Do you think Hoke deserves any blame for not going after OL/DL last year? I realize time was short, but he managed to snag a QB, TE, DE and LB – guys that hadn’t been targeted before.
Shouldn’t he have seen the potential train-wreck coming at OL and tried to address the situation? I’d imagine there were some marginal 3-star types available that could have at least contributed to depth. DT is probably a different story – since competition is so stiff and freshman can contribute right away. But OL…the needs been there for a long time. Besides Rodriguez’s class of 6 guys in ’08 Michigan has under-recruited the OL position since 2005 (no more than 3 OL in a class). Rodriguez recognized the need and immediately worked to rectify it. Yeah, he had more time, but we didn’t even hear of any new names pop up at OL in the 2011 class.
I think that Rodriguez deserves a little less blame for the OL situation. 1st, he was forced by Carr into recruiting a giant OL class in ’08. with all the other needs around he couldn’t keep taking 5 guys a year. So, the small OL classes in 09 and 10 were somewhat justifiable. 2011 was looking strong but the transition cost UM Fisher and probably some other OL recruit. I don’t think it’s all on him that the ’09 and ’10 OL classes now look to be so damaging.
The question above comes from a commenter in Tuesday’s recruiting update post.
No, I don’t think Brady Hoke deserves blame for not going after offensive linemen and defensive linemen last year. First of all, he was hired less than a month before National Signing Day. With that short of a start, I don’t think he can really accept any blame whatsoever. But secondly, he did go after linemen. Hoke offered:
- Ohio DE/DT Keith Heitzman (Michigan)
- New Jersey DE Max Issaka (Rutgers)
- Arizona OT Ryan Nowicki (Penn State)
- Florida DT Trevarris Saulsberry (Tennessee)
- Florida DE Jordan Williams (Tennessee)
Furthermore, he continued to recruit former Michigan commit Jake Fisher, who ended up signing with Oregon. I got the feeling that the new coaches were really pushing for Fisher and wanting to make him believe that he was their priority at the position. The fact that Fisher chose Oregon was very disappointing to me, because I think Fisher is going to be an excellent lineman and he has already earned solid reviews in Eugene.
Rodriguez offered just 17 linemen in the class of 2010; one committed (center Christian Pace, who has since left the program). Rodriguez offered just 13 linemen in the class of 2009; three committed (Taylor Lewan, Michael Schofield, and Quinton Washington, who has switched to defensive tackle). Furthermore, by the time Rodriguez was fired in January 2011, he only had three offensive linemen committed (Fisher, Jack Miller, and Tony Posada).
The offensive line recruiting at this point has nothing to do with Lloyd Carr. Carr left behind a mediocre group (Justin Boren, David Molk, and Steve Schilling along with a bunch of journeyman types), but Rodriguez had a few years to fix it. And while Rodriguez did a decent job of bringing in talent, he clearly didn’t bring in enough of it. This roster is full of Rodriguez recruits, Mark Huyge, David Molk, Rocko Khoury, and Elliott Mealer; Lloyd Carr hasn’t coached a game since January 1, 2008, yet two starters and two key backups remain from his regime. Here’s a breakdown of who’s responsible for the expected 2012 offensive line:
- Carr: Rocko Khoury, Elliott Mealer
- Rodriguez: Ricky Barnum, Chris Bryant, Taylor Lewan, Jack Miller, Patrick Omameh, Michael Schofield
- Hoke: Blake Bars, Ben Braden, Kyle Kalis, Erik Magnuson, Caleb Stacey (plus a presumed sixth commit)
In other words, the guy responsible for two full recruiting classes and parts of two others will have six guys on the roster . . . and the guys who are responsible for one full recruiting class and parts of two others will have seven or possibly eight guys on the roster. And keep in mind that, unlike Carr’s classes, none of Rodriguez’s recruits on the line will have graduated by the beginning of next year.
Lastly, you state that Rodriguez had so many other needs that he couldn’t commit more scholarships to linemen. I think that’s a farce. Every team has 85 scholarships to use. Every team needs roughly the same number of cornerbacks, receivers, quarterbacks, etc. Rodriguez had five slot receivers on the roster by the time he started recruiting for 2011 (Martavious Odoms, Jeremy Gallon, Terrence Robinson, Drew Dileo, and D.J. Williamson), yet he still offered five more slot receivers for the 2011 class. Virtually every coach – except perhaps Rodriguez – would tell you that offensive linemen are more important than slot receivers, but Rodriguez whiffed on too many offensive linemen in the class of 2011. After taking only one in 2010, he was on his way to taking only three in 2011. The position group was going to continue to be thin under Rodriguez. We’re talking about a difference of one guy (Fisher) between the current team and the team Rodriguez would have had.
With all that out of the way, take a look at what Hoke is doing now. He threw out a late offer to Nowicki and didn’t get him. Rather than poaching 3-star linemen from places like Vanderbilt and Purdue, he decided to throw himself into grabbing 4- and 5-star linemen for the class of 2012. The Wolverines have enough depth for the 2011 season, so we’re talking about 2012 (and beyond). Is a 3-star redshirt freshman loads better than a true freshman Kyle Kalis or Erik Magnuson? Yes, it’s ideal that every lineman redshirts, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily take age over talent.
The 2012 offensive line looks to be:
LT: Taylor Lewan
LG: Ricky Barnum
C: Rocko Khoury
RG: Patrick Omameh
RT: Michael Schofield
The backups will be Elliott Mealer, Jack Miller, and Chris Bryant, plus a bunch of freshmen. It looks like a pretty good starting offensive line, but whether the next guy in is a 3-star redshirt freshman or a 4-star true freshman, there’s bound to be a significant drop-off.
I don’t blame Hoke for any of the 2011 recruiting class, but I give him credit for Russell Bellomy, Tamani Carter, Keith Heitzman, Antonio Poole, and Matt Wile. I also don’t blame Rodriguez for not getting a viable quarterback in 2008, but I do give him credit for pulling in Ricky Barnum, Justin Feagin, J.T. Floyd, Taylor Hill, Martavious Odoms, Patrick Omameh, Terrence Robinson, Roy Roundtree, and Brandon Smith. But I will hold Hoke responsible if any of those five players wash out, just like I blame Rodriguez for wasting scholarships on Feagin, Hill, and Smith.