Saturday, December 7, 2013

Status of the 2011 Recruiting Class

Blake Countess has been the jewel of Michigan's 2011 class
Rich Rodriguez recruits: None
Brady Hoke recruits: Russell Bellomy
Scoop: Bellomy redshirted in 2011, made a brief and inauspicious debut against Alabama, and proceed to have a horrendous game against Nebraska in relief of Denard Robinson in 2012 (4/21, 46 yards, 0 touchdowns, 4 interceptions on the year). He then tore his ACL in the spring of 2013 and has scarcely been heard from since. Most observers seem to think he will be looking up at current freshman Shane Morris for the remainder of his career.

Rodriguez recruits: Justice Hayes
Hoke recruits: Thomas Rawls
Scoop: Hayes redshirted as a freshman, played sparingly in 2012, and saw his time increase a little bit in 2013. Brady Hoke stated that his future will be at slot receiver, but Hayes played as a third down back pretty frequently down the stretch this year. He has 1 carry for 7 yards and 3 catches for 18 yards on the year. Going in the opposite direction is Rawls, who went from the primary backup to Fitzgerald Toussaint last year to 3 carries for 12 yards and 1 touchdown in the season opener, since relegated to special teams. Neither player looks to have much of a shot at winning the starting job in 2014, and while Hayes might see some time in the slot or as a backup running back, Rawls could find himself buried on the depth chart yet again.

Rodriguez recruits:
Hoke recruits:  Chris Barnett
Barnett never even made it to his freshman season, ended up at a junior college, and is reportedly out of football. If he had stuck with it, he could have found ample playing time in 2012 and beyond.

Rodriguez recruits: Jack Miller, Tony Posada
Hoke recruits: Chris Bryant
Scoop: Miller and Bryant are both in similar situations. Miller took over the starting center job this year, only to be supplanted by former walk-on Graham Glasgow halfway through the year. It does not look like Miller will earn back his job anytime soon. Meanwhile, Bryant has suffered numerous injuries, was given a chance to start mid-season, and was promptly benched in favor of freshman Kyle Bosch. Neither one looks like a superstar, but both could be serviceable backups until they run out of eligibility in 2015.

Rodriguez recruits:
 Chris Rock
Hoke recruits: Frank Clark, Keith Heitzman
Scoop: Hoke scored pretty well with defensive ends late in the recruiting process, nabbing two starting-caliber guys, including a Second Team All-Big Ten performer in Clark (42 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 1 fumble returned for a touchdown this year). Heitzman isn't particularly gifted but can hold his own (8 tackles, .5 tackles for loss). Rock left Michigan after one year, eventually transferring to Ohio State, where he walked on to their football team and rides the bench.

Rodriguez recruits: Brennen Beyer, Kellen Jones, Desmond Morgan
Hoke recruits: Antonio Poole
Scoop: Beyer has been a starter or key backup all three years on campus, with his best performance coming here in 2013 (25 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 interception returned for a touchdown). Morgan is a 2.5 year starter and earned Gerald Ford's #48 Legends jersey (73 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception in 2013). Jones transferred to Oklahoma and then Clemson; he played a fair amount at the former as a true freshman, but has been mired on the sideline at the latter stop. Poole suffered an pectoral injury early in his career, and while he still attends Michigan, his career is likely over.

Rodriguez recruits: Greg Brown, Blake Countess, Delonte Hollowell
Hoke recruits: Raymon Taylor
Scoop: Countess turned into a First Team All-Big Ten performer here in 2013 (42 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 6 interceptions, 1 touchdown, 4 pass breakups) after tearing his ACL in 2012. Hollowell has been mostly a special teamer throughout his career. Taylor, meanwhile, is tied for the team lead in tackles (81) and has added 4 interceptions and 9 pass breakups. Brown left after one year and now plays for a community college in Iowa.

Rodriguez recruits: None
Hoke recruits: Tamani Carter
Scoop: Carter redshirted in 2011 and then left the team before his second year.

Rodriguez recruits:
Hoke recruits: Matt Wile
Scoop: Wile has had an up-and-down career. With fairly accomplished players ahead of him, he has averaged 40.6 yards/punt, notched 61.4 yards/kickoff, and made 3/6 field goals as the long distance kicker throughout his three seasons.

Rodriguez: 6/10 of Rodriguez's recruits are still on the team.
Hoke: 7/10 of Hoke's recruits are still on the team.
Scoop: Hoke had a tough task with trying to pull in recruits over the span of about three weeks, and he did a solid job as far as pure numbers go. Two of his ten recruits have turned into solid players (Clark, Taylor), and a third (Wile) has been decent but nothing special. A couple guys flamed out, but it's tough to blame Hoke for recruiting Poole, who was at least earning some practice buzz and scheduled to be the backup WILL before the injury. Rodriguez's guys suffered more attrition, and it's tougher to excuse his flameouts (Posada was too lazy, Brown was a bit of a head case, Jones got in trouble almost immediately after arriving on campus, and Rock transferred to the hated Buckeyes). Of course, Rodriguez also brought in the best player of the class (Countess), a pretty good linebacker (Morgan), and a solid LB/DE tweener (Beyer). If we're talking about talent, Rodriguez wins the battle here, but neither coach had a home run class.


  1. As much as I like and appreciate these guys that have stayed the course with UM, that "process" debacle, and its effect on the 2011 recruiting class, is a key factor in the current mediocrity of the team, IMO.

    1. Without a doubt ...

      There was speculation in Bacon's book that an early Rodriguez firing may have resulted in him surfacing somewhere else (Maryland mentioned) and possibly taking some transfers (say, Denard) with him. Who knows?

      Give Hoke a few more weeks in '10/'11, though, and maybe he gets a couple of 3-star O-linemen and one of them pans out. Would've made a big difference this year.

    2. Absolutely. We had 3~4 decent players from 2010 class (Gardner, Ryan, J Black, Dileo), and have 4~5 decent players from 2011 class (Countess, Morgan, Taylor, Clark, Beyer). Super weak upperclassmen resulted in not able to win close games. 2011 class is understandable given the transition -- the recruiting debacle of 2010 is unforgivable. Rich Rod really screwed us there.

    3. But, how would 2011 have gone if RichRod was fired in November, went to another school, and took a couple players with him? A couple more recruits being key starters this year would be nice, but losing the 11-2, Sugar Bowl winning season (with a win over OSU!!) and replacing it with true sophomore Gardner at QB (7-6? 8-5?) is a net loss in my opinion.

    4. ""recruiting debacle of 2010 is unforgivable. Rich Rod, in concert with the toxic atmosphere (thanks to the Free Press, some of Lloyd Carr's former players, et al.), really screwed us there"


    5. In the alternate reality where Rodriguez is still coach, players like Miller and Hayes could be doing a lot more in a different offensive system.

      I don't think any sane person would argue Denard Robinson would have put up more impressive offensive numbers under Rodriguez than Borges, for example. (Though wins is one number that is certainly up for debate). Ditto for players like Roundtree, Dileo, etc. It's reasonable to think this alternate outcome would extend to people who aren't contributors under Hoke/Borges.

      Rodriguez did not screw Michigan anymore than he saved Michigan. He is more responsible for the 2011 season (despite Brandon's assertions about Carr) than he is for the 2012 or 2013 seasons. His influence diminishes each year.

      Time to move on.

    6. Gotta move on, but the true impact players of 2011 season (save Denard Robinson) were recruited by Carr. Let's name some: Dave Molk, Junior Hemingway, Mike Martin, Ryan Van Bergen, Mark Huyge, and Kevin Koger. We would've went 6-6 without these guys. No chance of winning that tight game against Ohio State. Shows the importance of upperclassmen (esp. seniors).

    7. suduri wrote:

      "true impact players of 2011 season (save Denard Robinson)"

      Please tell that to (in no particular order) Fitz Toussaint, Jeremy Gallon, Taylor Lewan, Jake "MF" Ryan, and Jordan Kovacs. Please also tell it do players who made significant contributions: Roy Roundtree, Brendan Gibbons, Patrick Omameh, Martavious Odoms, Vincent Smith, Thomas Gordon, Blake Countess, and Craig Roh.

      Sorry, suduri, but your transparent insistence on smearing Rich Rodriguez is pretty annoying.

      I'm not sure why the idea of shared responsibility is so hard for UMich fans to grasp. I don't get it.

    8. I would say Lewan, Omameh, Schofield, Gallon, Odoms, Robinson, Toussaint, Smith all made major contributions to the offense.

      Defensively, the biggest personnel impacts relative to 2010 came mostly from Rodriguez's guys: Countess, Ryan, Morgan, Roh. (That and Kovacs getting older, Heininger and Woolfolk getting healthy, and Demens finally getting coached properly).

      Also, guys like Martin and Koger signed up to play for Rodriguez, not Carr. There was a lot more time between signing day and when Rodriguez signed on than when Hoke signed on.

      There were three pure-Carr guys that were critical to the 2011 team: Molk, Van Bergen, Hemingway. Two other were significant contributors: Huyge and Woolfolk but both faced significant competition and were replaceable (Huyge barely beat out Schofield for a starting spot and Woolfolk rotated with Gordon). So 5 out of 22, maybe 7 or 8 if you want to be generous. Most of the guys were recruited by rodriguez and dissing those guys right before their last home game is ... stupid.

      Brandon's statement was a huge insult not only to guys like Denard and Lewan and Thomas Gordon, but also people like Mike Martin who spent 3 years working hard to improve under Rodriguez. There was no reason for it.

    9. "The true impact players of 2011 season (save Denard Robinson) were recruited by Carr." I don't agree with that at all.

      - First, Denard was the most important player on that team, bar none. That's important. Three of the four most important wins that year (ND, Neb, and OSU) were driven by star performances by him.
      - Second, Jordan Kovacs (Hon Mention All-B1G); Taylor Lewan (2nd team All-B1G); Fitz (Hon Mention All-B1G); Craig Roh (Hon Mention All-B1G) all made an 'impact.' WRs like Gallon and Roundtree made a significant impact (e.g., ND game). Not to mention three of the four freshmen (Ryan, Morgan and Countess) to make the freshman All-B1G team were RR guys. And both the punter & kicker were RR guys.

      Beyond a mix of reasonably talented players with a good mix of youth and experience, the 2011 coaches (Mattison in particular) deserve a lot of credit, along with an easy schedule (we played two ranked teams before the bowl), for going 11-2. But RR deserves a lot of that credit as well, as it was primarily his players who drove the team.

    10. Hmm. My main point was about the importance of strong senior class. Thanks to Rich Rod and his genius 2010 class and 2011 class, we have very weak group of upperclassmen (save a few strong players like Jake Ryan, Gardner, etc.). That's the difference between 2011 and 2013. That's what I am saying. Go nit-pick all you want.

    11. Gallon didnt really get an opportunity until 2012, so he shouldnt realky be mentioned regarding 2011(still a great wideout though). Kovac is a walk on and cant be credited to either coach, regardless of his accomplishments.

    12. @Anon. Gallon was the 2nd leading receiver on the team. He had ~300 yards fewer than Hemingway. He didn't start, but he was a key contributor. Kovacs was a key player/contributer that you can't credit Lloyd Carr for.

      @Suduri. That 'you need a strong senior class' narrative is a BS excuse that is an insult to the many 4th and 5th year players on this year's team. Compare the key contributors in their 4th/5th year on this team from Rich Rod to the guys Carr 'recruited' on the 2011 team.

      Gardner, Fitz, Gallon, Dileo, Schofield, Black, Washington, Ryan, Morgan, Gordon, Gibbons.
      Hemingway, Molk, Huyge, Koger, Martin, Van Bergen, Demens, Woolfolk.

      Rodriguez is giving so much more to Hoke right now than Carr gave to Hoke in 2011. Lewan is a better player than Molk. Schofield>Huyge. Gallon>Hemingway. Morgan>Demens. Gordon>Woolfolk. Carr's DL guys have an edge: Martin and Van Bergen>Washington and Black, but otherwise the 'math' clearly favors Rodriguez and that's before Fitz, Gardner, and Ryan are included. This team is probably 3-8 w/o Gardner.

      Brandon's argument/excuse/spin is pitiful. No one should buy his B.S. about Carr. He had almost nothing to do with the 2011 teams success. That came from those players first, Rodriguez bringing them to Michigan, and Greg Mattison and Hoke coaching them up a good dose of fortune.

      Rodriguez deserves about 5% of the blame for this season being a disappointment. Less than Dave Brandon. For a guy in a leadership position this sort of excuse-making can be extremely damaging. The program needs to move on and it should start from the top, but instead Brandon wants to look back and blame people who haven't been with the program for 3 years. The people under him then have a built-in excuse for not doing their job as well as they should.

    13. All right Lanknows. That's your opinion and that's fine. Lloyd Carr screwed up Rich Rod, intentionally and unintentionally. That's well documented, as Bacon's book shows. But don't tell me my argument re: senior class is a BS. And an insult? Are you the politically correct police around here? This is a fan site. I've been a fan for many years and I also went to Michigan. I wasn't a scholarship athlete, but guys I am talking about are students at Michigan like I once was. For you to say somehow I cannot say someone on the team sucks or something is wrong with the team, that's the real BS.

      As for the senior class... Just imagine what it would be like to have 2012 and 2013 class guys as seniors. We would be hitting double digit wins and there would be quality depth everywhere. Thanks for Rich Rod and his genius 2010 class, and the transitory 2011 class, we were screwed for this year. 2011 seniors were a lot better than 2013 seniors. The fact that we are forced to play freshmen all over the place is the proof. As Brandon said, only one freshman broke into the trenches' two-deep in 2011 (Frank Clark). The team in 2011 was in a lot better shape because the Rich Rod's 2010 and 2011 guys were underclassmen.

    14. I'm with Lank on this one entirely. It's going to be well into next decade before people stop blaming Rodriguez for everything bad like he intentionally poisoned the entire Michigan brand.

    15. Do these people read or do they just see what they want to see. Rich Rod's 2010 class are 2013's 4th yr guys who should be shouldering the team right now. They are mostly duds. Whose fault is that? Why is that so hard to understand?

    16. And please. Nobody in their right mind would say that Rich Rod *intentionally* screwed up Michigan football. So please. He tried, but Lloyd Carr and many others screwed him up. He also made a lot of dumb choices of his own. That's that. Ok?

    17. A whole lot of that 2010 class transferred away due to a coaching change and/or lack of playing time, so it's a combination of Rich Rod not planning for a coaching change (whut) and Hoke's staff failing to develop or hold on to these players...if they wanted to in the first place. That's what happens during a coaching change.

      If people don't think Rich Rod sabotaged the program, why is he constantly blamed for things he's not responsible for doing while Lloyd Carr gets off mostly scot-free? There will probably always be an anti-Rich Rod vibe in the Michigan fan base because he's portrayed as a Batman villain. It's irrational and stupid, but that's how it is. I'm as frustrated as anyone else.

      Furthermore, suduri, you're somewhat guilty of the same xenophobia that contributed to some of the issues we're facing now. It's only this past season where the blogosphere is FINALLY dropping this "we need a Michigan Man (tm) to lead MICHIGAN" crap and instead requesting someone who wins regardless of their origin or ties.

    18. Well, 2010 was below typical Michigan standards, even compared to Rich Rod's own 2009 class -- I still remember fans complaining about having 3-star guys all over the place. And 2010 class also included a bunch of guys with serious character flaws. Hoke had very few of these cases. Of course losing has certainly something to do with it -- who wants to play for a team that hasn't gone bowling in the past two years?

      I agree that Carr should be criticized for his actions re: Rich Rod, and his legacy is already significantly tarnished because of his actions and inactions. Bacon's book showed this clearly. I never said Carr should not be criticized. I just criticized Rich Rod for his mistakes.

      Xenophobia? Come on man. Bo wasn't a Michigan guy before he came here. I can careless as long as the coach understands and supports what Michigan is about. Maybe I sounded like that a bit because I lived in Ann Arbor longer than anywhere else and went to Michigan for school and all that, but I am open-minded as far as coaches. I agree that Rich Rod could've been successful here -- many people here never gave him a chance due to their own agendas (Carr especially, that guy was just bitter about how he was treated the final few years here), but Rich Rod also made a number of mistakes due to his arrogance and stupidity. Had he made fewer mistakes -- he still would be the coach here. Now we have to clean up the mess he unintentionally made.

    19. For those of you arguing that the poor 2010 recruiting class was because of the coaching change, I beg to differ. Yes, there were SOME casualties due to the coaching change (Cullen Christian, maybe Ray Vinopal, etc.), but those weren't the biggest blows to the class. The 2010 class was rated pretty highly in part due to Demar Dorsey (never got to campus), Antonio Kinard (a junior college flameout), Davion Rogers (disappeared from Youngstown State), Conelius Jones (MIA), Ricardo Miller (barely got on the field for UMass), etc. Christian hasn't done much of anything at Pitt and was terrible in one year at Michigan, while Vinopal has been decent at Pitt. Meanwhile, those other guys either never made it to campus or they just weren't quality players.

      It was not a situation where a bunch of guys said "Oh wait, I don't fit this offense/defense." Quite literally, a bunch of those guys just turned out to be bad students, bad people, or bad football players. There's no way around that.

  2. Interesting exercise and fun discussion, though I'm not sure there are any real conclusions to draw beyond the obvious -- the class was pretty weak by Michigan standards.

    My only argument is in regard to including Bryant as a Hoke recruit. While he did not verbally commit to Rodriguez, he was a heavy lean for a long time, and everyone assumed he would end up at Michigan. Ultimately, ALL these players committed to Hoke. Of the guys that Rodriguez recruited, they either loved Michigan and stayed despite the coaching change, or went elsewhere.

    Bryant's recruitment was far more similar to Countess, Posada, Morgan than Carter, Bellomy, Barnett. Besides Bryant, every recruit listed under Hoke were kids that Rodriguez was not interested in. He never even spoke to them as far as we know (possible exception: Raymon Taylor, who was a local kid that Rodriguez didn't offer, but he might have thought about it).

    At the very least, Bryant should be in a category under "both", though again - that really applies to every guy listed under Rodriguez. Rodriguez did the bulk of the work on his recruitment, as he did with Beyer, Countess, and and all the other guys who reupped with Hoke.

    Back to the big picture: The circumstances are such that I don't really blame Hoke OR Rodriguez for the misses. Sure you can make the case that they never should have taken Posada or Carter or Barnett or Jones for various reasons, but when Hoke is tasked with an extremely short timeline and Rodriguez is faced with questions about his job status (not to mention the system he recruited these players for a system that disappeared) - you really can't blame either guy. Hoke was just trying to retain the talent that was already in place and fill out roster needs. Rodriguez was trying to keep his job without much support behind him.

    I prefer to think of this as Dave Brandon's class. He seems to think he plays an important role in recruiting players from "New Jersey to California", so why not credit him where he had the most impact.

    1. Maybe Brandon indeed was pivotal in saving the program during the transition. Had RichRod been fired earlier and went to Maryland and took bunch of players with him -- it would've been absolutely disastrous. Brandon certainly was aware of the coaching change in Maryland as well as their overtures towards Rich Rod.

    2. That's true. We don't live in an alternative universe.

      To further the point - perhaps we'd have been better of in the end if "disastrous" had happened in '11. Maybe we'd have avoided delaying the offensive system transition with Borges and we'd be improving instead of the steady downhill on O since 2010.

    3. To suduri, 2:31 P.M.: Why would it have been disastrous? Earlier here you indicated that RichRod was tied to only *one* impact player.

    4. @Anonymous Is nit-picking a hobby of yours? An exodus of bunch of players will screw up any program. Period.

    5. Rich Rodriguez offered Tony Posada very early in the process. Guys like that aren't the result of "I have an uncertain job status, so I'll take what I can get." He was offered a year before National Signing Day, not in December or January. Those are the types of guys that make you wonder about Rodriguez's recruiting ability. The late-in-the-process offers are the ones that deserve mostly mulligans.

      I know that might sound inconsistent from what I said at one time about Rodriguez bringing guys in the 2008 class (Marcus Witherspoon, Taylor Hill, etc.), but the difference is that Rodriguez either flipped those guys from WVU or had at least been recruiting them throughout the entire process. He knew what those guys had to offer, had been scouting them for awhile, etc. When Hoke got the job in 2011, he was coming from California and hadn't needed to recruit much from Ohio, Michigan, etc. Guys like Heitzman, Poole, Taylor, Carter, etc. were brand new on his radar and he had to make some "split second" (relatively speaking) decisions on whether to offer or not.

  3. Rivals had this 2011 class originally ranked as #21 in the country. Not too bad I guess. But with all the fall out it turned into a downer of a class.

    Interesting AL and FSU were #1 and #2 respectively. Ohio # 11.