The Wolverine

June-July 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 53 of 83

FOOTBALL RECRUITING Michigan's Early Recruiting Start Has Fans Eying A No. 1 Ranking M edented in Ann Arbor. Never before has Michigan had double-digit com- mitments by the end of April, much less 18 players already pledged to become Wolverines. The earliest Michigan has ever reached 18 com- mitments was in mid-July — and that was last year for this Michigan staff's first class. It's clear that Brady Hoke's recruiting strategy is to wrap up as many players as possible early in the process. The Michigan coaching staff isn't sacrificing player quality in order to make sure they get early commit- ments. Among Michigan's current commitments are 13 prospects rated four-stars or better by Four of Michigan's early com- ichigan's early returns in the 2012 recruiting class are unprec- BY TIM SULLIVAN mitments are ranked as three-star prospects, and the most recent to commit — Harper Woods (Mich.) Chandler Park Academy wide re- ceiver Csont'e York — has yet to be rated by Michigan is on pace for a recruiting class for the ages. Only twice before has Michigan brought in more than 13 four-star or better prospects. In the 2008 class, Rich Rodriguez signed 17 players with such a ranking (though seven left the program prior to ex- hausting their eligibility) and the 2009 class included 14 such players. With several months to go before Na- tional Signing Day, and only six spots remaining, Michigan's coaching staff is no longer battling their program's own history for an elite class, but challenging every program in the country for the honor of top class of 2013 nationally. recruiting and has Michi- gan signed more than one five-star prospect. The 2003 class featured linebackers LaMarr Woodley and Prescott Burgess, while the class of 2012 signees included defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins and offensive TOP MICHIGAN CLASSES Only twice in the age of Internet 54 THE WOLVERINE JUNE/JULY 2012 Warren (Mich.) De La Salle quarterback Shane Morris is among 13 players in U-M's 2013 class rated four stars or better by lineman Kyle Kalis. Michigan's 2003 class still maxed out at No. 17 in the team rankings, and the 2012 group was No. 7. Michigan's top-ranked class in PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN the era came in 2005. The group included just one five- star prospect in running back Kevin Grady, 10 four-stars and 11 three-stars. Clearly, the stakes have changed in landing a top class. Already, it's likely that Michigan's 2013 class will be the best in the In- ternet age. However, it's going to take more than that to knock off the Alabamas and USCs of the world. nation has recently resided mostly in Los Angeles, Tuscaloosa, Ala., or Gainesville, Fla. USC has taken home four recruiting "champion- ships" since 2004, most recently in 2010. Under Urban Meyer, Florida brought home the nation's top class in 2007. Since then, (with the excep- tion in 2010), it's been pretty much all The laurel of No. 1 class in the RECENT TOP CLASSES Alabama. That may bode poorly on the field for Michigan this Septem- ber, but it also provides the Wolver- ines a blueprint for what is needed to bring in the country's top class. Each time Alabama has landed the nation's top class, they've had three or more five-star prospects. Michigan currently has zero. In 2008, the Tide brought in 19 four-star players, but since then, the top class has had ex- actly 14 such players each year. Mich- igan is already close to that mark, with months to go before National Signing Day. One big difference for Michigan, however, will be class size. USC's 20-man group in 2010 was the small- est recruiting class to earn top hon- ors, and Alabama's 2011 class had 22 players. Every other top class in recent years has signed at least 26 players. Michigan's class is expected to top out at 24 prospects, so U-M's individual signees will have to have a very high average ranking — and the Wolverines will have to get lucky, as well.

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