Brady Hoke: Michigan moves closer to competing for national titles with physical class
Brady Hoke, like most coaches, puts little stock in that ranking. He's more concerned about the type of player Michigan recruits.
He wants maulers, and he wants them up and down the lineup. That's how he sees Michigan competing for national championships -- and he thinks he has those pieces.
"When you look at your class, and you look at your needs -- the physicality you want to play with, and need to play with -- the right fits, when you look at your positions and the roster and what you inherited and all those things, there have been significant development in the genetics of the guys on the team," Hoke said.
Or, to put it more succinctly: "I think the needs we focused on, we met."
Michigan's 27-man class was signed by noon Wednesday, quelling the kind of drama that envelops many programs that recruit at a high level. It didn't add to the class, but didn't lose anyone either.
The class currently ranks No. 2 in the country according to Scout and No. 6 per Rivals and ESPN.
Its strength, just as Michigan would prefer it, is along the offensive line. The class features six players at the position, each of whom garnered four stars from at least one of the recruiting sites.
Two, Kyle Bosch and Logan Tuley-Tillman, already are on campus as early enrollees.
The offensive linemen aren't just good players -- they're big ones, averaging 6-feet-5 and 292 pounds. That's a clear departure from the Rich Rodriguez era, which favored smaller, quicker linemen for the spread-option offense.
Paired with last year's class, which featured four premium offensive linemen as well as six defensive linemen, it's clear Michigan's top operative was beefing up the trenches.
"That'll always be the focus," receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Jeff Hecklinski said. "We will knock you off the ball, we will bloody your nose and we will play great run defense.
"You do that with offensive linemen and the front seven defensively."
It's the same story at tailback, where Michigan signed three players, each of whom are "pounders," according to Fred Jackson.
The star is Derrick Green, the country's No. 1 tailback who Jackson said will compete for time right away.
"There were some things that we went through last year that cost us in some situations in games, and hopefully we rectified that," Jackson said. "Those guys aren't afraid of contact -- not one bit. They get punched, and they'll punch right back.
"Green, he'll do most of the punching."
Michigan got rangy defensive backs, including physical safety Dymonte Thomas, an early enrollee who could compete for time right away.
It got bigger at wideout, with Csont'e York, Jaron Dukes and Da'Mario Jones each standing at least 6-2.
"We wanted some range and length at the wide receiver position, and we got some guys who can go up and compete for the football," Hoke said.
The 27-man class features four players among Rivals' 100 best recruits in the country, second in the Big Ten only to Ohio State.
That pleases Hoke -- but he's most pleased that those players fit his physical mold, and should help his team pack a bigger punch all over the field and especially at the line of scrimmage.
"You got to find guys who fit that blueprint for what you want to be as a program at Michigan," Hoke said. "I was joking with (all-Big Ten safety Jordan) Kovacs -- we wasn't even a star, we was like a moon. But every person who watched Michigan football, there's one thing you knew: He was a football player.
"There's a toughness that comes with being a football player."
Can Michigan compete for national championships with this crop of football players?
"There's no question," he said.
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