Thursday, January 31, 2013
By Michael Rothstein & Chantel Jennings & Tom VanHaaren
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan has its first No. 1 ranking in two decades, its biggest regular-season basketball game in years and football signing day a week away.
And Denard Robinson played his final game in a Michigan helmet last weekend, too. All of this is covered in this week’s WolverineNation roundtable.
1) With signing day less than a week away, does Michigan pull a last-second recruit out of this class to finish it up or does it stick with what it has?
Return specialist Dennis Norfleet was a signing-day surprise a year ago.
Michael Rothstein: I get the feeling Michigan is done unless there’s a big recruit who comes out of nowhere to show late interest. Unlike last season, the Wolverines don’t have a huge numbers issue save, maybe, wide receiver or tight end so the need isn’t there. Plus, unlike in 2009 (Denard Robinson) and 2010 (Demar Dorsey), there are not any major recruits Michigan is waiting for on signing day, which is another factor.
Chantel Jennings: I won't definitely say that the Wolverines won't go after more prospects, but Michigan wouldn't reach just to fill the class. It already has the No. 5 ranked class in the country and has filled a lot of holes that needed to be filled -- lines, DBs. If the coaches decided to go after another prospect then it would have to be someone who could contribute and make an impact, not just a spot filler. With little time left, there aren't many options out there that would do the job.
Tom VanHaaren: The coaches surprised a lot of people by offering Dennis Norfleet late and he ended up being a contributor this past season. If they were to pull a last-second recruit, it needs to be someone who would likely commit immediately and someone who can contribute. It can't be just a body to fill the class. There aren't a ton of options left, so I think it's more likely not to happen, but never say never.
2) Michigan has what could be its most-watched game in years Saturday at Indiana. Who wins and why?
Rothstein: Indiana, close. With a No. 1 vs. No. 3 matchup, Assembly Hall will be even more lively than normal. Jordan Morgan’s health is a concern, especially considering Indiana sophomore Cody Zeller. While he hasn’t had the season many, including himself, anticipated, he is bound to break out at some point and this week feels like it could be it with a rivalry game against Purdue and then a prime-time matchup. The end of the Michigan State game may be what finally gets Zeller going.
Jennings: It's going to be really hard to win in Assembly Hall. Yes, the frosh have some sort of idea of what to expect, but with the hype surrounding this game and dealing with those fans, the freshmen will be in for a treat. It won't get any easier from a personnel standpoint. I'd imagine Tom Crean will match up Victor Oladipo with Trey Burke and hope that Oladipo's athleticism messes with Burke, a la Aaron Craft. And down low, Morgan (even if he's 100 percent), Mitch McGary and Jon Horford will have issues with Zeller, who'll be looking to regain himself after a less than thrilling performance against MSU.
VanHaaren: Michigan. Burke's one blemish this season is at Ohio State. He allowed his Wolverines to get behind early and made some bad decisions. I don't think the sophomore, who could be on his way to player of the year honors, will allow that to happen again. This will be a game that comes down to the line, but if Michigan can get a strong start, I think they'll pull off a tough road win.
3) Denard Robinson had what most observers considered a rough week at the Senior Bowl. Did he make the right move going as a receiver?
Rothstein: Yes and no. While he had a bad week, if he had turned down the invitation it could have looked a lot worse for him. At least at the Senior Bowl, he showed a willingness to try things. The other thing, the positive here, is expectations for him have now been lowered so if he has a good combine and pro day, his improvement will appear that more dramatic. As a position still think he is better suited at running back, but individual NFL teams are going to need to make that determination.
Jennings: It's so hard to say. I've never been involved in drafting college players into the NFL (shocking, I know), but I would imagine that a lot of coaches are going to look at his pure athleticism and natural abilities and believe it's a foundation they could work with. That being said, I don't think he really gave anyone a good idea of what he'd look like as a receiver. He had issues with route-running and the nuances of the position -- not that I blame him, he has only been playing wide receiver for a few weeks. Would he have put himself in a better spot had he gone as a running back? Maybe, but there are subtleties there too that he doesn't know.
VanHaaren: I don't know that he really had a choice. I think it might have been smart for him to not participate in the game and get some specific training at receiver instead. It seemed as though most of the comments were that he is raw and needs a lot of work. It might have been more beneficial for him to get some work in, then perform at Michigan's pro day and the combine.