2014 Recruiting Awards

2014 Recruiting Awards

February 6, 2014
Michigan signee Jabrill Peppers

It’s that time of year again, where I pick out the best and least best of the recruiting class and we can argue about it for the next four or five years. Here’s a look back at my choices over the last five years (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013). And on with the show:

Best Overall Recruit: CB Jabrill Peppers
Peppers is the 247 Composite #3 player in the country and for good reason. Michigan’s lone 5-star in the class, he won four state championships in his four years of high school football. He has the ability to play four positions (RB, WR, CB, S) in college, although he was recruited as a corner; Michigan will also probably use him in the return game. Peppers has the size, speed, and competitive attitude to be an All-American and a high draft pick in a few years.

Best Offensive Recruit: WR Drake Harris
I think this wide receiver class is loaded with Harris, Maurice Ways, and Freddy Canteen. In my opinion, these three could turn out to be almost as good as the trio of Braylon Edwards, Jason Avant, and Steve Breaston playing together in the mid-2000’s. Harris has the best coordination, speed, and athleticism of the group, so as long as he stays healthy, I think he’ll be the top guy on this side of the ball.

Best Defensive Recruit: CB Jabrill Peppers
See above.

Recruit Most Likely to Make an Early Impact: CB Jabrill Peppers
Peppers will instantly be one of the four best athletes in the secondary, so it’s a question of where and how soon he should play. Whether he plays corner, safety, or slot corner, he should be on the field as soon as he arrives on campus. I do want to pump the breaks on him being an instant starter at corner because technique is so important, but he could play over the slot if the coaches want him there. He might also be able to challenge Dennis Norfleet for kick return duties, and both of Michigan’s punt returners (Drew Dileo, Jeremy Gallon) graduated, so that job will be an open competition, too.

Fastest Recruit: CB Jabrill Peppers
This is like a broken record, so I’ll also mention that Drake Harris can leave some people in the dust if he recovers from his hamstring issues.

Strongest Recruit: DT Brady Pallante
Pallante benches 370 lbs. and squats 580 lbs., but his best quality is probably the leverage he’s able to use on the defensive line. Fellow defensive tackle Bryan Mone is significantly larger, but Pallante plays like a guy who’s 30 lbs. heavier.

Best Under-the-Radar Recruit: WR Maurice Ways
This is a really tough choice between Pallante and Ways, but both are pretty modest 3-stars in the 247 Composite rankings. I’m going with Ways because I think he will be the more acclaimed player of the two. He reminds me of Michigan’s 6’3″, 215 lb. receivers of yesteryear. If Michigan has a good quarterback situation down the road, I think Ways could be a 1,000-yard receiver.

Most Overrated Recruit: DT Bryan Mone
Perhaps more so than in other recent years, I think most of these guys are ranked just about right, with Ways and Pallante being the exceptions. I was extremely high on Mone early in his recruitment, and his junior film was very exciting. However, he gained a lot of weight before his senior year, didn’t put up great stats, and then didn’t stand out at the Under Armour All-American Game. I think Mone is probably ranked fairly accurately by the recruiting sites (#111 in the 247 Composite), but Michigan fans expecting instant domination are probably in for a bit of a disappointment.

Most Likely to Redshirt: OT Juwann Bushell-Beatty
Bushell-Beatty is a developmental prospect, and his performance at the Under Armour All-American Game solidified that position for me. He’s not a great natural athlete, and he was out of shape in early January. He needs to redistribute some weight, get stronger, work on his footwork, etc. Provided that Michigan’s line can stay healthy (an iffy proposition considering redshirt sophomore Erik Magnuson is missing the entire spring), Bushell-Beatty will probably be planted firmly on the sideline this season.

Personal Favorite Recruit: WR Maurice Ways
This is a tough choice, too. There are several guys that I could pick, and the obvious choice for most people is probably Peppers. I also like Mone (his family story is inspiring), WR Freddy Canteen (a somewhat under-the-radar route running specialist), and Pallante (the classic underdog). But I was high on Ways from the first time I saw his film, a lot of people disagreed with me, and he seems to have a good attitude when it comes to improving, blocking, etc.


  1. Comments: 21508
    Feb 05, 2014 at 7:00 PM

    Brady Pallante does 370/580? That's great. Really starting to sound like Mike Martin. There's no way HS senior can do that much weight without great work ethic so this is all great news. Of course MM did 500/700 in his senior year so Pallante has ways to go but there's 4 years until BP will be a college senior.

    The WRs will be great. Really looking forward to seeing them! And I haven't been this excited about a recruit in years: Jabrill Peppers!! Hope he will snatch a few interceptions on the last week of November 2014 a la Charles Woodson and break Buckeye hearts!

  2. Comments: 21508
    Feb 05, 2014 at 7:18 PM

    Missing out on 4 five-star guys (D. Hand, George Campbell, M McDowell, and Damien Harris) really hurt, but that's what a terrible season does to a program. We can turn this around if we win 10+ games next year. I am already looking forward to the football season.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 05, 2014 at 7:20 PM

      Campbell and Damien Harris don't have much to do with the 2014 class. They're 2015 guys.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 05, 2014 at 7:23 PM

      I know. GC and DH are 2015 guys, but they still decommitted because of our 2013 season. Just imagine all the negative recruiting from coaches all over the place. That's what I meant.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 05, 2014 at 9:41 PM

      No they did not.

      Campbell committed way too early (probably got hyped up on his visit and influenced by Cole) and he's from Florida. I just knew he would want to visit FSU especially after the season they had. Harris decommitted because we fired Borges (his coach and Al were close) but there's still time to win him back and I don't think losing had much of an impact with him. The player that losing might have played a role with is Hand and that really did hurt us because he was at a position of need.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 06, 2014 at 3:23 AM

      Hmm. You sure? We had bunch of players from Florida before, too. I know we're 2000 miles away but that doesn't mean we automatically lose 5-star recruits from there. Your FSU comment is spot-on, GC started getting interested in FSU because FSU won NC and we went 7-6. If we had just won NC and FSU went 7-6, you think Campbell would even care about Florida State?

      7-6 season also impacted Harris and Hand. We lost them because the 2014 season was such a turn off.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 06, 2014 at 3:24 AM

      I wish old, tired, inaccurate memes would all just die a painful death. But that would require too much thinking on the part of some people.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 06, 2014 at 3:47 AM

      Hmmm……… okay.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 06, 2014 at 5:27 PM

      Sam Webb said that Campbell would've decommitted even if Michigan had a good season.

    • Comments: 21508
      Magnum P.I.
      Feb 06, 2014 at 8:28 PM

      Guys, it's okay to admit it to yourselves: we had an awful season, and it has negatively affected recruiting. It's not your fault, but it's a real thing.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 07, 2014 at 12:18 AM

      Sam Webb is working with a hypothetical question here. He doesn't know that to be sure.

  3. Comments: 21508
    Feb 05, 2014 at 8:10 PM

    How does anyone know that Campbell and Harris decommitted over the 2013 season when the reasons they gave were contrary, well publicized, and plausible?

  4. Comments: 21508
    Feb 05, 2014 at 8:12 PM

    I love our receivers here and think that all three have a chance to move past upperclassmen. The trend now in football is big and physical at the corner position and to hold until the flags come out. I think Ways and Canteen have the tools to get separation against the press. Ways is big and physical himself, and it should prove to be hard to get a grip on Canteen as he looks to to be the best route runner we've had come here in a while. Having Harris on campus early is a big plus.

    Speight, my candidate for most likely to redshirt, is also in early and get's an extra winter get stronger and spring to learn the system. I like Speight a lot better than most, as it looks to me like even with the mediocre protection he worked behind at the high school level, he was very accurate and natural at throwing to the spot where only his guy has a chance to make a play. Lets hope the pass protection around here improves some, if not, at least we have a guy with some experience throwing under pressure.

    I'm really liking our Lbs here as well. It looks to me like we got everything you need in a Linebacker class. Winovich can really run, I still like him better than I do Berger. Wangler has a chance to be a solid cover guy, and the two other guys are both thumpers. I think this is an outstanding group.

    One a tangent, the one thing that puzzles me is why wouldn't McDowel's parents want him in state. Hate Sparty? Worried about the kid's friends? Hate the state in general? That one there is an interesting question … at least to me.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 05, 2014 at 9:45 PM

      Who knows… maybe it was all fake and they loved the "drama" it created. He's been in the news all day, front page on Rivals, Yahoo and ESPN. It almost feels like SEC type drama.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 06, 2014 at 12:18 AM

      With 3 older QBs who have played, I sure hope Speight can red-shirt. "natural" is a good word for Speight. He seems like he puts some touch on the ball. Some QBs have a feel for the game and I hope thats true for Speight.

      Totally disagree with you on the LB haul. Winovich was about 5th or 6th down on the SAM pecking order and seems a little flakey. Wangler is VERY small (I've stood next to him) and when you're being pegged as a role player coming in it's not a good sign. Finovich is headed for DE where there's a long list of more highly touted prospects ahead of him. Ferns seems like the real deal but he may have to wait a while behind the incumbents. I think this staff takes too many LBs and this year is no exception.

      The anti-MSU thing seems obvious. Education, culture, crime, NFL production. Other than winning a lot of games lately and partying, there's still not much MSU has to offer.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 06, 2014 at 3:28 AM

      WS def should redshirt. I also didn't really understand about the Wangler recruitment. I am sure the coaches are seeing something in him (as did Bill O'Brien and his staff), but he just isn't that physically impressive. Not big strong or fast. But we signed him and I hope he proves me wrong though. As for MSU — blah. MSU is inferior to Michigan in every single way except the hotter (but on the average dumber) girls. I know athletes are not typical students but why the hell would anyone go for MSU over Michigan? Why hurt oneself like that? Lmao.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 06, 2014 at 12:35 PM

      Wangler is far from small, I stand there and watch him workout at LL Speed twice a week, along with a raft of DLS kids including Shane Morris every once in a while, some of the better Ike and Dakota kids past and present and my scrawny runt of a son. He is both fast and quick out of the ground. And, everything that you see works as his fat level is way, way, way low. Almost freakishly so. Not to mention the fact that he is coming out of one of the top football conferences in the country and has gone at it against D1 prospects week after week his entire high school career.


      In this day and age of multiple formations and personnel packages almost nobody, anywhere is playing all four downs anymore, or even three. Mattison subs aggressively. You need cover guys against spread teams, and you need thumpers against power. This kid is fast enough to hang with slot guys, big enough to cover tight ends and H backs, and will cheerfully come up and hit you in the mouth. While I would have preferred the big, violent Florida Safety that sniffed us for a second before committing to Miami, as I thought that kid was special, Wangler can play.

      The only concern I might have of Wangler is that he has been in a big time training program most of his life and may as a result be right there at his maximum potential. The good news is that he likes it in the weight room, brings it with him every day and uses it every set. We want him.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 06, 2014 at 5:29 PM

      @Suduri You're the one that always says people commit due to record and you just said MSU was inferior to Michigan. Not on the football field! You're being a hypocrite.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 06, 2014 at 6:31 PM

      "MSU is inferior to Michigan in every single way"

      Normally I see strong talk for what it is and I let it go. But c'mon … every school has its merits, and MSU is no different. MSU's Veterinary College is absolutely top-notch. MSU's high-energy physics department is world renowned. MSU pioneered the study of packaging techniques … laugh if you will, but it impacts your life every single day. MSU was also a pioneer in supply chain management (logistics) and that industry dwarfs most others and is involved in nearly every aspect of life. MSU's campus is also quite beautiful the way it's not mixed with the town but set on its own.

      Both U-M and MSU are fine institutions and do the state of Michigan proud.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 07, 2014 at 12:13 AM

      I am not saying MSU isn't worth a thing, all I am saying is UM is clearly superior. Yes you can pick out a few grad programs where MSU might be better but look at the overall picture. This obviously isn't Harvard-Yale rivlary.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 07, 2014 at 12:17 AM

      @Anonymous 12:29pm, I am not a hypocrite. I did say winning matters a great deal. These are athletes (jocks) so our values are not necessarily theirs, especially at such an age. If they take education seriously, there is no way in hell MSU is a better choice.

  5. Comments: 21508
    Feb 05, 2014 at 9:52 PM

    1. Who do you think as the biggest risk amongst the prospects?
    2. Have you done the reranking yet for 2014?

    Thanks Thunder!

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 06, 2014 at 3:15 PM

      1. Well, I'm not sure what you mean by "risk." There's no indication that any of these guys are troublemakers, so I'm not really worried about that. If we're talking about public perception, I would say Pallante is the biggest risk. There are more than a few people out there who think Michigan reached for a 2-star prospect whose only other offer came from Appalachian State.

      2. I have not yet done the re-ranking. I will probably wait until Malik McDowell signs his NLI before doing it.

  6. Comments: 21508
    Feb 06, 2014 at 12:00 AM

    I'm mostly with you if you replace all the Ways hype with MORE Canteen hype. I'm also not real high on Harris but you can't argue with the offers. Whatever – it's very unlikely all 3 turn into big time players. I think Canteen ends up the best one. Ways could be a nice player too though and Harris clearly has talent – I expect 2 of the 3 to pass the never-impressive '13 haul. Bunting should be a nice player too, down the road.

    With you on your praise for Pallante. He and Mone both deserve our patience. I still have great faith in our coaches being to develop quality DL and both bring something to the table.

  7. Comments: 21508
    Feb 06, 2014 at 12:32 AM

    Again, I don't know enough about linemen. Magnuson had shoulder surgery, why wouldn't he be able to run, run through non contact drills, do legs, footwork, balance, rules etc.? Spring football is March/April, that's a a fair amount of time for healing.

    I'm not looking for pushups here, but I don't know why he can't be out there moving.

    So, who lines up at LT this spring? I'm guessing Glasgow and then Braden. Followed immediately by a screaming panic across the entire Michigan internet community. Followed quickly by calls to fire both Hoke and Funk in favor of Doug Nussmeier and anybody, seriously ,,,,, ANYBODY, as "Backup Quarterback Syndrome" rears it's ugly head.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 06, 2014 at 3:33 AM

      LMAO. Man I hope Magnuson heals up quickly. And yes he should continue to do some things that he can do without aggravating his shoulder. I think a red flag went up after the last year's spring game re: OL. I think we gotta wait until then to see how things changed. Also there is word (not trying to spread rumors, but I heard this from a few people) that more staff change is coming (Hoke denied this recently, but look at what he did with Borges/Nuss), and I am guessing the OL coach also could be on his way out.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 06, 2014 at 6:16 PM

      I can guarantee that Borges will be the only one that gets fired. Funk will be back next year.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 07, 2014 at 12:11 AM

      guarantee? i am not sure if even Hoke can make that..

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 07, 2014 at 8:42 PM

      Suduri, you are the new Lanknows. You are a very loud broken record with a lot of your regurgitated statements here. Need to develop a bit of a filter from what happens in your mind, and what comes out of it.

      I don't know if either of you have ever had a bad shoulder injury before, but running could aggravate it. Your arms act as counter weights for your legs when you run, and so you're pumping them quite a bit, which is why sprinters typically have muscular upper bodies. A lot of non contact drills could still aggravate the injury. I'm going to trust the trainers on this one. If it's a rotator cuff or AC joint injury, I'll be happy when we hear he's penciled in as a starter during fall camp.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 08, 2014 at 12:43 AM

      Okay. I didn't even bother reading all of your rant. So please keep your rants/anger to yourself.

  8. Comments: 21508
    Feb 06, 2014 at 2:41 AM

    The scariest part is our D-line recruiting. Between the 2013 and 2014 classes we've signed a grand total of 2 DE's. We have not landed a single 5 star recruit at DE and only one at DT in Pipkins who has been overweight and injured. You would think Hoke and Mattison (d-line specialists) would be killing it there but for some reason it has not worked that way. I really hope Charlton can become a big time player because without a good pass rush (last time we had one was 2006) things look gloomy.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 06, 2014 at 3:29 AM

      Pipkins was playing pretty well before the injury last year. I think if he recovers, we'll be fine. I really don't care about something so specific as landing a 5-star at defensive end. In addition, we have some highly-touted guys buried on the depth chart, like Wormley, who showed flashes last year, and Tom Strobel, who broke his hand and moved to 3-tech for depth. We have some bodies; someone just needs to step up.

      Our pass rush was plenty good in 2011, I think. Not as good as our run D, but we had two dominant linemen and Jake Ryan's coming out party.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 06, 2014 at 3:35 AM

      Yeah a lot of gut hanging down for Pipkins. While positions like LB is stacked we are pretty thin at DL. This is where missing out on M McDowell and D Hand really hurt. The two guys would've seen action right away. The DL recruiting must be a priority for 2015.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 06, 2014 at 3:19 PM

      I'm not too worried about the defensive end position. I think it's a spot where young guys can play fairly effectively (more so than DT or OL), there are some guys on the roster with versatility to play inside or outside (Wormley, Strobel), and there are some linebackers who could play WDE (like Noah Furbush).

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 08, 2014 at 1:20 AM

      Thunder, I'm going have to disagree – respectfully of course. Godin, Wormley, and Charleton are all sophomores and Marshall is going to be a freshman. I think we need to pick up a stud SDE in next years recruiting class. I wouldn't mind skipping out on a WDE, but we definitely need someone who is solely a SDE, not a SDE/3 tech tweener.

    • Comments: 21508
      Feb 08, 2014 at 1:38 AM

      I do think we need a stud SDE in the next recruiting class (2015), but I'm not worried about the position for the 2014 or 2015 seasons, really. The above comment was about 2014.

  9. Comments: 21508
    Feb 08, 2014 at 3:23 AM

    Excellent analysis, Thunder! As high a ceiling as George Campbell has, I think that the younger receivers currently in AA and the guys coming in will be solid enough to mitigate the impact of his decision to stay in FL. Thanks for the perspective.


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