Future Wolverines: Recruiting analysts project the leaders and best from Michigan's 2012 football class
The Michigan football team’s recruiting haul has been robust for 2012.
But who of that heralded group of 20 commits is most ready to slide into a starting spot next year? And who will be the biggest project?
Who will be the next great pro out of Michigan, which averaged 5.5 NFL draft picks per year from 2000-08, but only 2.3 since? And who is most likely never to wear a winged helmet at all?
AnnArbor.com asked Scout Midwest recruiting expert Allen Trieu and Rivals lead national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell to project what to expect from Michigan coach Brady Hoke’s first full recruiting class.
Let the games begin.
MOST READY TO START
Rivals: Royce Jenkins-Stone. “Michigan needs help on defense immediately, and on that defense, against the run, he’s going to be an immediate asset.”
Scout: Kyle Kalis. “He plays for one of the best schools in Ohio, so he’s had good coaching. He’s played for a state title, so he’s been in big games. And he’s played against some of the other big-time players in Ohio, and done well against them. He’s ready.”
Rivals: Mario Ojemudia. “He’s a tweener. He plays defensive end, but he’s kind of small for that position in college, especially in that defense they want to run. Guy like that has a lot of upside, but he’s going to have to grow into a position. No way to tell right now what that could be.”
Scout: Pharaoh Brown. “He’s a tremendous athlete, and we project him to be a rush-end. (Tom) Strobel is a strong-side guy, so he’s going to be a weak-side. He’s about 215 pounds, so he needs to add some weight first. But his raw physical ability makes him one of the best of the class, if they can get him ready for Big Ten play.”
MOST NFL POTENTIAL
Rivals: Erik Magnuson. “I think he can be a starter at left tackle (at the next level), and you don’t see a lot of those guys this early. I think he can be that guy. He’s not going to be on the field quicker than Kalis, but his payoff is such that he could be a tremendous NFL player.”
Scout: Tom Strobel. “Right now, Strobel has the right combination of size and ability. It’s not just about the player, it’s about the measurables, and he has the measurables to play at the next level.
BIGGEST UPSIDE IN COLLEGE
Rivals: Kalis. “We project him as a three-year starter at right tackle. At left tackle (which he plays in high school), there’s a natural progression that’s going to have to take place before he’s ready. Kind of like switching from right-handed to left-handed, where everything is backward all of the sudden, except this switch isn’t quite as hard. But, long-term, I think he’s going to be a very good right tackle for Michigan.”
Scout: Strobel. “He’s got a big frame. I really liked him when I saw him on film — then I saw him on campus, and it just shocked me by how big he is. If he keeps growing into that frame, he could be a next-level kind of guy.”
FILLS BIGGEST NEED
Rivals: Jarrod Wilson. “He’s a ball-hawker. He covers a lot of area in the backfield, and I think they’ve been lacking that guy who can support the safeties. The safeties have been a step slow, and that’s why you’ve seen so many big plays given up. He’s the kind of athlete they need back there.”
Scout: Wilson. “I have to go with the defensive backs here. Michigan needs some guys who can come in and play. Jerrod Wilson is the guy, but also (Anthony) Standifer and Terry Richardson.
SHAKIEST CURRENT COMMITMENT
Rivals: Jeremy Clark. “He’s going to have to greyshirt. If (Michigan) didn’t end up getting Jarrod Wilson, then (Clark) wouldn’t have been in that situation. We’ve talked with all the commits, and no one is really close to decommitting. But if Kentucky or Louisville made (Clark, of Madisonville, Ky.) an in-state offer, then it wouldn’t surprise me if he decommitted.”
Scout: Terry Richardson. “They’re all fairly solid, but one guy is Terry Richardson. He said he’d take visits, then his coach came out and said he wouldn’t. But it remains a possibility he’d take some visits and look at some other schools.”
FUTURE FAN FAVORITE
Rivals: Joe Bolden. “He’s just a nasty football player. He loves to hit people. He’s going to be one of those guys who fits in with what they want to do defensively. I think Jenkins-Stone has bigger upside, but Bolden is a guy who is going to be your captain.”
Scout: Jenkins-Stone. “He’s wanted to be a Michigan player his whole life, so fans will buy into that. He’s called Michigan his dream school, and fans can identify with that.”
BEST PURE ATHLETE
Rivals: Brown. “He’s a huge kid (6-6, 220) who plays quarterback in high school but projects as a defensive end in college, and I know he could also be a standout tight end if needed. He’s a very athletic kid.”
Scout: Brown. “He does so many things on the field, playing quarterback and now defensive end. He is the best actual athlete in the class. Honorable mention would go to (Rockford offensive lineman) Ben Braden.”
BEST FIT FOR NEW OFFENSE
Rivals: A.J. Williams. “He’s a huge tight end and, in that offense Hoke wants to run — a power-running offense — you need a tight end who is big enough to block, but also can get down the field and be a target. He’s an old-school Michigan tight end.”
Scout: Kalis and Magnuson. “The two offensive linemen. They’re big, physical run blockers who kind of go back to the style of linemen Michigan used to have: Line up and crush the guy in front of you — and that’s the style they’re going back to.”
BEST FIT FOR NEW DEFENSE
Rivals: Jenkins-Stone. “He’s the type of player who diagnoses plays very quickly. I’m never going to mention Ray Lewis in the same sentence as a high school player, but (Jenkins-Stone) is that kind of guy who’s going to lead, who is going to make plays with athleticism other guys can’t.”
Scout: Bolden and James Ross. “When you look at (new defensive coordinator) Greg Mattison defensively, you’ve got to have a great rush end, but what he’s done with (Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker) Ray Lewis, that’s something these kids can identify with. He’s going to put a defensive tackle in front of (the middle linebacker), and Ross and Bolden are candidates for middle linebacker. They’ll take on that role Lewis had with the Ravens.”
BIGGEST WILD CARD
Rivals: Devin Funchess. “He’s a guy who is rated lower than a lot of the guys in the class because he’s a tight end, but he plays like a wide receiver and could put up big numbers in the passing game because you can line him up at a lot of positions.
Scout: Funchess. “He’s really burst onto the scene in the past year. He’s going to play tight end at about 205, 210 (pounds). So, is he going to have the weight, where he can block? He’s an outstanding wide receiver, and could actually line up there at some point. Great skill-set, great athlete, but there’s some questions about what kind of college player he’s going to be because he still has to develop so much physically.”