Monday, February 27, 2012

Michigan's Options at Linebacker

Now that the offensive line is all committed, I believe Coach Hoke’s next major interest will lie in the linebacker position. This is because our main needs are basically already filled. Let me explain...
In regards to offense, we have our QB (Shane Morris). We have one running back (Wyatt Shallman), and we know who the other one we want is (Ty Isaac). Same with the wide receiver position; we have one wide receiver (Jaron Dukes), and we know who the other one we want is (Laquon Treadwell). Granted we may take a third wide receiver, but we’ll see. We have two tight ends (Khalid Hill and Jake Butt), and will probably try to get one more (Jacob Matuska or Scott Orndoff). And we have 5 top-notch offensive linemen (Kyle Bosch, David Dawson, Chris Fox, Patrick Kugler, and Logan Tuley-Tillman). We may take one more (Ethan Pocic or Colin McGovern), but we’ll see.
In regards to defense, we have our defensive end (Taco Charlton). We need two defensive tackles; this is an area in which we have no commits so this will be another big focus. We have one cornerback (Jourdan Lewis) and will try to get one more (Kendall Fuller is on my wish list). We have our safety (Dymonte Thomas) and that’ll probably be it for that position unless we can somehow land someone like Su’a Cravens (he would probably play running back or linebacker for us). And that covers our 2013 needs.
As you can see, we’re on our way nicely to the 2013 class save the linebacker and defensive tackle positions. I think we’re pretty lax (if you consider a year before Signing Day lax) regarding these two positions because of how well we recruited them last year (see Ondre Pipkins, James Ross, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Joe Bolden). Anyway, back to the point of this post. Who are Michigan’s options for the linebacker position for 2013?
Michigan has extended offers to 12 linebackers across the country (11 outside linebackers and 1 middle linebacker). Keep in mind these numbers are meaningless because new offers go out every day. Also, the coaches have the position they want the recruit to play in mind, so it doesn’t really matter what a site like Scout, for example, has them as. This list includes names like Alex Anzalone, Ben Gedeon, Michael Hutchings, E.J. Levenberry, Mike McCray, Dorian O’Daniel, and Jaylon Smith. All excellent players. All excellent athletes. 
Michigan is planning on taking between 2-3 linebackers in the 2013 class. I’m interested in 5 in particular...mainly because those 5 are interested in Michigan. Hey, do you blame me? Well to be honest, that’s not the main reason. The main reason is that these guys are studs. The second reason is that they’re very interested in Michigan. Let’s get to it. 

1. Alex Anzalone

Anzalone is a 4* outside linebacker out of Wyomissing, PA. Rivals doesn’t give him a national ranking like all the linebackers below, which is strange because he is given 4 stars and has an incredible offer list. Offers include Michigan, Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. I believe Anzalone is the latest linebacker we’ve offered. He is also planning a Michigan visit next month. Anzalone says that Michigan is currently in his top-5 and that he wants to commit sometime before his senior season.

2. Michael Hutchings

Hutchings is an early 4* outside linebacker out of Concord, CA. Rivals ranks him 17th overall in the nation, which means he will probably end up getting another star. He has lots of offers including ones from Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, and USC. He stands 6’2” and 210 pounds. His vertical is 29 inches. Freak. Athlete. My kinda guy. He’s versatile enough to play strong safety and running back also. Hutchings has said that distance would not be a factor in his recruitment, but he does not plan on making any decisions any time soon. However, Michigan was one of his first offers, and he remembers that. He said it’s special because Michigan realized his potential early on. 

3. Mike McCray

McCray is a 4* outside linebacker out of Trotwood, OH. Rivals ranks him 44th overall in the nation. He has more than 20 offers including ones from Michigan, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. I’m surprised he does not have more big-time offers, although I’m also kind of relieved. Hopefully he is impressed with how early on Michigan realized his talent. This kid is a beast. He stands 6’4” and 230 pounds and runs a 4.61 40. McCray came from the same high school as Roy Roundtree, Michael Shaw, and Brandon Moore. His 2013 teammate Cameron Burrows, however, is already committed to Ohio State. Even though McCray doesn’t have an OSU offer yet, I can promise you he will eventually. Luckily for us, I don’t think that will matter. McCray has a large interest in Michigan right now. He is good friends with Michigan commits from Ohio, Taco Charlton and Jaron Dukes. He has said that he could see himself at Michigan. The good news is McCray plans on visiting on March 6th and has just decided that he will announce his college choice on March 8th, which of course bodes well for Wolverine Nation. It would have been an easy and educated guess to assume Ohio State would land McCray but like I said, they haven’t offered him yet. Not to mention he has said they aren’t recruiting him right now, unlike Michigan who is going after him hard. Hopefully we hear good news on the 8th. McCray's top-6 include Michigan, Oklahoma, Arizona, Tennessee, Illinois, and South Carolina.

4. E.J. Levenberry

Levenberry is an early 4* outside linebacker out of Woodbridge, VA. Rivals ranks him 15th overall in the nation, which means he will probably end up getting a 5th star. He stands 6’3” and 226 pounds. He holds over 20 offers, including ones from Michigan, Alabama, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Oklahoma. An impressive offer sheet, to say the least. E.J. Levenberry is one of my favorite recruits because not only is he one of the top ranked of the bunch, but his top schools are currently Michigan, Florida, and Florida State. Yep, that’s correct. It’s Us vs. The Florida Schools. And ESPN has reported that Michigan is currently on top. Apparently Levenberry loves Hoke. We have that in common. Levenberry has met Shane Morris and Dymonte Thomas, and has heard from both of them how much Michigan impresses them. He is also very impressed with Coach Mattison and how he has coached Ray Lewis. Last but not least, Levenberry’s father went to school with (Michigan sophomore CB) Blake Countess’s father, so they go way back. He said that Blake’s father said great things about Michigan. All in all, I’d say we have a great shot. Granted it will be hard to overcome the Florida schools, but I think Levenberry has made a great connection with Michigan so far. Levenberry does not plan on making a decision any time soon. 

5. Dorian O'Daniel

O’Daniel is a 4* outside linebacker from Olney, MD (Our Lady of Good Counsel HS). Rivals ranks him 37th overall in the nation. O’Daniel stands 6’1” and 205 pounds. He runs a 4.55 40. He holds more than 20 offers including ones from Michigan, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. The reason I mentioned his high school is because it may sound familiar. Our Lady of Good Counsel is the same high school that sophomore CB Blake Countess came from. This is the second linebacker recruit with a connection to Blake! It’s also the high school where (class of 2013) highly touted 5* cornerback Kendall Fuller comes from. I wrote about him recently here. He is another recruit we are after. Could we get two from Our Lady of Good Counsel HS? Hmm... O’Daniel will be visiting Michigan on April 14th (the Spring Game) along with teammate Kendall Fuller. O’Daniel has admitted to favoring Michigan but he will not name Michigan "the favorite.” I believe that will change in April. Interestingly enough, during our big 8-recruit weekend haul, Florida also had a big weekend. I mention this because Florida is (was?) one of O’Daniel’s favorites, yet during that weekend, they took 4 linebackers. We’ll see if that plays a part in his decision. I’m thinking the Spring Game could be a great day

Now I broke down 5 recruits for you. They’re all great players, however I’m hoping for these 3 in specific (if in fact we take 3): Mike McCray, E.J. Levenberry, and Dorian O’Daniel. Why those three? Well other than the fact that they’re excellent athletes, I have underlying motives. I’m sneaky like that. 

McCray would be great to get because he would be another huge steal from right under Urban’s nose (see Taco Charlton, Jake Butt). The kid is a special talent and frankly it’s shocking that he doesn’t have an Ohio State offer. Come on down, Mr. McCray. 

Levenberry is just phenomenal. He is going to end up being one of the top recruits in the entire nation at any position. To land him would be incredible considering his offer list. It would truly show the power of Coach Hoke since that would clearly be the primary reason for Levenberry’s decision.

O’Daniel would be an amazing get simply because it would further improve Hoke’s recruiting chances in the state of Maryland in general and Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in specific. Kendal Fuller, the 5* cornerback I mentioned above, is the third Good Counsel player since 2009 to earn 5* status, the others being linebacker Jelani Jenkins (2009) and wide receiver Stefon Diggs (2012). If we were to snatch him (or O’Daniel, or both), future Good Counsel players could see what we do with players like him and Blake Countess and Michigan could put a stamp on the impressive football school. Not to mention the fact that landing O’Daniel wouldn’t hurt our chances with 5* CB Kendall Fuller.  

Overall, I believe Michigan has great options at linebacker. Anyone we land will probably be fantastic but I just wanted to share with you why I favored those 3 in specific. Here’s to hoping they go Blue!


  1. Great write up....O'Daniel is my #1, and I agree April 14th will be a big day!

  2. thank you, very good information. I am not as big on McCray as you are. Film I watched is not impressive. I may be wrong, but he looked more 'go around' kind of guy.