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Recruiting with Coach Rod

Several Michigan fans have expressed concern with Rich Rodriguez's recruiting prowess, based on the classes he was able to pull at West Virginia, and the prospects he is in on now at Michigan. Is Rich Rodriguez a bad recruiter? Are players who would fit Rodriguez's system simply not as highly-rated?

First, Coach Rodriguez's recruiting situation at West Virginia is not at all similar to what it is (and will be) at Michigan. WVU's recruiting class for the current year is ranked 53rd. However, this includes the decommit of 5-star Josh Jenkins (at least partially because of Rod's departure), and some recruits who were likely to commit to West Virginia following Rodriguez to Michigan (which includes LB Taylor Hill, and is expected to include D.J. Woods in the near future). West Virginia's 2007 class was ranked 18th, and 2006's class was tied for 56th. This was all despite top-ten finishes during that span.

Moving to Michigan, the in-state talent pool will be greater, as will national recruiting prowess. West Virginia was able to recruit primarily in the East, mostly northern, but with a few Floridians and a couple pulled from the South, along with some players from Ohio. Michigan regular gets commitments from players in Texas, California, the east coast, and all over the Midwest. In this case, the prestigious name of Michigan can only help in recruiting, despite the fact that West Virginia has been more successful (or at least as successful) in the past 3 years.

Another concern among fans is the current caliber of recruit that Rich Rodriguez is working, even with the added advantages of being at Michigan. 3 to 4-stars such as Taylor Hill, D.J. Woods, and Terrance Robinson have become the hot names of late in Wolverine recruiting circles. There are several factors to take into account here. First, Rodriguez must fill a need for slot receivers in his offensive scheme, as Michigan is almost utterly lacking in that category. These slot-types are not as desired nationally, as their use is not important to all offensive styles. Secondly, it is late in the recruiting process. This has a two-fold effect: Rodriguez must play catch-up with most recruits, who he hasn't had an opportunity to be in contact with as Michigan's coach (which puts him more than a year behind on most kids). Also, this late in the recruiting process, many highly-rated players are already committed. Despite this, Rodriguez was able to secure the commitment of high-4-star S Brandon Smith. Only 8 5-stars on Scout remain uncommitted (Michigan already has a commitment from a 5-star in Boubacar Cissoko):
  • Terrelle Pryor had eliminated Michigan before they hired Rodriguez. Now they are considered to be in his top 2.
  • Julio Jones and Deandre Brown are big (6-4 and 6-6.5(!), respectively) wide receivers. There is not much need for them on Michigan's roster.
  • Omar Hunter had Michigan as his leader at one point, but then committed to Notre Dame. After reopening his commitment, he is considered a Florida lock.
  • Rahim Moore would be a nice player to have, but he has not considered Michigan since last summer.
  • Jamie Harper is expected to stay within the state of Florida, and Michigan already has 2 RB commitments (plus a fullback if you consider Christian Wilson still committed).
  • Josh Jenkins felt betrayed by Rodriguez when he left WVU.
  • Brandon Harris never considered either Michigan or West Virginia.

Rodriguez's primary recruiting job this year was to re-recruit the players already on Michigan's roster that could be of use in his new offense (which didn't necessarily mean Ryan Mallett, though he would likely have been the starter in 2008). Also, Rodriguez needed to keep Michigan's recruiting class intact, which he has done perfectly thus far. Finishing the recruiting class with players that fit his offensive system (which Michigan's current roster is lacking), and hopefully snagging a highly rated player along the way (Terrelle Pryor) are next in line in terms of priority. Don't judge Rodriguez's recruiting abilities until the first class that is all his, next year.

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“Recruiting with Coach Rod”