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Posted on Sun, Jul 24, 2011 : 5:51 a.m.

A look at remaining needs in Michigan's recruiting class, and players that could fill them

By Kyle Meinke

The Michigan football team’s 2012 recruiting class already is earning consensus top-10 rankings among the country’s major analysts -- with one tabbing the Wolverines No. 1 overall.

But it’s only July, and Michigan still has several spots to fill.

What will happen going forward?

It can be a precarious proposition to predict what teenagers will do six months from now on National Signing Day, particularly this early in the cycle. However, there are a few things to look for from Michigan, whose class already has earned a Big Ten-high 20 commitments.


The most glaring void in an otherwise stellar class? Defensive tackle.

Recruiting analysts agree Michigan will add at least one — and more likely two — players at that position.

FUTURE WOLVERINES football writer Kyle Meinke’s three-part look at Michigan’s 2012 football recruiting class:

The Wolverines are in good shape to land some combination of two four-star recruits: Ondre Pipkins, a 6-foot-3, 325-pounder from Missouri, and Danny O’Brien, a 6-foot-2, 293-pounder from Flint Powers.

Rivals national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said both are leaning toward Michigan.

O’Brien did not dispute that characterization -- nor confirm it, a fine line recruits are wont to walk -- in an interview with He did say he would announce his top six this week, and that Michigan would be on that list.

“I don’t deny that,” O’Brien said, when told experts say he likely will end up at Michigan. “Definitely, Michigan is a good possibility for me. Definitely true.

“But I still have a lot of time before I make a decision.”

O’Brien said he would like to make his commitment during or soon after this season. That is not unusual for elite prospects, who tend to commit late.


New Michigan coach Brady Hoke said when he was hired in January he would focus on repairing the Wolverines’ tattered defense — and he has, netting an elite crop of defensive recruits.


Running backs and receivers for new Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges' pro-style scheme may still be on the Wolverines' recruiting wish list. file photo

But what about the offense, where Hoke and offensive coordinator Al Borges are scrapping the spread attack of former coach Rich Rodriguez and installing a pro-style scheme?

Michigan’s recruiting haul still is missing some key cogs on that side of the ball, particularly skill guys at wide receiver and running back.

The Wolverines seem to be in good position to attract a top running back, considering they already have commitments from Kyle Kalis of Ohio and Erik Magnuson of California — two of the country’s top offensive tackle recruits — and return sophomore Taylor Lewan, who had an outstanding redshirt freshman season last year.

Five-star Ohio State commit Brionte Dunn has taken visits to Ann Arbor since pledging to the Buckeyes, but his recruitment is uncertain and is expected to draw out into next year.

Farrell said Muskegon running back Juwan Lewis could end up at Michigan. Lewan is a three-star back according to Rivals and a two-star according to Scout.

“If they offer him, he might jump right away,” Farrell said.

Things are still uncertain at wide receiver, but the Wolverines have drawn interest from Aaron Burbridge of Farmington Hills Harrison. The four-star recruit, who is the highest-ranked uncommitted player in Michigan, is expected to visit Ann Arbor at the end of the month.

Michigan is not expected to pursue another quarterback. It already has a commitment for 2013 from Shane Morris, a pro-style quarterback who plays for Warren DeLaSalle High School.

The Wolverines also have junior Denard Robinson, sophomore Devin Gardner (who will seek a redshirt for last year, although he is not allowed to do so until before his senior season) and incoming freshman Russell Bellomy.


With the core of their class set, the Wolverines have the luxury of being more selective as they fill out their class.

However, there is one player on Michigan’s board who could be on the verge of making a choice: Four-star Ohio defensive end Chris Wormley.

The Toledo, Ohio, native said Thursday he would commit “soon.”

“I’m a little surprised he hasn’t committed to Michigan already,” said Scout’s Midwest recruiting expert Allen Trieu. “It’d be a major shock if he went anywhere else.”

When relayed those comments, Wormley texted: “I wouldn’t say it’s true, but it’s not false.”

Wormley is 6-foot-5, 250 pounds and moves well for a player of that size. He is an end who play on the strong side.

Trieu thinks Wormley is the uncommitted recruit most likely to play for the Wolverines in 2012.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.


Robert D. Mosley

Tue, Jul 26, 2011 : 5:32 p.m.

This is one of several excellent articles updating us on the Wolverines. I sure hope that we get some good RB's and I miss outstanding and big receivers. I heard that we feel that we are set with recievers but I think we need one at least who is big, fast and in the tradition.


Sun, Jul 24, 2011 : 5:09 p.m.

I would agree generally with the article. Michigan has done a great, great job so far in recruiting. With 20 players committed, and one of those being a grey shirt/walk-on, they probably have 6 spots left. This is what I'd hope for: 1 Offensive lineman 2 Defensive tackles 1 DE (Wormley) 1 WR 1 RB Although they probably could use a QB, there may not be one worth offering this season. But, there's still a lot of time left until February, so someone may emerge. But, that would mean they'd have to not say, sign a running back or one less DT. But, I think right now, DT and RB are more important to get someone good. And Dunn would be too good to pass up if we can win him over. Anyway, just my two cents worth.

Blu n Tpa

Sun, Jul 24, 2011 : 12:08 p.m.

One of the scariest parts of being a head football coach, in college, is putting your trust in the words of a 18-19 year old six months, six weeks, six days ahead of time. This is not a reflection of honesty of those young men, (or women for that matter), it's just the nature of errr, hummm, ahhh, nature. Coach Hoke has been very direct about only wanting those players who want to play at Michigan. He's not using smoke and mirrors and for that I'm am truly grateful. But that doens't mean somewhere down the line, say late January, some other HC wont come calling on a Michigan recruit with a boat load of "snake-oil". Michigan is still going to finish strong, and any last minute loses will be replaced by a significant, similar gain. Coach Hoke and staff believe in what they have to offer and that is set in stone. Rock solid. And smoke and mirrors can't overcome that. TiM Go Blue!

1st Down

Sun, Jul 24, 2011 : 11:55 p.m.

In my post above...I mispelled Rich Strenger's name as Stringer. My bad. Go Blue.

1st Down

Sun, Jul 24, 2011 : 11:52 p.m.

"Coach Hoke and staff believe in what they have to offer and that is set in stone. Rock solid. And smoke and mirrors can't overcome that." Exactly right...and they are using that as leverage against kids bailing. Hoke & Co. know what Michigan is all about. They know the tremendous weight that name carries, both on and off the field in the classroom.... so they are telling these kids...'take other visits and we cant consider you committed and we may have to open up your spot"... that keeps things sweet and in line and a kid cant say that they were not being honest with them... keep that up, start winning again and they can pull that Michigan leverage every year in recruiting...just like Bo did. For example... Greg Mattison on the radio earlier this week talking about how when he was a young coach at Northwestern trying to recruit Rich Stringer... and Stringer's mom loved coach Mattison... well Bo got on the phone with Rich Stringer and told him that you have 5 minutes to tell me that you are coming to Michigan or we are moving on... Stringer committed, had a great career and ended up in the NFL. That is Michigan...and so is this.


Sun, Jul 24, 2011 : 1:14 p.m.

If some recruit can be tempted by snake-oil, then he's probably not the right fit for Hoke and Michigan. Let him go. Those who stay will be champions.