|Lawrenceville (NJ) School offensive tackle Grant Newsome|
It’s that time of the year. The class has wrapped up (barring any last-minute changes), and it’s time to start judging. Here are the annual recruiting awards, chosen by yours truly. If you want to look at past years’ awards, here they are: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009.
And away we go!
Best Overall Recruit: OT Grant Newsome
I’m tempted to go with Brian Cole, who is Michigan’s top-rated recruit in the class. But I believe that this coaching staff will do a great job of developing offensive linemen, and I think Newsome is the cream of the crop. He has the size and the athleticism to be a very good left tackle, so without a true superstar recruit, I’ll put my metaphorical chips on Newsome.
Best Offensive Recruit: OT Grant Newsome
Best Defensive Recruit: DE Shelton Johnson
This is a bit of a gamble here, because I have bad memories of Rich Rodriguez-era Floridians. I’m attempting to put most of the Rodriguez years behind me, so I’m going with Johnson. He has a good body to work with, he can play low, he’s athletic, and he’s violent. But if he takes things seriously, I think he can be Michigan’s best defensive end since Brandon Graham.
Recruit Most Likely to Make an Early Impact: K Andrew David
Michigan enters the year having lost both their punter and placekicker from 2014. The punting job should go to walk-on Kenny Allen, but the placekicking job is there for the taking. Allen can do both, but he has reportedly been shaky. Meanwhile, David is the 247 Composite #9 kicker in the country and has a pretty clear path to the job. Add to that a dedicated special teams coach in John Baxter, and hopefully David’s impact will be a good one.
Fastest Recruit: CB Keith Washington
Michigan’s class is light on skill guys, with only Washington, WR Brian Cole, WR Grant Perry, RB Karan Higdon, and S Tyree Kinnel. While I doubt Washington’s claim that he can run a 4.3 forty, he does have impressive acceleration and earns this prestigious award by a hair over Cole.
Strongest Recruit: OT Grant Newsome
With a 305 lb. bench and a 465 lb. squat, Newsome edges out fellow offensive lineman Nolan Ulizio (315 and 410, respectively).
Best Under-the-Radar Recruit: WR Grant Perry
My original criterion was going to be any guy who’s a 247 Composite 3-star or lower, but I just can’t bring myself to count Shelton Johnson – who fits that description – as an under-the-radar guy since he was wanted by some big-time schools. So my next choice is Perry. Perry is a guy who I don’t think will be a superstar, but I think he will reach the level of being a consistent possession target.
Most Overrated Recruit: QB Zach Gentry
Michigan doesn’t have many to choose from this year, so I’ll put Gentry here since I think of him as a boom-or-bust type of guy. Gentry has all kinds of physical tools, but his mechanics are raw. Having played very weak competition in New Mexico and being so far from home, Gentry has the type of profile where he might transfer away from Michigan if he doesn’t win the starting job within a couple years. The Wolverines are bringing in a lot of competition – especially if Houston transfer John O’Korn is official – and the quarterback position has a high turnover rate because those kids want to play. I do think Gentry has higher upside than classmate Alex Malzone and anyone else on the roster save perhaps Shane Morris, but Malzone is a hometown kid who might stick it out a little bit longer.
Most Likely to Redshirt: OG Jon Runyan, Jr.
Runyan did get bigger from his junior year to his senior season and looks more the part of a college lineman now, but he still looks the least ready of Michigan’s three offensive linemen in the class. The rest of the signees play positions where freshmen contribute regularly, except for quarterback – but Michigan has a wide-open quarterback position. My non-lineman pick would be RB Karan Higdon, who joins a team that includes three guys who have started games at Michigan (Derrick Green, Drake Johnson, and De’Veon Smith) and perhaps the best of the bunch coming off a transfer redshirt year (Ty Isaac).
Personal Favorite Recruit: WR Grant Perry
I’m picking the underdog here. Perry grew up a Michigan fan and you could tell throughout the process that he was dying for a Michigan offer. There were reasons for Michigan not offering, but Brady Hoke’s coaching staff told him to be patient and that an offer might come. Late in the process, Jim Harbaugh’s staff extended an offer. Perry, already committed to Northwestern by that point, flipped to the Wolverines almost immediately but not until he took the time to let the Wildcats’ coaches know. This is a feel-good story about hard work, perseverance, and love for the program.