Eggs in One Basket

One of the most common complaints among Michigan fans early in this year was that Rich Rodriguez put all of his eggs in one basket in terms of recruiting quarterbacks. Once Terrelle Pryor chose Ohio State instead of Michigan, a rough first year was sealed for the Rodriguez era. With the two teams squaring off this week, it’s a good time to talk about the player who caused one of the most heated recruiting battles between the two schools in recent memory.

However, did Rodriguez really put all of his recruiting effort into one player, ignoring other possibilities at the position?

Terrelle Pryor
Pryor was the #1 overall recruit in the class of 2008, and given his production as a true freshman, it’s easy to see why. Analysts said Pryor chose Ohio State over Michigan because being able to redshirt as a freshman (er… or not) and playing in a pro-style offense (er… or not) would be most beneficial to his eventual pro prospects. However, the more likely factor in his picking the Buckeyes was the relationship he developed with DeVier Posey and other OU commits.

Marqueis Gray
Gray was also a top prospect to the recruiting services, and an Army All-American. Gray came from a state (Indiana) that shares a border with Michigan, meaning he wouldn’t have to travel too far to school if he did pick the Wolverines. However, Gray went with Minnesota, and Wolverine fans cried foul about Rodriguez’s lack of effort in recruiting him. Fast forward a couple months, and Gray was unable to get through the NCAA clearinghouse, and was an academic casualty of Minnesota’s highly-ranked class. Of course, Gray will play for the Gophers next year, but next year doesn’t really help the 2008 Michigan team.

BJ Daniels
Daniels hails from Florida, one of Rodriguez’s main recruiting pools. The Wolverines were on him heavily in January of 2008, but suddenly their pursuit of him cooled, though he continued to mention Michigan. Daniels ended up at UCF, and it is rumore that everything may not have been 100% compliant in his recruitment, particularly in regards to his demands. If that was indeed the case, you can’t blame Rodriguez for not doing whatever it took to land him.

Already-committed Recruits
Though there were few available prospects out there by the time Rodriguez was established in Ann Arbor, there were certainly top-flight quarterbacks committed to other schools who might be good fits for the Michigan offense, no? It certainly stands to reason, especially considering the cases of Michael Shaw, Roy Roundtree, and Ricky Barnum, that Rodriguez did at least due diligence in giving a phone call to guys like Darrin Thomas (Oregon) and even Boo Williams (of “I almost beat Ohio State this year” fame).

Justin Feagin
That brings us to the prospect that Rodriguez did land, Justin Feagin. Of course, asking a true freshman to step in at quarterback any time is a difficult situation to put a player in, particularly one so highly thought of as a thrower that the recruiting services ranked him only as a defensive back. However, Feagin was the best Rich could land, and he certainly has worked hard and done everything he could to help Michigan – and you can’t blame the kid for that effort not being enough to save his team.

So, in the end, did Rodriguez pursue only Terrelle Pryor, at the expense of the entire 2008 season? Evidence suggests otherwise, and one must assume that a guy who likes winning as much as Rodriguez does would have a contingency plan in place.

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