Michigan 2015 Signing Day Capsule

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Updated: February 5, 2015

Quarterbacks

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Comments:  Michigan picked up two commitments in 2015 in Alex Malzone and Zach Gentry.  Both are four-star prospects and very highly regarded.  Malzone is an early enrollee that is already in classes and participating in winter workouts.  When spring practice begins on February 24th Malzone will be on the field competing at quarterback.  Malzone won two state championships and played in a third.  Known for his poise, accuracy and winning, Malzone is expected to battle for the starting job immediately.

Gentry is outstanding athlete possessing tremendous size and a very strong arm.  Despite his large frame he is very mobile and a threat to run at any time.  Gentry’s unique skill set has drawn comparisons to Ryan Mallett and Andrew Luck.  I believe he is a bit raw at this point and will need additional time to develop before seriously competing for the starting quarterback job.  Down the road, under Jim Harbaugh’s mentorship, Gentry has the highest ceiling of any quarterback on the roster.

Runningbacks

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Comments:  Karan Higdon is the only running back in this class and may be flying under the radar, somewhat.  Previously committed to Iowa, Higdon flipped to Michigan on signing day and may be able to contribute early in his career.  Despite average size, Higdon is a physical runner and possesses very good speed.  He is not afraid of contact and has good lower leg explosion and drive.  Had numerous big time offers from many of the power five conference teams including Florida and even independent Notre Dame.

Higdon may redshirt as a freshman but his long range potential is extremely high.  Depending upon how the depth chart shapes out with Drake Johnson’s knee injury and the addition of Ty Isaac, Higdon may be needed this season.  Only time will tell but keep your eye on this kid.

Wide Receivers

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Comments:  Arguably the biggest addition to the Michigan Wolverines is wide receiver Brian Cole, arguably one of the best athletes in the country.  Like Malzone, Cole is an early enrollee and already taking classes and participating in winter conditioning.  Tall, lean and elusive, Cole is a potential game-breaker that should see the field immediately this fall.  He possesses one thing the Michigan offense needs and that is speed.  Also, it would not be a surprise if he eventually ended up on the defensive side of the ball down the road due to his height, length and athleticism.  Initially, he will be a receiver and could develop into the big play threat the Wolverine offense is in dire need of.

Grant Perry is a local kid that made no secret of his love of Michigan and flipped from Northwestern almost immediately after his Wolverine offer.  Perry lacks great size and speed, however, all he does is produce.  He’s a good route runner and has tremendous hands.  He was high school teammates with Alex Malzone and has enjoyed a very productive prep career.  Think Drew Dileo only a little quicker and faster.  Perry has drawn comparisons to Jeremy Gallon and that is probably accurate, though he is bigger than Gallon.  Look for Perry to be a very productive player at Michigan.

Tight Ends

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Comments:  Michigan landed a big time recruit late on signing day when Tyrone Wheatley, Jr signed on the dotted line, following in the footsteps of his legendary father.  Possessing tremendous size and athletic ability it’s quite possible Wheatley ends up on the defensive line, however he is currently ranked by many as a tight end prospect.  He possesses the ability to play either position.

Wheatley stated after signing that the coaches were going to look at him this summer and see where he fits in best, whether on offense or defense.  On tape he appears to be more natural on the defensive line.  Regardless of where he ends up, Michigan is getting a tremendous, athletic big man that possesses the ability to accomplish a great deal on the football field and in the classroom.

Offensive Line

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Comments:  Offensive line was a major need in this recruiting class and the Wolverines added three in Newsome, Ulizio and Runyan.  Newsome possesses a huge upside and has tremendous size, projecting to right or left tackle on the collegiate level. He’s athletic with very good length.  I expect Newsome to redshirt as a freshman but I will be surprised if he is not competing for a starting job by 2016 and/or 2017.

Ulizio was a late addition to this class committing in late January to Michigan.  He’s strong and possesses very good playing strength at this point in his development.  Ulizio plays with a nasty edge and loves to compete, which fits right in with this coaching staff. Because of his skill set most feel he will end up at right tackle or inside at guard, down the road.  Expect Ulizio to redshirt in 2015 and provide depth early in his career but his long range upside is exciting.

Jon Runyan, Jr is another underrated kid that committed early to Michigan and is a legacy recruit.  He has continued to improve and has jumped up in the rankings with a couple of the recruiting services.  Scout ranks him as a tackle, which is probably not where he is going to play in college.  Look for Runyan to move inside to guard or center at Michigan.  He’s strong and physical and down the road it would not be a surprise if he ended as a starter on the offensive line.  The kid is tough as nails.

Defensive Line

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Comments:  Michigan fans received a nice surprise on signing day when the letter came in from Shelton Johnson, who was expected to sign with Florida State.  Johnson is a tall, lanky, quick twitch type of athlete that can rush the passer, a skill set desperately needed on Michigan’s defense right now.  He will need to increase his strength and muscle mass as he is too thin right now but once he gets in Michigan’s strength and conditioning program, the possibilities are very exciting.  Johnson has a shot at contributing as a freshman though a redshirt season may be needed.  Ultimately, I envision him being utilized much in the same manner as Aldon Smith was under Jim Harbaugh with the 49ers.

Reuben Jones was Jim Harbaugh’s first commit, flipping from Nebraska to the Wolverines.  Jones is an explosive athlete that may lack ideal measurables but is tough, physical and a play maker.  How Michigan is going to utilize Jones will be interesting to watch unfold and it’s possible he gets on the field this fall but I would also not be surprised if he is redshirted.

Linebackers

No linebackers were signed in this recruiting class.

 

Cornerbacks

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Comments:  Only went to Prattville for one year spending time at quarterback and cornerback as a senior.  Tough and very competitive with a high level of self-expectations, look for Washington to make a mark at Michigan.  He is a tall, athletic corner with tremendous speed.  Washington flipped from Cal to Michigan on signing day and may be able to compete for early playing time due to a lack of depth at the cornerback position.  His upside is high and physically, he has everything you look for in a corner.  Another prospect flying under the radar but one to keep an eye on if you’re a Michigan fan.

Safeties

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Comments:  Michigan signed only one safety but it was a huge addition, Tyree Kinnel from the state of Ohio.  Kinnel committed to the previous staff and remained that way during the tumultuous 2014 season.  Possessing only average size, Kinnel plays much larger due to his physicality and toughness.  He is also very instinctive and plays the game with a reckless abandon. Kinnel will have an opportunity to see the field in 2015 due to a limited amount of depth at the position, however it would still not be a surprise if he ended up redshirting.  We will find out more this fall but Kinnel is a huge addition to the defensive backfield.  I expect him to earn a starting job early in his career.

Specialists

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Comments:  With the graduation of Matt Wile the kicking position is open for competition right now and David will have an opportunity to win the job as a freshman.  Arguably among the top 10 kickers in the country, David remain committed to Michigan through the coaching change.  His development will be important in 2015.

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