As you might imagine after back to back classes in the high 20s, the 2018 class projects to be small. There are only nine seniors on the roster going into 2017. There are a number of guys who might not be brought back for a fifth year and there will always be losses to injury, the NFL draft and playing time transfers. The rise of early enrollment also creates a class of Derrick Green sorts who can grad transfer after three or three and a half years; there are another few guys who will end up seeing no path to playing time and take that route.
It would still be a surprise to see Michigan crack 20 recruits. 16-20 is a reasonable range.
Thompson-Robinson would be the most dynamic QB Harbaugh has brought in
The Roster. Michigan has Dylan McCaffrey and Brandon Peters in the last two classes. Both are tall, lanky pocket passers ranked just outside the top 100 on the composite. Nonetheless, Michigan will take one because you always take one.
The Recruits. Top target and NV QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson says UCLA is his leader—Jedd Fisch moving to the Bruins doesn't help there—but mom is a Michigan grad and Jim Mora is on the hotseat after a 4-8 year. Various other early targets have fallen by the wayside. Seven of the top ten pro-style QBs in the country are already committed; Michigan isn't involved with any of the remaining unless they pick it back up with IMG QB Arthur Sitkowski.
Instater Theo Day hasn't gotten much attention from Michigan yet, but he could draw more interest if DTR continues to trend towards UCLA. 24/7 bumped him to high four star status recently.
The Projection. 40% Thompson-Robinson, 30% Day, 30% a three star sort nobody's talking about right now.
The Roster. Despite a couple of late misses in the 2017 cycle, Michigan enters this year with a loaded backfield. Karan Higdon and Chris Evans were rotation pieces last year, with Evans emerging into the clear #2, and both will still be around when the 2018 class matriculates. Michigan also has Kingston Davis and Kareem Walker coming off redshirts along with incoming freshmen Kurt Taylor and O'Maury Samuels.
In a class that looks to be small this is a spot where Michigan can skimp. They'll probably grab one. Anything more would be a surprise.
The Recruits. IMG RB TJ Pledger is an all-purpose sort who Michigan has been pursuing heavily. He's originally from California. The other guys 247 lists as targets in their top two categories are 1) a guy from Ohio everyone expects to pick OSU, 2) a guy from Mississippi, next, and 3) a guy from Atlanta who currently seems to favor the Gators.
The Projection. One guy we haven't heard of yet.
St Brown will probably end up at ND, but if they go 4-8 again...
The Roster. Michigan's coming off an epic five-man recruiting class and reportedly likes the three survivors from the 2016 class, so they can swing for the fences here. If they don't hit on a big timer or two they can settle for a couple lower-ranked types and nobody's going to panic.
The Recruits. Big timers on the radar:
- CA WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, who has an older brother at ND.
- TX WR Al'vonte Woodard. Woodard's father was a reserve WR for Gary Moeller in the early 90s.
- CA WR Jalen Hall. Hall is the #1 receiver in the country at this point in the cycle. He's from one of those LA high schools which virtually guarantee the player in question will end up at USC, but Donovan Warren and all that.
- NJ WR Jahan Dotson. From New Jersey.
That's not a long list and nobody on it seems particularly likely to end up at Michigan. There's a dearth of top receiving prospects in the Midwest this year. The composite currently has just two four-star WRs in the traditional Big Ten footprint: a kid out of Ohio who is committed to MSU (for now, anyway) and a low four star in PA. It's a good thing they loaded up this year.
Instate options are limited. The only WR currently on the composite is Southfield's Brandon Gray. At 6'5" he's intriguing. To date he's mostly fielded MSU interest.
The Projection. One or two guys nobody's talking about yet. If Michigan's lucky they'll be Oliver Martin types. If not they'll be three stars.
The Roster. Probably the only spot where need could be considered dire after a taking a pass on the position in 2016. Michigan will definitely take two and probably three. Holding onto Devin Asiasi, who transfer rumors are flying about, is obviously a key inflection point.
The Recruits. You can pencil in FL TE Will Mallory, who is one of those Mallorys. Other options:
- NV TE Brevin Jordan, a teammate of Thompson-Robinson's at Bishop Gorman.
- NY TE Jeremy Ruckert, who looks set to be a Michigan-OSU battle.
- FL TE JUDGE CULPEPPER, who is the law. Also from Tampa, where Frey does work.
- TX TE Mustapha Muhammad. Michigan was after him heavily but Lorenz recently reported that he was leaning towards schools closer to home.
Nobody other than Mallory seems like a slam dunk.
The Projection. Mallory, Ruckert, and an unknown name.
The Roster. Michigan got five in the previous class but wanted up to eight; OL will again be a priority. They have 14 OL now, will lose Mason Cole and Patrick Kugler after the season, and likely want to get up to 16 or 17. Expect another four or five guys.
The Recruits. One of those guys is already committed, IN OL Emil Ekiyor. At 6'3" Ekiyor is an interior OL only, but he's a highly regarded one: top 100 in the composite and the #4 guard in the country. Michigan has three OL recruits who are early four-stars on the composite: guard Marquan McCall, a teammate of JaRaymond Hall, center Tyrone Sampson Jr, and tackle Ryan Hayes. Michigan is the early crystal ball leader for McCall; MSU is the favorite for the other two. A fourth will arrive this fall, with FL OL Antwan Reed transferring back to Muskegon from IMG.
National names include Richard Gouraige and Nicholas Petit-Frere, who are both from the Tampa Bay area that has been a Greg Frey specialty. Oh and this guy:
Hell yes, 6'9" 390 pound Daniel Faalele is worth a flier.
The Projection. Ekiyor, Faalele, one of the Tampa kids, and McCall.