Review of 2009 Recruiting: Quarterback

Review of 2009 Recruiting: Quarterback

March 25, 2021
Tate Forcier (#5) and Denard Robinson (#16, image via Maize and Blue Nation)

The 2009 recruiting class was Rich Rodriguez’s first full recruiting class in Ann Arbor, and he did his best to bring in the type of running quarterback that had been successful for him at previous stops like West Virginia (Pat White) and Clemson (Woody Dantzler). Rodriguez did about as well as expected, landing two starting-caliber quarterbacks.

David Cone, RS Jr.
Nick Sheridan, RS Jr. (walk-on)

Tate Forcier
Ratings: 247 Composite 4-star, #4 dual-threat QB, #120 overall
High school: San Diego (CA) Scripps Ranch
College: Michigan San Jose State
Other notable offers: Florida, Oregon, Penn State, Stanford
Scoop: Forcier was an early enrollee in January 2009, the first true quarterback prospect to arrive on campus since Rich Rodriguez’s arrival.  He seized the starting job as a freshman and started all 12 games.  His most memorable game in a 5-7 season was against Notre Dame, in which he had a couple clutch touchdowns to finish off the Irish.  He finished the season 165-for-281 for 2,050 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions; he also gained 240 yards and had 3 touchdowns on the ground. However, Forcier fell out of favor with the coaches in the off-season and was demoted for his sophomore year in 2010 in favor of Denard Robinson. He played in 8 games and replaced an injured Robinson in the Illinois game, leading the team to a 67-65 victory in triple-overtime. Forcier finished his sophomore season 54-for-84 for 597 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions; he also rushed 22 times for 51 yards and 1 touchdown. He transferred to San Jose State University and sat out the 2011 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but left the school in January 2012 for academic reasons. He signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL in spring 2012 but was cut from the team a month later.

Denard Robinson
Ratings: 247 Composite 4-star, #9 ATH, #121 overall
High school: Deerfield Beach (FL) Deerfield Beach
College: Michigan
Other notable offers: Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Ohio State
Scoop: Robinson was recruited by many schools as an “athlete” or defensive back, and Michigan was one of only a couple schools offering him a chance to play quarterback. He was a late addition to the 2009 class, committing on National Signing Day in February. After being a backup/gadget player as a freshman, he went on to start for most of the next three seasons, a run ended by an elbow injury halfway through his senior year. Overall, he completed 57.2% of his passes for 6,250 yards, 49 touchdowns, and 39 interceptions. His biggest impact came in the running game, where the lightning-fast Robinson ran for 4,495 yards on 6.2 yards/carry and scored 42 touchdowns. He was an All-American in 2010, a two-time First Team All-Big Ten selection, and finished #6 in the Heisman voting in 2010. He was picked in the 5th round (#135 overall) by the Jacksonville Jaguars as a running back and played for the Jags from 2013-2016, totaling 1,058 rushing yards and 5 total touchdowns.

Hit the jump for a look at the rest of Michigan’s quarterback recruiting efforts in 2009.

Shavodrick Beaver
Ratings: 4-star, #8 dual-threat QB, #220 overall
High school: Wichita Falls (TX) Rider
College: Tulsa Midwestern State
Other notable offers: Arizona, TCU, Texas Tech
Scoop: Beaver committed to Michigan in fall 2008, but decommitted in December and enrolled at Tulsa in January 2009.  As a freshman, he was 1/3 for 6 yards as a passer, and he carried the ball 27 times for 63 yards.  As a sophomore in 2010, he completed 4/6 passes for 62 yards, 0 TDs, and 1 interception; he also carried the ball 20 times for 102 yards and 1 TD.  Beaver transferred to Midwestern State in July 2011 after learning that he would be sitting out the season at Tulsa due to grade issues. He was 2/3 for 12 yards with 12 carries for 138 yards and 1 touchdown in 2012. In his final year, he completed 15/23 passes for 211 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception, along with 34 carries for 140 yards and 2 touchdowns, in an injury-shortened campaign.

Christian Matthews
Ratings: 3-star, #29 dual-threat QB, #1140 overall
High school: Arlington (TX) Bowie
College: Kansas
Other notable offers: Louisville, Utah
Scoop: Matthews redshirted in 2009 and played virtually his entire career at wide receiver, aside from lining up as a Wildcat QB at times. He completed 3/3 passes for 15 yards, rushed 32 times for 167 yards and 2 touchdowns, and caught 23 passes for 248 yards.

Brandon Mitchell
Ratings: 3-star, #15 dual-threat QB, #566 overall
High school: Amite (LA) Amite
College: Arkansas North Carolina State
Other notable offers: Mississippi State, Tulsa
Scoop: Mitchell played some quarterback at Arkansas before losing out on the job to Brandon Allen. He then moved to receiver – and started three games – but transferred. At Arkansas he completed 25/43 passes for 232 yards and 2 touchdowns, ran 23 times for 75 yards and 2 touchdowns, and caught 17 passes for 272 yards. He played in six games in 2013 for North Carolina State, completing 57% of his passes for 1,011 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. He also ran 91 times for 274 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Kevin Newsome
 Rivals 4-star, #4 dual-threat QB, #163 overall
High school: Portsmouth (PA) Western Branch
College: Penn State Temple
Other notable offers: Ohio State, Virginia Tech
Scoop: Newsome committed to Michigan and head coach Rich Rodriguez in summer 2008, despite previously insisting that he wanted to play in a pro-style offense.  He changed his commitment to Penn State in fall 2008 and enrolled early in January 2009.  He backed up senior Daryll Clark, completed 8/11 passes for 66 yards, and ran the ball 20 times for 95 yards and 2 touchdowns.  As a sophomore in 2010, he completed 6/13 passes for 78 yards.  He sat out the 2011 season due to transfer rules after transferring to Temple. As a backup quarterback in 2012, he ran 5 times for 57 yards and was 0/1 passing. He was going to move to running back to finish out his career, but he quit football before that position switch occurred.

Casey Pachall
 3-star, #17 pro-style QB, #365 overall
High school: Brownwood (TX) Brownwood
College: TCU
Other notable offers: Arizona, Florida, Notre Dame
Scoop: Pachall was Andy Dalton’s backup in 2009, when he redshirted, and 2010. He became the starter in 2011 but had to enter rehab in 2012 after an arrest for DWI. He returned in 2013 to become the starter once again. Overall, he completed 431/685 passes (62.9%) for 5,415 yards, 42 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions. He also ran for 5 touchdowns in his career. He went undrafted in 2014 and proceeded to play a few years in the CFL and other professional leagues.

Tom Savage
 4-star, #8 pro-style QB, #101 overall
High school: Springfield (PA) Cardinal O’Hara
College: Rutgers Arizona Pitt
Other notable offers: Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Penn State, Pitt
Scoop: Savage had a meandering college career. He committed to Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano and started there for two seasons, including his true freshman year in 2009. Then he transferred to Arizona prior to the 2011 season. After the hiring of Rich Rodriguez, Savage tried to escape an offense designed for dual-threat guys by transferring back to Rutgers, but he was denied a hardship waiver. Instead, he sat out the 2012 season to play one final year in 2013, at Pitt. Altogether, he completed 430/757 passes (56.8%) for 5,690 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 19 interceptions. He played four years for the Houston Texans after being picked in the 4th round (#135 overall) and threw for 2,000 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions from 2014-2017.

Russell Shepard
Ratings: 5-star, #1 dual-threat QB, #3 overall
High school: Houston (TX) Cy Ridge
College: LSU
Other notable offers: Florida, Notre Dame, Texas, USC
Scoop: Despite being the #1 dual-threat QB, Shepard never attempted a pass in college. He played running back and receiver, rushing for a total of 716 yards on 104 attempts (6.9 yards/carry) with 5 touchdowns; and catching a total of 58 passes for 570 yards (9.8 yards/catch) and 5 touchdowns. After playing four years in Baton Rouge, he went undrafted in 2013 and then played for the Eagles, Bucs, Panthers, and Giants during a seven-year NFL career. He totaled 60 catches for 847 yards and 6 touchdowns during that stretch and retired after the 2019 season.

Geno Smith (image via USA Today)

Eugene “Geno” Smith
4-star, #10 dual-threat QB, #237 overall
High school: Hollywood (FL) Miramar
College: West Virginia
Other notable offers: Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Oregon
Scoop: Smith was a backup as a freshman before taking over the starting job for the next three years. He was the Second Team All-Big East quarterback in 2011 and moved up to First Team in 2012. Altogether, he completed 67.4% of his passes for 11,662 yards, 98 touchdowns, and 21 interceptions during his four seasons. He was a 2nd round pick (#39 overall) by the New York Jets in 2013. He took the starting QB job from Mark Sanchez as a rookie in 2013 and held on to it through most of 2014, but he has since been a backup, playing for the Jets, Giants, Chargers, and Seahawks up through the 2020 season. So far he has completed 527/911 passes (57.9%) for 6,215 yards, 29 touchdowns, and 36 interceptions.


Biggest miss: Geno Smith. Smith commanded the kind of high-flying aerial attack that won West Virginia a lot of games and got him drafted pretty high in 2013. He was thought to be a first round quarterback and got invited to the NFL Draft, but he fell to the second round. Obviously, that did not translate to NFL success, but he had a fun run in college.

Biggest bust: Russell Shepard. Shepard was the #3 overall player in the 2009 class – and the #1 dual-threat QB – and never contributed at quarterback. He was responsible for just 10 total touchdowns throughout his college career. I don’t think anybody expected that from him, because he was considered to be a surefire superstar.

Best in class: Derek Carr. Carr (4-star, #16 pro-style QB, #315 overall) has been a solid starting quarterback in the NFL after following in his brother David’s footsteps and playing for Fresno State. Carr was taken in the 2nd round (#36 overall) in 2014 by the Raiders and has since thrown 170 touchdowns to 71 interceptions, with 26,000+ career passing yards.

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