I posted the grades for Michigan’s offense yesterday (LINK). Here’s a look at how I view the defense:
Commits (3): Aidan Hutchinson, Taylor Upshaw, Julius Welschof
Decommits (0): N/A
Biggest miss: Eyabi Anoma
Scoop: Michigan didn’t get that elite weakside edge rusher in this class, which Anoma could have been. But they got some guys with upside. Hutchinson looked excellent in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl against elite competition, and while the defense is always at an advantage in those games, it’s significant that he was one of the best – if not the best – defensive player on the team. Upshaw is a strongside end who has not been playing football for long, and regardless of what Michigan’s coaching staff says, Welschof is a project. But part of what has made Michigan a great defense in the past few years is the development of talent. Michigan has almost blank slates in Upshaw and Welschof, and I think at least one of those guys will turn into a very good player. Hutchinson is more advanced since his dad was an All-American on the defensive line at Michigan.
Commits (0): N/A
Decommits (0): N/A
Biggest miss: Tyler Friday
Scoop: Michigan put almost all of its eggs in the Tyler Friday basket, and when he committed to Ohio State, no other offers were sent. It’s odd to completely ignore the defensive tackle position group, but Michigan has some guys from 2017 who could contribute there. Add in the fact that Hutchinson, Upshaw, or Welschof could end up playing 3-tech down the road, and it’s not a terrible situation. Even Friday is regarded by some as a strongside end, so Michigan wasn’t really working too hard to get defensive tackles. It’s hard to say Michigan failed here when they acted as if they didn’t regard DT as a serious need, but I don’t believe you should be ignoring this position entirely in any class.
Commits (1): Cameron McGrone
Decommits (2): Antwuan Johnson, Otis Reese
Biggest miss: Nik Bonitto
Scoop: I really like what I have seen from McGrone, both in high school and in the U.S. Army game. He’s a slashing linebacker who will be brought in as a weakside linebacker, and Michigan is doing some good things with that position group. Antwuan Johnson, who signed with Bowling Green, is not a loss. A lot of people will point to Otis Reese as the biggest loss when he was committed to Michigan over a year and finally spurned the Wolverines on the morning of National Signing Day. While that loss hurts, it’s not as big as Michigan basically backing off of recruiting Bonitto. Michigan was at or near the top of his recruitment early, and then they simply stopped recruiting him. I’m a sucker for outside linebackers who can rush the passer, because Bonitto could put his hand down and play some weakside end in certain packages.
Commits (6): Sammy Faustin, Vincent Gray, Gemon Green, German Green, Casey Hughes (transfer), Myles Sims
Decommits (0): N/A
Biggest miss: Kyler McMichael
Scoop: Michigan didn’t get naturally athletic difference-makers in the defensive backfield, but they got a group of guys who fit their requirements. These five high school players are all the same. Are they safeties or corners? Nobody knows, and it doesn’t matter. They’re all long and lanky. Michigan has taken these types of guys in the past and turned them into mid-round draft picks or at least very good college players. Is Gemon Green the same person as Channing Stribling? Is Sammy Faustin the next Delano Hill? Yes and yes. Or at least maybe. Michigan has one of the best defensive coaching staffs in the country, and at this point, I like every kid they bring in because they’ll all be top-1o in the nation in defending the pass. I never understood what happened to McMichael, though, a high-profile kid who could play DB or WR in college. He was in love with Michigan early and seemed likely to end up in Ann Arbor, and then the coaching staff seemed to lose interest. I’m not sure if they could have beaten Clemson for a Georgia kid, but they didn’t seem to work too hard at it, either. As for Hughes, a transfer from Utah, he’s an experienced guy who can provide some competition for Josh Metellus and Tyree Kinnel, who were the weak spots of the 2017 defense.
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