Just like last year, this year’s National Signing Day was particularly uneventful for Brady Hoke and the Michigan Football team. Seven players signed early enrollee player paperwork and that left nine more players to sign their Letters of Intent on Wednesday, all of which had their paperwork in by 10:53 a.m.. The class was looking to be an elite class by snagging De’Shawn Hand and Malik McDowell, but both of those fell through. Michigan offered a few other players, mostly running backs, closer to Signing Day but nothing came to fruition with the change at offensive coordinator. This class is quite small, coming it at 16 players, and the class for 2015 will also be small, since it should project between 13 and 16 players. This is what happens with a young team and now it is time for player development; this isn’t a highly rated class but it has potential. Here is a look at the defensive players for this incoming class.
I’m not big on recruiting rankings and you shouldn’t be either. Yes, it is always nice to get that highly rated guy, but at the end of the day, it’s all about developing talent. Eric Fisher had two scholarship offers and ended up being the number one pick. Darqueze Dennard was a two-star and just won the Jim Thorpe award and is probably going to be a 1st round pick. Long-Term Athlete Development is the name of the game. I trust the coaches to be able to identify talent more than some random guy working for Rivals or Scout watching game film. Some may call this class “underwhelming” but let’s see what they do on the field before actually evaluating how talented a group is. College Sports are littered with plenty of highly rated busts. Just remember, Doug Dutch was a four-star and Kevin Grady was a five-star while David Molk was a three-star and so was Mike Hart. This is not me saying that I would rather have the 40th ranked running back over the 1st, this is me saying that you shouldn’t get all bent out of shape about a player’s rankings when they are only 18 years old.
Yes, there are more three-stars than five-stars and four-stars on a year-to-year basis, but that doesn’t mean that their success/development should be ignored.
Class Rankings/Player Star Ratings:
I’m putting these here just for people to see, as I said earlier, I wouldn’t put too much stock into any of it. Only two teams ahead of Michigan on Rivals Team Rankings and Scouts Team Rankings had fewer than 20 players and Michigan had the least amount of any team in front of them. If you don’t have a big class, it is impossible to be ranked highly, unless you take all five and four-stars.
The key to this class on offense is size. Only one player comes in at under 6’3″ and that is Freddy Canteen, who will be a slot receiver. Rivals lists him at 6’3″, but every other recruiting service has him coming in at 6’1″.
Here are the measurables for this class:
Ian Bunting: One of the few that I think could actually play next year. Bunting is absolutely massive and with the move of Devin Funchess outside, Bunting would add depth to the tight end position. I’m not sure he is ready to block at the collegiate level yet, but he has a great ability to catch and to make plays after the catch. If he comes to camp and can block well, he will get on the field in a hurry.
Juwan Bushell-Beatty: Juwan is a prime candidate to redshirt next year and is going to need more time to develop as a blocker. He’s got great size and a good motor, but he’s very raw. Definitely has a very high ceiling and will start at tackle one day, just not yet. He’s a very good run blocker and his size allows him to overpower the defender.
Freddy Canteen (Early Enrollee): Canteen was a relatively unknown before committing to Michigan, since his school didn’t play a ton of games. Now that everyone has seen his tape, he’s made a move up and it’s easy to see why. Canteen can flat-out fly and go get the deep ball, but he’s destined to play in the slot because of his crisp route running. He’s got great hands and the fact that he is enrolling early is only going to help his development. I still think he’s going to redshirt, but with the way Michigan’s receivers played last year, anything is possible.
Mason Cole (Early Enrollee): Cole is the best offensive lineman in this small class and I’m sure plenty of Michigan fans are still hoping that he can put a bug in George Campbell’s ear and get him back. Cole could play either tackle or guard, but my guess is he will end up at guard. He’s very quick and is powerful at the point of attack and is also headed for a redshirt.
Drake Harris (Early Enrollee): Drake Harris is one of the players I’m most interested to see. He didn’t have a chance to play during his Senior year because of injury and spring football will prove to be very important for his development. Harris will be on the field and playing next year as long as spring ball goes well. He is going to be a great deep threat and does a good job of going up and getting the football. He can take the ball to the house at any time and should be fun to watch.
Wilton Speight (Early Enrollee): Speight is a quarterback with one of the rare combinations of size and speed. It’s not often that someone who is 6’6″ can run like he can (when they play quarterback that is). He has a quick release and has a strong-arm, even if he has an unconvetional throwing motion. Enrolling early will allow him to get a good grasp of Doug Nussmeier’s offense and he will add depth to the QB spot.
Maurice Ways: Ways will redshirt and work on developing his raw talent next year. He’s big and strong and can make plays in traffic that you need out of a receiver. He has good speed and will cause major problems for small cornerbacks down the road.