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. So far, I’ve examined the class of 2006 and the class of 2007. Today, I move on to this year’s juniors and redshirt sophomores from the class of 2008:
Class of 2008 (Sorted by Rivals.com Ranking):
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16 of the 25 prospects from the 2008 class still remain in Ann Arbor, and while many of the blue-chip players from the class are gone, there are several solid contributors remaining: Darryl Stonum, Michael Shaw, Kevin Koger, Mike Martin, Roy Roundtree, Martavious Odoms, J.T. Floyd, and Patrick Omameh have all seen starts for the Wolverines, and players like J.B. Fitzgerald, Ricky Barnum, Elliott Mealer, Kenny Demens, and Mike Cox are either pushing for playing time or in line to compete for a starting spot down the road.
Martin, Odoms, and Roundtree have all shown all-conference potential so far in their careers, and Omameh could soon join them on that list after locking down a starting guard spot as a redshirt freshman last season. Given the sheer depth of talent in this class, however, it’s hard not to be somewhat disappointed in the production they have given so far. A lot of the reason for that has to do with…
While the class of 2008, at least percentage-wise, hasn’t seen the sheer attrition of the previous class (2007 has just 11 of the 20 recruits remaining), the losses here have been both high-profile and critical to the performance of the team. Marcus Witherspoon and Taylor Hill, two four-star linebacker recruits, never qualified and moved on to other schools before their freshman year, leaving Michigan very thin at a critical position, something from which they’re still feeling the effects. Sam McGuffie and Boubacar Cissoko were both extremely talented players who, for different reasons, were not able to play out their careers at Michigan despite earning starting roles early in their careers. Dann O’Neill, Kurt Wermers, and Justin Feagin were all potential contributors who transferred (O’Neill and Wermers) or were booted for major legal issues (Feagin). And does anybody else think that Brandon Smith would have been perfect for one of the box safety positions in the 3-3-5? Unfortunately, we won’t find out, as he transferred as well.
This is the third consecutive class that didn’t come close to living up to its lofty ranking, at least so far. Obviously, with 2-3 years of eligibility remaining, there is still a lot of time for this class to change that perception, especially with talents like Martin, Roundtree, Odoms, and Omameh (just to name a few) still on the roster. Regardless of future potential, however, this class has still played a large role in the disappointment of the last couple seasons — it’s tough to blame a group of true freshmen for 2008’s 3-9 season, but a class this deep should have had more guys ready to make major contributions as sophomores last season, when the team was very short on upperclassmen. The next couple seasons will be what truly cements the legacy of this class, but they will have to make great strides as a team to be thought of as anything but a disappointment, especially if they get lumped in with the previous two classes.