Each week the writers at WolverineNation sit down and discuss three pertinent issues regarding Michigan sports. This week they look at the No. 21 football jersey, Michigan basketball coach John Beilein's system and 2014 football offers.
1. It was announced last week that wide receiver Roy Roundtree was given the No. 21 uniform, were you surprised to find that out?
Tom Van Haaren: No, I don't think I was surprised. I wasn't necessarily expecting it to be announced right now, but it wasn't surprising. I think there's some motivation factor with the jersey, and I think Roundtree has shown that he deserves that jersey. He's the most deserving on the team of the receivers, there's no doubt about that.
Chantel Jennings: After having the legacy patch put on it last season I was really interested to see how selective they'd become with the jersey. Do I think Roundtree is a top 10 receiver in Michigan history? Nope (he's No. 14 if you were wondering). But I guess that's not what the legacy jersey is for. If Michigan plans to give it out each season then Roundtree was deserving this year. If they're only giving it to receivers as prolific as Howard, then we wouldn't be seeing it every year and I don't think Roundtree would've gotten it.
Michael Rothstein: Yes and no. I wasn't surprised Roundtree received a different number for next season because there has been enough buzz about a potential number switch that it was clear something was going to happen. The more I think about it, this is what makes sense for Roundtree. He hasn't had the massive numbers that might lead to the No. 1 jersey, but he will likely be Michigan's best receiver next season and it would be surprising to see the No. 21 go into a storage closet considering the school placed the Desmond Howard patch on it less than a year ago. It was a surprise in that I just hadn't thought about that as an option.
2. Michigan basketball coach John Beilein spoke about possibility incorporating more three-guard/two-post offense into his system. If the Wolverines can do this effectively, how much more dangerous will they be next season?
CJ: I think it makes the Wolverines much more dynamic, both offensively and defensively. In-game adjustments are difficult for opponents. Even more difficult are adjustments during possessions. Imagine if Michigan could start a position with one post inside, then moments later move two guys inside before flipping out to four guards again. It would be a pain to defend. Also, on defense, since Beilein recruits athletic big men, it would give him more size defensively so he wouldn't have a player like Zack Novak guarding a tall post.
MR: Beilein has tried to do this since DeShawn Sims and Zack Gibson manned the post in the 2009-10 season. He even experimented with it some that year but it never really stuck. He also said before the start of last season he wanted to look at it, but then Jon Horford was hurt and Max Bielfeldt redshirted so it no longer became a viable option. Can Michigan do this effectively? Possibly. It would change the entire dynamic of the offense, though. Having two posts -- even one who could shoot like Bielfeldt and Mitch McGary can -- could clog the lane for Trey Burke. Doing so could mean the offense wouldn't run through Burke's hands as much and possibly through post touches and kickouts. If Michigan can find the right mix of two-post offense and the ball-screen offense the Wolverines have run successfully the past two seasons, it could make them one of the more difficult scouts in the nation and extremely versatile. How much Michigan does it depends on the development of Horford, McGary and Bielfeldt.
TV: I think it’s definitely worth at least another win or two during the conference schedule. A lot of Michigan’s losses came in games when they got beat in the post, so if they can pack it in down low and take care of business with two big men rather than one, I think they’ll be in great shape.
3. The Wolverines have already put out 25 offers in the 2014 class, who are your way-way-way too early top three in this group? And why?
MR: Running back could be a priority in this class, so I'd look at Jonathan Hilliman (Jersey City, N.J./St. Peter's Prep) as a player Michigan should be all over early. Defensive end Malik McDowell (Detroit/Loyola) is another player the Wolverines should prioritize. At 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, he has good size for a player with two seasons of high school eligibility left, and he is also an in-state player. If he continues to develop, his potential is massive. The third player is receiver Drake Harris (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian). While he is an elite talent in football, he is equal to that in basketball and could become a two-sport player for Michigan. While there is a long way to go in the 2013 class, Michigan needs a game-breaking receiver and he could have that potential.
TV: As far as most important among the prospects who have been offered for 2014 you have to look at the needs for that class. You can see what the coaches are after already by offering nine offensive linemen, six defensive backs and four defensive linemen.
For a top three out of the guys that have been offered I would include McDowell because he's a local kid, fills a need along the defensive line, and he's very good. As for the other two it's splitting hairs to pick any one prospect over the other so you can't go wrong by picking any of the offensive linemen and a defensive back. Cornerback D'Andre Payne (Washington, D.C./Howard D. Woodson) is very interested in Michigan, so I'd throw him on there, and you could close your eyes and point to any of the offensive linemen. Jay Hayes (Brooklyn, N.Y./Poly Prep Cty. Day) or Demetrius Knox (Fort Knox, Texas/All Saints Episcopal) would be just fine.
CJ: I'll agree with Tom that the D-line is of importance in this class, especially depending on what happens within the 2013 recruiting class. I think McDowell and Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) would both be excellent additions to the line so they'll be my top two. And I think the other place the Wolverines need to pull in talent is in the secondary. Texas seems to be full of defensive back talent and if Michigan could pick up either safety Edward Paris (Mansfield, Texas/Timberview) or Nick Watkins (Dallas/Bishop Dunne), they'd be in good shape.