Observations on Michigan Football Recruiting in 2009

Michigan received Letters of Intent from 22 new football recruits on February 5, 2009. The consensus of Rivals (7), Scout (13) and other rating services show that the Wolverines landed one of the top classes in the nation. Coach Rod and staff helped fill many needs for the 2009 season; yet, there were successes and failures. Michigan ranked 2nd or 3rd in the Big Ten behind Ohio State in recruiting, but certainly closed well and has some solid commitments for 2010 already. It looks like Coach Rod and staff have turned the corner in beginning to return Michigan football to prominence.


Michigan has excellent balance on offense with 2 quarterback, 3 running backs, 3 wide receivers and 3 offensive linemen. 11 offensive recruits will help fill some gaping holes on offense. Obviously, quarterback is the key position for a spread offense, and we have commitments from two of the finest spread quarterbacks in the nation: Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson. It really doesn't matter about the two decommitments at quarterback because in the end we have two solid commitments that will contribute to making this position better immediately. Forcier will be the better passer and Robinson will be the better runner. The quarterback we recruited last year, Justin Feagin, will most likely see action at Slot Receiver in 2009 as a result of the two commitments. We will probably recruit 2 more quarterbacks in the 2010 class with losing David Cone after 2009, and Steven Threet to transfer. Devin Gardner and one other recruit would be nice (Robert Bolden, Stephen Morris, Jeffrey Godfrey, Cornelius Jones, Christian Green, Malik Stokes, etc.)

At running back, Fitzgerald Touissant, Vincent Smith and Teric Jones give us the speed we need in the spread offense. They are all undersized, but all capable of making linebackers and defensive backs miss in the open field. We really did a nice job recruiting running backs. Jeremy Gallon may also see action at running back. We will lose Minor, Brown and Grady following the 2009 season.

At wide receiver, Je'Ron Stokes, Cameron Gordon and Jeremy Gallon give us three solid wide receivers that may work inside and outside. they are all dangerous receivers and very speedy. Gallon may see action as a Freshman at Slot if he is eligible as he still needs to improve his ACT score. Stokes will most likely contribute as a Freshman as did Stonum last year. Gordon is a possession receiver, and may need to redshirt with several receivers ahead of him; however, one never knows with injuries. We now have 16 wide receivers on scholarship plus walk-ons, and have 3 commitments for 2010. It is obvious that Coach Rod wants to stockpile arsenal in this position for a quick strike offense. The only 2009 graduate at wide receiver will be Savoy.

On offensive line, we landed 3 solid linemen in Taylor Lewan, Quinton Washington and Mike Schofield. These new lineman along with 5 redshirted linemen recruited in 2008 will give us the nucleus for the 2010-2013 season once they become "Barwisized." It is most likely all three will redshirt, but again, one never knows. We have 18 offensive linemen on scholarship and will only lose Moosman, McAvoy and Ortmann after the 2009 season.


We really helped ourselves on defense with getting immediate help on the defensive line with Will Campbell, Anthonly Lolata, Craig Roh. It is too bad we missed out closing two others, but in the end we did a great job landing solid recruits who may help out immediately. Campbell will start as a Freshman. There is a good possibility that both Roh and Lolata will rotate in as Freshman as well. 2008 recruit, Mike Martin, and 2009 recruit, Will Campbell, will start at the defensive tackles with Ryan VanBergen and All-American Brandon Graham at the ends. This gives us a solid defensive line and a solid pass rush. Perhaps it should be mentioned here as well that new defensive coordinator, Greg Robinson, also is an unheralded recruit that should improve the defense tremendously in 2009. He has been a solid defensive coach at Texas, UCLA and in the NFL at Kansas City so he is a proven defensive leader, and this is what we have needed. Coach Robinson has already expressed his disatisfaction in Coach Rod's priorities in recruiting offensive players, and leaving the defensive side of the ball with less players. By my count, there are 82 players on scholarship with 48 on offense and 31 on defense with 3 placekicking specialists; that is 58.5% of your scholarship players on offense 37.8% of the players on defense. You can bet that Coach Robinson will be advocating moving offensive players like John Ferrara to defense to create more balance on the team. After the 2009 season, we lose Brandon Graham, Andre Criswell, Adam Patterson and possibly Greg Banks.

One of the disappointments in recruiting in 2009 had to be at linebacker. We did not recruit a needed MIKE, and we had a decommitment and two transfers. On the bright side, we did get Brandin Hawthorne and Isaiah Bell. They could both contribute as Freshmen although they need to get significantly bigger without losing speed. We really need help at linebacker, and it must be a priority for 2010. I'd say we need to recruit 2 or 3 new linebackers for 2010.

At defensive back, we really helped ourselves to fill some needed gaps. The emphasis was on safety, and we go three outstanding prospects in Vladimir Emilien, Mike Jones and Thomas Gordon. We also got help at defensive back with J.T. Turner and Adrian Witty. There is some discussion we may also sign Larry Raper. We were in on a lot of the nation's top defensive backs, and didn't close on some; however, they guys we did sign are solid and will help us immediately. J.T. Turner's performance in the U.S. Army All-American game was awesome; he will definitely see playing time as a Freshman. The only player leaving the defensive backfield after 2009 is Stevie Brown, and we hope to add Marvin Robinson to replace him.

Special Teams

Special teams were a huge disappointment in Coach Rod's first year with many turnovers on kickoffs and punt returns, and few "big plays." Jeremy Gallon and Je'Ron Stokes give us some solid help along with new placekicker, Brendon Gibbons, who could replace Lopata and beat out Wright as a Freshman. We need to find a new snapper, and possibly George Morales, 2008 recruit, or last year's backup Tom Pomarico will replace Sean Griffin. Mesko will leave following the 2009 season so we'll need to find a new punter. We may have a replacement in preferred walk-on candidate, Jacob Dombrowski.

Decommitments and Transfers

We had a real problem in decommitments, there can be no excuses or explanations that hide the truth. Newsome, Beaver, Barnes, Peace, Graves, Jones, Fera and McNeal gave us 8 decommitments which was the largest of any NCAA Division I team without a major coaching change. We also had 7 transfers from McGuffie, Mallett, Boren, Babb, Chambers, Hill and Witherspoon. That was 15 players we could have had or kept, and some would have definitely contributed in 2008 and 2009; however, if it wasn't mean't to be, so be it. We certainly should be able to overcome these issues. Coach Rod even stated that he was happy when some of these decisions were made.
Decommits/Transfers/Resignations School/Status

Babb, Zion

Barnes, Jordan

Beaver, Shavodrick

Boren, Justin

Butler, Carson

Transfer to ???

Oklahoma State


Ohio State


Campbell, Will

Chambers, Artis

Ciulla, Jeremy


Transfer to ???

Wasn't asked back for 5th year

Clemons, Toney Transfer to ???

Fera, Anthony

Graves, Pearlie

Hill, Taylor

Penn State

Texas Tech

Kent State

Horn, Avery

Jones, DeQuinta

Kates, Jason

Transfer to ???


Transfer to ???

Mallett, Ryan

McGuffie, Sam

McNeal, Bryce




Mitchell, Alex Wasn't asked back for 5th year
Newsome, Kevin Penn State

Patilla, Quinton

Peace, DeWayne

Grand Valley


Shafer, Scott

Slocum, Marques

Threet, Steven

Resigned, DC at Syracuse

Grades/Conflict with Coach Rod

Quarterback competition with Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson

Wienke, John Iowa

Wilson, Christian

Witherspoon, Marcus

North Carolina


Big Ten Opponents Recruiting and Rivalries

Competition has never been tougher than it is now with solid coaching and strength & conditioning programs. Ohio State has a strong program with strong leadership in Tressel, and is continuing to improve their talent while attracting some of the nation's best players. Michigan State has improved tremendously in talent under Coach Dantonio, an Ohio State transplant, and outrecruited us in the State of Michigan. This may also tip the rivalry scales in favor of the Spartans. This doesn't bode well for future recruiting in Michigan either. Coach Zook has done an outstanding job at keeping Illinois best players in state, and recruiting some outstanding talent nationwide. Those three teams will be our chief competition for Big Ten titles in 2009-2013 over the next four years along with Penn State. Minnesota, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Iowa will also be tough opponents. Brewster has Minnesota back with top talent, and they will no longer be a pushover for us in the Brown Jug. Iowa's Ferentz is a solid coach who makes the most out of the talent he gets, and he doesn't get the best talent. Pat Fitzgerald is doing an outstanding job at Northwestern especially on defense with former Wolverine Mike Hankwitz. Bret Bielema isn't changing Wisconsin football too much, they'll continue to emphasis the running game and play solid defense; however, I don't see them as a big threat because of their predictability (much like we used to be under Coach Carr with a drop back quarterback and running game). Both Indiana and Purdue will be the weakest Big Ten football schools over the next four years, and have not done a good job in football recruiting. Some of the MAC schools including Central Michigan have done about as good a job in recruiting as they have done. Notre Dame always gets top talent, and 2009 was no change; the Irish plucked many that we wanted, but our class was rated higher than theirs and they recruit nationally as well as anyone so that shows what a good job we did.

When one considers how national recruiting is done and the unethical issues that predominently are a problem in the South, SEC-ACC-Big 12 conferences, it is amazing that we are able to do so well. Every year there are Southern schools signing more than they should, and the NCAA continues to allow this unethical approach because it is "within the rules." Certainly, this unethical approach contributes to decommitments and players wanting to visit to "feed their egos" that are already over-inflated. If the NCAA and conferences wanted to get serious about this problem, they would come up with a rule that would forbid an "official visit" unless they player provided proof to the university that they were eligible through the NCAA Clearninghouse by test score and core grade point average. The 25 per year limit with oversigning by 3 for greyshirting should be monitored more stringently be conferences and university institutions. We should never see schools publicly reporting 29-39 signees.
Worst Violator Signees Unethical Coach
Troy State 39 Larry Blakeney
Mississippi 38 Houston Nutt
Arkansas 31 Bobby Petrino
Kansas State 30 Bill Snyder
Central Michigan 30 Butch Jones
Alabama 29 Slick Nick Saban
South Florida 29 Jim Leavitt
Hawaii 29 Greg McMackin
Baylor 29 Art Briles


In the final analysis, it looks like Coach Rod and staff have turned the corner at Michigan with the roster players recruited, retained by Coach Carr and Coach Rod as being close to 50-50% for 2009, and it will go to 75-25% for 2010 and 100% for 2011. The future does look bright. I will caution Michigan football fans who choose "blind loyalty" to Coach Rod or any coach for that matter; there is no football coach who is above criticism. Even Bo was criticized even though he was the most loved coach ever at Michigan. Fans, players, opponents, etc. will continue to criticize Coach Rod and the Michigan football program, and sometimes for good reasons. Blind loyalty is an understandable, but a dangerous, misguided and unhealthy attribute.