As intense as the battles have been between rivals Notre Dame and Michigan on the field, they can be equally as powerful off the field in the world of recruiting. The two winningest programs in major college football history have been involved in some truly epic battles on the gridiron as they have battled for Midwest supremacy. Although both programs endured their fair share of mediocrity over the last decade, each school has seemingly brought a new excitement and level of success with recent coaching changes. In Brady Hokes two years in Ann Arbor he has compiled a record of 19-7 and secured a Sugar Bowl victory in 2011. Brian Kelly has had his share of success also in his 3 years of patrolling the sidelines in South Bend, accumulating 28 wins, while dropping 11 games, including a trip to the BCS National Championship game.
Much like Kelly, the newest coach in Michigan’s storied football program, understands that recruiting the right type of athlete is crucial to sustainable success, and needs to be a national venture, not just one with a Midwest focalization. Hoke realizes how important it is to recruit locally and regionally also, but the crowning jewel of his 2013 class came from Virginia, in the form of running-back Derrick Green. In fact of 7 of the 27 kids that actually signed this year, came from other states not named Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, or Indiana. While that may not seem like a lot, Alabama, who claimed the best recruiting ranking again in 2013, only signed 5 kids outside of their region.
While coming off a year that saw the Wolverines finish 8-5 and a hard-fought 33-28 loss against South Carolina in the Outback Bowl, coach Hoke didn’t allow injuries or a disappointing season to interfere with his plan, or the message he was conveying to potential recruits. He is building the Wolverine program the correct way, with talented individuals who are willing to work hard, and do the right thing. He has taken a hard-line with the recruits and is very honest and upfront, either you are 100% in with his program, or he doesn’t want you. Ending the 2013 recruiting process with the #5 class in the country, Hoke is laying the ground work for future success, and his opponents should take notice that he is a player’s coach, and a lot of kids want to play for him. Hoke has now assembled two consecutive classes in the top 7, and he and his staff should start to see the fruits of their labor on the field starting this year.
Derrick Green – (5* RB Richmond, VA)
A power back with 4.4 speed and at 6’0 215lbs, Green can either run through you, or simply around you.
Hoke loves this kid, and had no problem publicly saying so.
Kyle Bosch – (4* OL Wheaton, IL)
A force to be dealt with, Bosch already possesses a great frame to add additional bulk. A menacing figure that stands at 6’5 and 311 pounds, with an attitude to match.
Shane Morris – (4* QB Warren, MI)
A pro-style quarterback, that will fit Hokes system perfectly. Morris stands at 6’3, so looking over the behemoths Michigan has assembled to protect him, will not be an issue. Shows great awareness, and has the ability to hurt you down field.
Laquon Treadwell – (5* WR Crete, IL) (Ole Miss)
Treadwell would have provided a perfect target for Morris over the next four years. Has very good size at 6’3 195lbs, the receiver from Illinois understands how to use his size to his advantage, and is explosive off the line.
Leon McQuay III – (5* DB Seffner,FL) (USC)
Although the Trojans struggled to keep commits this year, they did manage to land McQuay. One of the best defensive backs in the country, and Hoke would have loved to have him in Ann Arbor.
Jonathan Allen – (5* DT Ashburn, VA) (Alabama)
A good first step and a nasty attitude is nice combination, and both are attributes that Allen possesses. While he may need to add some bulk, that doesn’t stop him from being a disruptive force.
Notre Dame vs. Michigan recruiting battle
Obviously, the Irish and the Wolverines attract the same type of kid, and 2013 was no different. Below is a list of kids who signed with one of the schools but were being recruited and offered by the other -
As you can see with you own eyes, the Irish prevailed in most cases, when it came to both schools recruiting the same kid. That’s not to say that Michigan didn’t win a few important battles, but this year it was coach Kelly and staff that won the head-to-head match-up. There were 20 combined recruits that both Notre Dame and Michigan were interested enough in to offer a scholarship, with the Irish coming out on top in 14 of those.
It’s truly a shame that Michigan and Notre Dame will be ending their rivalry after 2014, as it would have been a lot of fun on both sides to see the recruits go up against each other. While some may feel that Hoke received more credit for his initial season of 12-1 than was warranted, there is no doubt he is a much better fit than the Wolverines prior pick, in Rich Rodriguez. Although the Irish only have two game left against them for the near future, it should be very interesting to watch the Wolverines and Buckeyes do battle for Big10 supremacy over the next few years.
It’s pretty obvious that Hoke and his staff need to have a big effort next year to help erase the disappointment that was the 2012 season, and a victory against the Irish on September 7th, would go a long way in doing just that. We believe that the Irish will still prevail in this game, but as usual, it will come down to the final few minutes. As it stands, Michigan leads the all time series against the Irish, with a record of 23-16-1.