Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mailbag: Is Michigan's roster finally balanced?

Last year I wrote and asked you what you thought of Michigan's recruiting in terms of needs and balance at each position group against what a prototypical team should expect without regard to the quality of the recruits. So after another year, my question is the same; how is Michigan doing in terms of bolstering and balancing the team with numbers of players in each position group against a team model with the most desired number of players at each position? Are we getting there? Has Michigan restored the imbalance that existed in some areas (offensive line for example)? 
 Thanks, Mike.
For the first time in several years, Michigan should be at or near the 85-scholarship limit going into the 2013 season.  There will probably be a departure or two between now and then, but this will probably be as close to the number 85 you can get without going over it and joining the ranks of the SEC.  Here's a look at how the roster compares to an ideal one:

Quarterbacks: 4-5 desired, 3 currently (Devin Gardner, Russell Bellomy, Shane Morris)

Running backs: 6-7 desired, 8 currently (Fitzgerald Toussaint, Thomas Rawls, Justice Hayes, Dennis Norfleet, Drake Johnson, Derrick Green, DeVeon Smith, Wyatt Shallman)

Fullbacks: 1-2 desired, 1 currently (Sione Houma)

Wide receivers: 7-8 desired, 8 currently (Jeremy Gallon, Drew Dileo, Jeremy Jackson, Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson, Jaron Dukes, Da'Mario Jones, Csont'e York)

Tight ends: 5-6 desired, 5 currently (Jordan Paskorz, Devin Funchess, A.J. Williams, Jake Butt, Khalid Hill)

Offensive linemen: 14-16 desired, 14 currently (Taylor Lewan, Michael Schofield, Chris Bryant, Jack Miller, Blake Bars, Ben Braden, Kyle Kalis, Erik Magnuson, Kyle Bosch, David Dawson, Chris Fox, Patrick Kugler, Dan Samuelson, Logan Tuley-Tillman)

Defensive ends: 7-8 desired, 8 currently (Brennen Beyer, Frank Clark, Keith Heitzman, Mario Ojemudia, Matt Godin, Tom Strobel, Chris Wormley, Taco Charlton)

Defensive tackles: 7-8 desired, 8 currently (Quinton Washington, Jibreel Black, Richard Ash, Ken Wilkins, Ondre Pipkins, Willie Henry, Maurice Hurst Jr., Henry Poggi)

Linebackers: 10-11 desired, 10 currently (Cameron Gordon, Mike Jones, Jake Ryan, Desmond Morgan, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Joe Bolden, James Ross III, Kaleb Ringer, Ben Gedeon, Mike McCray II)

Cornerbacks: 8-9 desired, 10 currently (Courtney Avery, Delonte Hollowell, Raymon Taylor, Blake Countess, Terry Richardson, Reon Dawson, Ross Douglas, Delano Hill, Jourdan Lewis, Channing Stribling)

Safeties: 6-7 desired, 7 currently (Thomas Gordon, Marvin Robinson, Josh Furman, Jarrod Wilson, Jeremy Clark, Allen Gant, Dymonte Thomas)

Kickers/punters: 2 desired, 3 currently (Brendan Gibbons, Will Hagerup, Matt Wile)

Long snappers: 1 desired, 1-2 currently (Scott Sypniewski)

As you can see from the numbers above, Michigan is at or above the ideal numbers for most positions.  Quarterback, tight end, offensive line, defensive end, and linebacker are a little on the low side, but not dangerously so.  The Wolverines go more than three-deep at almost every position except quarterback, which makes me scratch my head, considering it's the most important position on the team.  But Coach Hoke said that he wants to take one quarterback per year, and he got his one in 2013 and 2014.  However, they're still dangerously thin after not taking one in 2012.

On the flip side, Michigan is a little on the high side for running back, cornerback, and kicker/punter.  Coach Hoke has expressed a desire to take numerous running backs in each class, because they can help at other positions (fullback, linebacker, cornerback, safety).  Cornerbacks can help out at wide receiver or slip over to safety.  Ideally, you want to err on the side of caution by having one or two more guys than can play, because then you have some guys playing on the practice squad, redshirting, and being groomed for the future.

Michigan is in pretty good shape going into the 2014 class.  Hoke has not suffered from the attrition and poor recruiting that plagued Rich Rodriguez, so the retention during the last couple seasons has allowed Michigan to get near the scholarship limit.


  1. I think you missed Taco Charlton at DE. Also, I feel like it might be helpful to have some walk-ons in a breakdown that's related specifically to the balance of the team as a whole. Particularly, Joey Kerridge. If last year is any indication, he will at least have some type of role in games, even if it's not a huge. He might not be on scholarship, but he still factors into what's going on at Fullback.

    1. It's a discussion of scholarships/scholarship players, which is why I left out Kerridge.

  2. If Gardner gets his redshirt, this should be the last year we are thin (at least numbers-wise) at QB. There will then be 4 next year and 4-5 after that.

    1. Is there any new sense of how Gardner's application will be received? It seemed like the feeling for a long time was that there was no way it was going to be approved. And lately it seems like the feeling is that it probably will be. Anyone have a sense of what the situation is v. the fan base's just wishful thinking?

      Of course, the reality is probably that no one has any idea (this is the NCAA, after all, which is about the least predictable organization there is).

    2. @ Anonymous

      That's assuming that nobody leaves early (like Gardner) for the draft and that nobody quits/transfers.

  3. I feel better from a numbers standpoint, however, I guess it is not surprising, but the bulk of the roster is very young with little game experience. It is reassuring that M is back on track otherwise. A few more years of solid classes and M will have some experience to go with the balanced roster.


  4. position number wise yeah im good but we have no burners at wide out damario jones might be faster then he looks and jeremy gallon is got some quickness darboh/chesson are track stars but will they contribute this season im just saying michigan st loads the box , ohio suckeyes will do the same when the defensive line matures and we seen first hand what bama does when you dont have a down field threat .......just a thought put fleet at slot please

  5. Replies
    1. Ahhhh, found it, they moved him back when I wasn't looking.

  6. Since we're picking nits today, Wormley needs to be capitalized.