February 17, 2017 by Mary
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February 17, 2017 by Lou Glazer
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The Grand Rapids Business Journal recently published an op-ed and comment that lays out the two most likely reasons for more demand by employers for skilled trades workers in manufacturing and construction than there are qualified applicants for those jobs. Which of the two explanations is accurate has profound implications for public policy, particularly for K-12 education.
The op-ed is written by Brad Laackman owner of Honor Construction in Grand Rapids. He makes the case for the position that we hear often from employers and their political allies that the prime cause for today’s youth not going into the skilled trades is that schools are organized to push all kids to get a four year degree. Both in messaging––that you can’t do well economically without a four year degree–– and in curriculum––college prep rigorous academics for all.
The comment focuses on low pay as the prime cause of the shortage of skills tradesmen. The commenter writes:
Skilled trades at a journeyman or master level require the equivalent or more education, training, and skill of a bachelor’s or master’s degree, … Regardless of this, pay has decreased for trades over the past decade and trades are not competitive in the job market with low wages; therefore, the shortage and lack of talent or qualified construction workers and skilled trades will continue for years to come. Unless, the construction industry (particularly in West Michigan) raises wages dramatically to be competitive! Not just competitive with other trades, but other career paths that pay more and require less effort and skill.
Seems to me the basic question we should be asking is “is there a market failure that the laws of supply and demand all of a sudden don’t work in labor markets or is it employers not willing, for whatever reason, to raise wages?”
As we explored in a 2012 post, lots of economists, from the left and right, are skeptical of the skills shortage claims because they believe price (in this case wages) are what clears markets; brings supply and demand into balance. They observe that in many of the occupations where the contention is that demand is way stronger than supply, wages are either not going up or going up slowly.
The belief is employers are doing what is called rent seeking: trying to use their political power to get government to push kids into jobs with wages below what the market demands rather than raising wages.
Where we have ended up at Michigan Future is a belief that government should be occupation neutral. That K-12 education should be about expanding opportunities––not narrowing them––for all students. That the goal should be for all students to graduate from high school with all options on the table––pursuing a four year degree, going to community college or an occupational training program, going to work or the military or doing community services. That the choice should be the high school graduate’s, not some adult deciding that some kids have what it takes to succeed in college and others don’t have the ability to succeed in college so should be in vocational training rather than taking a rigorous academic curriculum.
Part of expanding opportunities is also geographic. That student’s K-12 education should not be organized to meet the labor market demands of employers in the community where the student is growing up. That we should want to give all Michigan students what most affluent parents are giving their children: the ability to pursue their dreams anyplace on the planet. We need to be clear that employers are NOT the customers of pre K-16 education.
As readers of this blog know, we believe that means a K-12 education designed––both curriculum and pedagogy––to build the 6Cs––communication, collaboration, content, critical thinking, creativity and confidence––in all students. To us these are the foundation skills needed for successful forty year careers no matter what path one chooses to take after high school.
The best way to build the 6Cs is through project based learning. Done right the projects can and should be designed so all students learn about the wide variety of jobs––those that can be done without post secondary training; those that require an associates degree; and those that require a bachelors degree or more. This career exploration, where all students learn about all job possibilities, should also include an exploration of compensation and security over a forty year career and how automation might effect each job. So that high school graduates can make more informed decisions on what path they want to pursue after high school.
The post Are low wages causing the skilled trades shortages? appeared first on Michigan Future Inc..
February 15, 2017 by Patrick Cooney
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In my last post I analyzed an important data set recently released by economist Raj Chetty and colleagues, that measures every college’s contribution to economic mobility in America. I looked at the percentage of the poorest students in each cohort at Michigan colleges who, by their early thirties, were in the top 40% of earners.
The results were fairly disappointing because the Michigan institutions that had the greatest impact on the mobility of their poorest students were selective institutions that enrolled very few low-income students. At U of M and MSU, over 60% of the poorest students who enroll make it to the top 40%, but less than 5% of each cohort at those schools come from the bottom income quintile.
A better metric to evaluate which colleges are true engines of economic mobility, therefore, might be what the New York Times called a college’s mobility rate. This metric takes the percent of students enrolled in a college cohort from the bottom two quintiles, and then multiplies that number by the percent of these students that end up in the top 40% as adults. This measure therefore takes into account both an institution’s commitment to access and success for non-affluent students. You can’t get a high number on this metric unless you both enroll a high number of students from the bottom two quintiles, and then get a high proportion of those students into the top 40% of wage earners as adults.
On this metric, it’s clear Michigan’s higher education system has some room for improvement. The Times reported out on the institutions with the best mobility rates in the country. At The City College of New York, for example, 60% of each cohort was drawn from the bottom 40%, and 63% of those students end up in the top 40% as adults, for a mobility rate of 38%. Other colleges with the best mobility rates in the country are in the mid 30s.
No higher education institution in Michigan is even close to hitting that metric. While 70% of students in the bottom two income quintiles that enroll at the University of Michigan make it to the top 40% by their early 30s, only 8% of each class at U of M is drawn from the bottom two quintiles, leaving U of M with a mobility rate of just 6%. Michigan State’s mobility rate is at just 7%, with 11% of each class coming from the bottom two income quintiles, and 60% of those students making it to the top 40% as adults. At Wayne State University, 27% of each class is drawn from the bottom 40%, but just 41% make it to the top two quintiles as adults, for a mobility rate of 11%.
Below I’ve listed all of the institutions that move at least 100 bottom 40% kids from each cohort into the top 40% as adults. As you can see, however, all of these schools have low mobility rates. Schools like Michigan State and the University of Michigan have a low mobility rate because they don’t enroll enough non-affluent students (though these numbers reflect students who enrolled in college in the late 90s, and both schools have made recent efforts to increase the number of low-income students they enroll). Community colleges and Wayne State University enroll higher proportions of non-affluent students, but have low rates of moving those students to the top 40% of earners as adults. As I mentioned in my last post, my guess is that this is because these institutions have low completion rates, so many students that attend don’t receive the economic benefits that come with earning a college degree.
As the data from the national leaders demonstrates, to truly serve as an engine of economic mobility colleges need to enroll a high proportion of non-affluent students, and then ensure a high proportion of those students leave with a degree. At the moment, we don’t have any colleges in Michigan that are doing both of these things well. Yet in an economy in which the returns to a college degree continue to increase, and too many students are left out, doing both of these things well may be our central challenge.
February 14, 2017 by Kim Trent
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When called upon to write about Michigan policymakers’ approach to growing the state’s economy, it’s hard to not lapse into using clichés. Some that come to mind are:
- “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
- “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
- Or more colloquially, “They don’t believe fat meat is greasy.”
Despite the dismal failure that is post-tax cut Kansas, some Michigan lawmakers are committed to mimicking that state’s steadfast fidelity to tax cuts as the one and only path to prosperity. It seems a bizarre choice given the undeniably sluggish Kansas economic indicators that were outlined in a recent blog by my colleague Lou Glazer. Instead of the exponential economic growth that Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback promised that the tax cuts the state adopted when he took office in 2011 would create, the state has had to cut funding for schools and critical public services and drain money from its rainy day fund for the privilege of experiencing slower private job growth and lower private industry wages than surrounding states. No economist in his or her right mind would call that a success.
Meanwhile, some Michigan lawmakers want to take a page out of Kansas’ tattered book with a tax cut that would completely eliminate the state’s income tax, which currently funds 69% of Michigan’s general fund budget and 22% of the state’s school aid fund. It’s not as if Michigan lawmakers haven’t tried to use tax cuts to leverage growth before. Some would say that when it comes to poorly-conceived tax cuts, Michigan was Kansas before Kansas was Kansas.
Since 2000, Michigan’s effective tax rate has dropped 25 percent. This number is music to the ears of some supply siders, but their songbook is full of off-key notes. For example, despite the fact that the state’s auto industry is now firing on all engines, Michigan ranks 33rd in per capita income, down from 16th place in 2000. And while Michigan’s unemployment rate is much lower than the double digit statistics of the Great Recession, it is still higher than the national average.
While some politicians have promised that tax cuts would jump start jobs in Kansas and Michigan, neither workers nor businesses are flocking to either state. Why? Turns out people actually enjoy things like quality K-12 schools, smooth roads and affordable public universities. Few would deny that all of these quality of life indicators have declined as Michigan policymakers’ tax cut obsession has increased.
Education Week’s 2016 Quality Counts state report card gives Michigan a “D” score for K-12 educational attainment. College tuition in Michigan, once significantly subsidized by a state government that recognized the public good of having an educated work force, is now shouldered overwhelmingly by Michigan families, as detailed by my colleague Patrick Cooney in a recent blog . In 1985, Michigan public universities received about 60 percent of their operating budgets from state appropriations. Today, the state provides about 20 percent of funding for public universities, with about 70 percent coming from student tuition. And if I have to convince you that Michigan’s roads are terrible, you clearly haven’t been around here very long.
While Kansas has offered us a compelling example of how not to stimulate an economy, states like California and Minnesota have invested more public dollars into strategic priorities and have enjoyed robust economic growth. It’s simple, states who invest in public goods like boosting educational outcomes and creating cities that are magnets for talented people have stronger workforces, higher per capita income and a better quality of life. Those that don’t, well, don’t. It reminds me of another cliché: “You get what you pay for.”
Helping nonviolent offenders avoid prison will lift Michigan communities. A program from Seattle offers a model.
February 10, 2017 by Sarah Szurpicki
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I’ve posted before about why we should try to reduce the number of Michiganders who end up in jail when an appropriate alternative can be found. The costs of imprisonment for the state, the unequal application of our justice system by race, high rates of recidivism, and the long-term effects on the imprisoned—difficulties finding employment, housing, etc. upon release, when “serving your time” is supposed to be concluded—are all good reasons to keep looking for models that help people stay out of prison.
A Diversion Model from Seattle
In Seattle, the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program gives police officers more options to address criminal activity. LEAD empowers police to send nonviolent, repeat offenders–especially those whose crimes are usually related to drug or alcohol addiction–to social services rather than jail. The social service worker, at the hub of a network of offerings, arranges drug treatment, housing, or other services. Ultimately the offenders should be less likely to commit future criminal activity if the underlying causes are addressed.
Similar to the Florida program targeted at youth that I featured previously, LEAD allows people to avoid criminal charges and the naturally oppositional system of the courts. Instead they are paired with people who can help them. Unlike other diversion programs, you are not automatically expelled from LEAD if you use or commit a crime following enrollment.
Evaluation Shows Significant Positive Results
A University of Washington study (you can review the evaluation here) shows significantly lower rates of recidivism for LEAD participants than a control group: the LEAD participants were 58% less likely to be arrested again. The LEAD group was also much less likely to commit a felony crime. And the LEAD participants experienced significant improvements in other outcomes, including, for instance, being twice as likely to be sheltered during the study follow-up. Finally, the evaluation shows that the monthly costs to the county for the program are, in many cases, offset by the savings acquired through lower utilization of the courts, jail and prison time, and other elements of the criminal justice system.
Santa Fe followed the lead of Seattle and began a LEAD program in 2014. District Attorney Angela Pacheco told the Wall Street Journal article that local officers, “didn’t take a whole lot of convincing. They were sick and tired of arresting the same people.”
For Michigan to become a high prosperity state again, we must stop permanently cutting off job prospects and support for nonviolent offenders, especially when their crimes are related to drug and alcohol addiction. There are models out there to help people get their lives back on track. Let’s learn from them.
February 8, 2017 by Lou Glazer
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In a previous post I wrote about US Senator Ben Sasse’s (Republican from Nebraska) views on manufacturing jobs not coming back no matter what pressure President Trump puts on companies not to move jobs overseas or to whatever barriers we erect to trade because of automation. We recommended––and do so again––that you watch from about the 32 minute mark a presentation the Senator did for the Foreign Policy Initiative where he talks about the changes in the economy that are coming.
In this post I want to focus on his comments about how work is going to change, once again largely because of automation. Sasse explains in that presentation:
When hunter-gatherers became settled agrarian farmers that was pretty disruptive we didn’t have alphabets then so we don’t have a lot of record for what that looked like for the disruption for people. But the only analog we have for the moment in the transformation of work for this moment is the 50-75 year period that was industrialization.
And it was remarkably unsettling for people to go from almost everyone inheriting the farming job of your mom and dad and grandparents for generations to now migrate across the landscape and go to a city and have to get a totally different kind of job in a big tool economy. And as disruptive as that was – and it was, I mean it spawned progressivism in American politics that transformed both the Democratic and Republican parties under Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. It was big and disruptive. But once you got a new job? You tended to still have that job until death or retirement. What we’re going to have now is everybody losing their job every 3-5 years for the rest of their existence. We’ve never had 40 and 45 and 50 and 55 year-olds disintermediated out of a job and have to get a new job at age 55. By and large if you lose your job now at age 55 you never get employed again.
In the future that’s not going to work because it’s going to be all of us. And that’s hugely – there’s tons of human turmoil. We can talk about Charles Murray and we can talk about Robert Putnam, we can talk about J.D. Vance’s new best-selling book on the shrinking of all those mediating institutions, but we’re not talking about the underpinning of all of that, which is the transformation of the economy and the nature of work from stable, life-long jobs to unstable, occasional, part-time, flex jobs where everyone’s going to have to become a life-long learner. (Emphasis added.)
So in Sasse’s view––and he is not alone––we are not only going to see a big change in the kind of jobs and occupations that the economy of today and tomorrow will offer, but in the nature of work. So jobs increasingly will go from goods producing (manufacturing, construction, farming, mining, etc.) to service providing. And jobs will go from stable and life-long––and I would add primarily full time with benefits for an employer––to unstable, occasional, part-time, flex jobs––and I would add far more working for yourself where you are responsible for benefits rather than working for an employer––where everyone’s going to have to become a life-long learner. In addition to “everybody losing their job every 3-5 years for the rest of their existence”.
Talk about a radical transformation! My instinct is the obsolescence of jobs and occupations will not be as quick as every 3-5 years. But it’s clear jobs, occupations, and industries are going to continue to be less stable everyday going forward. And my instinct is that more of us than Sasse predicts for quite a while will be employed in full time jobs for an employer rather than in the gig economy. But clearly more and more of us––whether we want to or not–-or going to have to work in the “unstable, occasional, part-time, flex jobs” he describes.
Sasse’s argument is that this change in the work humans will do in the future and the way work will be organized are being driven by forces stronger than policy. That government doesn’t have the power to stop these changes. That, of course, is a belief we share at Michigan Future. That globalization, and particularly smarter and smarter machines are mega forces that––no matter what our politics are––will continuously reshape the economy and work.
Sasse concludes with “And we’re not wrestling with any of those questions and neither political party has an answer.” Exactly! What we desperately need is for both parties to acknowledge that Sasse is basically right. That there is no way back to the prosperous American economy of the 20th Century. And to get to work on ideas on how we have a prosperous economy––with a broad middle class––in the context of the new realities. Where good paying jobs are going to be predominantly knowledge-based and jobs and occupations are going to be less and less stable. Where as we describe it career success is going to be far more like rock climbing than ladder climbing.
Yes this is really scary. All of us would choose the old, more stable economy than the one Sasse describes. But Sasse is right its not a choice we have available to us. Both trying to make the old economy work again and leaving it up to each of us to fend for ourselves in this radical transformation are almost certainly a recipe for most of us getting poorer. What we need is politicians from across the political spectrum advancing ideas as big and disruptive as those that in Sasse’s words “spawned progressivism in American politics that transformed both the Democratic and Republican parties under Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson”. That policy response by both parties was essential to helping Americans thrive in the transition from an agrarian to an industrial economy. We need the same kind of bold policy transformation to help us thrive in the transition from an industrial to a knowledge economy.
February 7, 2017 by Patrick Cooney
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I’m generally not a fan of measuring a college’s value by the incomes of their graduates. If a high proportion of a school’s alumni enter a lower-paid field like social work, I don’t think this should count against the college. In addition, simply looking at salary data ignores the significant non-pecuniary benefits of getting a college degree.
That said, a set of data on earnings by college released last month from economist Raj Chetty and others – who’ve published a series of recent studies documenting mobility and opportunity in America – is worth paying attention to. Their data is interesting because using anonymous tax records they were able to track a college’s impact not just on earnings, but on mobility. They’re able to measure whether or not a student who grew up in the bottom income quintile and attended a particular college was able to move up to the middle-class as adults.
In a summary of the research for the New York Times, David Leonhardt charted the colleges across the country that best achieve this goal of upward mobility, documenting the percentage of students who enter each college from families in the bottom income quintile (a household income of below $25,000), but ended up in the top three-fifths of earners by the their early thirties. For a school to be considered, at least 10% of each class needed to be from the lowest income quintile (a sign of commitment to broad access), and they needed to enroll at least 500 students in each cohort (to show they were doing this work at scale). It should be noted that the data sets include students who went to a particular college for the bulk of their college career, even if they did not graduate from that school.
This is a wonderful analysis because it measures a college’s ability to deliver on what should be one of its core missions – to serve as an engine of mobility for low-income students. So using the publicly posted datasets for every college in the country, I ran a similar analysis for Michigan colleges, to see how our institutions are doing in providing economic opportunity for all Michiganders.
The first thing to note is that Leonhardt’s analysis is impossible in Michigan because our four-year colleges don’t enroll enough students from the bottom income quintile. Only three four-year colleges in Michigan drew more than 10% of their students from the bottom income quintile: Wayne State, U of D Mercy, and Olivet College (the data looks at students that entered college in the late 90s).
My analysis also differs from Leonhardt’s in that I analyzed the percentage of students at a college who were able to move from the bottom income quintile to the top two, rather than top three income quintiles. The reason for this is that those in the third quintile actually aren’t making very much money. An individual in the third income quintile could be making as low as $18,500 a year – not what any college would consider a success. The minimum income for someone in the fourth quintile, on the other hand, is closer to $35,000, a better measure of economic security.
With these caveats in mind, below is a chart that shows the percentage of bottom quintile students that end up in the top 40% of earners by their early thirties for colleges in Michigan. I’ve listed the top 20, but be sure to note that those most successful on this metric enroll relatively few bottom quintile students: 4% at Kettering, 3% at U of M, 4% at Michigan State. The column on the far right shows the average number of students in each cohort at the college that make the jump from the bottom quintile to making a decent salary as adults.
Seen through this lens, a couple things become clear. The first is that there are a fair number of schools in Michigan in which students from the bottom quintile who attend are more likely than not to be in the top 40% of earners by their early 30s. Many students in Michigan are indeed using postsecondary education as an engine of economic mobility.
On the other hand, we’re not doing nearly as well as we should be. At almost every college, including prestigious schools like U of M and MSU, a significant chunk of students that enroll don’t make it to the top 40%. For these students, college did not provide them a ticket to economic security. The key thing to remember here is that this data encompasses all students that attended the university, both those that graduated and those that didn’t. I’d be willing to bet that the vast majority of students that failed to earn an annual salary of at least $35,000 by their early 30s were those that did not end up with a degree. The median salary for BA holders in 2015 was $51,000.
This finding argues for more transparency from colleges on the performance of their low-income students. We already have publicly available data on the graduation rates for minority groups, but we don’t have the same data by income. It’s entirely possible that while U of M’s graduation rate is 90% for the entire student body, the graduation rate for bottom quintile kids is far lower, with the kids that graduate earning solid footing in the middle class, and the kids that don’t left to struggle without a degree.
The other clear finding is that we need to continue to broaden access to our most selective colleges and universities for our poorest families. The problem of access is multifaceted, and encapsulates the need for quality k-12 preparation and college counseling, which will enable more low-income students to qualify for top tier schools, and then apply and matriculate to them, rather than undermatching. But our state’s highly selective colleges also have a role to play, perhaps by actively recruiting low-income students, relaxing SAT/ACT requirements in favor of good high school grades (which are shown to be predictive of college success), and ensuring low-income students are afforded the financial resources needed for them to be successful. Both U of M and MSU have made efforts in these directions over the past few years, but we need to broaden and accelerate these efforts.
In my next post I’ll analyze another metric the Times used in their analysis, which they call the “mobility rate.” Once again, we’ll see that Michigan’s postsecondary institutions have a lot of room for improvement.
The post Are Michigan colleges serving as engines of economic mobility? appeared first on Michigan Future Inc..
February 3, 2017 by Kim Trent
Filed under Uncategorized
We at Michigan Future believe that if Michigan wants to be competitive in the 21st Century knowledge-based economy, our state’s leaders need to support policies that boost the number of Michiganders who hold four-year degrees.
As my colleague Patrick Cooney pointed out in a recent blog, declining state support for public universities has led to spiraling tuition costs. And universities like Wayne State have still not recovered from a massive 15% state cut to higher education in 2011.
Education stakeholders are seeking creative ways to make college more affordable. One interesting approach is Raise.me, a micro-scholarship program that rewards and reinforces student actions and habits that will lead to college success with small scholarships. Through Raise.me, students can earn money for earning an “A” in a class; signing up for an accelerated course; playing a sport or running for an office in student government.
According to a 2016 New York Times article , Raise.me’s creators hope that the program will arm low-income students with both stronger college applications and money to pay for college. According to Raise.me’s website, the program is designed to boost learning outcomes and student motivation by:
• Reinforcing positive behavior
• Shortening feedback loop for students
• Promoting clear and achievable goals
• Rewarding inputs, not just outputs
• Building a college-going culture
About 200 colleges and universities – including the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University- are Raise.me institutional partners. The amount of each micro-scholarship varies by institution, but some participants have leveraged the opportunity in a major way. According to Raise.me, the average annual college scholarship earned through the program is $5,000.
This is not to say that incentives like those offered by Raise.me don’t have detractors. In a Huffington Post blog, Steve Nelson – head of the Calhoun School in Manhattan – expressed skepticism about the program’s lack of financial transparency. Nelson and other critics of monetary rewards for positive academic habits worry that they could kill students’ intrinsic motivation to succeed. Others believe that monetary rewards are simply ineffective. In his book Helping Children Succeed, author Paul Tough describes Harvard economist Roland Fryer’s research about cash incentives for students. Students who were given cash incentives to read books showed almost no improvement in reading test scores.
But for students who are already motivated to succeed but lack the resources to pay for college, Raise.me can be a real boon. For example, according to CNN, recent high school graduate Abby Saxastar leveraged her strong volunteer service record to raise $80,000 through Raise.me, enough to cover her tuition at a private college in central Florida.
Raise.me is an interesting concept, and one that may help students prepare and pay for college. But ultimately, Michigan’s leaders need to take affordability off the table as a barrier to college access by reinvesting in our state’s public universities.
The post Program helps students pay for college by building good habits appeared first on Michigan Future Inc..
February 1, 2017 by Nick Bodanyi
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An inspiring story for Michigan fans.
On a great day for Michigan football, this is one of the best stories of all: Michigan has added 6’3”, 230-pound defensive end Ryan Veingrad out of Boca Raton, Florida as a preferred walk-on - just two years after Ryan was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Blessed to say I've signed to The University of Michigan! Go Blue〽️ pic.twitter.com/TpwWX321J1— ryan veingrad (@RVeingrad) February 1, 2017
Veingrad was diagnosed two years ago after he discovered lumps on his neck. He underwent two rounds of chemotherapy and lost 35 pounds in the process, but somehow made it back onto the field during the 2015 season, less than one year after being diagnosed - inspiring his high school teammates with his ability to battle cancer.
“It showed me not to take things for granted, and to appreciate everything I have,” he said to WPTV.
Now that Ryan is fully recovered, he can focus on moving forward as a U-M student and getting better as a player. He visited Michigan’s campus last week and came away impressed with the opportunity to play football here.
"It was awesome," Veingrad told Wolverine247 of his visit. "Ann Arbor is a great place. The facilities I saw were all top of the line and the coaches made me feel at home."
And we’re certainly happy to have him here.
February 1, 2017 by Nick Bodanyi
Filed under Uncategorized
Well, that was awesome.
Additions: Dylan McCaffrey
Exactly what Michigan needed and wanted at this position. Dylan committed early, helped the team get a massive wide receiver haul, and rather than providing drama the borderline five-star prospect went back to work and focused on getting better and helping the team. If Michigan found a way to have this again in 2018 somehow, count your lucky stars.
Running backs: B-
Additions: O’Maury Samuels, Kurt Taylor
It’s hard to be too disappointed when the conveyer belt churns out two more future play-makers, but Michigan’s class also featured A.J. Dillon for a long time and flirted with Najee Harris to no avail. But they didn’t really need to hit a home run here, with a deep and versatile crew already in town.
Samuels and Taylor both add a little more to that puzzle. Samuels is an exciting athlete with the kind of footwork and change of direction to get him on to SportsCenter one day. And Kurt Taylor is the complete package of quickness, refusing to go down, pass protection and receiving skills.
Wide receivers: A++
Additions: Donovan Peoples-Jones, Nico Collins, Tarik Black, Oliver Martin, Brad Hawkins, Jack Young, Evan Latham, Jake McCurry
Take the roof off for these guys, geez. I think we’re going to look back and remember this class for a long, long, long time. Fab Five, maybe?
You really can’t go wrong with hyping up any of these guys. DPJ is a very rare talent athletically, and he’s showed some quick learning at shoring up the other aspects of the game. Nico Collins and Tarik Black are both huge, physically punishing, athletic freaks.
Oliver Martin and Brad Hawkins are stellar as well - Martin specializes in getting separation with his smooth route-running and Hawkins can go up and get anything thrown in his area.
Tight ends: C+
Additions: Chris Hanlon
With a half-dozen Harbaugh tight ends filtering through the program already, Michigan didn’t need to devote a scholarship to the position in 2017. And they didn’t, but still managed to add a talented prospect in Chris Hanlon. Expect the 2018 class to feature a few more big guys, though, as they try to flood the NFL with more Rob Gronkowskis.
Additions: Ben Mason, Tyler Plocki
This is some beautiful timing here, considering that Michigan is just one year away from having to replace Khalid Hill and Henry Poggi, once again overhauling the fullback position and turning it over to unproven talent.
That worked out wonderfully last time, as Sione Houma and Joe Kerridge were hardly missed in lieu of Hill and Poggi. For it to work again, Ben Mason and likely a few walk-ons will have to take advantage of a full year of weight-lifting and conditioning.
Offensive linemen: B
Additions: Chuck Filiaga, Cesar Ruiz, JaRaymond Hall, Andrew Stueber, Joel Honigford, Jess Speight
To be honest, the task was pretty close to impossible here: I think we all hoped this 2017 class would ‘save’ Michigan’s offensive line and give us a feeling that the problems they’ve had at that position for the last 10-15 years would be gone.
In truth, these guys may still do that, but it’s unlikely to come in 2017. Filiaga and Ruiz are definitely potential contributors as true freshmen, and JaRaymond Hall frankly doesn’t get enough love. Andrew Stueber is a guy the coaches have raved about and seems to be a terrific worker during the off-season, so there’s optimism there as well.
Is it a home run? No. No, it’s not, but it’s still a very good building block for the future.
Defensive linemen: A+
Additions: Aubrey Solomon, James Hudson, Deron Irving-Bey, Corey Malone-Hatcher, Luiji Vilain, Phillip Paea, Donovan Jeter, Kwity Paye, Sean Fitzgerald, Ryan Veingrad
Let’s start by breaking this up into tackles and ends, shall we? Aubrey Solomon, James Hudson, Deron Irving-Bey, Phillip Paea, and Donovan Jeter are all tackles, and it’s a huge group (literally) that made it to campus just in the nick of time. They’ll provide depth in 2017 and start being important parts of the rotation in ‘18 and beyond.
Corey Malone-Hatcher, Luiji Vilain, and Kwity Paye are defensive ends who should provide solid run defense while increasing this defense’s ability to pass rush without having to blitz. (Of course, Don Brown will do that anyway, so good luck, opposing quarterbacks.)
Additions: Jordan Anthony, Drew Singleton, Josh Ross, Adam Fakih
In the end, Harbaugh couldn’t add Willie Gay to the fold, but this is still a great group of players that boost up the team’s depth and athleticism at a position with plenty of bodies, but also plenty of questions, for 2017.
There aren’t many linebacker groups in the country as polished and athletic as this.
Additions: Jaylen Kelly-Powell, J’Marick Woods, Hunter Reynolds
I’ll be very curious to watch this position over the next few seasons, and these guys in particular. J’Marick Woods doesn’t jump off the page with his speed, but he is deceptively fast and also has great length and good physicality. He’ll be an annoying conundrum for opposing coordinators (and quarterbacks).
Jaylen Kelly-Powell, meanwhile, has a lot of experience covering defenders one-on-one and would be a tough blitzer to handle, so despite looking more like a free safety physically, I wonder if Don Brown will get the most out of him around the line of scrimmage.
Also, Hunter Reynolds is an exciting non-scholly player I’ll make sure to mention a little too often. He’s raw but physically talented.
Additions: Benjamin St-Juste, Ambry Thomas
I really like this duo. Ambry Thomas is an amazing player to watch, and St-Juste is also worth the price of admission for his obvious dedication to his craft and the technique of being a cover corner. I’d be surprised if both these guys didn’t end up being starters at some point.
Special teams: A+
Additions: Brad Robbins
As it turns out, Michigan wasn’t done with adding just Aubrey Solomon and Nico Collins today. Bringing a scholarship punter into the fold (let alone the #1 guy in the country) was a reassuring move for anyone looking at next year’s special teams depth chart; the great Kenny Allen is moving on and Quinn Nordin was the only guy on scholarship. That doesn’t necessarily mean bad things, but it was an unknown. Now, at least, there are numbers at that position in case something goes wrong.