So Twitter was abuzz last night about the probably decommit of running back Demetrius Hart. Hart was a big pull for Michigan, despite his status as a heavy Michigan lean for his entire recruiting process. He was a high four-star, near five-star running back that seemed prefect for Michigan's attack. On Hart's potential, MGoBlog writes:
Hart's talent may be too much to keep off the field. He will probably get shuffled in during his true freshman year, become a big part of the rotation as a sophomore, and then have the opportunity to star as a junior and senior. As with Steve Slaton before him, Hart could become a Heisman contender before leaving Rich Rodriguez's program.That's not-so-subtle praise from a source that doesn't joke around with these things. Hart is a wonderful player who seems to fit the mold for Rodriguez's system. Excitement was warranted.
With his decommit, however, I don't think anyone needs to panic. Plainly put, one or two players like Hart come along every year. This is not a Devin Gardner/Terrelle Pryor situation, where you have an incredible and elusive combination of raw talent and amazing physical attributes. The presence of Hart in Michigan's backfield would be a wonderful addition, but not something that will make Michigan a substantially better team.
If the offense merely holds serve next year, Michigan will be fine. Let's not forget that what's holding this team back is its defense. With expected improvements on that side of the ball next year, the loss of Hart will seem like an afterthought. Not to mention that Michigan's stable of running backs was largely injured this year. A healthier crew would probably force Hart into a supporting role at best. And, mark my words, there will be another player like Hart next year that Michigan will have a chance with, though maybe not quite as strong.
Speaking of depth charts and injuries...
Troy Woolfolk. I had a chance to sit down and discuss Michigan's defensive depth chart for next year, and things look practically, well, decent. Woolfolk's return next year could turn this secondary into an average or slightly above average unit. Upon his return, Woolfolk could end up either at free safety or cornerback, but given the depth chart, chances are he'll be a safety. Michigan's secondary would then approximately look like:
|Starter||JT Floyd||Troy Woolfolk||Courtney Avery|
|2nd String||Terrence Talbott||Cullen Christian||Dallas Crawford|
|3rd String||Delonte Hollowell||Ray Vinopal||Greg Brown|
This assumes a few things. First, that Courtney Avery will be in the starting lineup next year. He's shown marked improvement this year and looks poised to become a decent-to-good Big Ten cornerback. Unless we see drastic improvement from one of the other freshmen corners over the offseason, I think Avery is solidifying himself as the starter opposite Floyd.
This also assumes that Vinopal doesn't show significant improvement. I'm actually pretty high on Vinopal, despite the fact that he's a tiny freshman. I think he's got a lot more speed than people realize and appears to have a good nose for the ball. But given the depth chart as it is, I feel like Woolfolk would be better used as a safety, adding more depth to that position. Also, it seems like Christian will move to the free safety position with the influx of cornerbacks in the 2011 recruiting class, his inability to see the field, and his size making him look more like a safety than corner.
But when Michigan's recruiting class is finally complete and we approach next season, we'll all know more about this. Regardless, your starters next year in the secondary project to be a redshirt junior, fifth year senior, and true sophomore with playing experience. It's still a wildly young secondary, but it's getting to the point where the starters have some experience and the backups are either talented or have experience of their own, unlike this year.
Starting next week, I should be back to a regular posting schedule. I may take a peek back at the Ohio State game and see what we can glean. Plus we'll know our bowl opponent that we can discuss.