As the recruiting season wraps up, there is at least one major piece still in play, that being Pennsylvania quarterback Terrelle Pryor. His story has been well documented, from his early interest in Ohio State, to learning about Rich Rodriguez’ move to Michigan before West Virginia did. Most recently his connection to a prominent businessman, and decision to wait until after signing day to make up his mind have all been big Internet stories. Most ‘insiders’ and experts are saying this is a two team battle between Ohio State and Michigan, as Oregon’s chances flew out the window Monday.
Rock has been following this very closely, and will post after Pryor signs, but I started thinking about what this recruit means to the rivalry, and more specifically to Michigan. With a new coach, new system, and few returning stars on offense, doesn’t UM have more to lose here than the Buckeyes? I decided to ask Michigan fan Brian Cook of MGoBlog and Fanhouse fame to answer some questions, and don’t you know he was willing to talk with us.
Brian do you think Rodriguez is putting all his eggs in the Terrelle Pryor basket, and who will quarterback the Wolverines if Pryor decides to go elsewhere?
Not all of his eggs, but most of them — though not by choice. It’s tough to reel in recruits when you switch schools, especially so late in the process, and when one of them (BJ Daniels) is mysteriously dropped for reasons unknown that doesn’t help. Michigan’s recruiting a couple of low-profile guys and will likely bring a couple in. They’re not likely to contribute immediately.
If it’s not Pryor, the guy is likely to be Steven Threet. Threet’s an odd guy, a redshirt freshman who actually enrolled early at Georgia Tech, then transferred after his first spring practice, when he won the backup job. He’s more John Navarre than Rodriguez would like, I’m sure, but he’s no slouch, a four-star recruit who was amongst the top ten pro-style QB recruits a year ago.
The thing with recruits is that they’re lottery tickets. Collect enough and you’ve got an excellent chance of finding a great player. Michigan has one pretty decent ticket in Threet but no backup. If Threet had beaten out two other guys a la Henne I’d be pretty confident he would be good; as it is he’s beaten no one and it’s a roll of the dice.
What’s your assessment of Pryor, is he worth the hype?
The recruiting gurus have been very good at identifying a select subset of kids very likely to be impact players, and Pryor is among them. He’s probably worth the hype.
As an Ohio State fan I was excited for the Ryan Mallett era to begin at UM. What has been the reaction to his transfer, and is there a chance more players might jump ship?
Mallett’s transfer= “Crap, we’d better get Pryor.”
Michigan has one QB on the roster, basically, in Threet. David Cone is a scholarship QB but no one expects him to ever take a meaningful snap. If Pryor doesn’t come, Threet’s not going to transfer away from a near-certain starting job.
I meant at other positions, but regardless…Michigan fans are used to young QB’s learning on the job, maybe more so than any other major college program, but usually that QB is surrounded by play makers who have some experience. Who will the Wolverines try and get the ball to when the pressure is on next year?
Hell if I know. Every big-play guy from last year is gonzo. A few contributors do return: WR Greg Mathews and TEs Mike Massey and Carson Butler. Mathews seems a possession type a la Jason Avant; Butler spent last year alternating between running real fast for a TE and holding the crap out of guys; Massey blew out his knee.
Though there’s little proven talent, there are quite a few bullets in M’s chamber: WRs Daryl Stonum, Junior Hemingway, and Toney Clemons were all borderline top-100 types (Stonum was considerably higher) and RBs Carlos Brown, Avery Horn, and Sam McGuffie seem excellent fits for the spread ‘n’ shred. There’s enough collected talent to expect someone to emerge.
Much of Michigan’s recent problems have been because of the defense in my opinion, how is that being addressed and will they be improved this year?
Uh… how recent? Despite a couple of rough games in ’05, that was still a lights-out unit statistically. This year it was considerably uglier.
Well, looking at games against Ohio State and bowl opponents since 2003, Michigan is giving up 31.8 points per contest, including the 14 points that Ohio State got on a sloppy field this year.
Michigan should improve, IMO: the only real losses are Shawn Crable and Jamar Adams. The entire D-line is back as is MLB Obi Ezeh and the top three corners. That’s about 7.5 starters if you grant that the third corner is as much of a starter as the third linebacker in modern football.
It’s a weird unit with great experience and depth at DL and corner and zero at linebacker and safety; we’ll see. I couldn’t tell you much about how it will play out with an entirely new coaching staff.
What’s your opinion of the recruiting class coming in, Pryor withstanding?
The following assumptions are made:
1) M picks up TX WR Terrence Robinson.
2) Pryor goes to OSU.
3) M picks up an assortment of three-star sorts to get the class to 22-23
4) M picks up one of Mike Shaw and Nick Perry.
5) PA HB Christian Wilson decommits; everyone else signs.
It’s a good, solid class with an unfortunate lack of that OMG five-star sure thing, but heavy on guys who are likely to contribute. Given the above assumptions, Michigan’s class probably ends up somewhere between #9 and #12 to the recruiting sites, which is about average for Michigan. An average Michigan class during a coaching turnover is outstanding; most teams see their class severely hurt by a changeover.
How much do you think Rich Rod’s ongoing media battle with West Virginia has hurt recruiting?
Hmmm….Obviously Michigan has made very few coaching changes in our lifetime, how long of a leash do you think Richie Rich has? Does he get a pass for the first OSU game (new system, in Columbus…)
Richie Rich? Yeesh, if that’s the best you can come up with as far as uncomplimentary nicknames that’s pretty sad.
Rodriguez will get a relatively long leash. This is the school that gave Tommy Amaker six years. Rodriguez is undertaking a complete overhaul and I don’t think people will bat an eye at 8-4 or even 7-5 his first year.
Yes, I crack myself up anyways…Are you in favor of a playoff, and what would be your choice in format?
2) I wrote a post about this at MGoBlog. In sum: six teams, no autobids, byes for the top two, home games in the first two rounds, final at Rose Bowl.
I’d have to say the chances of the other bowls agreeing to that are slim to zero…but as Big Ten guys I suppose we will always view the Rose as the top bowl.
Hopefully we can talk with Brian again soon, I’d love to hear his opinions on Mike Hart’s legacy. I’d also like to thank Brian for being a good sport and wish him good fortune with his writing endeavors. MGoBlog is the first place I turn when I’m interested in anything to do with Michigan. Brian will have the subject covered, and even though I can’t stand his team, I respect his writing. Thanks again.