Okay, this is getting old. A couple weeks after cornerback Justin Turner transferred (reportedly to WVU), now freshman running back Austin White has left the team as well. White was a 3-star recruit and the #10 all-purpose back in the Class of 2010, according to Rivals; Scout.com ranked him the #15 overall running back and a 4-star recruit. The reasons for his departure have not been explicitly stated by the University, but it seems as though his departure was more the program’s decision than White’s. Rumors have sprouted up that there were several violations of team rules that occurred, even after White was given a second chance.
If you read my comments on White over the last year and a half, you’ll see that I was not impressed. That’s four separate posts where I was largely indifferent to White’s commitment and talent. Despite the fairly impressive rankings from Scout and Rivals, I have never been enamored with his abilities. I even suggested that he would be a candidate to change positions within a couple years, once he and the coaches realized that he would only be an afterthought to the other running backs on the roster. White has adequate talent to play at the Big Ten level, but the only thing that really stood out about him was his ability to catch the ball.
This leaves Michigan with five running backs on the roster: Michael Cox, Michael Shaw, Vincent Smith, Fitzgerald Toussaint, and Stephen Hopkins. White was almost surely headed for a redshirt in 2010, and both Toussaint and Hopkins (both with higher ceilings, in my opinion) have freshman eligibility as well. So Michigan won’t feel this loss on the field. There’s plenty of other talent at the position.
However, the Wolverines might feel it in their APR score. Michigan is already hovering dangerously close to the lower end of the spectrum due to all of the post-Carr-era transfers (incomplete list here). The recent departures of Turner and White will further drive that APR score into the ground, and Michigan could be facing scholarship limitations in upcoming years for their failure to graduate a sufficient number of scholarship athletes. This is a problem.
I’m also somewhat frustrated with the recruiting of White in the first place. As I have mentioned, I have never been excited about his talent. Furthermore, rumors circulated even prior to his commitment that he had caused some problems when in high school at Livonia Stevenson. Words like “prima donna” and “cocky” were thrown about, and there was allegedly a bit of a spat with the coaching staff. One can never be sure how much weight to give rumors like that, but in my experience, “where there’s smoke there’s fire” seems to be a decent rule.
Rodriguez recruited him despite those rumors, and now he’s essentially been banned from the team prior to his freshman season. This is the fourth wasted scholarship from the Class of 2010 (following the failures to qualify by Antonio Kinard, Conelius Jones, and Demar Dorsey). Furthermore, there were other, more talented backs in the Class of 2010 who were considering Michigan, such as Dillon Baxter (USC), Dietrich Riley (UCLA), Corvin Lamb (Louisville), and Eduardo Clements (Miami-FL). Even Cassius McDowell (Toledo) and Brandon Gainer (Kentucky) would have been better fits if they actually, you know, had the ability to remain on the team. It’s hard to tell how running back recruiting would have played out if a spot hadn’t been taken by White, but it’s conceivable that one of those kids could have been wooed to Ann Arbor in his stead.
In a positive light (I guess), much of what I said in yesterday’s post about Troy Woolfolk’s injury can be amended. Woolfolk’s return in 2011 would have lowered the number of scholarships available to 16, but White’s official departure puts that number back at 17. This now allows Michigan to add at least seven more players to the Class of 2011, perhaps including a linebacker (which will make some of yesterday’s posters happy).
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