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Wednesday, April 11, 2012
WolverineNation mailbag

By Chantel Jennings

Shane Morris
QB Shane Morris leads a class for which expectations will be sky high.
Trey Burke is staying at Michigan and Wolverines fans breathed a deep sigh of relief, as it looks like the basketball team has a chance to make some serious noise next season.

Then there's the football team, which seems to be having a solid spring. With its 2012 recruiting class getting to campus in about two months, the countdown to Alabama is on. But our first look at that squad will be this weekend in the annual spring game.

That being said, there must be questions. We love hearing from readers. Next week, Mike will be taking care of the mailbag so send your questions to michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com or tweet them to @MikeRothstein.

Now, on to this week's mailbag. Scott Genzink: In the four years that this 2013 recruiting class is on campus, how successful can/will it be?

CJ: Well, let's take a look at what history tells us. Alabama won the BCS national championship in January. Of its four recruiting classes that comprised that team, none was ranked lower than third in the country. Auburn won it all in 2011. Its 2010 recruiting class was ranked fourth, but the Tigers' classes in 2009 and 2008 were unranked. Alabama won in 2010. Its 2009 and 2008 classes were ranked second and third, respectively. So going by the trend (and common sense), solid recruiting classes mean championship-caliber teams (though, not always, see Auburn in 2011).

Michigan's 2013 class has the chance to be one of the top three recruiting classes in the nation, possibly higher, as long as its trend of pulling top players continues. If the 2013 commits were playing other school's 2013 commits, I would usually put my money on the Wolverines. But it's not just their class you have to think about. If Michigan can continue with stellar recruiting in the 2014 and 2015 classes, then yes, I believe it could be extremely successful (read: BCS national champions). But one recruiting class doesn’t win a championship.

Long answer short: Michigan has an opportunity to be very successful as long as future recruiting classes live up to this one's expectations.

Spinmove2142 (via Monday night’s message board chat): Do you feel Ondre Pipkins will eventually win over a starting job midseason?

CJ: There's no doubt that Pipkins is a very talented defensive tackle, and he has the potential to be a starter at some point. As far as him being a starter this year, I just don't know. It's so much harder for a lineman to step into a starting role on a college football team in his first year, as opposed to a freshman playing a skill position. So much of the line has to do with fitness level and size, how well they're able to handle the hitting every day while maintaining themselves for Saturdays. That takes time to get used to.

Could Pipkins play this season? Absolutely. But as far as him stealing a starting spot, that'll be very dependent on how he holds up through fall camp and what happens with the interior linemen this spring.

James Zestos, Grand Rapids: With Burke staying, the expectations for the team are really high. What is the worst possible thing that could happen for the basketball team next season?

CJ: Egos.

The best part of having Stu Douglass and Zack Novak around was that they weren’t into accolades or awards. They spread the team message better than anyone and kept each player grounded. Next year, assuming their training for Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. went well, that should continue.

But sometimes, the "I" comes in front of the team. Often times it's older players trying to prove themselves, wanting to hit the big shot too badly or showing how much of a big man on campus they are. Sometimes it's the younger guys looking to make a statement and having their sky-high confidence from high school not given any kind of reality check.

The Wolverines have a really good chance to be a great team next year. I'm not sure how many of them I would put in a one-on-one competition and say, "Yep, they'll win it all," but I would think that they'll have a successful season if they play together and forget about the egos.