University of Michigan Football
Unofficial Recruiting Page
News, Rumors, and Commentary
Joe Denay, a 6'8", 305 pound offensive tackle from Bay City, has become Michigan's third verbal commitment for the 1998 season. Denay, who just turned 17 on Friday, was a participant of Michigan's football camp last summer. He plays both offensive and defensive tackle in high school, but is expected to play offense at the college level. While Denay is not on the preseason list posted on the Targets page, the list is preliminary; as with any early list, out-state prospects and linemen are under-represented due to less publicity/exposure (a good example is former Michigan tackle Jon Runyan).
Dave Petruziello has become Michigan's second commitment of the 1998 recruiting season. Petruziello is 6'5", 270 lbs, and plays tight end and defensive line for Mentor Lake Catholic in Ohio. He is generally considered the top prospect in Ohio at this early stage of the game. Petruziello visited Michigan unofficially last weekend and by all accounts simply fell in love with the University. It was apparently his intention to make a decision fairly early. He chose Michigan over Penn State, Notre Dame, and others. This is quite a coup for the coaching staff; depending on whose rankings you want to believe, this is the 3rd time in the last 4 years that the coaching staff has landed the top player in Ohio (Charles Woodson, Jason Brooks, and Petruziello). Mark another one down for Stan Parrish, who has had a big impact in Ohio in his first year on the staff.
WR Kenyon Rambo did not visit Michigan last weekend. The latest indication is that he will sign with Ohio State, although there is still some conflicting information out there.
Little-John Flowers, who is currently thought of as the top junior RB prospect in the state, has given a verbal commitment to Michigan State. Flowers is a cousin of former MSU RB Tico Duckett.
There are rumors that Michigan has, or will, receive several more verbal commitments within the next couple of months. Although I have some suspicions, there is no clear indication who these players may be, or even that these rumors are true. Check in periodically for the latest word - it will be hard to say how often the page will be updated over the next few months.
A couple of basketball recruiting notes: Michigan is still recruiting at least two nationally ranked players, Ryan Humphrey (see below), and PG Baron Davis from California. I'd consider both longshots at this time but anything is possible. There are also rumors (they may or may not be true) circulating that Leon Jones, a 6-4 shooting guard from Battle Creek, is reconsidering his Iowa commitment and may come to Michigan. Jones is a player who has been overlooked on the national scene because he missed half of last season after transferring from California, and therefore was not invited to most all-star camps. He has tremendous athletic ability and could be a real steal for Iowa, Michigan, or any other school that signs him.
As expected, Michigan received signed letters of intent from all of its verbal commitments.. Michigan is still recruiting two players: WR Kenyon Rambo, who may visit Ann Arbor this upcoming weekend, and TE/DE and basketball PF Ryan Humphrey. Humphrey will probably wait until the late basketball signing date to make a decision; rumor has it that he will choose between Michigan, Oklahoma, and Kansas.
Overall, this is an outstanding class; it filled the major needs (interior OL, running back, cornerback) with potentially great players. The recruiting services generally rank this class among the top 5 in the nation and second in the Big 10 behind PSU.
The Big 10, overall, had an excellent year. Most rank PSU and Michigan in the top 5 overall, with OSU generally among the top 10 and Northwestern in the top 15-20. Some think MSU also makes the top 20, though two of their top prospects are unlikely to qualify academically and will have to sit out for at least a year. Combining the last two years, I'd say that PSU is #1, with OSU and Michigan very close for #2. These schools should all have the talent to compete for the Big 10 title over the next few years, but the conference will be very competitive as Northwestern, MSU, Wisconsin, and Iowa have also recruited well.
My take on this class, by position:
The interior OL was a key need in this class, and the coaching staff did a great job filling the need. This is a great group. I had this as an A+ but they did lose out on Kareem McKenzie (needed some room for improvement if they had signed McKenzie). This group stacks up with any in the country; in fact, it is probably the best group signed, followed closely by Penn State. Unfortunately, offensive line is probably the most difficult position to judge, so we'll have to wait and see how things develop (I guess that's true at all positions, but OL is particulary difficult to predict). I would not be surprised to see either Jason Brooks or Todd Mossa on the two-deep before the end of next season.
Didn't recruit a QB for this year as Drew Henson has already committed for next year, and QB has young depth to spare. I don't see this as a negative of this class in any way. By the way, the Ann Arbor News columnist that covers Michigan football wrote an article saying that Jason Kapsner has a very good chance at being the starting QB next year.
This was a funny year at RB. Michigan recruited a ton of guys, but ended up getting the top two RB's on their board in Anthony Thomas and Patrick McCall. Either could contribute immediately but watch out for Thomas - he will be the biggest TB on the roster in the fall. Nationally, there are a number of schools who have landed more than one top back, so it's difficult to compare; Notre Dame, Tennessee (if their signees qualify), and Florida State, should they get Travis Minor, will have classes with similar talent levels. Penn State could still creep in here if they get Antoine Womack to go with Omar Easy, but Womack may end up at Virginia.
Michigan signed one sleeper in Shawn Thompson; he's an excellent athlete, but it was disappointing to lose out on three of the top TE prospects in the country: Alvin Morrow, Chad Irwin, and Brandon Stephens. The grade could improve significantly if they can land Ryan Humphrey, though his intentions regarding basketball vs. football are not totally clear. Florida State cleaned up at this position with Morrow and Carver Donaldson.
Another position with no recruits. Again, not a necessary focus in this class given the signing of four receivers last year; however, I think the coaches would have liked to land one top receiver (e.g., Daryl Jones). Michigan may still have a chance at Kenyon Rambo; if he visits, I think the chances will increase significantly. Michigan does have one factor in its favor - Rambo is friends with RB recruit Patrick McCall, who is actively recruiting Rambo to visit. Nationally, you have to like Florida's WR class for both quality and depth; they landed Steve Shipp and Daryl Jackson, who some consider the top two WR's in the country.
This is actually a tough one to judge because of the flexibility of many of the recruits. For example, if Maurice Williams, Demetrius Smith, Jake Frysinger, and Kurt Anderson end up playing at DL, this could be an outstanding class. However, Williams will probably start out at OL and Smith at FB, so it's much tougher to judge. Alabama, Florida, and Florida State all did very well along the defensive line this year; Florida State's signing of David Warren may have been the coup of the recruiting season.
Another tough one to judge because of the flexibility between OLB and DE. The loss of Grant Irons was obviously disappointing; it is quite likely he'd have ended up at DE, in any case. I really like the speed of the OLB prospects (Anthony Jordan and Eric Brackins), and Kurt Anderson could become a great player, though he may play any of several positions. Nationally, I think that Penn State has the best class of LB's - Lavar Arrington and Ron Graham are the keystones of their recruiting class. Florida also did very well.
This group is also among the best in the country - the coaches landed a complete secondary. James Whitley will challenge for immediate playing time opposite Charles Woodson; the coaches love his potential on both sides of the ball and on special teams. Lloyd Carr mentioned in his signing day press conference that Whitley may return kicks this year. William Peterson is a player who was overlooked by many services as he moved around the country, but he has excellent speed and was one of the top players in one of the toughest high school football conferences in the country. DeWayne Patmon and Eric Rosel are both great athletes who will provide depth at safety. Nationally, I like the DB classes of Penn State, Tennessee, USC, North Carolina and Florida State - the rich got richer.