Recruitaholics: Final Evaluations of Team 135

Team 135
With the 2014 recruiting year coming to a close today, Michigan locked up every verbal commit and had no surprises good or bad.  It was an exciting year; one that featured players from nine different states.  Michigan landed the top player in the state as well as -- arguably -- the top player in the country.  There's big guys and there's...well more big guys; an apparent trend Hoke and co are transitioning too.  So, let's end the class with a breakdown or two of each commit and what they will bring to the Big House come next September.  Hoke up first:

Each evaluation below comes from 247's Clint Brewster and Scout's Allen Trieu, Jamie Newberg, and Brian Dohn.  Each player's name is linked to their Incoming Post

1) LB Michael Ferns 6'3 240
247 - A machine at the linebacker position, Ferns is a physical specimen that brings great effort, toughness, and smarts to the field. Great diagnosis skills and the straight-line speed and power to blow up a play. Ferns had a big part in recruiting the other commits in this class, as the first 2014 commit on board. Ferns enrolled early and won’t have a problem picking up the playbook and adapting so expect to see him on the field early at Michigan. Held offers from the likes of Alabama, Ohio State, Stanford, and Oklahoma before committing to Michigan.

Scout - Ferns has good size and is built ready for the college game. As a track kid, he has the straight line speed to run down ball carriers and is great when he’s coming forward. He still has to work on his coverage skills, but he’s a great blitzer and run defender. He offers different possibilities because he could play middle backer, SAM or potentially even on the edge as an end at times.

Ferns - "I think when I went back (to Ann Arbor) the second time for the BBQ, I felt good about making the decision. After that you just kind of look out for the academic stuff focusing on fixing my junior schedule up to graduate early my senior year. After that, I was ready to go. Michigan just stuck out to me. After that second visit up there it kind of really stuck out more. I felt good the whole time I was there. I felt great and I knew it was time to make the decision.”

2) QB Wilton Speight 6'6" 230
Scout - He is a big kid with prototypical pocket passer size. For a kid that big, he can slide around in the pocket, make rushers miss and throw on the move. He isn’t a dual threat, but he isn’t a statue either. He does a nice job of keeping plays alive. He has worked hard on his mechanics, but still needs to refine those. His level of competition in high school was a concern but he alleviated some of that with his week at the Under Armour game.

Speight - “The education I am going to get a Michigan is just going to be incredible. Just to carry on the high school degree I am going to get here, and roll right into a place like University of Michigan—is amazing. That offer had a huge part of what I was factoring in. And to top it all off, I don’t know if there is a better fan base in the country for football or basketball. I saw Michigan get the win last night. I can’t wait to play in front of 110,000 people in the Big House, ‘cause they bleed it. I was really honored and it was a no brainer.”

3) DT Bryan Mone 6'4" 338
247 - Big-time defensive tackle prospect with elite size and strength in the trenches. A brawler in the interior, Mone dominated against high school competition with pure strength and a great swim-move in his arsenal. Mone has the size to play early at 6-4, 338-pounds, and can really clog up the middle in the run game. The four-star prospect with a 96 overall grade, had offers from Stanford, UCLA, Oregon State, and Ole Miss before choosing Michigan. Mone finished his career as a Under Armour All-American.

Scout - Mone is exactly how you draw it up when you're looking for an impact college tackle. He has a great frame, plays with good pad level, has plus level quickness and is relentless in pursuit. He does a great job getting off blocks, uses his hands very well and plays with a motor. He has the ability to fit in with a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme and could see the field early in college.

Mone's Head Coach - "I think it helped having Sione Houma out there for one,” said Benson. “Number two, I think he felt a strong connection with Coach Montgomery right off (the bat). Then when he was able to talk to Coach Hoke when he was out there in November, he just felt real good about it. He described it as a family, and that’s what he wanted with where he went to college… to have a close bunch… both players and coaches. He said he felt really strongly that Michigan was the right place. He really likes the coaching staff and he is really excited to be heading out there.”

4) OL Mason Cole 6'4" 285
247 - Cole is Michigan’s top offensive line recruit, and he is a great win on the recruiting trail for Michigan, who pulled him away from several elite programs closer to home. Cole had a very impressive week at the Army All-American bowl and garnered high praise from the coaches at the event. The early enrollee, Cole has a nice blend of power and quickness, and shows great toughness in the run game. Should raise the level of competition right away on the offensive line.

Scout - Cole is a big framed offensive tackle prospect that can really move his feet well. He has long arms and plenty of room to bulk up and add mass. In pass pro Cole sets and slides well to keep defender in front of him. He has good balance. Cole is a solid run blocker who is more finesse than sheer power. He can get off the ball well, get to the second level and is quite adept at pulling because of the way he moves for a big man.

5) DT Brady Pallante 6'1" 270
247 - Strong interior lineman that will outwork his opponent, Pallante was an underrated recruit that Michigan took their grey-shirt off of. Highly productive player that made 60 tackles and nine for a loss, with three sacks his senior year. Pallante is able to get underneath offensive lineman to gain leverage and create a good push in his pass rush and is quick enough to get off blocks and get to his gap in the run game. Pallante was recruited by Michigan coach Jeff Hecklinski.

6) WR Drake Harris 6'4" 185
247 - One of my personal favorites in this class, Harris brings a deep play threat to the Michigan receiver core, and he has to be accounted for by opposing defenses every pass play. Harris has the speed and agility to take any pass to the house, with a Randy Moss-like vertical leap on deep balls. Harris can stretch the defense and blow by defensive backs while making it look easy. Harris was a must-have instate recruit won over Michigan State, where Harris was committed. Harris is already enrolled.

Scout - As far as leaping ability, ball skills and ability to go high and grab passes, Harris has elite ability in that department. He has exceptional ability to high point the football and his 39-inch vertical leap allows him to go up high above defenders. In his high school offense, he's used quite a bit as a deep threat and also on short drags, which have shown some of his run after the catch ability. For a long striding kid, he has good elusiveness. The best word to describe his game is smooth. He's effortless in his change of direction and really everything he does on the field.

Harris - “It just felt right. I was up here like four times this past spring. They’re just real people (at Michigan). Coach Hoke, Coach Heck, Coach Ferrigno, Coach Singletary… the whole coaching staff here, they’re all great people. They talked about the #1 jersey (and) they said I would have to earn it. They said that I’m the only recruit that they’ve talked about the #1 with. I was happy when I heard about that. But they said I would have to work to get it.”

7) TE Ian Bunting 6'6" 220
247 - Bunting has rare height and length to go with receiver-like ball skills in the passing game. The four-star prospect is a dangerous receiving threat, with a huge catching radius and the ability to pick up yards after the catch. Has excellent speed and can pick up yards after the catch. Bunting isn’t afraid to block and could develop into more of a traditional tight end that can be attached to line and help out in protection if need be. Ranked as the sixth best tight end in the country.

Scout - Ian has a nice, long frame with a lot of room to add weight. Good, reliable hands and shows ability to make grabs in traffic and along the sideline and adjusts and tracks the ball well in the air. He shows good ability after the catch for a bigger kid, but he still has to fill out, get stronger and has not played in a traditional tight end role, so he will have to work on his blocking from that position. That said, he can be used in a variety of packages and formations. He has struggled some with injuries throughout his career but none are of the lingering variety.

Bunting - “When I went there and visited and got to spend a lot of time with the coaches, players on the team and got to spend the night with them. It felt like home. It felt like the right place for me. My parents came with me and they both loved it and the coaches were so nice and welcoming. My grandma, my dad's mom, was a Michigan grad and she just passed away a few weeks [before my commitment]. She was really excited for me to get an offer from Michigan and she was excited for that and she actually passed away two or three days before they offered me. She kind of pushed them up over the edge."

8) WR Maurice Ways 6'4" 200
247 - Big, strong receiver that can make catches in traffic. Ways has strong hands and showed a huge difference in his yards after the catch in his senior highlights. Ways has great strength and can break tackles, also possessing good top-end-speed. Really improved in his weaker areas, showing a great work effort and is a relentless blocker downfield. Ways has the size and ball skills that could be very tough for smaller defensive backs in college.

Scout - He is a big, physical kid who I thought got more comfortable and confident as his career went on. He was good as a junior, but really good as a senior. He improved in every facet of the game. He’s tough to press because he’s so strong and he not only got stronger, but played more aggressively, I thought, as a senior. He can go up and get the ball and was surprisingly good after the catch. Relatively new to the game still, I think he just has to refine everything from his routes to his consistency, but his best football is still ahead.

Ways - “When my family and I met with Coach Hoke, he was just a genuine, nice man; just a nice guy who really cares about his kids outside of football. When we first talked, you asked me what I was looking for in a college and that’s what I was looking for was a coach and a college that cares about me, not just as a football player, but as a young man.”

9) OL Juwann Bushell-Beatty 6'7" 310
247 - NFL sized offensive tackle with great range and physicality in the run game, Bushell-Beatty has raw talent with a high level of potential. Bushell-Beatty is a high motor, hard working player that loves the dogfight. Bushell-Beatty excels against the run and uses his size and raw strength to overpower defensive lineman. Has long arms and uses him to his advantage and does a good job of keeping his hands inside. Has a great foundation for the Michigan staff to work with.

Scout - Bushell-Beatty is big and long, and just getting around him is a challenge for some defenders. The 6-foot-6, 310-pounder does a good job blocking down the line of scrimmage and also spinning the defender to open holes in the running game, but he is most impressive in pass protection. It hasn’t changed from when I saw him early in the season, and that is Bushell-Beatty will need a few years to develop. Bushell-Beatty is long and has athleticism, and he has the drive to get better. It will take some work, but Bushell-Beatty could develop into a very good offensive tackle for the Wolverines.

JBB - “I saw a lot of what I was looking for in a school when I went there,” stated Bushell-Beatty. “I think the coaches and the players were what sold it to me. They’re real good guys. I was looking for a place that was really similar to be at home like at (Paramus Catholic) and that’s where I felt that really strong at. I’m in contact most with Coach Manning and Coach Mallory. They’re just real guys. I had a great time when I got to see them in person. They are just real genuine people and just a bunch of real honest guys."

10) DE Lawrence Marshall 6'3" 230 
247 - Marshall is an athletic, well-built edge rusher with a quick ball get off. The 9th ranked defensive end in the country, Lawrence closes on the quarterback in a hurry and plays with excellent physicality as a slightly undersized defensive end, but has the athletic ability to stand up and play linebacker at the next level if need be. Similar to 2012 recruit Mario Ojemudio, Marshall has the pass-rushing talent that will be hard to keep off the field early in his career.

Scout - Very long frame. Has great athleticism, change of directionand speed in pursuit. Has all of the tools to be an elite pass rusher, just needs continued work on his technique. Plays with hand down in high school, but may be a stand-up rusher in college. Has not been asked to drop into coverage much, but that's something he may be asked to do at the next level. Has to add some weight, but all of the raw tools are there.

11) DB Jabrill Peppers 6'1" 210
247 - The crown of the class, Peppers is the highest ranked recruit in a long time and was a huge win for the Michigan staff over the nations top heavyweights. Pepper’s is like a stick of dynamite with the ball in his hands and can virtually play any skill position on the field. Pepper’s has the character and confidence that raises the play of his teammates and he was also a greatrecruiter for the class. No question that Peppers has the talent and ability to be one of the Michigan greats. It would be tough for me as a head coach to not give Peppers some touches on offense to go with his duties as a defensive back/return man.

Scout - Peppers is so good, so versatile, it is almost ridiculous to consider. There is a reason Peppers is five-star recruit. He does so many things well, and he is also a very good leader. He can stay tight on a receiver in press coverage and also breaks on a ball well when playing off a receiver. He has size, speed, loose hips, is a tough competitor and can be a standout at receiver, running back, safety and cornerback. He is the total package

Peppers - “I knew right after the visit, but I still just wanted to take it slowly and give some other colleges a chance. I figured if Michigan could surprise me so much then I’m pretty sure that another one of my top choices could as well. Every visit I went on, I compared to Michigan and it was just no comparison. It was just the feel of it, the coaches, just everything.”

12) LB Chase Winovich 6'4" 215
247 - Part of a big linebacker group for Michigan, Winovich has a long frame with a huge wingspan. Winovich has excellent pursuit speed and angles, as well as being able to drop into coverage and get in passing lanes. Winovich runs through ball-carriers instead of catching or meeting them. A high intensity player that can be used in different ways as an outside linebacker. Long arms make him tough to block.

Scout - There is plenty of “Wow” factor of Winovich, and it begins with his frame and athleticism. He runs like a receiver and is flexible. He has a very good feel for the game, anticipates well, has speed and burst and plays a physical style. He also does a nice jog of tackling low and wrapping up. When he makes a tackle, it is with a thud and it is heavy. He changes direction well and has very good feet, which allows his to navigate through congestion and avoid blocks.

Winovich - “First, I committed to the University of Michigan because academically, it’s a top notch program and one of the best universities in the world. I think ultimately it was the best fit for me in several different aspects. Academically and athletically it was the perfect fit for me... and not even just for football. The whole idea of Michigan is winning. They really act on what they preach. They have shown that. And another thing is the people. The people in Michigan are some of the most down to earth people I’ve ever met. I’ve had great interactions with them. I think a lot of them think like me. I feel a lot of the ideals that I want to see in myself, I see in those people. I think that really helped push me over the edge.”

13) DB Brandon Watson 6'0" 185
247 - Watson has excellent fundamentals at cornerback and tends to gamble correctly, always being around the ball. Watson is solid in all areas of the game and plays with confidence and can be a good tackler. He reads receiver tendencies well and knows when to jump a route. Has good physicality at the line of scrimmage and ball skills when a pass is in the air. Always looking to make a turnover.

14) WR Freddy Canteen 6'1" 175
247 - A technician at the receiver position, Canteen understands how to get open and has slick moves after the catch. Canteen can play inside at the slot, and has enough long speed to go get a deep ball on the outside. Runs very precise routes and can stick his foot in the ground and get separation from a defensive back. Tremendous hands and shows a great feel for the game. Not afraid to go over the middle. Canteen is an early enrollee for Michigan.

Canteen (Scout) - “I am so motivated to get things underway," he told GoBlueWolverine. "My expectations are to get started on my classes so that I can have a big jump on receiving my degree, and having the opportunity to get on the field and just work hard. I want to show coaches and teammates what I can do, which is make plays for our team."

15) LB Noah Furbush 6'4" 240
247 - Very instinctual linebacker, Furbush has great size and is violent upon contact. Furbush plays with great passion and intensity. Uses his hands well to avoid blockers and is the hammer not the nail when he makes a tackle. Furbush has everything you look for at the position. Underrated prospect that blew up after his junior year, coming from an under-recruited area of Ohio. Has the versatility to drop back into coverage or rush off the edge at the next level.

Scout - This kid is every bit of his listed size. When we saw him in person, his stature really stood out. He’s not just tall, but he’s long and pretty filled out and has big hands. It will be interesting to see where he plays. Michigan is going to try him at middle linebacker, which he hasn’t done a lot of but he could also play SAM or defensive end. He’s a tough, blue-collar type player who goes 100-percent and shows good closing speed. I really like him as a pass rusher and a blitzer. I think he does that much better than he does dropping into space. He reminds me a little of Brennen Beyer.

Furbush - “I definitely really appreciated their interest and genuineness toward me. That rang a lot with me. It’s two hours away from where I live. “I think it’s a great chance for my family and friends to come and get to see me play. I think that probably played the biggest role just having my family close, my friends close. My brother is going to college up at U-of-M Flint so that’s always a big plus (too).”

16) LB Jared Wangler 6'1" 220
247 - Wangler is a smart and instinctive player that lined up mostly at the safety position in high school. Excellent coverage skills and good athleticism making a play on the ball or an open field tackle. A sure-tackler that competes on every play, Wangler has a nose for the ball and does his job every play. Has the toughness to play linebacker in college and has gotten bigger a lot bigger since he committed to Michigan. Wangler was committed to Penn State before switching to the Wolverines when he picked up the offer.

Scout - Wangler is a kid we saw as a likely WILL, but Michigan is also considering him as a SAM prospect. He's a very good athlete. Looking at what he's able to do offensively, he has good ball skills and overall ability in space. That translates over to defense, where he's often asked to play over the slot and drop into coverage. At 6'1, 215-pounds, he's a kid who transitioned over from safety, but while he's not as big as some of the other linebackers we've seen in this class, he is not afraid of contact. He does a nice job of taking on blockers and when he arrives at the ball carrier, he's a strong tackler who can deliver a strike. He's a smart, instinctive kid who keeps himself in good position, doesn't lose contain and does a good job of diagnosing plays quickly and using his ability to run to get to the ball carrier.

Wangler - “I have been going to Michigan since I was a little kid, so it was kind of like a dream come true. It was definitely really special to me especially, because I have the opportunity to play with my brother and with Shane (Morris), who is one of my best friends, and play where my dad played. I just think it’s a cool opportunity.”

This completes the 2014 class. Can't wait to see how Team 136 turns out. Another year in the books, but as we all know, recruiting never sleeps. Time to get started on the 2015 class. Thanks to all who support our site day-in and day-out. We are just doing what we love! GO BLUE!


  1. H.S. player rankings can be very misleading, however there isn't much else to go on. Meaning no disrespect to those young men who signed with Michigan, but not only has Hoke's season record dropped every year (11-2, 8-5, 7-6), it also appears that his recruiting ability has also fallen off (Hand, McDowell). I suspect that Hoke is on very thin ice at the moment.

  2. 31st in nation. Nice work.