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Published: Thursday, 2/7/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Lofty Michigan class arrives without drama, suspense

BY RACHEL LENZI
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

ANN ARBOR — There were no surprises, no last-minute changes of heart, and no 11th-hour additions.

By noon Wednesday, the Michigan football coaching staff had received exactly the number of commitments it had expected. Without any accompanying drama.

In addition to six players who enrolled this semester at Michigan, 21 players officially signed National Letters of Intent on Wednesday to join the Michigan football program.

Recruiting Web site Scout.com ranks Michigan’s incoming class second in the nation, behind Ohio State, while 247Sports ranks Michigan fifth and ESPN and Rivals.com each rank Michigan sixth.

In Michigan’s 2013 haul: Six offensive linemen, six defensive backs, three running backs, three wide receivers, two tight ends, two linebackers, two defensive tackles, one defensive end, one quarterback, and one long snapper.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke said the focus of recruiting was to strengthen the offensive and defensive lines, and to gain range and length at wide receiver and cornerback, athleticism at tight end, physicality within the safeties and linebackers, and to project how incoming running backs fit into Michigan’s offensive style.

“I think the needs that we had focused on, we met,” Hoke said. “When you look at your class and you look at your needs, the physicality that we want to play with and the right fits, when you look at the roster and what you inherited, there have been significant developments in the genetics of the guys on the team. That’s an important part of it, but it’s the right fit.”

With the graduation of quarterback Denard Robinson and the drop in offensive production behind him last season, the Wolverines addressed those concerns with the addition of five-star running back Derrick Green, who ran for 2,850 yards and 41 touchdowns the past two seasons at Hermitage High School in Richmond, Va.

Green announced his commitment to the Wolverines on Jan. 26.

“What I sold Derrick on, more than anything else, was my ability to coach him and to make him better,” Michigan running backs coach Fred Jackson said. “Take him to where he can take himself.”

Recruiting coordinator Jeff Hecklinski said the decision for six players to enroll this semester wasn’t decided by the Wolverines coaching staff, but was instead decided by those recruits.

“They’re getting 15 [spring] practices that they wouldn’t normally have at the college level,” said Hecklinski, who is also Michigan’s wide receivers coach. “What they’re seeing is exactly how they need to adjust, from an athletic standpoint and from an academic standpoint.”

Hecklinski, however, wasn’t about estimate which of Michigan’s incoming freshmen he believed were closest to being ready to contribute.

“That’s something that, as a program, we really don’t talk about,” Hecklinski said. “Because they determine that.

“There’s a lot of adjustments these kids have to make and a lot of adjustments not only to football-wise, but life-wise. So it’s hard to tell which ones are going to get faster, what the transition’s going to be, if this is going to be smooth or not. Our job is to take each one individually and make sure that transition happens, happens as quickly as it can, and get them in a position to play.”

NOTES: On its Web site Wednesday morning, Michigan announced that running back Fitzgerald Toussaint will miss spring practices as he is still recovering from a left leg injury sustained Nov. 17 against Iowa, which required surgery a day later. Toussaint is expected to be ready to play for the 2013 season. … Hoke also said he did not know the status of a redshirt season for quarterback Devin Gardner, retroactive to his freshman year.

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



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