The Foundation: A Look at the 2007 Recruiting Class

Ryan Van Bergen is one of the few 2007 recruits still making an impact at Michigan.

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. On Tuesday I took a look at the class of 2006. Today, I move on to this year’s fourth-year seniors and redshirt juniors from the class of 2007:

Class of 2007 (Sorted by Rivals.com Ranking):

[table id=104 /]

Who’s Left?

Boy, did this class get decimated — just 11 of the 20 recruits will be around this fall, and of those, just a select few are expected to have a major impact. Of the players still on the team, Ryan Van Bergen and David Molk are probably the standouts from the class, with each player holding down a starting role and producing well (when healthy, in the case of Molk). Michael Williams reminded Michigan fans of Stevie Brown — pre-position switch — when he saw the field at safety last year, and is now falling behind redshirt freshmen and walk-ons at the spur position this spring. Those are your only four-stars remaining on the roster (except Molk, who was a three-star, but highly touted, center).

Of the three-stars, only Molk, Troy Woolfolk, and Mark Huyge have held down a starting role with any sort of consistency — Junior Hemingway would be included in that company if he could stay healthy through a whole season. Renaldo Sagesse and Brandon Herron have both been contributors as backups, and Sagesse should have a relatively large role in 2010, but otherwise the depth in this class has either languished on the bench or left the team.

Who’s Gone?

Our one-time Quarterback of the Future, for one — Ryan Mallett high-tailed it out of here when Michigan hired Rich Rodriguez, transferring to Arkansas and developing into a top NFL prospect. It’s tough to blame anyone for Mallett’s departure, however, as I certainly don’t see him being successful running the zone-read spread offense — his transfer was the unfortunate byproduct of a fundamental change in schemes.

The other blue-chipper, Donovan Warren, chose to enter the NFL draft a year early. After him, the class has a lengthy list of players who transferred due either to lack of playing time or issues with Rich Rodriguez or his schemes: Clemons, Helmuth, Babb, Chambers, Horn, and Evans all fall into this category. None of those players had any major impact on the field. Austin Panter, as a JUCO transfer, used up his eligibility in 2008, earning a brief cameo as a starter before quickly being shuttled to the bench.

The Upshot:

I called the previous class a disappointment, but this one is tough to top: ranked as the #13 class in the country by Rivals, the class of 2007 has produced just a handful of even serviceable players. Losing Mallett was a tough break, but Warren never developed into the player his rankings suggested he would become before he departed early, and now arguably the two most important players remaining from the class (Molk and Woolfolk) are former three-stars. To say this class, on the whole, was a bust would be an understatement — any sort of resurgence that could happen this year will be as much driven by the younger players as it will this class. At least 2006 produced Brandon Graham — the class of 2007 has nothing to hang its hat on except failure to meet expectations and departures. Anyone looking to diagnose the reason for Michigan’s struggles should look no further than the failure of the 2006 and 2007 classes to produce even remotely close to their lofty rankings, and I don’t think the change in coaches had that much to do with their failures.

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