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Updated: Thursday, 07 Feb 2013, 12:46 PM EST
Published : Wednesday, 06 Feb 2013, 5:51 AM EST
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Wednesday was National Signing Day -- the first day a high school senior can sign a binding National Letter of Intent to play college football.
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN RECAP
Michigan's top rusher last season was its quarterback and with Denard Robinson's college career now over, the Wolverines' offense will look a lot different in the future.
Enter running backs Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith, who both signed with Michigan on Wednesday as part of coach Brady Hoke's 27-man recruiting class. Expectations are high for Green -- the nation's top-ranked running back recruit, according to Scout.com -- but the staff is eager to see what Smith can do as well.
"I think with Derrick and De'Veon, you have two very physical runners," Hoke said. "Both of them, though, have a very good instinct, and when I say that, I think they've got good vision and good balance, can break tackles. That's something that we felt we would need."
Green, a Richmond, Va. product, scored over 20 touchdowns as both a junior and a senior in high school. Smith, of Warren, Ohio, ran for 6,750 yards in his high school career.
The Wolverines lose Robinson, and running back Fitzgerald Toussaint is recovering after breaking his left leg in mid-November. That leaves some immediate opportunities for other running backs, although Hoke said that wasn't a big part of his recruiting pitch.
"When you recruit, you can make a mistake telling a guy, `You're going to do this, you're going to do that.' We don't do that," Hoke said. "We obviously educate them on where we're at and what we're trying to do. I think we educate them on how we're going to play and the competition that will always be there if you have a good program."
Green and Smith are both 5-foot-11. They weigh 220 and 218 pounds. Running backs coach Fred Jackson says size is important for the position.
"Watch the national championship game and see how Notre Dame attacked those two big 230-pounders -- and see who got hit," Jackson said. "With big backs, it's going to help us be a better football team."
Jackson also expressed confidence in Toussaint's return after seeing him recently.
"I saw him running around early in the morning -- I was shocked," Jackson said. "I mean, the kid had a broken leg. Ten years ago, that probably wouldn't be the case, but he was running around the other day, and I don't know if they had him cutting, but he was running around. To me, that's got to be tremendous progress."
Scout ranked Michigan the No. 2 recruiting class in the country, behind only rival Ohio State. Alabama was No. 3, one of six Southeastern Conference teams in the top 10 as of Wednesday afternoon.
"This is all competition -- we live our lives in competition," Hoke said. "Yes, these are the kind of classes we would like to have on a year-to-year basis."
The class was made up primarily of Midwesterners, including eight prospects from Michigan and nine from Ohio. Michigan didn't sign anybody from Florida, Texas or California.
"That 350 to 400-mile radius is always going to be important for us. This state is always going to be important for us. The state of Ohio, Chicago -- those are going to be very important areas for us," Hoke said. "We are always going to be in national recruiting because we are a national brand. It changes yearly. We took nine guys out of the state of Ohio. Ohio was pretty good this year when you look at the top-tier talent that was there."
One in-state recruit the Wolverines landed was quarterback Shane Morris of Warren, Mich. Morris missed time during his senior season with mono, but he threw for 19 touchdowns as a junior.
"He's what we were looking for," offensive coordinator Al Borges said. "We wanted a passer-runner -- a kid that could throw the ball first. But we didn't want a guy that was going to be a statue in the pocket either. He possesses enough athleticism I think to get us out of some jams, but he has a good enough arm to make all the throws."
MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY RECAP
Michigan State's recruiting class is relatively small.
Mark Dantonio insisted that's not a bad thing.
"I don't get too concerned about the size of the class as much as the quality of the class," Dantonio said after the Spartans received 18 national letters of intent Wednesday. "A lot of these guys were targeted early on and have remained consistent throughout the process.
"People tested the waters to see how firm they were in their commitments, and they stayed firm."
Michigan State is soft at some key positions because three standouts are skipping their senior seasons for the NFL draft.
Running back Le'Veon Bell, tight end Dion Sims and defensive end William Gholston left voids that became opportunities for others, including some incoming prospects.
The class includes three running backs: Michigan's Gerald Holmes, Pennsylvania's Delton Williams and Wisconsin's R.J. Shelton.
"It's a position that can be played by a freshman," Dantonio said.
"I think all three of these guys physically are very gifted."
The only tight end signed was Dylan Chmura of Waukesha, Wis. Chmura's father, Mark, was a three-time Pro Bowl tight end for the Green Bay Packers from 1993-99.
"There's a need at that position, so he's going to have opportunities," Dantonio said. "He's a confident young man, and he has a great background, with what he's been exposed to at the high school level or the fact that his father played that position at high level."
Chicago's Demetrius Cooper seems to have the best shot to play as a freshman at defensive end.
Michigan State kicker Dan Conroy was a third-year starter last season as a senior, creating an opportunity next season for high touted Michael Geiger from Ohio.
"He'll be a guy that'll compete for the position right off the bat," Dantonio said.
The Spartans don't have glaring needs at linebacker, but that's the position of perhaps their top two recruits -- Ohio's Shane Jones and Michigan's Jon Reschke -- and Dantonio said he'll continue to put the best players on the field.
Damion Terry might test that policy next fall.
The three-year starting quarterback for Cathedral Preparatory School in Erie, Pa., where Williams was a teammate, could be talented enough as a thrower and runner to compete with returning starter Andrew Maxwell.
"Damion has the physical skills to play at this level -- right now," Dantonio said. "Now, the rest of it is up to him and our coaching staff, and obviously he has to fit the situation. A lot of this is timing and opportunity."
Michigan State didn't have much of a chance to sign a large class. Dantonio said he lost just nine players who were seniors, and that may have played a part in recruiting analysts ranking the group in the middle of pack among Big Ten schools.
"The bottom line is if you recruit 25 guys, you've lost a lot of players," Dantonio said. "When you don't lose as many players, that's a good thing when spring ball comes around.
"But I think this is a talented class, top to bottom."
Dantonio was proud to say that none of the recruits wavered in their commitments despite some schools, including some in the Southeastern Conference, trying to lure them away.
"We're going to invest in these guys," he said. "We're going to make their dreams come true."
WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY RECAP
Western Michigan welcomed 17 new signees to the program, with the bulk of the class hailing from Michigan and Illinois. The class broke down rather evenly into nine defensive players and eight offensive players. All five of the signees from the state of Michigan appear in both the Detroit Free Press Fab 50 and Detroit News Blue Chip 60 Lists.
GRAND VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY RECAP
Grand Valley State’s 2013 class consists of 35 total players from Michigan (26), Indiana (4), Illinois (4) and Ohio (1).
The 35 new signees with GVSU :
Ollie Ajami QB 6-1 190 Dearborn, Mich.
Brandon Bean WR 6-3 197 Lathrup Village, Mich./Southfield
Keane Belcher DL 6-2 230 Grand Rapids, Mich./Catholic Central
Chris Calvano LB 6-1 212 Clarkston, Mich.
Dylan Carroll DL 6-4 235 Portland, Mich.
Andrew Clements WR 6-2 185 DeWitt, Mich.
Dan DeLuca OL 6-4 265 Allen Park, Mich.
Josh Dentler OL 6-6 255 Portage, Mich./Northern
Khalil Hill DB 5-10 175 Detroit, Mich./East English Village Prep
Heath Hoogerhyde LB 6-1 215 Caledonia, Mich.
Anthony Jazvac OL 6-4 287 Warren, Mich./Cousino
Nick Keizer TE 6-5 220 Portage, Mich./Northern
Alex Kelly DL 6-1 260 Avon, Ohio
Scott Koenigsknecht TE 6-6 233 Lansing, Mich./Waverly
Thadd Little DB 6-3 195 Homewood, Ill./Homewood-Flossmoor
Jeff Madison LB 6-1 210 Detroit, Mich./Southfield
Ryan Mahoney RB 5-9 180 Cary, Ill./Cary-Grove
Gerald McGee DB 5-9 165 Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Dwenger
Parker McInnis RB 6-0 200 Commerce Twp., Mich./Orchard Lake St. Mary’s
Devin McKissic DB 5-11 175 Detroit, Mich./Renaissance
Cody Moore DL 6-2 280 Fishers, Ind.
Brian Moran TE 6-5 230 Webberville, Mich./Fowlerville
Robbie Peck LB 6-1 205 Fishers, Ind.
Seth Riley DB 6-0 195 Fishers, Ind.
Joel Schipper PK 5-11 185 Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian
Collin Schlosser LB 6-0 215 Ada, Mich./Forest Hills Central
Jaylen Schoenfield DB 6-1 173 Swartz Creek, Mich.
Evan Schriner OL 6-1 255 Northville, Mich.
Kyle Short QB 6-2 180 Rockford, Mich.
Jake Slobin DL 6-1 255 Franklin, Mich./Farmington Hills Harrison
Mike Smith OL 6-4 290 Schaumburg, Ill./Conant
Corey Smykowski DL 6-3 240 Yale, Mich.
Tre Walton WR 5-11 180 Southfield, Mich.
Bart Williams QB 6-5 200 Grand Blanc, Mich.
Chris Wilson OL 6-4 280 Hinsdale, Ill./Central