Lloyd Carr has once again proven himself to be an effective recruiter. Despite a lackluster 2005 season and swirling rumors of staff changes that ultimately proved to be true, he once again lured many of the finest football players in the country to Ann Arbor. The following is a breakdown of their current recruiting class by position.
David Cone was the only QB Michigan landed this recruiting season and is not ranked as high as most Wolverine fans would have hoped. While he certainly has prototypical size, he played for a high school team that didn't throw the ball much and he was not highly recruited. QB was not a strong need this year with Chad Henne coming back for his junior season and Jason Forcier (4 star 2005 recruit) returning. It will be a major need this coming recruiting year.
Grade: C Cone is a project and Michigan just needed a body to fill out the roster.
Running backCarlos Brown will provide Michigan the breakaway threat they haven't had since Chris Perry. Brown has superb speed and agility that should fit in perfectly with the style offense run in Ann Arbor. The thunder to Brown's lightning is Brandon Minor. The bruising running back from Virginia lacks the speed of Brown, but makes up for it in spades with his balance and vision. Both of these running backs chose Michigan over offers from the cream of the SEC, and ACC and make for a formidable one-two punch. The third running back is Obi Ezeh. He projects more as an athlete at this point and was not highly recruited, but Carr likes his flexibility to play RB, LB or even TE.
Grade: B There was no dominant runner in this group but Minor and Brown make a good duo that should become solid contributors in the future to spell Kevin Grady.
Wide ReceiverMichigan followed last years banner WR haul of Mario Manningham, Antonio Bass, and Laterryal Savoy with a much smaller collection this year. WR was not a big need given last years recruiting success and the return of Steve Breaston, Doug Dutch and possibly Carl Tabb, but the Wolverines snagged the talented WR Greg Matthews. He had some impressive offers but is not considered a blue chip recruit. It is likely he will redshirt next year and probably won't contribute meaningfully for at least two years.
Grade: B- Matthews is a decent prospect but not up to the normal Michigan standards for WRs.
Michigan landed two blue chip recruits in Justin Boren and Steve Schilling. Both prospects were national recruits with great size and natural ability. Schilling is known more for his run blocking abilities than his pass protection, but both he and Boren have potential to be All-Americans. The last recruit on the OL was Perry Dorenstein, who earned his offer with a solid camp performance. Dorrenstein has great size but isn't very mobile and couldn't earn an offer from Notre Dame and Charlie Weis.
Grade: A. This haul of offensive linemen compliments last years great collection of players. Over the past two years it gives Michigan two five-star, four four-star, and two three-star offensive linemen. A great foundation for the future.
Defensive tackle was a major need for Michigan as both Gabe Watson and Pat Massey will no longer be with the team next year. Marques Slocum is the jewel of the position this year. Unfortunately he was also the jewel of last year's class but had to attend prep school this past year. Slocum is a beast of a man at 6-5, 320 pounds and yet moves extremely well for his size. The sky is the limit for this talented lineman. Adam Patterson is another pure DT that has great strength and power. Although less physically talented than Slocum, he provides a great compliment on the interior as a potential run stuffer. Jason Kates is a name many Irish fans are familiar with and he makes up the third DT of this Michigan class. By most accounts Kates has great physical abilities but there have been some doubts about his intensity on the field. Finally, Greg Banks provides Lloyd Carr with some flexibility as he can project as either a DT or DE in a couple of years. Banks may be the most talented pass rusher of the bunch and excels in one-on-one situations with offensive tackles. It is doubtful the Wolverines would want to move Banks away from defensive end.
Grade: A. This is a sobering comparison to ND's strikeout at DT. If Kates can provide consistent effort, Michigan will have three big, pure tackles with superb physical ability. Not bad for perhaps the most difficult position to recruit.
Defensive end- Quintin Woods is the best of the two DE's Michigan landed this year. He is tall and slender but possesses good speed and natural pass rushing instincts. However he is not very strong and will require a couple of years in the weight room before he can contribute on an every down basis. John Ferrar is a smart football player but not overly athletic. This makes two straight seasons in which Michigan has failed to land a great DE. However, in the style of defense Michigan uses, they use a rush linebacker (a position Woods could excel at) and a run stuffing DE.
Grade: C Woods has solid potential but they failed to land a game-breaker for two straight seasons.
The best player in this class is Brandon Graham. He is quite simply a physical specimen. Graham was a top target of Weis, but committed to the Wolverines very early in the process and didn't get the kind of press he rightly deserves. He is big, fast, tough and instinctive. He is the type of recruit who can step on campus and be a star almost immediately. To compliment Graham, Michigan also picked up Cobrani Mixon from the heart of Buckeye country. Mixon is instinctual and functions very well in traffic. He is an ideal middle linebacker that excels at shedding blockers and flowing to the ball quickly. Last but not least, Quintin Patilla continues the Flint pipeline into Ann Arbor. He was lightly recruited and is a bit of a tweener; very light for a LB, but too big for safety. Time will tell where Patilla winds up, but not many teams thought he was worthy of a scholarship.
Grade: A. Even with only Graham, this grade would be an A. Mixon is a great player as well but not the physical specimen of Graham.
Lloyd Carr's heart was ripped from his chest when Jai Eugene, arguably the best corner in the country, reneged on his commitment to the Wolverines in favor his hometown LSU Tigers. Corner was a major need and they came up completely empty. Combined with last year, Michigan has recruited just two pure corners. This could cause Carr to move Steve Brown from his more natural position of safety just to fill holes.
Grade: F. Michigan needed a big recruit here and missed completely. Carr will need to find a CB that can step in and play immediately in next year's class. Expect stiff competition from the Wolverines for talented Michigan corners Dionte Allen and Ronald Johnson.
Steve Brown and Jonas Mouton make a great tandem provided Brown is not moved to corner. Brown is big, fast and has superb cover skills. He has potential to be a great safety. Mouton is big enough to be a linebacker in college, but has the speed to be a great safety. Mouton is a hard hitter that was recruited all across the country, but Michigan was able to snatch him from under the nose of Southern Cal.
Grade: A. Brown and Mouton make a great pair provided Brown stays at safety.
Overall, this Michigan class was probably the worst they have had in the past three or four seasons and they still finished in the top 10. The class has some excellent players (Brandon Graham, Jonas Mouton, Steve Schilling, etc.) but has left the Wolverines with some major holes to fill next year. With the re-emergence of Notre Dame as a national power, expect to see some great recruiting battles with Michigan in the coming years.