2016 Recruiting Awards

Tag: recruiting awards


5Feb 2016
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2016 Recruiting Awards

David Long 607x

David Long, Jr. is perhaps Michigan’s fastest 2016 recruit

Every year I post my recruiting awards to look back on in future years. You can look back on past years here (LINK) to find the hits and misses.

Best Overall Recruit: DT Rashan Gary
There’s no real suspense this year. Gary is the consensus #1 player in the country, and I gave him a TTB Rating of 100. He is awesome at the football.

Best Offensive Recruit: TE Devin Asiasi
I think the combination of Asiasi’s athleticism and Jim Harbaugh’s propensity for developing tight ends will do great things for Asiasi’s profile.

Best Defensive Recruit: DT Rashan Gary
See above.

Hit the jump for the rest of the awards.

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6Feb 2015
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2015 Recruiting Awards

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
See above.

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.

6Feb 2014
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2014 Recruiting Awards

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.

12Feb 2013
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2013 Recruiting Awards

Derrick Green is dressed properly for the occasion

You can go ahead and glance back at my 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 recruiting award posts.

Best Overall Recruit: RB Derrick Green
Green is widely considered to be the top recruit in Michigan’s class, and running backs are often fairly easy to scout.  Based on the way Michigan is recruiting the offensive line, I think there’s a good chance that Green becomes an All-Big Ten player and perhaps an All-American.  That kind of performance at a place like Michigan would likely set him up for a high NFL Draft pick.

Best Offensive Recruit: RB Derrick Green
Considering the above paragraph, this is obvious.

Best Defensive Recruit: S Dymonte Thomas
Thomas is listed at 6’2″, 192 lbs.  He has good speed and shows excellent hitting ability.  I was particularly impressed with him as a hitter/tackler during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.  I think his long-term potential might be somewhat limited because he hasn’t spent much time in coverage, and NFL teams love those ball hawks.  But as for playing strong safety in college, Thomas looks like an excellent prospect.  I’m excited about his future.

Recruit Most Likely to Make an Early Impact: RB Derrick Green
Until Green committed a couple weeks ago, I would have chosen tight end Jake Butt.  However, Green enters the program when Michigan is looking for a viable #2 tailback, if not a starter while Fitzgerald Toussaint recovers from his broken leg.  I don’t think it’s out of the question for Green to be the leading rusher in 2013.

Fastest Recruit: CB Delano Hill
Hill is a workout warrior who puts up good numbers, and while his speed doesn’t always show up on the field, he did have a laser-timed 4.44 time in the forty.  There really aren’t a whole lot of blazing-fast players in this class.  A couple of the cornerbacks – including Hill – might end up at safety, and a couple of the wide receivers are bigger, slower guys.  None of these guys has speed that jumps out at you, but there are a few guys who can scoot a little bit – Green, Hill, Thomas, Ross Douglas, Reon Dawson, and Da’Mario Jones.

Strongest Recruit: OG Kyle Bosch
Bosch is a big, thick kid who probably doesn’t need to add much size before seeing the field.  He enrolled early at Michigan, and insiders are already saying that he might be in line for a little bit of playing time as a true freshman.  While I’m not sure that will be necessary (unless there are injuries), it’s still a positive tidbit about his future.

Best Under-the-Radar Recruit: WR Da’Mario Jones
Jones is a 6’2″, 185 lb. receiver with good speed.  He needs some polishing, but his speed should allow him to be a deep threat a little more than several other guys on the roster.  When he committed to Michigan, he was sitting on several MAC offers and one from New Mexico.

Most Overrated Recruit: CB Delano Hill
Hill is a 4-star to three of the major recruiting sites (ESPN ranks him as a 3-star), but I think he’s closer to a 3-star prospect.  He is a very good athlete, but I’m not sure he has the football instincts and playmaking ability to justify those 4-star rankings.

Most Likely to Redshirt: OT Chris Fox
Fox, who tore his ACL toward the end of his senior season, will miss some developmental time while he recovers.  Additionally, Michigan returns both starting tackles (Taylor Lewan, Michael Schofield) and has a couple decent redshirt freshmen (Ben Braden, Erik Magnuson), so there’s not much need for Fox to play this year.

Personal Favorite Recruit: S Dymonte Thomas
Thomas was a two-way star in high school who put up excellent numbers on both sides of the ball.  He also seems to be a heady kid who reportedly improved quickly during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, so I think he’ll be fun to watch.  Jordan Kovacs was fun to watch over the past couple seasons, and Thomas should eventually take that strong safety position and play at an even higher level.

13Mar 2012
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2012 Recruiting Awards

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.

7Feb 2011
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2011 Recruiting Awards

Offensive guard Chris Bryant

This is something I do every year, and it’s a fun exercise for me:
2009 Recruiting Awards
2010 Recruiting Awards

Best overall recruit:  OG Chris Bryant
Bryant has the size, strength, footwork, and athleticism to be a great offensive lineman at Michigan.  As long as he can get rid of some of his bad weight and stay well conditioned throughout his career, I think he’ll be an All-Big Ten player by the end of his career.

Best offensive recruit: Bryant
See above.

Best defensive recruit: CB Blake Countess
Countess isn’t the biggest or fastest kid out there, but he’s got a good quality for a cornerback – sticky.  Receivers just don’t seem to get away from him.  He probably needs to bulk up before playing (we all saw what happened to Courtney Avery and Terrence Talbott last year), but he could be a slot corner early in his career before taking over on the outside after a year or two.

Recruit most likely to make an early impact: K Matt Wile
If former walk-on Seth Broekhuizen or redshirt sophomore Brendan Gibbons steps up his game, then Wile might not be needed as a freshman.  But those first two combined for 4-for-14 on field goals last season.  It’s also entirely possible that Wile will redshirt as a freshman, but Michigan returns the vast majority of its two-deep from last season, so a lot of these 2011 recruits will probably be redshirted.  Wile seems like the best candidate.

Fastest recruit: CB/S Raymon Taylor
Taylor reminds me of departing cornerback James Rogers in many ways.  While Taylor is probably more physical, he has good straight-line speed and a smooth stride. 

Strongest recruit: Bryant
Bryant reports a bench press of 395 pounds and a squat of 420.  Even if he couldn’t bench press Charlie Weis, all Bryant had to do with most high schoolers was get a hand on them and they fell to the ground, begging for mercy.

Best under-the-radar recruit: LB Desmond Morgan
Michigan has a good history with linebackers from western Michigan, and I like the fact that Morgan was a bulldozing quarterback in high school.  Quarterbacks just seem to understand the game better.  I think there will be a good battle for the middle linebacker job between Morgan and classmate Kellen Jones once redshirt junior Kenny Demens graduates.

Most overrated recruit: LB Frank Clark
The problem with this “award” is that nobody’s rated very highly.  And while my choice if Rich Rodriguez were here would be Justice Hayes, I actually think Hayes will fit better in Hoke’s system than that of Rodriguez.  I don’t think Hayes is a threat to start anytime soon, but he could be a very good change-of-pace back.  So I’m going to go with Clark, who is only a 3-star.  But I haven’t seen anything from Clark that shows me he’s going to be a successful college football player, especially as a linebacker.  If he were rated as a 2-star recruit, I probably wouldn’t bat an eyelash.  He has some potential with his size and speed, but he needs a lot of coaching.

Personal favorite recruit: LB Antonio Poole
This kid looks like the future at weakside linebacker.  He can run, he can hit, and best of all, he plays downhill.  He might have to bide his time for a couple years, but he might be the second coming of Larry Foote.