2020 Recruiting Needs

2020 Recruiting Needs


February 12, 2019
Osman Savage is Michigan’s highest rated 2020 commit

Michigan landed a pretty good recruiting class in 2019, ending up at #8 in the 247 Composite rankings. They addressed a lot of needs – especially on the offensive line – and landed a few elite prospects, like Zach Charbonnet, Daxton Hill, and Chris Hinton, Jr.

But recruiting never stops, and now we turn our eyes to the 2020 class. Today I’ll look at the top five positions that need to be addressed. Keep in mind that I am not including players already committed in 2020, because we all know how fleeting and temporary commitments can be.

QUARTERBACK
2019 Depth Chart:
Shea Patterson (Sr.), Dylan McCaffrey (RS So.), Joe Milton (RS Fr.), Brandon Peters (RS Jr.), Cade McNamara (Fr.)
What they need: 2. Patterson will be out of eligibility after the 2019 season, and with Peters aging and seemingly low on the depth chart, he is unlikely to be around in 2020. That would leave McCaffrey, Milton, and McNamara on the roster with presumed starter McCaffrey a redshirt junior at that point. Michigan has landed a commitment from J.D. Johnson in the 2020 class, but you probably want to have approximately five quarterbacks on the roster with the understanding that one guy is likely to depart soon for one reason or another.

RUNNING BACK
2019 Depth Chart:
Chris Evans (Sr.), Tru Wilson (Sr.), Zach Charbonnet (Fr.), Christian Turner (RS Fr.), Hassan Haskins (RS Fr.)
What they need: 3. Running back will be a very interesting position going forward, for many reasons. Two of the players listed above are seniors, but Evans’s status is up in the air right now as he is currently suspended from the team. There is a possibility that he could sit out 2019 and return in 2020 as a fifth year senior…or he might play in 2019 and run out of eligibility…or he might declare for the NFL’s supplementary draft…or he might transfer. Who knows? Charbonnet projects as a good player, and Turner showed flashes this season, but Haskins has spent some time practicing at linebacker, so this is a very thin depth chart in 2019, let alone 2020.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE
2019 Depth Chart:
Michael Dwumfour (RS Jr.), Carlo Kemp (RS Jr.), Donovan Jeter (RS So.), Chris Hinton (Fr.), Mazi Smith (Fr.), Carl Myers (Sr.)
What they need: 3. This is a very thin depth chart, considering it’s both defensive tackle spots and I had to squeeze in some people who might not belong. First of all, Hinton might be a strongside end instead of a tackle, and Myers is a walk-on. Kemp started his career as a linebacker, moved to defensive end, and bulked up in 2018 to play defensive tackle because he wasn’t going to play much at end. With the top two guys at each spot already redshirt juniors, Michigan needs an influx of players immediately, which is why they’re exploring grad transfer options for 2019. There is a chance that some of the 2019 recruits could eventually play defensive tackle, such as Michael Morris and David Ojabo, but the need is still there.

LEFT TACKLE
2019 Depth Chart:
Jon Runyan, Jr. (RS Sr.), Jalen Mayfield (RS Fr.), Trente Jones (Fr.)
What they need: 2. My philosophy on tackles is to recruit tackles non-stop and turn the failed ones into guards. Michigan has been guard-heavy at times, and even now starts a non-prototype (Runyan) at left tackle, even though he won some awards in 2018. Runyan will graduate, leaving Mayfield and Jones. I expect Mayfield to get some experience in 2019, but he’s a guy who could take over at right tackle moving forward, too. Get some tackles in the fold and let things filter out by getting the best five guys on the field.

TIGHT END
2019 Depth Chart:
Sean McKeon (Sr.), Nick Eubanks (RS Jr.), Mustapha Muhammad (RS Fr.), Luke Schoonmaker (RS Fr.), Erick All (Fr.)
What they need: 2. I say this is a need more for talent than numbers. McKeon will graduate, and it will be interesting to see whether Eubanks returns for a fifth year. Meanwhile, the other players in the pipeline are solid, but they may not be what Michigan wants. New offensive coordinator Josh Gattis is more of a spread guy, and it would be nice to land a matchup problem type of athlete. Shea Patterson’s brother, Nick, is already committed in 2020, but he’s not a matchup issue.

29 comments

  1. Comments: 1066
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Feb 12, 2019 at 8:24 AM

    I’m right there with you on recruiting Tackles on O. I never understood why we seem to neglect that spot, or even why we don’t push for Tackles on the defensive side harder

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2766
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Feb 12, 2019 at 12:29 PM

      IMO, you recruit nose tackles and defensive ends. The 3-tech position can be filled by guys who end up outgrowing the DT position. Obviously, you can tell which guys are going to fill out or not, but failed SDEs can become 3-techs, just like failed OTs can become OGs.

  2. UM_1973
    Comments: 70
    Joined: 10/14/2015
    UM_1973
    Feb 12, 2019 at 11:35 AM

    I have not heard a single rumor out there about a potential graduate transfer for defensive tackle. Looking at the transfer portal, is there even one who has the ability to help out immediately?

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2766
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Feb 12, 2019 at 12:28 PM

      Rice DT Zach Abercrumbia is the primary name at DT.

      • UM_1973
        Comments: 70
        Joined: 10/14/2015
        UM_1973
        Feb 13, 2019 at 12:44 AM

        Thanks for the info. Rice seems to be a school that supplies graduate trainee. Calvin Anderson last year and now this DT. Maybe Harbaugh should form a recruiting pipeline to this school.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 4143
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Feb 12, 2019 at 1:35 PM

      There’s also the in-state DE, which would allow somebody like Hutchinson or Paye to play more often on the interior.

  3. Lanknows
    Comments: 4143
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Feb 12, 2019 at 1:34 PM

    Good post. Important to consider roster needs in evaluating a class.

    “My philosophy on tackles is to recruit tackles non-stop and turn the failed ones into guards” — Heck Yeah. Michigan’s been taking too many guards in recent years and that didn’t change with this class.

    Agree with DT though I’d just look at DL as a whole for numbers, since there’s a lot of flexibility. No question the need for inside guys is most pressing.

    I’ll be very disappointed if they take 2 QBs, 3 RBs, and 2 TEs. Seems like that kind of over-emphasis on offensive skill positions will cannibalize the rest of the roster. Especially considering WR can’t be ignored – not with Gattis supposedly changing the offense and class imbalances (which are more noticeable if you differentiate outside/inside WRs).

    QBs – the new red-shirt rule and Michigan’s newfound stability helps here. Even if Peters leaves before 2020 Michigan will have a 4th year, 3rd year, and 2 year QB — all with red-shirts, ahead of a freshman. McCaffrey and Milton look on track so I’d only get 2 QBs if McNamara looks like a an immediate bust (which will be hard to assess for a freshman but sometimes things happen and you know).

    RB – same as QB. I think you can justify 2 in the class but I would only go 3 if they lose somebody.

  4. JC
    Comments: 215
    Joined: 8/17/2015
    JC
    Feb 12, 2019 at 3:06 PM

    I think you should take a QB every year and I think we’d be fine with just 1 QB this year (unless the coach staff is sensing happy feet with a QB on the roster). At this point I don’t think I would list it as one of our recruiting needs, we’re not in an FSU situation.

    Abercrumbia would be great. I just want 4 healthy bodies there, and that includes keeping Dwumfor healthy. I would feel good about next season with 4 healthy non-freshmen DTs.

    #1: DT
    I have complained about DT for so long. Then I felt good about DT. I liked J. Hudson as a recruit, and A.Solomon showed promise. Dwumfor and Kemp were good rotating in, hadn’t seen anything out of Jeter yet but I’ve heard positive things. Then James Hudson switches position and leaves, and Solomon leaves. Great. Please Abercrumbia. There is a definite path to playing time excluding the possibility of superstar freshmen. Otherwise we absolutely need 2, I want a 3rd.

    #2: WR
    I would like a stud WR, maybe 2 in the class. Let my wildest fantasy play out here: Gattis lights the world on fire in year one. 2 of DPJ, Collins or Black end up with 1,000 yard seasons. 2 of DPJ, Collins, and Black leave early for the NFL because of this. We could find ourselves in an iffy situation on the outside. Slots I feel great about.

    #3: RB
    I think you should take 1.5 RBs every year. Some years take two, some years take one. This year we need 2. If Charbonnet is as good as his tape looked (and hopefully they can see that over Spring ball) then I think we’re ok with 2.

    #4: LT
    Hopeful we have some high quality LTs in the incoming class or on the roster, but I would love a Taylor Lewan or Jake Long type of player on the team.

    I don’t know what I’d list at #5. Maybe inside linebacker? Ross, Anthony, and McGrone all exist, Gil provides some depth, with an injury we don’t have a ton of depth.

    I respect listing the TE here, but I don’t whole-heartedly agree with it. We have a lot of bodies at that position with Eubanks, McKeon, Schoomaker, Muhammad, E.All, and we could have a solid TE among the last 3. McKeon seems to drop balls at incredibly inopportune times, but that’s 5 TEs with at least 2 years of eligibility left.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 4143
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Feb 12, 2019 at 5:42 PM

      I feel like ILB is over-recruited. 2 positions, mostly interchangeable personnel, rarely subbing out.

      There are some packages where a traditional OLB/SAM is desired, so maybe you recruit a few extra jumbo LB – or call them stand-up DE if you prefer since many will tend to end up on the LOS anyway (Uche/Winovich). But if you’re talking about the ILB prototype (Devin Bush types) you don’t need to have more than 5.

      We’ll see where Solomon end ups (probably ILB), but 2020 should be good either way with Ross, Anthony, McGrone, Thomas and a freshman recruit.

      QB/RB/ILB/TE are the same story IMO: Try to take one every year unless something goes wrong or you happen to have 2 excellent recruits who want to come. Adjust as needed but that’s a good rule of thumb. You don’t need to be getting up to 6, 7, 8 guys. Attrition hits RB harder (including position-switches) so you can take 2 pretty regularly, but it’s easy to end up with too many guys if you do this every year.

      • Thunder
        Comments: 2766
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Feb 12, 2019 at 9:05 PM

        Michigan took two or three running backs in 2018 (Turner, Haskins, Barrett), two in 2017 (Samuels, Taylor), three in 2016 (Walker, Davis, Evans), and one in 2015 (Higdon), and the position isn’t really overflowing with players right now. That’s 8-9 guys over four clases, not including Charbonnet, Mason, and Van Sumeren, but the only true running backs still on the roster are Turner…and that’s it. The other guys have all transferred, switched positions, or been kicked off the team, and we’re probably going to be relying heavily on a walk-on next year (Tru Wilson).

        So, yeah, I think taking fewer than 2 running backs per class is dangerous.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 4143
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Feb 13, 2019 at 10:29 AM

          Over-recruiting leads to attrition. Saw it at WR and TE too.

          Sometimes attrition forces you to overrecruit but often it’s the other way around. That’s why you don’t necessarily want too many. Young players have to see opportunity.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 2766
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Feb 13, 2019 at 11:27 AM

            I’m not sure that we saw over-recruiting lead to attrition, but maybe you’re right if you can be more specific. If you’re talking about WR over-recruiting leading to the departures of McDoom and Crawford…okay, but they weren’t performing. If those guys were at the top of the heap, they probably wouldn’t have transferred.

            Over-recruiting seems to be more of an issue when you’re talking about young guys who never get the chance to play because there are so many people ahead of them. If you just get passed up on the depth chart and then leave, I don’t think that’s over-recruiting.

            It’s the same thing at TE. I guess you’re talking about Asiasi, but Asiasi left because he wanted to be closer to home.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 4143
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Feb 13, 2019 at 12:46 PM

              I think attrition (in some form) became inevitable when they took the big WR class and Crawford/McDoom and then followed it up with another big WR class with Black/DPJ. I agree that was at least in part a reaction to not having the talent you want (Crawford in particular). But still – I think a guy like McDoom could have stuck around and been productive in at least a slot role. He was capable, he just saw so many people ahead of him.

              At TE I was thinking more about Wheatley. Never got a straight story there (moved to OT? didn’t want it? both?) but he always looked decent at worst on the field but never got the bulk of snaps.

              McDoom and Wheatley might not be GREAT players but they could have had bigger roles and stuck around through eligibility if Michigan hadn’t recruited so many under them. Younger players playing ahead of meh vets isn’t a problem in isolation – you want some of that – but there is a cost to all those scholarships going to one spot and attrition comes at the expense of continuity.

              Better talent, yes, but less experience and more turnover make coaching harder.

              RB is really the classic example of this going back decades. They recruit a bunch more than they need and the ones who don’t pan out transfer elsewhere when they see they aren’t going to get the rock. That’s just the expectation for the position, to misappropriate Carr’s phrasing.

              I do think RB is a bit different for a variety of factors (more injuries, more egos, more position-changes) but I think sometimes it’s not the right place to lavish extra scholarship on when you have red-flag problem spots. Especially if you’re putting scholarships into FBs also and have a robust walk-on program.

              If everything is humming along nicely I think it’s fine. However, Michigan has a handful of problem spots (OL for years, QB at times, and DT now) that need a few extra scholarships right now.

              I think the emphasis on getting a talented RB made more sense in past decades. In today’s game it seems suboptimal. IMO, the “harbaugh offense” needs the OL and QB to be the spots lavished with the investment of available reserve scholarships.

        • JC
          Comments: 215
          Joined: 8/17/2015
          JC
          Feb 13, 2019 at 10:47 AM

          I probably should’ve been more clear, 1.5 is to have a set number of RBs on the roster at one time. Barring attrition/transfers/early grads/redshirts, 1.5 every year is 6 RBs on the roster which I think is a good number to aim for, assuming all are D1 caliber players.

          If I pop on over to Alabama’s depth chart right now, their depth chart is 2 juniors (Harris, Robinson) 1 sophomore (Ford) and 2 freshmen (Robinson and Sanders). I think 5 is a little light, but without looking I imagine 3 of those 5 are top 50 players nationally so they can get away with it.

          I don’t remember Barnett being recruiting specifically as a RB, I think the verbiage used was offensive weapon.

          Davis was told he could play running back, but the staff was always going to move that 240 pounder to fullback.

          2% of me was hopeful K.Taylor was going to be the next M.Hart, 98% of me didn’t think a P5 school was the best option for him.

          Mason and VanSumeren I don’t think were ever in the conversation for RB.

          So, with my flawed logic to support my argument, that’s 6 RBs over 4 years.

          With C. Evans leaving we have a deficit at RB, and you’re absolutely right to make sure that doesn’t happen we should probably be bringing in 2 every year. Rereading my thoughts from yesterday I did not phrase that correctly, and to assume all recruited players are going to pan out and be D1 caliber players is silly. 2 every year should be the standard, I don’t think you NEED more than 6 on a roster. This year we have too few and no proven commodities, but I still stand by my statement there, “If Charbonnet shows he is a proven commodity I think we can get away with 2 this year.” If he’s not, maybe 3 this year. I don’t want to overload the roster at one position in one class.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 4143
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Feb 13, 2019 at 1:01 PM

            Does Bama also give scholarships to FBs?

            That factors in.

            So does the type of back you recruit. If you’re getting athletes who can project to other positions (e.g., LB, WR) I think taking more is fine. If you’re getting ‘pure’ RBs (like Higdon) who are that and only that, I think going with 6 is too much.

  5. Comments: 903
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    WindyCityBlue
    Feb 13, 2019 at 6:20 AM

    There’s rarely a good reason to take more than one TE in a class. Having 5 or 6 guys you recruited at TE on the roster is a waste. Unlike WR, nobody beyond your 2nd TE is going to do any pass catching that matters. The rest are just bodies. There are always failed QBs, LBs, FBs or DEs that you can slot in as your 5th and 6th guys at that spot, and they may even end up being decent sometimes.

  6. Lanknows
    Comments: 4143
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Feb 13, 2019 at 12:47 PM

    @WCB

    It’s about your offense. If you play 12 personnel all the time you need to have 5 or 6 TEs, but those numbers have to come from somewhere. You can’t ALSO recruit a couple FBs and 8 or more WRs. If you play 10 personnel, than you can recruit more WRs and RBs.

    I’m not sure Michigan has done a good job with this in their quest to be ‘multiple’. If there is one criticism of the Harbaugh offense that resonates with me is that they try to do too much. Not realizing that there are costs to trying to be good at everything like terrible 2-minute offenses, lack of go-to plays, etc.

    I think they wanted to establish a clear identity but haven’t had good enough OL play to make it happen. I’m excited for the OL continuity in 2019 and think that sets a great foundation to build on the progress in 2018.

    • Comments: 903
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      WindyCityBlue
      Feb 13, 2019 at 7:42 PM

      Sure, you may ultimately want 5-6 scholarship TEs on the roster, but there are almost always failed guys from other positions that you can use as a couple of them. As noted, #’s 3-6 don’t have to be worth a darn at pass catching in real games, as long as they can block a little.

      • Thunder
        Comments: 2766
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Feb 13, 2019 at 7:58 PM

        I disagree. You want some of guys #3-6 to be good at catching the ball, because those are the guys you’re going to rely on in a year or two when guys #1-2 graduate or leave for the NFL.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 4143
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Feb 14, 2019 at 11:04 AM

          In recent M history, at least one of the top 2 guys tends to be an underclassmen.

        • Comments: 903
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          WindyCityBlue
          Feb 14, 2019 at 5:57 PM

          You don’t need them to be good at catching the ball when they’re at 3-6, because they won’t be called upon to do that. In a few years, after they’ve had time to develop and move up to 1st or 2nd string, then yes. Just like we don’t need Milton or McNamara, our 3rd and 4th QBs this year, to be particularly good at throwing the ball now, even though we will want them to be in 3 years.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 2766
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Feb 14, 2019 at 6:11 PM

            You don’t just develop ball skills. In a lot of cases, you either have them or you don’t. So yeah, you need some of those backups to be good pass catchers. They can develop strength, route running, etc., but you can’t take a guy with no hands as your #5 tight end and have him elevate to #1 or #2 in two years. Football doesn’t work that way.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 4143
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Feb 14, 2019 at 6:52 PM

              Agree. The blocking will likely take time but backup TEs can contribute early as receiving threats. And they have.

              • Comments: 903
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                WindyCityBlue
                Feb 14, 2019 at 10:01 PM

                When was the last time our 3rd TE was considered a “threat”? Name, please.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 4143
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Feb 15, 2019 at 12:50 PM

                  2018

                  A backup is a backup for a reason but talented guys like Funchess, Butt, Asiasi, and Eubanks have had meaningful roles or made big plays as young players – before they were every-down starters.

                  You’re not making a strong case to treat TE any differently than other positions.

                  You ducked the request for examples for your position. Instead, you’re asking for examples of an argument that wasn’t made.

            • Comments: 903
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              WindyCityBlue
              Feb 14, 2019 at 10:00 PM

              Well, duh…they can all catch the ball if you throw it to them in practice. But there is more to being a pass catcher than hands, just as there is more to being a passer than being able to hit receivers in practice drills.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 4143
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Feb 14, 2019 at 11:02 AM

        When you say always… Gentry, Heitzman, who else are you referring to?

        If you play 12 personnel you’re going to rotate through 3 TEs every game and you can’t have the 3rd guy be a non-receiver who is only “OK” at blocking. The third TE might get more snaps than the backup RB and nobody would settle for that guy being just that. Not to mention the probability of an injury striking across 2 positions.

        You also have to consider that most TEs aren’t good at blocking and catching. So you want some who can function as 6th OL (these typically require red-shirts) and then the pseudo-receivers.

        This debate is increasingly hypothetical. Even Stanford and Michigan are seemingly moving away from using 12 personnel so much.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 4143
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Feb 14, 2019 at 6:55 PM

        Our 3rd TE this season had more receiving yards than our 3rd WR. This point of argument may have some validity for a different scheme but coming off a year when Michigan used so much 12 personnel it’s downright silly. Eubanks was an important player.

        • Comments: 903
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          WindyCityBlue
          Feb 14, 2019 at 9:56 PM

          Eubanks caught 8 passes all year. 13 games. Not important.

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