Whenever a coaching change occurs in college football, the general expectation is that the proceeding recruiting class won’t be up to snuff. The reason for that belief is pretty simple. Commits look elsewhere because the people that recruited them may no longer be at their school, the new system being implemented may not fit them, and negative recruiting reaches its apex when there are any questions about a new coach. All of those negative factors were working against Rich Rodriguez while he was trying to put together his first recruiting class at Michigan, but he overcame them with flying colors.
It truly is remarkable that Michigan’s 2008 recruiting class turned out to be filled with so many great players. Scout ranks it 8th in the nation, right behind Ohio State. And Rivals has it ranked right behind OSU as well at 10th overall. Looking back on the process of assembling this great recruiting class, there is a group of people that should be recognized for their hard work.
The first person I will give a shout out to is recruiting coordinator Chris Singletary. During the transitional period when the future of the football program was unclear, Singletary worked hard to keep the recruiting class in order. He kept in contact with the recruits and made sure they were kept up to date on the latest happenings in Ann Arbor, and although he doesn’t get a lot of publicity for the job he does, there is no doubt that he was instrumental in limiting the number of decommits.
The second person that should not be forgotten when it comes to this recruiting class is Lloyd Carr (and his assistants as well). Obviously, he was the head coach when the majority of the commits verballed and his recruiting ability was shown off greatly. But a less noticeable thing he did to ensure the recruiting class would be as good as possible was the timing of his retirement. By announcing that he would retire just days after the Ohio State game, Carr gave Bill Martin a chance to get the search for a new head coach started way back in November. That meant that Rich Rodriguez was hired early enough where he could get a staff together to go all out on recruiting in January and the first few days of February. Rodriguez did just that and ended up with a top 10 class as a result.
The final group of people that were responsible for putting together this recruiting class are the new assistants, Fred Jackson, Mike Barwis (recruits on their official visits loved him), and of course, Coach Rod. What excites me so much about the future of Michigan football when it comes to recruiting is the potential this staff has. With only a month to actually recruit, Rodriguez and his staff not only secured almost all of the inherited recruits, but they added many more as well. Coach Rod and his staff were able to identify recruits that will make the transition to a spread offense easier in his first year and really came out of nowhere with some and still locked up many commitments.
All I can say is that if Rich Rodriguez and his staff excel in recruiting this much in only a month, then imagine what they will do with an entire year to work with. On top of that, Rodriguez showed he can finish off the recruitment of players late in the game near signing day. I’ve never seen so many recruits commit in such a short period of time, but just in these last few days Michigan has added 6 new faces to the Class of ’08. With the ability to do that well as signing day nears, I think we need to start calling Rich Rodriguez “The Closer.”
With the general fluff out of the way, here are some notes on recruiting and a few other things worth mentioning:
- Rich Rodriguez said that four players will no longer be on the team at his signing day press conference yesterday (click here to watch the presser). Offensive linemen Alex Mitchell and Jeremy Ciulla both will be graduating and will not use return for their fifth season at Michigan. The loss of those two was expected, but it really shows why so many offensive line commits were needed. The other two leaving the team are doing so due to medical reasons. Tight end Chris McLaurin and wide receiver Antonio Bass will remain on a medical scholarship at the University of Michigan, but neither will play football again due to injuries. McLaurin leaving is unexpected and completely out of the blue, but the news Bass was something no one was hoping to hear.
Out of high school, Antonio Bass was a highly recruited athlete that had loads of potential. As a freshman he was used in the Michigan offense in a variety of ways, and really was the first player to be used in a spread type of formation under Lloyd Carr. Bass’ future looked very promising until a disastrous injury happened during offseason workouts.
He was supposedly doing a conditioning drill and somehow came down on his leg wrong and reportedly tore all his ligaments in that leg. Although a comeback always looked unlikely for Bass, he has worked hard over these last couple of years to rehab enough to get to the point where he could play. That unfortunately won’t happen for sure now that he is off the team because of this injury, but I’m sure Antonio will do great things off the field. I wish him the best of luck and wish he could’ve been on the field in this new offense come this fall.
- Long snapper George Morales still has not signed his letter of intent as of the time of this post. There hasn’t been much talk about why his LOI isn’t in, but one reason may be that he is waiting to see what happens with the rest of the recruiting class. Since Michigan would only have room to sign one more recruit if Morales signed his LOI, I think he may be waiting to see if he will have to grayshirt. A grayshirt is when a recruit pays his own way the first year at a school and gets his athletic scholarship in year #2. That is definitely a possibility with Morales, and really, I can’t think of any other reason why he wouldn’t sign by now.
- MGoBlue has updated their bios page to now include Sam McGuffie.
- Rich Rodriguez was interviewed by the Big Ten Network to talk about Michigan’s recruiting class, and that video can be found here.
- J.T. Floyd committed to Michigan last week, but he still had some fun with his announcement by hiding a Michigan hat under a Tennessee one to surprise the crowd.
- It was previously reported that Florida wide receiver Martavious Odoms had committed to Miami, but that turned out to be incorrect. Odoms hasn’t signed with any school yet and Michigan is still under consideration. I’d be surprised if he ended up a Wolverine simply because of all the receivers and athletes a part of this class already, but anything can happen.
- The Houston Chronicle talks about what happened with Sam McGuffie to cause a huge scare for Michigan fans.
- Finally, what would a recruiting post be without Terrelle Pryor? He announced that he wasn’t announcing at his school yesterday on TV (video can be seen here) and now is ready to delay a decision for an extended period of time. Pryor mentioned wanting to visit Penn State and even Oregon, so this process really could be strung out over the next few weeks depending on when these visits happen. My opinion on this situation is pretty well known already, but I will say that any optimism I had is gone after these latest developments.
Penn State creeping into the picture thanks to Pryor’s dad really seems to be the cause for his delay. My belief is that he was ready to announce he was going to Ohio State yesterday, but out of respect for his dad is giving the Nittany Lions a full look. Whether or not that leads to a commitment to Penn State is left to be seen, but at this point I think he will end up at PSU or OSU. Other than somehow going to Michigan, my hope is that Pryor visits the Nike Palace that is Oregon and likes it so much that he decides to become a Duck. I don’t want to see him lining up against Michigan regularly in the Big Ten, so only possibly playing him in the Rose Bowl would be nice.
(Programming note: I’m taking off for an early weekend as yesterday was so busy. I don’t think I will ever break the record 15 posts I had in one day, but hey, that’s what happens with signing day. I’ll post a full list of Michigan’s commits later today and will update you guys if any news breaks over the weekend. I’ll be back Monday, but until then, thanks for reading and Go Blue!)