Michigan's star-studded recruiting class built to address biggest needs
Hoke quickly and thoroughly dispelled those concerns by drawing a top-10 class in 2012, and he's expected to make it two in a row when the 2013 haul faxes in their letters of intent to Schembechler Hall on Wednesday.
And those two classes offer a look into his blueprint for constructing his program: Build from the line of scrimmage, then work out from there.
Hoke signed six defensive linemen last season, a 32-year high. This year's class features the offensive line, grabbing six guys, an eight-year high.
Each is a four-star prospect according to at least one of the major recruiting services. That's an incredible haul at that position -- perhaps the best in the country.
"It's close," said Tom Luginbill, ESPN's national director of recruiting. "You have the type of player you're looking to get ... The type of bring your lunch pail, go to work, wear you down types of guys.
"At the end of the day, you hear coaches say, 'We want to be a team that when somebody watches us on tape, they don't want to play us.' (That's what they got.)"
Michigan's 27-man class ranks No. 1 in the country according to Scout. It's No. 6 according to Rivals and No. 5 on ESPN.
It's neck-and-neck with Ohio State for the Big Ten's best class, and the rivals are easily distanced from everyone else in the league.
Big-armed quarterback Shane Morris of Warren De La Salle was the first commit, and top-rated tailback Derrick Green was the final commit. They are the undisputed stars of the class.
Yet, the haul isn't simply a collection of star high school players, but a collection of star players who fill the most critical weaknesses in the program.
Michigan has been woefully undermmaned at offensive line since Hoke arrived, going with basically five players each of the past two seasons. The backups last year were primarily walk-ons and freshmen.
When starters struggled, or were hurting, there were no options behind them. It was a painful reminder for Michigan that, without ability up front, offensive playmakers will be limited.
Michigan's tailbacks, with little room to run, slumped to their worst season in recorded school history.
Adding 10 offensive linemen in two recruiting cycles should provide relief in the coming years. The six from this year are particularly well-regarded:
-- Patrick Kugler (Wexford, Pa.) is the country's No. 1 guard according to Rivals, and a four-star guard ranked No. 6 by Rivals.
-- David Dawson (Detroit Cass Tech) is a four-star guard ranked No. 6 by Rivals and No. 7 by Scout.
-- Chris Fox (Parker, Colo.) is a four-star prospect ranked the No. 10 tackle by Rivals and No. 6 guard by Scout.
-- Logan Tuley-Tillman (Peoria, Ill.) is a four-star tackle ranked No. 22 by Rivals and No. 24 by Scout.
-- Kyle Bosch (Wheaton, Ill.) is a four-star tackle ranked No. 7 by Rivals and No. 3 by Scout.
-- Dan Samuelson (Plymouth, Ind.) is a three-star prospect ranked the No. 31 guard by Rivals and a four-star prospect ranked the No. 25 tackle by Scout.
The linemen won't all pan out -- projections, of course, are far from fail-proof. But the beauty of recruiting so many elite players for the position is, paired with four linemen from 2012, Michigan doesn't need them all to deliver.
Having 10 big bodies over two classes battling for time will breed fierce competition for job battles. When someone doesn't work out, there will be ability behind him.
It's the same model employed by Alabama in 2009. The Crimson Tide used seven of 27 spots on offensive linemen, some of whom didn't cut it.
But three of the seven did: Five-star tackle D.J. Fluker and three-star guards Chance Warmack and Anthony Sheen. They started last season for the best offensive line in college football, and Warmack and Fluker were named first-team All-Americans.
Michigan is modeling its program the same way: Get big and talented up front first, then allow those guys to make everyone else better. It hopes the strategy will pay similar dividends as it shifts to a pro-style offense that features power running and down-field passing.
"The caveat for Michigan fans is you don’t just wave a magic wand and shift this thing over (from the Rich Rodriguez era)," Luginbill said. "Not only do you have to have a great player, you have to have the right player. What is the right player?
"You have to have the right mentality -- a guy who buys in -- and that’s where Michigan and this staff has spent an awful lot of time and I think you’re going to start to see that coming into play now as they shift away from the Denard Robinson era."
Michigan's offensive identity is evolving, and it appears to have the building blocks to support it.
Michigan's 2013 recruiting class
Five-star commits (Rivals)
RB Derrick Green (Richmond, Va)
Four-star commits (Rivals)
OL David Dawson (Detroit Cass Tech), OL Chris Fox (Parker, Colo.), LB Ben Gedeon (Hudson, Ohio), DB Delano Hill (Detroit Cass Tech), OL Patrick Kugler (Wexford, Pa.), DB Jourdan Lewis (Detroit Cass Tech), LB Mike McCray (Trotwood, Ohio), QB Shane Morris (Warren De La Salle), DT Henry Poggi (Baltimore), ATH Wyatt Shallman (Detroit Catholic Central)
DB Reon Dawson (Trotwood, Ohio), WR Jaron Dukes (Columbus, Ohio), TE Khalid Hill (Detroit Crockett), DT Maurice Hurst Jr. (Westwood, Mass.), WR Da'Mario Jones (Westland John Glenn), OL Dan Samuelson (Plymouth, Ind.), RB Deveon Smith (Warren, Ohio), DB Channing Stribling (Matthews, N.C.), WR Csont'e York (Harder Woods Chandler Park)
LS Scott Sypniewski (Ottawa, Ill.)
Early enrolles already on campus (each four stars via Rivals)
OL Kyle Bosch (Wheaton, Ill.), TE Jake Butt (Pickerington, Ohio), DE Taco Charlton (Pickerington, Ohio), DB Ross Douglas (Avon, Ohio), S Dymonte Thomas (Alliance, Ohio), OL Logan Tuley-Tillman (Peoria, Ill.)
-- Download the Michigan football on MLive app for iPhone and Android
-- Download the Michigan basketball on MLive app for iPhone and Android
-- Follow Kyle Meinke and Nick Baumgardner on Twitter
-- Like MLive's Michigan Wolverines Facebook page