|Kyle Kalis is my pick to be the best recruit from the 2012 class|
This is a fun yearly exercise for me. You can take a look back at the 2009, 2010, and 2011 recruiting awards for a historical perspective on my choices. Overall, I haven’t done a bad job, with some hits and misses over the years. My best defensive recruit from 2010 was Marvin Robinson, who has yet to make much of an impact. But I’ve picked a couple good ones as guys who are most underrated – Desmond Morgan and Jake Ryan. It’s the usual – sometimes you’re right, and sometimes you’re wrong.
Best Overall Recruit: OG/OT Kyle Kalis
This was a pretty tough choice between Kalis and James Ross, but I’m going to go with Kalis, in part because of his NFL potential and his size. Whereas Ross needs to add a little bit of bulk and even then might not be big enough for many NFL teams, Kalis has the size, technique, athleticism, and pedigree to play at the next level.
Best Offensive Recruit: OG/OT Kyle Kalis
The 2012 class isn’t deep with offensive stars, so this wasn’t a very difficult choice. But I think Kyle Kalis is about as college-ready as high school linemen come. He has excellent technique and very good size (6’5″, 305 lbs.). He could be on the two-deep this fall, and I’m guessing he’ll be at least a three-year starter for the Wolverines.
Best Defensive Recruit: LB James Ross
The best NFL prospect of the bunch might be defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins, but for their three-to-five years in college, I’ll take Ross as the best defensive player. He could challenge Desmond Morgan for playing time as a true freshman, and by year two, he might have the starting WILL job locked down.
Recruit Most Likely to Make an Early Impact: DT Ondre Pipkins
I don’t think it’s a good thing when freshmen enter school knowing that the coaches almost have to play them, but that’s the situation Pipkins will find himself in this fall. With Michigan’s top two defensive tackles having left and only unproven guys remaining, he’s a virtual lock to see significant time this fall.
Fastest Recruit: RB/PR/KR Dennis Norfleet
Running back Drake Johnson and wide receiver Jehu Chesson are high school track stars, but I’m giving Norfleet the nod due to his short-area quickness, too. It takes Johnson and Chesson a little bit longer to accelerate than it does Norfleet.
Strongest Recruit: DT Ondre Pipkins
Pipkins will have no excuse for failing to be the strongest player on Michigan’s team in a few years. He’s 6’3″ and 330 lbs. already.
Best Under-the-Radar Recruit: DT Willie Henry
The more I think about the defensive line coaches at Michigan getting their hands on Henry, the more excited I get. Henry is a very athletic kid for his size and should be a penetrating-type defensive tackle for Michigan in the years to come. Outside of classmate Ondre Pipkins, he might very well be the best DT recruit since Mike Martin in 2008.
Most Overrated Recruit: OT Blake Bars
Bars has the unfortunate luck of coming to Michigan in the midst of two great offensive line recruiting hauls. He could very well get lost in the shuffle with guys like Kalis, Erik Magnuson, Logan Tuley-Tillman, Kyle Bosch, etc.
Most Likely to Redshirt: OT Blake Bars
As an offensive lineman, you’re likely to redshirt, anyway. But Bars has some weight and strength to add before he sees the field, and he’s the least likely to play early, in my opinion. Kalis already has the size and technique, Ben Braden is reportedly 325 lbs., and I think Erik Magnuson is a little more advanced (although I expect him to redshirt, too).
Personal Favorite Recruit: LB James Ross
For the second year in a row, I’m picking a weakside linebacker. Last year it was Antonio Poole. This year it’s Ross. I love these fast, downhill players who can make plays in the backfield, in pass coverage, and at the line of scrimmage. Ross is one of the most technically sound football players I’ve seen since I started following recruiting, and that makes him incredibly fun for me to watch.