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Wednesday, October 01, 2014
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Published: Wednesday, 2/6/2013

Michigan says recruiting linemen, rushers is key to near future

BY RACHEL LENZI
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Avon's Ross Douglas (21) is expected to sign his National Letter of Intent with Michigan today and play as a defensive back. Avon's Ross Douglas (21) is expected to sign his National Letter of Intent with Michigan today and play as a defensive back.
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ANN ARBOR — During the course of the past year, quarterback Shane Morris issued a personal media embargo, asking reporters not to interview him until he arrived on campus at the University of Michigan.

Running back Derrick Green revealed his college announcement by raising a projection screen with a maize-and-blue Wolverines jersey tacked to the wall behind it — as opposed to selecting one of three hats on a table in front of him.

Offensive lineman Logan Tuley-Tillman added to an already white-hot rivalry when he snapped and sent to his Twitter account a photo of a piece of recruiting mail from Ohio State up in flames.

Three of the Michigan’s 27 anticipated recruits gained a certain cult following during the recruiting process, which will officially end today — National Signing Day, which has become an unofficial holiday in some circles, a phenomenon, and a cottage industry.

College recruiting, said Tom Luginbill, ESPN’s national recruiting director and a college football analyst, has taken on a life of its own.

“There’s exposure, there is overexposure," Luginbill said. "We’re dealing with 16- and 17-year-old young men who have an awful lot in front of them. While there’s excitement now, the recognition is that we’re dealing with kids.”

Still, Morris, Green, and Tuley-Tillman will highlight Michigan’s 2013 haul, rated among the top ten in the nation by four recruiting websites.

Scout.com ranked Michigan’s incoming class, which has 27 verbal commitments, first, while 247Sports ranked it fourth, ESPN fifth, and Rivals.com sixth.

Allen Trieu, Scout.com’s Midwest recruiting manager and an analyst for the recruiting Web site, said last week that the high rankings for the incoming class set certain expectations.

“The ceiling? They win the national title,” Trieu said. “The floor? It’s still pretty high. The pressure is definitely on them now. The No. 1 ranking is a blessing and a curse. You have the talent, but you also have the weight of those expectations.”

Among those expected to deliver letters of intent to Michigan are six offensive linemen, including two who are already enrolled at Michigan, and four running backs — a trend that Luginbill says fits Michigan coach Brady Hoke’s philosophy of returning back to a style of game that, for years, trademarked Michigan’s style of play.

"He’s trying to transition this thing back to that traditional identity of what he envisions the Michigan program being all about," Luginbill said. "You have to address the offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, and most notably running back, because that type of player in those positions are really what lead to having that physical toughness."

"If you looked a year ago, they addressed linebacker and defensive line. You look at this year, they’re addressing running back and offensive line."

Per NCAA guidelines, coaches are not allowed to comment on recruits until after they have received their signed letters. Michigan’s coaches, like so many other FBS coaches across the country, hope to have the bulk of those in their hands by the afternoon.

It will signify both an ending and a yet another start.

“Come Thursday morning, it’s going to be time to answer the toll for them, over the next four to five years,” Luginbill said. “It’s going to be time to work. The de-recruitment phase begins.”

Contact Rachel Lenzi at: rlenzi@theblade.com, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.



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