Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Hoke pleased with signing class
By Michael Rothstein WolverineNation
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Before he even got started Wednesday afternoon, before he broke down every member of the Michigan Class of 2012 in 30-second bursts, before he took any questions, Michigan coach Brady Hoke made one thing clear.
Don't ask him whether it was a good class or whether he is happy with it. He'd answer it right away. A resounding yes.
DE Chris Wormley is one of nine players from Ohio to sign with Michigan in the 2012 class.
Hoke was indeed pleased with his 25-member class, one that began committing almost a year ago and continued until late Tuesday evening, when Michigan offered running back Dennis Norfleet (Detroit/Martin Luther King), and he accepted.
"We don't try and recruit bad classes," Hoke said. "But I've been asked that before and hoping to save anybody any embarrassment. The exciting thing is I think we hit some areas of need that we needed to address."
Michigan, in its first full recruiting class under Hoke, did something even more important: It tried to seize back control of the state and its region. Nine players came from Michigan. Nine came from Ohio.
It was evident early on this would be the plan. Running backs coach Fred Jackson, who said he signed seven of the eight players in Michigan he was responsible for, usually ventures out of state as well.
Not this year.
"Since Brady Hoke has been the head coach, I've been to Louisiana one day and Texas one day," Jackson said. "Those are areas I usually get a kid out of every year, every other year, and I've only been one day because I had so many guys in-state that were so high profile."
It was a class that, for Michigan, addressed needs at multiple positions -- nowhere more than on the offensive and defensive lines. Hoke had lamented the lack of scholarship numbers and bodies on both lines during the season and set out to fix that with his first full class.
The Wolverines signed four offensive linemen led by 6-foot-5, 305-pound guard Kyle Kalis (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward's). They signed six defensive linemen, including 6-foot-3, 320-pound defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins (Kansas City, Mo./Park Hill).
Hoke, though, wouldn't give any indication of which players out of the group he believed might play early.
"We'll see. It's not fair to any of them," Hoke said. "All of them have an opportunity. They just have to take advantage of it, and they have to know the expectations."
The other big need position for Michigan was at tight end, where the Wolverines are trying to incorporate the position more into the offense. Michigan picked up two players there: 6-foot-4, 220-pound Devin Funchess (Farmington Hills, Mich./Harrison) and 6-foot-6, 275-pound A.J. Williams (Cincinnati/Sycamore).
It was an area where Michigan tried to add a third tight end, first with commitment Pharaoh Brown (Lyndhurst, Ohio/Brush), who decommitted and went to Oregon, and then in pursuit of Sam Grant (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward's), who considered Michigan before committing to Oklahoma.
Still, they are happy with their haul.
"(Funchess) is more like what we recruited to before," tight ends coach Dan Ferrigno said. "We didn't really get a chance to recruit many tight ends a year ago. Usually we'll recruit a guy with Devin's skill set and then recruit more conventional tight ends, also.
"Devin, his position, he'll be asked to play like a tight end. And he'll also be asked to play like a fullback and a receiver. It's a hybrid, definitely."
The most impressive thing with his class, though, is this: Michigan had only two players who at one point committed to the school who did not sign with the maize and blue -- Brown and offensive lineman Caleb Stacey (Cincinnati/Oak Hills), who went to Cincinnati.
Considering how early the majority of this class committed -- 20 were verbally committed before September -- the Wolverines did well holding on to all of them.
"Once those guys committed early, all the attention now is focused on beating Michigan," Jackson said. "So since June, everyone is throwing shots at Fred Jackson, at Michigan, to these kids, because you only have to fight one school."
Michigan withstood that -- and ended up with the No. 8 class in the country.
Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan sports for WolverineNation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mikerothstein.