Michigan Football Preview 2015

2015 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 149 of 163

148 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2015 FOOTBALL PREVIEW BY MICHAEL SPATH I n 2009, Rich Rodriguez signed the nation's No. 8 recruiting class, with 13 four-star play- ers and a five-star for a 3.59-star average among the 22 total signees. Thus, it was a bit of a surprise a year later when the Wolverines landed just six four-stars and had an average star ranking of 3.19 in a 27-man class that ranked 20th nationally. Sure, Michigan had gone 3-9 and 5-7 in Rodriguez's first two seasons in Ann Arbor, but he seemed content to take chances on a lot of under-sized though athletic types that on the surface appeared better suited to develop at Mid-American Conference programs. Perhaps had Rodriguez stayed put longer, he would have been able to realize his vision for the 2010 class, but he was fired after the 2010 season, and by the time he was dismissed in January 2011, eight of the 27 recruits he signed just 11 months earlier had already exited U-M. There were a few good parts, but not many, and the class eventually became the most frequent response to the question: what is the worst recruiting class in modern-era Michigan football history? Head-Scratcher The 2010 Class Ranks Among The Worst Recruited To Wear The Winged Helmet Top Storylines Missing Persons: By fall camp in 2011, one year after their collegiate careers were supposed to be- gin, 10 of 27 signees no longer appeared on the Michigan roster due to grades/denied admission, coach's dismissal, transfer, injury or student-athlete indifference — cornerback Cullen Christian, de - fensive back Demar Dorsey, quarterback Conelius Jones, linebacker Antonio Kinard, offensive lineman Christian Pace, linebacker Davion Rogers, defensive tackle Terry Talbott, safety Ray Vinopal, tailback Aus - tin White and wide receiver D.J. Williamson. Additionally, fullback Stephen Hopkins, wide re- ceiver Jerald Robinson, safety Marvin Robinson, de- fensive lineman Ken Wilkins, defensive back Carvin Johnson and cornerback Terrence Talbott would leave before their senior year. Defensive tackle Richard Ash, tight end Ricardo Miller and linebacker Josh Furman would use the graduate transfer rule to enroll at other colleges upon earning an undergraduate degree from U-M. With an early departure total of 16, the 2010 class hemorrhaged close to 60 percent of its signees, a dramatic uptick from the 36 percent attrition during the eight-year recruiting cycle preceding this class. Peaking Early: In five starts at quarterback in 2012 for an injured Denard Robinson, Devin Gard - ner posted a 161.66 pass efficiency rating, throwing for 1,219 yards with 11 touchdowns and five inter- ceptions; he also rushed for seven scores among 47 attempts. Over his final two seasons, however, Gardner re- corded a 133.79 pass efficiency rating, throwing 26 interceptions compared to his 31 touchdowns. Similarly, linebacker Jake Ryan was a menace in 2012, recording a tackle for loss once every six stops and a sack once every 20 tackles. In his final two seasons — albeit impacted by an ACL injury in the spring of 2013 and a position change to middle linebacker in 2014 — Ryan averaged a tackle for loss every eight tackles and a sack every 71 stops. From a class of 2010 team standpoint, Michigan went 11-2 in 2011 but saw its win total decline steadily over the final three seasons, dipping to eight in 2012, seven in 2013 and five in 2014. Under The Lights: With Michigan foregoing a home night game in the 2015 season, it may be awhile before any class can match the 2010 (and 2011) class for evening thrills. The 2010 class went 3-0 in night games at Michi - gan Stadium, beating Notre Dame 35-31 in 2011, Notre Dame again 41-30 in 2013 and Penn State 18-13 in 2014. With likely night matchups against Penn State and Wisconsin in 2016, the 2013 class, at 2-0 pres - ently, will have the best chance to set a new stan- dard for home night-game success for a recruiting class. After a promising start to his career, quarterback Devin Gardner struggled over his final two sea- sons with a 133.79 pass efficiency rating and 26 interceptions compared to 31 touchdowns. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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