Joel Starlings, Ex-Wolverine

    Joel Starlings (image via On3)

    Richmond (VA) Benedictine defensive tackle Joel Starlings decommitted from Michigan on Sunday.

    If you read my commitment post, you know I wasn't a huge fan of Starlings (LINK):

    With that review, I’m sure you can guess that I’m not sold on Starlings. He has a lot of potential because of his athletic profile, but if he were to go up against a college line right now, he would get donkeyed 15 yards down the field and planted on his back. Whether he becomes a good player or not seems entirely dependent on how much he buys into coaching, and it would be nice if he starts that buy-in during his senior year in 2022

    One reason could be that defensive line coach Shaun Nua left for USC, but another reason could be that Starlings just wasn't that determined to attend Michigan. After all, he tweeted shortly after committing that his recruitment was open, and that was when Nua was still seemingly firmly entrenched in Ann Arbor. So the writing had been on the wall for a couple months.

    Michigan now has zero defensive linemen committed in the 2023 class, but there's plenty of time to address the position group.

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    Andrew Rappleyea, Wolverine

    Milton (MA) Milton Academy TE Andrew Rappleyea (image via Twitter)

    Milton (MA) Milton Academy tight end Andrew Rappleyea committed to Michigan on Sunday. He picked the Wolverines over offers from Boston College, Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin, among others.

    Rappleyea is 6'4" and 215 lbs. As a junior in 2021, he caught 21 passes for 475 yards and 4 touchdowns. He claims a 4.62 forty and a 39" vertical.

    ESPN: Unranked
    On3: 4-star, 91 grade, #10 TE, #169 overall
    Rivals: 4-star, 5.8 grade, #12 TE, #240 overall
    247 Sports: 3-star, 88 grade, #25 TE

    Hit the jump for more.

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    Visitors: January 14-16, 2022

    Derrick LeBlanc


    Jeffery Johnson - DT - Tulane: Johnson is a 6'3", 312 lb. grad transfer from Tulane. He's originally from Brookhaven (MS) Brookhaven and was a 3-star, the #39 defensive tackle, and #547 overall when he came out of high school in 2018. He made 44 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks for the Green Wave in 2021. UPDATE: Johnson is no longer visiting since he committed to Oklahoma.


    Xavier Chaplin - OT - Seabrook (SC) Whale Branch: Chaplin is a 6'6", 350-pounder who has been committed to Virginia Tech since last July. He also has offers from Georgia State, Louisville, and Michigan. He's a 3-star, the #118 offensive tackle, and #1221 overall. UPDATE: Chaplin is postponing his visit to next weekend due to a family illness.

    Andrew Paul - RB - Dallas (TX) Parish Episcopal: Paul is a 5'11", 220 lb. prospect with offers from Clemson, Colorado, Michigan, and Michigan State, among others. He's a 3-star, the #89 running back, and #1211 overall. He took an official to Colorado in December, and this is an official visit to Ann Arbor.


    Cole Cabana - RB - Dexter (MI) Dexter: Cabana is a 6'0", 180 lb. prospect with offers from Cincinnati, Louisville, Michigan State, and West Virginia, among others. He's a 3-star, the #21 running back, and #362 overall. Michigan has yet to offer. I would expect Michigan to take at least two running backs in 2023, especially if they don't land another in 2022, so Cabana might be a decent option for a second back.

    Hit the jump for more.

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    Mike Elston, Wolverine

    Mike Elston (image via Rivals)

    Notre Dame defensive line coach Mike Elston is reportedly accepting the same position at Michigan. Elston is a former Michigan outside linebacker who got his coaching start with the Wolverines as a graduate assistant for the Wolverines before moving on elsewhere.

    Elston made 29 tackles and 4 pass breakups as an outside linebacker at Michigan from 1993-1996. He then became a video assistant and G.A. at Michigan, coached at Eastern Michigan for a couple years, and then latched on with Brian Kelly. Elston was with Kelly at Central Michigan, Cincinnati, and Notre Dame, at various times holding the title of linebacker coach, defensive line coach, associate head coach, co-defensive coordinator, and recruiting coordinator. He's had a wide array of positions and held some clout in a very good program, so that bodes well for his abilities.

    At Notre Dame, Elston coached a variety of quality players, including Julian Okwara, Stephon Tuitt, Sheldon Day, Khalid Kareem, Daelin Hayes, Ade Ogundeji, Isaiah Foskey, Jerry Tillery, etc. While he's never had a guy as productive as Aidan Hutchinson, he has coached a couple Notre Dame players (Tuitt and Foskey) into getting 11 sacks.

    Despite the success of Michigan's team - and Hutchinson and David Ojabo - in 2021, I think Elston is a significant step up from former defensive line coach Shaun Nua. That's not just sour grapes because of Nua's departure for USC; I was long critical of Nua's developmental abilities, and there has been talk that Ryan Osborn helped out a lot with the edge guys who really exploded in 2021.

    Elston has also been a solid recruiter. He's ranked as the #36 recruiter in the country by 247 Sports for 2022, which is third on the Fighting Irish staff behind new head coach Marcus Freeman and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees. It also would place him third on Michigan's staff, behind safeties coach Ron Bellamy and offensive coordinator Josh Gattis. I'm not huge into ranking coaches by the recruiting rankings of the players that they may or may not have been recruiting primarily or secondarily; I think that type of ranking is very convoluted and potentially very inaccurate. So I don't put a ton of stock in the ranking, and I put more faith in the fact that he was the recruiting coordinator for a team that recruits pretty well.

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    Way Too Early 2023 Depth Chart: January 2022

    Erick All

    I know this is a very, very early depth chart, but I think it's interesting for two reasons:

    1. It's fun.
    2. It shows what positions Michigan needs to recruit in the 2023 class.

    The following depth chart has removed these listed players from the 2022 depth chart due to expiring eligibility:

    • QB Alan Bowman (graduation)
    • WR Ronnie Bell (graduation)
    • WR Cornelius Johnson (graduation)
    • WR Mike Sainristil (graduation)
    • TE Erick All (graduation)
    • TE Luke Schoonmaker (graduation)
    • OL Ryan Hayes (graduation)
    • OL Olu Oluwatimi (graduation)
    • DE Taylor Upshaw (graduation)
    • DT Julius Welschof (graduation)
    • NT Jordan Whittley (graduation)
    • LB Michael Barrett (graduation)
    • CB Gemon Green (graduation)
    • S Sammy Faustin (graduation)
    • S German Green (graduation)
    • P Brad Robbins

    It also assumes that every currently rostered player and every currently committed prospect will be here in 2023, which is obviously not true. UPDATE: I removed DT Joel Starlings and added TE Andrew Rappleyea.

    Hit the jump for the depth chart.

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    Off to the NFL: Hutchinson, Ojabo, Hill, Hinton, Ross, Gray, Haskins, Baldwin

    Chris Hinton (image via Wolverines Wire)

    Michigan football news was overwhelmed this week with guys announcing they were either transferring or leaving for the NFL - oh, and the Jim Harbaugh-to-the-NFL drama - so yours truly just had no chance of keeping up with all those developments.

    Posts on each one of these guys will be coming down the road to summarize their careers, but I wanted to address each one here and now.

    DE Aidan Hutchinson: Hutchinson played four years at Michigan and could have returned for a fifth. He was the Heisman runner-up and set the school record for sacks with 14. He has nothing else to prove and will likely be a top-5 pick in the draft, so this was the right decision for him.
    Draft projection: 1st round

    OLB David Ojabo: Ojabo had 11 sacks rushing the quarterback opposite Hutchinson one year after making 1 total tackle. As a redshirt sophomore, he could have come back for a couple more seasons, but he's striking while the iron is hot. Hutchinson and Ojabo surely helped each other out, and there would be a risk in returning for 2022, considering there's no proven pass rusher on the opposite side. He could very well have returned and put up mediocre sack numbers, hindering his draft stock. Even though Ojabo is not a good run defender, he does have outstanding athleticism and could be a year one pass rusher for an NFL team.
    Draft projection: 1st round

    Hit the jump for more.

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    Chuck Filiaga, Ex-Wolverine

    Chuck Filiaga

    Offensive guard Chuck Filiaga has entered the transfer portal. Filiaga started four games at guard in 2021 and eight throughout his career on the way to appearing in 39 total games.

    Filiaga was a class of 2017 recruit and could have returned in 2022 for a sixth year, considering the 2020 COVID year was a free year of eligibility. Instead he'll play the year elsewhere. He was a 4-star, the #13 offensive tackle, and #112 overall. I gave him a TTB Rating of 86 (LINK). It turns out I should have paid more attention to my red flags:

    On the negative side, it’s a bit of a red flag that Filiaga doesn’t have more film as a big-time recruit. His junior highlights are just over two minutes long, and his senior highlights last 38 seconds. It may be an issue with the film or technology or the coach, so it’s not necessarily a lack of highlight-worthy plays, but it’s still a question mark. That dearth of highlights also shows up when it comes to pass protection, because there’s not a whole lot that shows his ability to fend off edge rushers. I think Filiaga shows some weaknesses when it comes to footwork and needs to be more consistent in that area. Another inconsistency is his stance, where he frequently seems to telegraph run vs. pass or even the direction of his block. If defenders get underneath him or slant across his face, he sometimes has trouble adjusting.

    Filiaga did okay at Michigan, but he was pretty much always the weak link when he was starting. His lateral quickness was lacking, which made him a liability in pass protection, and he seemed to be a step late to identify blitzes and stunts. He played decent at times and starting at a big program is no small feat with all the 4-star prospects Michigan has landed, but it seemed like the competition in Ann Arbor was just a little too good for him. He could certainly go somewhere else and start next year, and that includes for plenty of other teams in the Big Ten. In general, it seems like a high percentage of transfers head closer to home, so the Texas native could very well end up closer to SEC/Big 12 country.

    The only remaining 2017 signees are offensive tackle Andrew Stueber, punter Brad Robbins, tight end Joel Honigford, and defensive tackle Donovan Jeter. I use the word "remaining" loosely because I expect most of them to also jump to the NFL, except perhaps Honigford. Honigford came in as an offensive lineman and transitioned to tight end, losing a bunch of weight in the process. I will be interested to see whether he tries to hone his skills at that position for one more year, make an attempt at the NFL as is, or perhaps bulk back up to play offensive line now that Michigan is losing a couple guys.

    I'm projecting next year's offensive line to look like this:

    • LT: Ryan Hayes (RS Sr.)
    • LG: Trevor Keegan (Jr.)
    • C: Olu Oluwatimi (6th)
    • RG: Zak Zinter (RS So.)
    • RT: Trente Jones (RS Jr.)

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