Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be examining the foundation for the 2010 Michigan Wolverines: the five recruiting classes, from 2006 to 2010, that comprise the team. First, let’s look at the players from the class of 2006, some of whom have fifth-year eligibility for the fall:
Class of 2006 (Sorted by Rivals.com Ranking):
[table id=103 /]
A relatively small class to begin with (just 19 players), the class of 2006 was hit hard by departures (Boren, Kates, Mixon, Patilla, and Woods) and players not living up to their potential. Just seven players — Stephen Schilling, Jonas Mouton, Adam Patterson, Greg Banks, Perry Dorrestein, Obi Ezeh, and John Ferrara — are still on Michigan’s roster, and the career performance of those players has been somewhat disappointing considering the lofty recruiting rankings they arrived on campus with. Schilling has been a solid starter at left guard, but hasn’t been the game-changing force expected from a player with a five-star ranking. Mouton has had an up-and-down career after outgrowing the safety position and moving to linebacker, while Patterson and Banks have languished on the bench despite ample opportunity to step into a larger role. Like Mouton, Ezeh has had a rocky career at linebacker after a position switch from high school, but expectations were much lower for the three-star in-state running back. Dorrestein and Ferrara have both stepped into occasional starting roles, but while Ferrara appears destined to end his career as a backup offensive lineman, Dorrestein is competing for a starting tackle spot.
In short, almost everyone, which isn’t exactly a surprise five years down the line. I don’t need to explain how big a loss Brandon Graham is from this Michigan defense, nor do I need to rehash the tale of Justin Boren, Dirty Buckeye Traitor. Of the other departed players who did manage to see the field at Michigan, few lived up to expectations: Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor could never stay healthy enough to consistently play at an all-conference level, Greg Mathews was a solid but unspectacular possession receiver, and Stevie Brown was a disaster at safety before becoming a solid linebacker in his final season. The rest of the class either remained buried on the bench, left the program, or handled kickoff duties (hello, Bryan Wright).
It’s tough to call this class anything but a disappointment after four years — by my count, only eight players from Rivals.com’s #13 recruiting class have had a major impact as a player at Michigan and stuck out their time in Ann Arbor. The reputation of this class could very well hinge on the 2010 performances of Ezeh and Mouton — if they play like they did last year, or lose their starting jobs (more likely for Ezeh than Mouton), this class will have far underperformed expectations. The fact that so much of this class has already left without making much of a positive impact (besides, of course, Graham, who may be the only player in the class who played above his recruiting hype) helps show why this team has struggled so much the past two years.