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Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Michigan must be selective in 2014 class

By Tom VanHaaren

The past two recruiting classes have yielded 52 commitments for the Michigan coaching staff. With 85 total scholarships allowed, that means that 61 percent of Michigan's team will consist of players from the 2012 and 2013 classes. It also means that there will be limited numbers going forward for the next few recruiting classes, including 2014.

The starting number for the 2014 class is 16 scholarships. That number is just a starting point, as attrition and other unforeseen circumstances can increase that number. The Big Ten also allows its schools to sign more than the 85- scholarship limit by three, but the program needs to have in writing how it would get back to 85 total.

Michigan signed 27 prospects in 2013 and counted three early enrollees to the 2012 class, so there were technically only 24 that counted toward 2013. Since the total number in 2014 will be less than 25 anyway, Michigan won't have to worry about which early enrollees are counted toward the previous class.

Having limited numbers for the 2014 class means the evaluation process needs to be thorough and detailed to ensure Michigan doesn't expend any extra resources that won't yield positive results.

Wilton Speight
With Wilton Speight committed to the 2014 class, there isn't room for another quarterback.
The coaching staff has already had success with the 2014 class, gaining commitments from quarterback Wilton Speight (Richmond, Va./Collegiate School), linebacker Michael Ferns (St. Clairsville, Ohio/St. Clairsville), defensive tackle Bryan Mone (Salt Lake City/Highland) and offensive lineman Mason Cole (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake).

That leaves only 12 spots for the rest of the class, however. The coaches have already found a quarterback, so that spot is taken. If Michigan lands another linebacker, then that position group will be full and there are only a few spots left on the offensive and defensive lines as well.

The main targets that still need to be addressed are running back, wide receiver and defensive back. Despite still having those needs, the coaches have done an excellent job positioning themselves to fill those spots in this class.

Running back Elijah Hood (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Catholic) has Michigan ranked No. 2 just behind Notre Dame after a three-day Midwest visit. Hood is hoping to make a spring decision, but it could spill over into the summer. Michigan is also positioned well for receivers and defensive backs, including Drake Harris (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian) and Parrker Westphal (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook).

Harris and Westphal don't have timelines for their decision, but Michigan is in good shape with both. Offensive lineman Tommy Doles (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian) and linebacker Kyle Berger (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Ignatius) are two prospects with Michigan high on their lists who do plan on making decisions in the near future.

With roughly 88 offers out for the 2014 class, Michigan has solid opportunities to fill the majority of this class early on. If a few more dominoes fall the right way for the coaching staff, they could be headed into the season with just a few big targets remaining on the board.

That might be a good thing, as some of the top national prospects are still listing Michigan as options. Defensive ends Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge), Malik McDowell (Detroit/Loyola) and Lawrence Marshall (Southfield, Mich./Southfield) are all top targets who plan on waiting to make their decisions. They all have Michigan in their top group as well, so Michigan will have work to do if it wants to close strong.

With the limited numbers and the top prospects still listing Michigan, this could be a unique class for Brady Hoke and his staff. It might also mean a more exciting signing day for fans.