As you’ve probably noticed during our recurring recruiting segment, Friday Recruitin’, Michigan is off to a tear this year, with first-year head coach Brady Hoke taking top-rated recruiting both in-state and beyond the borders of The Mitten. Luckily for PSU, there have only been a couple of instances where the 2012 commits for Michigan were also highly recruited by Penn State (James Ross sure did sting), but as long as Hoke keeps this momentum, we’ll find ourselves in more and more recruiting contests with the Wolverines.
With that in mind, we asked TomVH of mGoBlog to stop by and answer some questions for us on the state of Michigan recruiting, possible outlooks for this class and beyond, and who else might be considered a PSU/UM battle.
Linebacker-U: What will Michigan’s class look like on National Signing Day in 2012? We’ve heard reports of anywhere between 18 and 25 commits, but many PSU fans are unfamiliar with how UM’s scholarship numbers breakdown.
TomVH: Brady Hoke recently told reporters that it will be a class of 23-25. They currently have around 19 spots available, which means the coaches are either counting on some attrition or fifth year guys won’t be getting renewed. Some people are on the fence about that and if it’s the way that Michigan should be recruiting, but we all don’t know as much as the coaches do about each situation. Until everything plays out I’m going to hold back my opinion on that.
They have 16 prospects committed right now, which means they should be able to get 9 more kids in the class. That’s good for them because they still need to get a few more offensive and defensive linemen, potentially a wide receiver, a safety, and they’re still recruiting a limited number of quarterbacks and running backs.
LBU: What are your positional needs in this class? Rich Rodriguez’ defensive recruiting struggles are well documented, and the evidence was the product that was on the field for UM in 2010.
TomVH: Number one would seem to be defense by the way that the coaches have gotten these kids to commit, but I think offensive line is probably one of the more pressing needs right now. The depth chart looks pretty slim for O line even for the 2011 season. The coaches have three offensive linemen committed so far, the gem being Cali OL Erik Magnuson. To give some back story on why he chose Michigan, the offensive line coach Darrell Funk has done an outstanding job recruiting him since he was a sophomore. A big part of why Magnuson chose Michigan is because of Funk.
As you can see by the five linebackers Michigan has committed, Greg Mattison wanted some linebackers.
The defensive line is also a major concern for them. After this season they’ll be losing DT Mike Martin and DE Ryan VanBergen. Those are some big holes to fill, so that’s also been a big focus. Tom Strobel was a big pickup for Michigan. I know Ohio State fans at one point figured he was a lock to be a Buckeye, and ended up choosing Michigan. Any time that happens it’s a big win. They’re also the leader for Chris Wormley who is very high on their board. With the Ohio State mess it’s looking more and more likely that he’ll choose Michigan. Ondre Pipkins, the defensive tackle from Missouri, has Michigan very high on his list as well. He’s originally from Michigan and has some UofM connections, too, so they’re in good position there.
The coaches have done an excellent job getting into the conversation with a lot of the top kids across the country. Talking about Ohio State kids, Michigan has gained a lot of interest from DE Adolphus Washington who plans on visiting soon. Nationally they’re still in the mix with kids like former Stanford commit Aziz Shittu, who has said he wants to take an official for the Michigan Notre Dame night game.
As I mentioned before they’re still looking at the top running backs and top quarterbacks in this class. They have a chance with Ohio State running back commit Bri’onte Dunn still. Dunn and his father have told me that they’re watching the Ohio State stuff very closely, and if there’s a multi year bowl ban there’s a chance he doesn’t end up at Ohio State. I know that Dunn is also planning on making his way out to Penn State some time soon, so the Lions also have a chance with him.
There’s a lot left that could still happen with Michigan’s recruiting class even though they already have 16 on board. Ideally they would like to have the majority of the class wrapped up before the end of the season. With a few spots left to go get the elite kids that are waiting to make their decision it will give them plenty of time to try to close out strong.
LBU: Individually, Penn State and UM are or have been after some of the same recruits this year, with UM winning the big prize so far in MI LB James Ross. However, Penn State won a small battle recently when MA DB Armani Reeves dropped Michigan, after naming PSU and UM as his top two. Who else should be a battle between the Nittany Lions and Wolverines, and what are your thoughts on how their recruitment will end?
TomVH: Battle is a strong word. I’m not sure that there are many recruits that are saying it’s down to Michigan and Penn State and I’m not sure. That’s how I view a battle. I know it doesn’t seem early because Michigan already has a good amount of their class filled, but it’s still early for a lot of these kids. Some of them haven’t even narrowed down their list yet.
Some prospects that are considering both Michigan and Penn State though are guys like I just mentioned, Bri’onte Dunn. I think Penn state has a legitimate shot with him if he bolts from Ohio State, but I also think he has a good amount of interest in Michigan too.
A local offensive lineman for Penn State that is about to visit Michigan is Chris Muller. I know Penn State fans were hoping for a commitment from Muller on his visit, I’m not sure that he knows too much about Michigan at this point so we’ll see how that one plays out.
Your fans probably won’t have to worry about Michigan trying to steal Jarron Jones, I think that one will play itself out and Michigan won’t be a player.
Jarrod Wilson is a safety prospect from Ohio and he’s down to Michigan, Penn State, and Notre Dame. He just met with his coaches this past Wednesday (the 15th) and he plans on sitting down with them this coming Monday (the 20th) to figure out what’s next. I think he could be potentially be making his decision soon. His coaches don’t think he’ll be taking any more visits, so he has to be close.
I’m not sure if I would throw Noah Spence in this conversation either. I speak with his father on a regular basis, but until they actually visit Michigan I would hold off on saying there’s serious interest there. I think Penn State’s in great shape with him.
Greg Garmon, the PA running back, just took a visit to Michigan but I’m just not convinced he has a ton of interest in Michigan yet. That could always change, but I’m just not sure as of right now.
Big thanks to TomVH. I urge all of our readers, not just the ones that keep up on recruiting, to follow Tom’s diary at mGoBlog, and read his extensive and well written updates on Michigan recruiting. Given our proximity to each other, PSU and UM are going to see each other on the recruiting trail. Keeping tabs on Tom is a great way to keep tabs on Michigan’s movements. Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer…