|Grace Park thinks Michigan needs more offensive linemen.|
There has been a great deal of discussion over the past couple seasons about how Michigan's scholarships should be allocated. Some Michigan fans were frustrated by Rich Rodriguez's insistence on recruiting so many slot receivers, the disappearance of the tight end position, dwindling numbers on the defensive line, etc. Fans often say Michigan needs this or needs that position. What does that really mean?
Well, let's start with some simple math. Teams are required to give scholarships to 85 players. If only 70 of them were actually recruited as scholarship players, then 15 walk-ons have to be awarded one-year scholarships.
We can assume that one scholarship should be given to a punter and one to a kicker (even though Michigan currently has three punters/kickers on scholarship). So that should be 83 spots divided amongst 22 starting positions for offense and defense, but Michigan only has 82 leftover slots.
82 / 22 = 3.73
So between three and four scholarships per starting position should be used. This is obviously an inexact science, for several reasons. First of all, if your four scholarship left tackles are redshirt juniors, then obviously you would want to bring in replacements. Secondly, a third-string wide receiver is probably more likely to play than a third-string offensive guard, because offensive linemen don't rotate in and out of the game as often as wideouts. Third, even if you have a full complement of players at one position, more are needed if those guys are ineffective.
Let's take a look at Michigan's projected position group depth for 2012:
QUARTERBACK = 3/3.73 (Denard Robinson, Sr.; Devin Gardner, Jr.; Russell Bellomy, So.)
RUNNING BACK = 8/3.73 (Michael Cox, RS Sr.; Vincent Smith, Sr.; Teric Jones, Sr.; Fitzgerald Toussaint, RS Jr.; Stephen Hopkins, Jr.; Justice Hayes, So.; Thomas Rawls, So.)
FULLBACK = 0/3.73
WIDE RECEIVER = 7/7.46 (Terrence Robinson, RS Sr.; Roy Roundtree, RS Sr.; Je'ron Stokes, Sr.; Jeremy Gallon, RS Jr.; Drew Dileo, Jr.; Jeremy Jackson, Jr.; Jerald Robinson, RS So.)
TIGHT END = 3/3.73 (Brandon Moore, RS Sr.; Ricardo Miller, RS So.; Chris Barnett, So.)
OFFENSIVE LINE = 10/18.65 (Ricky Barnum, RS Sr.; Rocko Khoury, RS Sr.; Elliott Mealer, RS Sr.; Patrick Omameh, RS Sr.; Taylor Lewan, RS Jr.; Michael Schofield, RS Jr.; Christian Pace, RS So.; Chris Bryant, So.; Jack Miller, So.; Tony Posada, So.)
DEFENSIVE LINE = 10/14.92 (William Campbell, Sr.; Craig Roh, Sr.; Jibreel Black, Jr.; Quinton Washington, RS Jr.; Richard Ash, RS So.; Terry Talbott, RS So.; Ken Wilkins, RS So.; Brennen Beyer, So.; Keith Heitzman, So.; Chris Rock, So.)
LINEBACKER = 11/11.19 (Kenny Demens, RS Sr.; Brandin Hawthorne, Sr.; Isaiah Bell, RS Jr.; Cameron Gordon, RS Jr.; Mike Jones, RS Jr.; Jordan Paskorz, RS So.; Jake Ryan, RS So.; Frank Clark, So.; Kellen Jones, So.; Desmond Morgan, So.; Antonio Poole, So.)
CORNERBACK = 7/7.46 (J.T. Floyd, RS Sr.; Courtney Avery, Jr.; Terrence Talbott, Jr.; Greg Brown, So.; Blake Countess, So.; Delonte Hollowell, So.; Raymon Taylor, So.)
SAFETY = 6/7.46 (Jordan Kovacs, RS Sr.; Thomas Gordon, RS Jr.; Carvin Johnson, Jr.; Marvin Robinson, Jr.; Josh Furman, RS So.; Tamani Carter, So.)
The one gaping hole seems to be the fullback position, but that's misleading because a team doesn't need two or three extra scholarship fullbacks sitting on the bench. Michigan ought to have one or two, but any fullback depth beyond that should come from walk-ons or backup tailbacks.
Another big discrepancy is caused by the tight end position, which actually should be divided between true tight ends and H-backs. The Wolverines just added two players (Devin Funchess and A.J. Williams) to the mix for 2012, and the coaches might not be done recruiting for those two roles.
Those caveats aside, this is what Michigan needs in the class of 2012 from a purely mathematical standpoint:
This doesn't take into account the age of the current scholarship players, but you can see that Michigan is in dire need of offensive and defensive linemen. On the flip side, tailback should probably not be a priority in the upcoming recruiting cycle.