Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Needs for 2015 Recruiting Class: Defense, Special Teams

Blake Countess may leave early if he replicates or improves upon his 2013 season
Yesterday I covered the needs on offense, so it's time to look at what Michigan needs on the other side of the ball.

2015 Depth Chart: Mario Ojemudia (Sr.), Matt Godin (RS Jr.), Taco Charlton (Jr.), Lawrence Marshall (So.)
Need: 2
Offers: Terry Beckner Jr., Jashon Cornell, Jalen Dalton, Lasamuel Davis, Clelin Ferrell, Hjalte Froholdt (Arkansas), Keisean Lucier-South, Darian Roseboro, Josh Sweat
Scoop: The need here might be mitigated by Tom Strobel and/or Henry Poggi, defensive tackles who have the ability to play as strongside ends if necessary. But the weakside end position is pretty thin with Ojemudia and Marshall scheduled to be the only real options there (Charlton is moving to the strong side). I believe that Noah Furbush might end up at weakside end, too, but so far the coaches are saying he's a linebacker.

2015 Depth Chart: Ondre Pipkins (Sr.), Willie Henry (RS Jr.), Tom Strobel (RS Jr.), Chris Wormley (RS Jr.), Maurice Hurst (RS So.), Henry Poggi (RS So.), Bryan Mone (So.), Brady Pallante (So.)
Need: 0
Offers: Josh Alabi, Rasheem Green, Du'Vonta Lampkin (Oklahoma), Tim Settle, Shy Tuttle
Scoop: Zero defensive tackles will graduate after the 2014 season, and only one is scheduled to be a senior in 2015. There may be room for a defensive tackle in the class, and the coaches are clearly pursuing some elite talents, but missing out on tackles would not be a major issue. The Wolverines could then pursue some prospects in 2016, when Henry, Strobel, and Wormley are all scheduled to be seniors.

2015 Depth Chart: Joe Bolden (Sr.), Royce Jenkins-Stone (Sr.), James Ross (Sr.), Allen Gant (RS Jr.), Ben Gedeon (Jr.), Mike McCray (RS So.), Michael Ferns (So.), Noah Furbush (So.), Jared Wangler (So.), Chase Winovich (So.)
Need: 1
Offers: Jerome Baker, Josh Barajas, Kamonte Carter (Penn State), Justin Hilliard, Jeffrey Holland, Malik Jefferson, Osa Masina, Joshua McMillon, Tanner Muse (Clemson), Adonis Thomas, Tyriq Thompson, Cameron Townsend
Scoop: Numbers-wise, Michigan doesn't truly need a linebacker in the 2015 class, but the coaches obviously want at least one. It does make some sense, because three players are scheduled to be seniors, so recruiting players at the position would give them a chance to redshirt before pressing for playing time in 2016. The coaches have done a good job of populating the linebacker corps over the past few seasons.

2015 Depth Chart:
 Blake Countess (RS Sr.), Terry Richardson (RS Jr.), Jourdan Lewis (Jr.), Channing Stribling (Jr.), Reon Dawson (RS So.), Jabrill Peppers (So.), Shaun Crawford (Fr.)
Need: 1
Offers: Rashard Causey, Shaun Crawford (Michigan), Minkah Fitzpatrick, DuWayne Johnson (Virginia Tech), Marcus Lewis, Iman Marshall, John Reid, Kendall Sheffield, Garrett Taylor, Kevin Toliver (LSU), Jordan Whitehead
Scoop: With Crawford committed, he essentially replaces the departing Raymon Taylor. Delonte Hollowell also graduates after the 2014 season. Cornerback is a position where guys can move to safety or wide receiver, so there's some flexibility at the position; Stribling, Dawson, and/or Peppers could eventually be safeties.

2015 Depth Chart:
 Jarrod Wilson (Sr.), Jeremy Clark (RS Jr.), Delano Hill (Jr.), Dymonte Thomas (Jr.), Brandon Watson (So.), Tyree Kinnel (Fr.)
Need: 1
Offers: Stephen Griffin, Tyree Kinnel (Michigan), Prentice McKinney
Scoop: Michigan lacks depth at the safety position, and four of the six safeties - assuming no position changers from cornerback - will be seniors or juniors. That sets up for a pretty young back end down the road. In addition to the numbers and age, Clark is considered a project and some have suggested that Hill's future might be as a linebacker. I believe he will stick at safety, but we haven't seen anyone except Wilson play significant minutes. Watson is listed here because he has been playing safety during spring practices after enrolling early.

2015 Depth Chart:
 Kenny Allen (RS Jr.), J.J. McGrath (RS So.), Andrew David (Fr.)
Need: 0
Offers: Andrew David (Michigan)
Scoop: Michigan has brought in a couple preferred walk-ons over the past couple seasons in the form of Allen and McGrath, both of whom were pretty highly touted. One or both will probably be scholarship starters once 2014 seniors Will Hagerup and Matt Wile graduate, so the need here is not dire.

2015 Depth Chart:
 Scott Sypniewski (RS So.)
Need: 0
Offers: None
Scoop: Sypniewski is already taking up a scholarship, and long snappers are often walk-ons.


  1. Here's how I'd see this class panning out: QB-1, RB-1, OL-3, WR-1, TE-1, K-1, DL-2, LB-1, DB-2

    Hate to see us leave a hole at DT, especially if we've got quality guys interested. Assuming attrition bumps us up to 16 or so, we can grab another LB, and use the last two wherever we can get the best players.

    1. I don't really think there are quality defensive tackles who are interested. Most/all of them are longshots. I think the coaches would take an elite kid if they could get him, but they're not hard pressed to find someone right now because of the numbers.

  2. We def got to get some DEs, and I'd like to see a DT too, if space permits.

  3. I think DL is a lot like OL in that you have to take bodies every year since it is so hard to project and since you need so much depth. I don't like a scenario where we only take two, especially after striking out on Hand/McDowell. I think you take a DT, a DE, and an "other" in every class at a minimum.

    I was confused when I read on MGoBlog this week that a WDE recruit said that they didn't have the numbers to offer someone yet at that position. It seems like we are in desperate need of a pass rusher at WDE and we are very limited at DT unless we play someone who is undersized there.


    1. Regarding weakside ends, that player was Jack Dunaway, a player who has no FBS offers (last I checked) and who is unlikely to be offered by any big programs. I think the coaches are pretty straight shooters in general, but I believe what they told him (or at least what he interpreted) was their way of gently letting him know that he wouldn't be offered. If Michigan strikes out on all their WDE prospects (Cornell, Ferrell, etc.), I fully expect them to send out more offers.

  4. Always a little nervous about leaving some positions unaddressed at all in a recruiting class. Being on the pessimistic side, I tend to regard future depth charts as ideals which will never actually be achieved. It's pretty much a sure thing that of the guys we have listed now, at every position, some will never actually be good enough to see the field in prime time, some will be hurt, some will transfer or just leave the program. You always have to be prepared to work with less than you expect.

    1. I get what you're saying about leaving positions unaddressed, but the 2003 class (which had 17 members and produced a great 2006 season) left some positions unaddressed, and they did just fine. Accounting for position changes (Crable was listed as a DE but never played it in college), they took just one DE (LaMarr Woodley), zero wide receivers, and zero defensive tackles. As long as the classes surrounding it get the job done, I don't generally see it as an issue. There are a couple positions that I think should be addressed every class (QB, RB) because of the experience needed at the former and the depth needed at the latter, but that doesn't apply to every group.

    2. OL and DL are positions that need upper classmen. We should aim for 2 every class. DL can be excluded if we're redshirting a few from the year before. OL can not.

  5. DE - 2, DT - 0. There are a few problems I have with this. I really wish they redshirted Taco, there was no reason he needed to play last season, but even so I feel we only really need 1 elite player, 2 if they're just middle of the road DEs. DEs, with regards to their recruiting rankings, I feel have lower bust rates. If we have 1 elite DE, we're set for a minute, because Marshall SHOULD be able to redshirt, and who knows if any of the LBs are going to grow into DEs.

    If we're only taking one DE, I would like to take 1 DT. We have numbers there right now, but I don't know if Pallante is going to be a significant contributor, and I don't know if Poggi is going to grow into a DT role. Poggi I really liked for the SDE in the 4-3 under scheme, but now that Mattison is going to be running more 4-3 over, I don't like Poggi as much. He's a technician with above average athleticism, but he's not elite. So for those reasons, I think a DT is just as necessary as a DE.

    LB - 1 - agreed.
    I'm hoping we can redshirt 2, if not 3 LBs from the haul of 4 last class, when we really only needed 2. This season we have 12 LBs. We don't need any more than 1.

    CB - 1 - agreed
    Peppers - Crawford - Lewis - Stribling - Watson. We're going to be set there for a minute.

    Safety - 1 - agreed
    Wilson and Thomas (unjustifiably so) are the only ones I feel really comfortable with back there. I'm hoping one of the young names breaks out, or we bring in an absolute stud.

    I can understand using a scholarships on a long snapper, but I don't think we should when we aren't over signing like the SEC. If we could cycle out the busts, sure throw a scholarship to a long snapper. Otherwise, I think that scholarship would be better used almost anywhere else.

  6. I agree with your numbers overall. I think, at a minimum you take 2 DL, 1 LB, and 2 DB including at least one bigger guy that could be a safety. Defensive depth looks pretty good once some of this uncertainty at safety gets figured out.

    I see the DL as more of a continuum than these groupings. We have a bunch of guys that slide between NT and DT, DT and SDE, SDE and WDE. I think 2 DLmen is right, but I think they'd love the get a talented NT more so than a comparable SDE.

    It seems to me the coaches have over-recruited the LB position at the expense of safety. We are very deep at LB with quality players like Bolden and Gedeon used as primarily backups. Meanwhile, safety is wide open and very inexperienced. In general though, the ship seems to have been righted and we are headed the right direction as a program (other than leaving scholarships on the table, that drives me nuts.)