2012 Recruiting Awards

2012 Recruiting Awards

March 13, 2012
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.


  1. Comments: 21379
    Mar 13, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    Since you see Ross as a Will, which of Bolden/RJS/Ringer do you see playing Mike and which will play Sam? I seem to be one of the few that thinks RJS can be a BEAST at Sam.

    • Comments: 21379
      Mar 13, 2012 at 1:53 PM

      Ringer has been recruited as a WILL, and both Bolden and Jenkins-Stone have been recruited as MIKEs. The most likely of the bunch to bump over to SAM, though, seems to be Jenkins-Stone. I don't think any of the other three have that potential.

  2. Comments: 21379
    Mar 13, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    What are your thoughts on Gibbs and Glasgow? Do they have a shot at the two deep by the time they leave?

    • Comments: 21379
      Mar 13, 2012 at 2:39 PM

      I don't really think they have a chance at significant playing time. One might crack the two-deep because sometimes numbers/experience dictate that a walk-on should play. For example, if the choice is between playing a redshirt junior walk-on in a blowout of Delaware State University or burning a true freshman's redshirt, then a coach will play the redshirt junior walk-on just to get his starters out of there. But I'm not too impressed with what I've seen out of either one.

  3. Comments: 21379
    Mar 13, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    I always feel like that is a ton of tape I see on Kalis in that picture. Is that common for players to be that taped up, is he just injured in that game or does it appear that Kalis just likes tape?

    • Comments: 21379
      Mar 13, 2012 at 3:11 PM

      I think a) he likes tape and b) he's trying to protect himself. You don't see many high school linemen with knee braces like that, either, but they help stabilize the knee joints. With college scholarships and potentially lots of money possibly coming in down the road, he and his coaches probably want to protect him from injury.

    • Comments: 21379
      Mar 13, 2012 at 4:34 PM

      Not to mention embittered Ohioans dive-bombing his ACLs…

  4. Comments: 21379
    Mar 13, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    Nice write up Thunder. Really nothing I disagree with and I do think Willie Henry will be a pretty good defensive tackle in his career. He seems like he will be a great contributor down the road.

  5. Comments: 21379
    Mar 13, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    Magnus, you mentioned that Antonio Poole was your favorite recruit last year. Any insight on whether he is in the mix for playing time next year? It seems that people are ready to play the true freshmen and forget about the RS Freshman. I also wonder about Chris Bryant for next year

    • Comments: 21379
      Mar 13, 2012 at 5:16 PM

      I have heard that Poole has looked pretty good in practice, but the reason he didn't play last year was because he was so small.

      The word on the street is that the coaches want to put Barnum at center so they can plug Bryant in at left guard. He has apparently been very impressive in practices, but needs a little work on his pass blocking.

    • Comments: 21379
      Mar 13, 2012 at 6:45 PM

      I don't think I would label James Ross as "fast." There's a reason the kid avoided running the 40-yard dash like the plague. That said, while I do worry a bit about both his size and speed, he is amazingly instinctual. You can't teach it. I agree with you about Willie Henry. While I don't think he'll ever be a superstar, I think this coaching staff can mold him into a very solid, multiple year, Big 10 starter. For me personally, Jarrod Wilson is the most exciting player in the class. I haven't seen us bring in a safety like him for a long time.

    • Comments: 21379
      Mar 14, 2012 at 10:54 AM

      I don't think he's a speed demon, but he's fast enough…and his diagnosing skills make him a step quicker, too.

  6. Comments: 21379
    Mar 13, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    Fun post. Great call on Jake Ryan. Between him and Morgan you made up for the Frank Clark diss.

    In fairness to M.Robinson, he's in the same spot as Devin Gardner – blocked by a better/older player. His upside obviously has lost some luster, but he could still be a high-end player. Practice reports remain positive – hopefully everything comes together for him as an upper-classmen. Have to be patient with some kids.

    Glad to hear you like Henry. I'm pretty excited about both the late additions to the class: Norfleet and Henry.

    I have to question your Bars pick simply for the fact that there will be so few returning interior-linemen in 2013. He's going to have an opportunity and many times that's a major factor to success. Desmond Morgan isn't where he is if Michigan had a quality option at the position, and interior-OL is shaping up as a concern similar to '11 WLB woes unless everything goes right… at least until the 2013 class is up to speed. Plus, Bars had a nice offer list from (mostly) pro-style schools like Florida, LSU, PSU, South Carolina, Boston College. Most spread-oriented teams seemed to ignore him. This makes me think he might be a good fit in the offense as it evolves away from the spread (though I think we'll still see plenty of that with Gardner.) Finally, Bars was only highly ranked by Rivals. The other sites have him as a low 3-star, so relative to his ranking – he can't disappoint too much.

    I'd call Clark the most likely to RS – he was going to gray-shirt, is rail-thin, and safety depth is strong. I think Bars will too, of course, but it's no fun picking OL.

    I'd call RJS the most overrated. I think he's raw and going to get lost in the shuffle. With Ross looking like a star, Bolden and Ringer getting a jump by enrolling early, and what looks like an impressive 2013 class coming, it could be hard for RJS to find playing time outside of special teams.

    • Comments: 21379
      Mar 13, 2012 at 10:02 PM

      Good call on RJS. While he has some intrinsic athleticism, he actually regressed as a HS player. I didn't see the expolosiveness or physicality as a senior that it appeared he would develop as a sophomore and junior. He also didn't grow much at all.

    • Comments: 21379
      Mar 13, 2012 at 10:56 PM

      -3 more years of Jake Ryan and Desmond Morgan.
      -Poole, Ringer, and Bolden having an experience edge.
      -Ross looking like the higher-impact and more-ready player.
      -McCray and probably a couple more highly recruited LBs coming right behind him.
      -The potential for some of the safeties (current players like Furman and recruits like Gant)to shift down to linebacker

      …Michigan is really recruiting LB hard (IMO, they're taking too many guys for the position group). Competition is good for the team, but some individuals are inevitably going to end up being disappointed, and RJS is already talking about trying to go pro after 3 seasons.

      We'll see.

    • Comments: 21379
      Mar 14, 2012 at 12:14 AM

      I can tell you for sure that RJS has their respect over at De LaSalle, both as a LB and as Fullback.

      They'll tell you that against them he got there and then hit somebody.

      I've heard about it over and over and …..

      They go on and on about our Cass Tech CBs as well.

    • Comments: 21379
      Mar 14, 2012 at 2:54 AM

      All i'm going to say is that my one contact who knows preps and was at the state championship called DNS "the real deal". And early enrollment has gotten very overhyped (it helps but isn't the be all end all). Not going to say that Ringer jumps him.

  7. Comments: 21379
    Painter Smurf
    Mar 13, 2012 at 9:35 PM

    Great post. Aside from Pipkins, I am guessing that Funchess makes an early impact too. UM currently has no weapons at TE and I was surprised by how smooth Funchess looked on tape. I think Borges finds a way to use him in the passing game early on.

    • Comments: 21379
      Mar 13, 2012 at 11:09 PM

      Without Stonum, WR looks like a weak group relative to most other seasons. Given that, we could see more multi-TE and multi-back sets. Still, a guy like Funchess is going to have to prove he can block before he sees much playing time. I think you'll see Moore and Williams be the primary TEs,and Miller is probably ahead of Funchess as far as pass-catchers go.

  8. Comments: 21379
    Mar 14, 2012 at 2:32 AM

    Wow, lots of love for Ross & little mention of Bolden…

    Bolden has great instincts and will at the very least contribute on Special Teams immediately!

    For those of you who think RJS is overrated, I 100% agree… In fact, mentally he needs to grow up more than any of the other recruits. I don't see him staying 4-5 years at Michigan, and T-Rich is not far behind. Both have some seriously poisonous attitude, and they are going to have a rude awakening when they are freshman again.

    • Comments: 21379
      Mar 14, 2012 at 10:56 AM

      I like Bolden, but he's just not "the best" at any of the categories (in my opinion).

  9. Comments: 21379
    Mar 14, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    Way to call out our kids before they even step on campus. I for one, trust our coaches to evaluate players based upon their skills on a football field and their character as men. If the worst things you can say about a kid are that he has high expectations for himself (RJS), or is a bit cocky (T-Rich, and if there is a position you need to be a bit cocky, it's corner), they are probably pretty good kids. Do I agree that both players should redshirt, yes. I think that both will need some time to learn the defense, but Mattison is an excellent teacher and if they want to learn, he will turn them into very good starters. Let's not villify our players before they even get to put the jersey on…just my $.02.

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