the commitment of four-star cornerback Jalen Ramsey Monday afternoon, the USC Trojans ended the Wolverines' reign at the top.

That USC has compiled the commitment list that they have right now - all while experiencing NCAA sanctions - is impressive. However, that's not what Michigan fans are worried about. No, the question on Wolverine supporters' minds is a simple one: can Michigan move back to No. 1?

The Trojans currently hold commitments from 15 prospects, and total 2,652 total team points. Michigan is 83 points behind with 2,569 team points. The deficit could grow if four-star receiver Paul Harris Fights On tomorrow, getting the Trojans up to 2,767 points. At that point, Michigan would be 198 points in the hole.

For now, we'll leave a Harris commitment in the realm of hypothetical situations, and assume Michigan needs to make up 83 points.

What will it take to close the gap?

New Commitments

Although Michigan already has 22 players committed in the Class of 2013, there is room for two more prospects on the S.S. Wolverine. If those players are ranked highly enough, Michigan can pick up enough points in the Rivals.com team rankings to pass up USC.

Only the top 20 commitments in a given recruiting class count toward the Rivals.com team rankings, so the next commitment's point value will be replacing a 5.6 three-star prospect (the points attributed to either Gareon Conley or Khalid Hill, who are worth the same amount). That means a loss of 75 points, so in order to pass up USC, the new commitment will have to be worth at least 158 points to the team rankings.

That means, according to the Rivals.com formula, the player would have to be ranked No. 75 or better in the Rivals100. seven players that Michigan is still recruiting (to some degree) fit that mold. No. 75 Wyatt Teller, No. 71 Joe Mathis, No. 68 Priest Willis, No. 39 Laquon Treadwell, No. 33 Leon McQuay III, No. 12 Derrick Green, and No. 3 Kendall Fuller.

While most of those players are longshots, or only listing Michigan in the "others receiving votes" categories on their favorites lists, Green, McQuay, and Treadwell all have Michigan near the top of their lists. Should McQuay, for example, pick Michigan, the Wolverines would gain a net of 111 points, passing the Trojans. Green would add 143 points to Michigan's total, and Treadwell would add 109 points.


Some - though not all - of Michigan's commitments have been impressive enough this summer to make a case for moving up the rankings. Any jump in "RR" value (going from a low three-star to a high three-star, for example, or gaining/losing a star in the rankings) can impact the team rankings. For prospects inside the Rivals250, position within that top group also impacts the rankings.

Quarterback Shane Morris, for example, is only five spots away from a fifth star. He has impressed this summer, and although there is no guarantee he continues moving up, he is a potential climber. Cornerback Jourdan Lewis is only five spots away from 5.9 distinction, and has been one of the most competitive - and often best players on the camp circuit this summer. Pat Kugler is only nine spots away from the 6.0 "high four-star" mark. Although he has not participated in camps this summer, a strong senior season could see him climb in the rankings.

Wide receiver Csont'e York is the top three star prospect at his position. He was virtually an unknown commodity heading into this summer, so performing well this fall when there is media attention gives him a chance to move up. Although cornerback Gareon Conley is not so close to the cusp of four-star status he can move up to a 5.7 three-star with his play on the field. Since he was limited due to injury as a junior, he has lots of potential to impress.

The other option in a re-rank is some of USC's commitments moving down. With such a high-powered class (4.2 stars per commit, unheard of in recent years), it's more likely that their players move down than up. Although those drops may not be significant in most cases, at the very least, quarterback Max Browne has been outplayed by Michigan's representative at the position this summer.

In The End

USC is expected to reach 18 total commits, with No. 16 potentially coming tomorrow in the form of wideout Paul Harris (115 points). Without major changes in either school's recruiting class, it's unlikely that Michigan can stay ahead of the Trojans.

However, Brady Hoke and his assistants have put together a class that fills Michigan's needs, and for the most part with very highly rated players. Whether the Wolverines finish No. 1, No. 2, or No. 10 in the recruiting rankings, the talent level is high enough to compete with the best programs when it comes time to prove it on the field.

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