The January Recruiting Puzzle

Why does Michigan generally land kids early rather than late? Who would know better than former Assistant Recruiting Coordinator Mark Ouimet.

"To get at the answer, first look at Florida State. They are sitting in the middle of a lot of talent in Florida, and the Southeast is a high-talent area in general. So they generally wait, stockpiling kids who favor them without having them verbally commit while they keep recruiting to see if they can get better kids. They go into Signing Day with half-or-less of their class committed, and then haul it in on Signing Day."

In general, the Southern Schools have done their recruiting visit weekends in January. The weather is still relatively nice there, so travel is good, and even Northern kids like to take Southern visits in January. However, the Northern schools recruit early when the weather is better there, and have done this more and more over the past ten years. And in response even the Southern schools are moving their recruiting schedules up. FSU has few commitments right now, but Florida and Miami both have sixteen.

"I agree. Now look at Michigan. Michigan could do what FSU does -- have the closer-to-home kids favoring them wait while they keep recruiting to see if they can get better kids -- but it worries them to do this. For one thing, the talent pool in the Midwest, and especially in Michigan, is not as deep as in the South and Southwest-- so Michigan does not want to take the chance of losing the kids favoring them."

"For another thing, the Michigan Summer Camp is a big tradition, bigger by far than any Southern college camp, so Michigan has seen most of their Top Midwest recruits in camp, and have had a chance to evaluate and recruit them early."

"Then there is history. Most of the kids who wait until late January to decide pick Southern schools. Or at least they tend not to pick Michigan -- even the top instate kids. And there is another reason for that. It is at the end of the recruiting season where things just get 'weird'. "

"Which brings us around to the recruit Michigan fans are all following most, Lamarr Woodley. Now I'm not saying he won't pick Michigan, because I don't know. But just the fact that he isn't making his decision until Signing Day has Michigan fans worried. Why? First of all, the top kids from Saginaw have tended not to pick Michigan (the last one who did was Sam Sword if I remember ... Roy Manning was not a Top-100-type Recruit in high school). Secondly, the top instate kids who decide early tend to pick Michigan (Gabe Watson, Ernest Shazor), but the ones who pick late tend not to (Charles Rogers)."

"The fact that MSU got Lamarr Woodley to wait until the end gives them a chance."

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