Wolverines seeing stars

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Last updated: 02/20/2012 12:21 PM
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Football Recruiting
Michigan Monday — Weekend at Brady's Has Wolverines Seeing Stars
By Tony Gerdeman

As far as great weekends in college go, I'm sure many of us can claim some spectacular experiences, but I don't think anybody will top what Brady Hoke and Michigan did this past weekend.

The Wolverines picked up eight verbal commitments from four-star prospects over the weekend, including six on Saturday alone.

Going back as far as 2003, the largest number of commitments in a single day for the Wolverines was three, which they had done several times. Lloyd Carr once landed seven in a week in 2004, though offensive lineman Alex Mitchell and exercyclist Mike Hart were the only two players of note.

On Friday, I wrote that since August there have been twelve players with offers from both Ohio State and Michigan, and all twelve selected the Buckeyes.

That score now needs to read 12-3 as Detroit athlete Wyatt Shallman, Colorado offensive lineman Chris Fox, and Illinois offensive lineman Logan Tuley-Tilman all committed to Michigan with Ohio State offers in hand.

Shallman (6-3 255) was being looked at as a defensive end or H-back by most, but he wants to play tailback, and Brady Hoke said he could. Tuley-Tilman has been a Michigan lean for a while now, and it was only a matter of time for him. Fox's commitment was a bit of a surprise simply because it happened so early.

It should be noted that since my Friday piece, I have yet to receive a single email of thanks from any Michigan fans. Though, to be fair, much of the mail that I get from them is unintelligible. For all I know, they could actually be thanking me.

Of the eight commits that Michigan landed this past weekend, two were Ohioans. Pickerington North tight end Jake Butt and Pickerington Central defensive end Taco Charlton were both known by Ohio State, but unlikely to receive offers.

As Michigan fans will tell you, a lack of an offer from Urban Meyer isn't indicative of anything other than his laziness.

The Wolverines also got commitments from a pair of Detroit Cass Tech teammates in cornerback Jourdan Lewis and offensive lineman David Dawson. Dawson had offers from Alabama, Florida State and Texas A&M. Michigan State offered neither for some reason.

Illinois offensive lineman Kyle Bosch was apparently the alpha domino in all of this, as he was the first commit of the weekend. He chose the Wolverines over Alabama, Florida, Arizona, Miami (FL) and Notre Dame.

The Michigan fanbase is fired up right now, and justifiably so. Meanwhile, the Ohio State fanbase that is aware of what is going on is a split into about 80% dismissal and 20% "this might be serious, you guys".

The reality is somewhere in between. It should not be dismissed because it is very serious, but Ohio State will always have strong classes, and even more so under Urban Meyer now.

It doesn't hurt Ohio State to have Hoke win some out of state battles as long as the fence around Ohio is still a legitimate barrier. Especially when you consider that there are many, many more offers out there now under Meyer than there ever were under Tressel.

Hoke will continue to offer the elite in Ohio, but as long as he doesn't land anymore than a couple of Ohio State's in-state targets per year, the Buckeyes will be fine.

After all, losing in-state targets to Michigan isn't anything new for Ohio State, but that doesn't make it an everyday occurrence. From 2002 until his retirement in January of 2008, Lloyd Carr received commitments from 14 Ohioans. According to Scout.com, seven of those commitments had offers from Ohio State. That's just a little over one in-state "recruiting loss" per year for Jim Tressel in those days.

In Rich Rodriguez's tenure, he landed commitments from 22 Ohioans, only two of whom had Ohio State offers. Still, that's just a notch below Lloyd Carr's average number of "recruiting wins".

Brady Hoke, meanwhile, has now had 16 Ohioans pledge to him, four of whom Ohio State was after. The most recent of those four, 2013 safety Dymonte Thomas, committed back in September.

Michigan was the recipient of some recruiting good fortune due to Ohio State's scandal-ridden 2011 calendar year. The next step for Hoke and the Wolverines will be to land Ohioans that Ohio State wants from this point forward.

Once they do that, then we could be returning to the days of Desmond Howard, Ricky Powers or Charles Woodson leaving the state in order to suit up for the Wolverines.

If you think the panic and angst is noticeable now, just wait until Urban Meyer loses the top kid in-state to Brady Hoke. That dream sequence will have to wait until 2014 as the Buckeyes have already locked up the top two Ohioans in the 2013 class.

For those Buckeye fans wanting to dismiss Michigan's early recruiting successes as a one-off type of thing, keep in mind that as late as November of last year, they had Scout's top-ranked recruiting class. Sure, they finished behind Ohio State in every recruiting service's rankings, but clearly this is a trend and not an anomaly.

Following their bowl win over Virginia Tech in January, I wrote that Michigan football was as back as they've ever been. Hoke's recruiting is an example of that. It was okay to dismiss Rich Rodriguez's recruiting classes, but you probably don't want to do that with Hoke.

Last year, he had to scramble to finish out the 2011 class following his late hiring. Since then, however, he and his staff have been ahead of the game on the 2012 and 2013 classes.

Michigan had 20 commitments prior to the football season starting last year. They have eleven now, and Rivals has ten of them rated with four stars.

There is certainly a risk to accepting commitments so early, but in recruiting "too early" is always better than "too late".

This new Ten-Year War will be fought off the field before it is won on it . Right now, Brady Hoke and Michigan aren't looking to go quietly into the night, and Buckeye fans shouldn't want them to.

Rivalries are much more fun that way. In fact, that's the only thing that actually makes them rivalries.

It's okay to embrace Michigan's offseason successes. That's what makes the in-season failures that much more memorable.

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