|Brandon Herron was the star of the class! (here being chased by former Michigan tackle Dann O’Neill, #68)
Shawn Crable, RS Sr.
Chris Graham, Sr.
John Thompson, Sr.
Brandon Logan, Jr.
Obi Ezeh, So.
Jonas Mouton, So.
High school: Richmond (VA) Varina
Ratings: Rivals 2-star outside linebacker
College: Michigan Hampton Michigan
Other notable offer: Temple
Scoop: Evans had quite the circuitous journey through college football. A high school teammate of Brandon Minor (who would end up as Michigan’s starter at running back), Evans was a very under-the-radar recruit. He played sparingly in five games on special teams as a freshman in 2007, and then he made one start under Rich Rodriguez in 2008, finishing his sophomore year with 4 tackles, .5 tackles for loss, and .5 sacks. He left Michigan in 2009 and transferred to Hampton in 2010, but he sat out that season due to injury. He then returned to Michigan in 2011 and was purported to be starter-level material on a team with questionable linebackers, but apparently his academic situation left him unable to compete in games; he remained on the team and played as a scout linebacker. He participated in Michigan’s pro day, but he never got a shot in the NFL.
High school: Sugar Land (TX) Dulles
Ratings: Rivals 3-star, #25 outside linebacker
Other notable offers: Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech
Scoop: Herron (a high school teammate of defensive back Troy Woolfolk) redshirted as a freshman in 2007. He made 7 tackles as a special-teamer in 2008. He saw more time on defense in 2009, when he made 20 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 fumble recovery. As a redshirt junior in 2010, he made 7 tackles and 1 pass breakup. He broke out in a big way as a fifth year senior in 2011 when he earned his first start against Western Michigan; Herron responded with 8 tackles, 1 fumble recovery (returned 29 yards for a touchdown), and 1 interception (returned 94 yards for a touchdown). Interestingly, he was barely heard from again, as he played just five more games that year and never started again; a nagging leg injury after week one may have contributed to that. He was not drafted in the 2012 NFL Draft, and his career ended despite a solid showing at Michigan’s pro day (4.59 forty, 26 bench press reps, a 37.5″ vertical, etc.).
High school: El Dorado (KS) Butler County Community College
Ratings: Rivals 4-star inside linebacker
Other notable offers: Minnesota
Scoop: A rare foray into the junior college transfer ranks for Michigan, Panter played immediately with junior eligibility in 2007. He made 7 tackles and 1 tackle for loss that year. Then in 2008 he made 8 tackles, .5 tackles for loss, .5 sacks, and 1 fumble recovery. An ineffective Big Ten player, he was not drafted in the 2009 NFL Draft and his career never got off the ground.
Hit the jump for the guys that Michigan took a swing at and missed.
High school: Union City (NJ) Union City
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #11 outside linebacker
Other notable offers: Florida, Florida State
Scoop: Abreu played in one game and made 1 tackle before taking a redshirt for the 2007 season. As a redshirt freshman in 2008, he had 33 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks. He made 18 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss in 2009. He became a starter as a redshirt junior in 2010, making 48 tackles and 5 tackles for loss. Prior to the 2011 season, he switched from outside linebacker to defensive end and played at 260 lbs. He finished the year with 29 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and 3 sacks. He was not drafted in the 2012 NFL Draft and failed to latch on with an NFL team, after which it appears his career ended.
High school: Bloomfield Hills (MI) Brother Rice
College: Penn State
Other notable offers:
Scoop: Colasanti played as a backup during the second half of his freshman year, making 3 total tackles. He was the backup middle linebacker in 2008 and made 16 tackles on the year. As a junior in 2009, he made 18 tackles and 1 sack. He finally became a starter as a senior in 2010, when he flourished with 112 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 1 pass breakup. He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft, and while he signed with the Indianapolis Colts as a free agent, he never played in the NFL.
High school: Lake City (SC) Lake City
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #5 outside linebacker
Other notable offers: LSU, Penn State, South Carolina, Virginia Tech
Scoop: Cooper was a backup linebacker as a freshman but managed 21 tackles and .5 tackles for loss. He made 30 tackles as a sophomore and then 12 as a junior, but he never earned a starting gig. He went through a couple knee surgeries and a neck injury, and he finally quit football before his 2010 senior season due to the mounting injuries. Cooper coached college football at Evangel University in Missouri during the 2012 season before joining the U.S. Army (LINK).
High school: Orlando (FL) Edgewater
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #6 outside linebacker
Other notable offers: Clemson, Miami, Notre Dame
Scoop: Edwards played a bit as a freshman and made 3 tackles on the season. As a sophomore in 2008, he made 27 tackles as a backup and special-teamer. He made 13 tackles as a backup in 2009 and then 14 in the same role in 2010. He was not drafted in the 2011 NFL Draft, and it appears his football career ended.
High school: Visalia (CA) College of the Sequoias
Ratings: Rivals 4-star inside linebacker
Other notable offers: Arkansas, Auburn, South Carolina
Scoop: Ellis signed with Florida out of high school but didn’t qualify. As a junior college all-American, Ellis then signed with Purdue in the 2007 class. He never made it to Purdue, either, and it appears his college football career fizzled out.
High school: Jacksonville (FL) Forrest
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #8 outside linebacker
Other notable offers: Auburn, Florida State, Miami
Scoop: As a freshman in 2007, Hicks made 13 tackles, .5 tackles for loss, .5 sacks, and 2 pass breakups as a special teams player and backup linebacker. He became a part-time starter in 2008 and made 34 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and 4 pass breakups. As a junior in 2009, he made 32 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 2 pass breakups. Then as a senior, he topped off his career with 38 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 1 interception. He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft, and while he was signed by the Bills and Steelers, he never played in the NFL.
High school: Cleveland (OH) Glenville
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #10 outside linebacker
College: Ohio State
Other notable offers: Iowa, Michigan State, West Virginia
Scoop: As a freshman in 2007, Hines made 3 total tackles as a backup and special teamer. In a larger role as a sophomore, he notched 31 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 3 pass breakups, and 1 fumble recovery, which he returned 48 yards for a touchdown. He became a starter at free safety in 2009, making 57 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 2 interceptions (with 48 yards and a touchdown), and 3 pass breakups. Finally, as a senior in 2010, he made 66 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, .5 sacks, 1 interception (returned for 23 yards), and 5 pass breakups; for that performance he was named First Team All-Big Ten. He was drafted in the 5th round (#158 overall) by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2011 NFL Draft. Hines made 6 total tackles in 2011 for the Colts and Carolina Panthers, but he did not play in the NFL after that.
High school: Sarasota (FL) Booker
Ratings: Rivals 3-star, #30 outside linebacker
Other notable offers: Alabama, LSU, Notre Dame, South Carolina
Scoop: As a freshman in 2007, Jones made 10 tackles – mostly on the kickoff team – and 1 tackle for loss. He made 18 tackles and 1 pass breakup as a backup in 2008. He then transferred to to Tennessee State, where he became a starting linebacker; he made 70 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 1 fumble recovery, and 6 pass breakups as a junior in 2009. He was injured and sat out the 2010 season but returned to the field in 2011, when he made 47 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, and 10 pass breakups. He was not drafted in the 2011 NFL Draft and his career seems to have ended there.
High school: Pittsburgh (PA) Hampton
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #29 athlete
College: Notre Dame
Other notable offers: Iowa, Pitt, West Virginia
Scoop: Paskorz – whose younger brother, Jordan, played linebacker/defensive end/tight end at Michigan – redshirted as a freshman in 2007. He played sparingly as a backup fullback as a redshirt freshman and redshirt sophomore in 2008 and 2009. He missed the entire 2010 season due to a knee injury, and he transferred to West Virginia prior to 2011, but I do not believe he ever stepped on the field for WVU. He was not drafted in the 2012 NFL Draft, and it appears his football career ended.
High school: Wadesboro (NC) Anson
Ratings: Rivals 3-star, #63 outside linebacker
College: Virginia Tech
Other notable offers: South Carolina, Virginia
Scoop: Rivers redshirted as a freshman in 2007. He made 10 tackles as a backup middle linebacker in 2008 before becoming a starter in 2009, when he notched 96 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, and 4 pass breakups. He tore his left quadriceps after the season and barely played in 2010. As a fifth year senior in 2011, he worked his way back into being a part-time starter and finished the year with 16 tackles, .5 tackles for loss, and 1 interception. He was not drafted in the 2012 NFL Draft, and it appears his career was over.
High school: Woodland Hills (CA) Taft
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #8 athlete
Other notable offers: Notre Dame, Penn State
Scoop: Smith is the brother of former USC wide receiver Steve Smith, who also went on to play in the NFL, most notably with the New York Giants. As a freshman in 2007, Malcolm Smith made 6 tackles, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery, which he returned for 31 yards. He was a backup again in 2008, making 18 tackles and .5 tackles for loss. He became a starting weakside linebacker in 2009 and made 72 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 1 interception (returned for a 62-yard TD against UCLA), 1 forced fumble, and 3 pass breakups. As a senior in 2010, he made 78 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 pass breakups. He was drafted in the 7th round (#242 overall) by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2011 NFL Draft. So far he has 111 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, and 6 pass breakups for the Seahawks as a part-time starter, including eight starts during their Super Bowl-winning season in 2013.
High school: Memphis (TN) Christian Brothers
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #14 outside linebacker
Other notable offers: Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Miami
Scoop: As a freshman in 2007, Walker made 3 tackles in limited time as a backup. As a backup again in 2008, he made 15 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. He became a starter at defensive end as a junior, when he totaled 42 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, a team-leading 6 sacks, a team-high 2 interceptions (one of which he returned for a touchdown), 1 forced fumble, and 3 pass breakups. As a senior in 2010, he finished with 45 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 1 pass breakup. He was not drafted in the 2011 NFL Draft, and while he signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Baltimore Ravens at one point, he never played in the NFL. Walker was one party in a lawsuit against the NCAA for failing to provide adequate protection against concussions.
This was a pretty poor recruiting effort on Michigan’s part. With some mediocre talent on the team and not much in the way of numbers, Michigan infused the linebacker position with a JUCO guy, a 3-star with a halfway decent offer list, and a no-name 2-star. That partly explains Michigan’s defensive struggles from 2008-2010, when the Wolverines didn’t get a ton of production from their various defensive alignments.
Biggest miss: Malcolm Smith. Smith had a decent college career and was the only one to make it to the NFL. He would have improved the speed and talent level on the defense, but likely wouldn’t have been a huge difference-maker for the team in general.
Biggest bust: Brian Ellis. Ellis had two chances to make in college football (Florida and Purdue) and never made either happen.
Best in class: Melvin Ingram. Ingram was a 4-star outside linebacker from Hamlet, North Carolina, who chose the South Carolina Gamecocks. In his last two years in Columbia, he totaled 76 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, and 19 sacks, and he had a ridiculous game against Georgia when he scored 2 touchdowns, including a 68-yard fake punt run. He was drafted in the 1st round (#18 overall) by the San Diego Chargers in the 2012 NFL Draft after being named a Consensus All-American. He only has 57 tackles, 3 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles in his pro career, although his 2013 season was shortened by a recovery from an ACL tear.