I would love to go in-depth and discuss every player in Michigan’s recruiting class and how they will impact the team next year, but quite frankly, it would turn into a 5,000 word essay and I do not have the time to do a lengthy post justice. In short, I absolutely love Michigan’s recruiting class. They have guys who can contribute right away, guys who will add much-needed depth in the trenches and even had two surprise commitments right before signing day.
Would I have loved to have another impact corner or receiver? Obviously. There are always positions that you would, as a fan, want addressed, but I trust the coaching staff with their decisions and I am satisfied with our haul. With 25 commitments, Michigan filled some of their biggest needs in the trenches and at linebacker. I would expect Kyle Kalis, a 5-star offensive tackle (all-star rankings are according to Rivals), to move inside and push to start at guard. While Ondre Pipkins, a 5-star defensive tackle, will be in the top 3 on the interior line and get significant playing time right away. Joe Bolden is another young guy to keep your eye on throughout the spring and summer. He’s a highly talented linebacker and it will be extremely difficult to keep him off the field.
Up until signing day there were some disappointments, particularly with Josh Garnett (4-star offensive lineman), Armani Reeves (4-star cornerback), and Sam Grant (3-star tight end). All three of these guys would have been great additions to the class and at need positions. Garnett is from the West Coast and eventually opted to stay there, picking Stanford over Michigan. He was a recruit that cared a great deal about his education and wanted to stay close to home.
It would have been nice to add another road grader to the class, but with Alex Kozan (4 star offensive lineman) and Jordan Diamond (4 star offensive lineman) still uncommitted, the potential to add to the class is there. Kozan was rumored to have committed to Iowa but has essentially dropped off the map and didn’t turn in a Letter Of Intent today and hasn’t been heard from. It’s been said on Twitter that he is torn between Iowa, Auburn and Michigan, but it is hard to be sure (search the name Kozan on Twitter and you’ll see why). Diamond has planned to commit on Friday, and the Rivals recruiting boards seem to think that it will come down to Auburn, Arkansas Wisconsin or Michigan (Rivals). Quite honestly, I’ll be happy to add just one of them, preferably Diamond, because Kozan’s uncertainty concerns me.
With Reeves, Michigan initially lost him to Penn State, but after the ordeal that has gone on in Happy Valley, he de-committed and re-opened his recruitment. It came down to Ohio and Michigan and unfortunately he chose Ohio (Rivals). Sam Grant, like Reeves, was previously committed to a school (Boston College), and decided to re-open his recruitment. I thought that Michigan would be a lock to land the big 3-star tight end (which was also a position of need), but in the end he chose Oklahoma, preventing Michigan from adding more depth (Rivals).
Meanwhile there were two surprise commitments for Michigan who hadn’t been talked about until recently. One of them was 3-star defensive tackle Willie Henry, who hails from the state of Ohio. He was recruited very late by Michigan, but from what I’ve seen on his film on Rivals, the kid has a good motor and gets off the ball quickly, especially at 270 lbs.
The even bigger surprise addition to the class was the addition of Dennis Norfleet who was literally offered the night before signing day and was previously committed to Cincinnati. According to Rivals, he is the 5th ranked all-purpose back in the country and 236th on their 250 big board. I see Norfleet as lightning in a bottle. In his Signing Day Press Conference Brady Hoke talked about him filling a need as a kick returner, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he got on the field as a true frosh, but I wouldn’t expect it. He’s 5’7″ and is ridiculously fast; watching his game film on Rivals was a complete joke. Once he got the ball he was rarely touched and showed great elusiveness and burst when hitting the hole. The other important thing is that he didn’t try to do a lot of East-West running and was good with taking one cut and running downhill. With the offensive line haul that Michigan has and the potential of adding two more, they will be able to open up large holes for Norfleet to fly through. I would expect him to be Michigan’s kick returner and once Fitzgerald Toussaint graduates, Thomas Rawls and Norfleet will be Michigan’s thunder and lightning runningback combo.
This class has a lot of potential and is currently ranked 7th by Rivals, 4th by Scout and 8th by ESPN. In my mind, with the uncertainty of recruiting, so long as your class is in the top 10, you’re in pretty good shape. The potential to improve this class is still there with Diamond and Kozan still uncommitted, but it remains to be seen what they will decide. Michigan already has a head start for 2013 with 5-star in-state quarterback commit Shane Morris, and a 4-star safety Dymonte Thomas, who is said to be the best player in the state of Ohio (ESPN). It will be necessary for Michigan to add more top talent, particularly at skill positions, to keep this program’s revival going and keep pace with Ohio.