2018 Recruiting Overview: Defense and Projection Comment Count

Brian February 9th, 2017 at 4:12 PM

Defensive line


Aidan Hutchinson with swaggy G

The Roster. Michigan took a horde of defensive linemen a year ago—7 or 8 depending on where a couple of two-way guys end up. They're set to lose just Mo Hurst after the year; they'll probably take another two or three to prevent gap years like 2017 projects to be.

The Recruits. MI DE Aidan Hutchinson is a Michigan legacy and likely a slam dunk. FL DE Nik Bonitto told 24/7 that Michigan led for him in November; he also said that Florida was his proverbial dream school. They had not offered at that juncture. Lorenz recently reiterated that Michigan was in a good spot.

At DT, Michigan is chasing FL DT Taron Vincent, an IMG kid who transferred in from Biff Poggi's old school. He's got a public pecking order on which Michigan is 5th at best right now, so it'll be one of those recruitments where an unofficial either kicks things off in earnest (Nico Collins) or functionally ends it. New Jersey has a couple of touted kids in Tyler Friday and Dorian Hardy, plus Jayson Ademilola could shake free if ND has another crater of a season.

The Projection. Hutchinson, probably Bonitto, and we'll say Friday because Michigan's gotten the top kid in New Jersey the last four cycles. 



Reese is a cornerstone

The Roster. Michigan took three or four linebackers in last year's class, depending on where Ben Mason ends up, and loses just Mike McCray after the season... probably. Jared Wangler and Noah Furbush are both potential fifth years who haven't contributed much. Depending on how the depth chart shakes out this year there could be just a couple spots or up to four.

The Recruits. GA LB Otis Reese is already in the boat and both Scout and 24/7 have asserted that Michigan is super-high on him at VIPER. Long way to Signing Day and all that; with Solomon already in Ann Arbor and Reese currently not expected to take visits he seems likely to stick.

MI LB Kolin Demens is the younger brother of Kenny. Michigan offered him way back in April but there hasn't been much talk about him since. He's a 3.5* type in early rankings, so Michigan might not be pushing for him all out just yet. Michigan also offered MI LB Ovie Oghoufo; he went off the board to ND a couple weeks later but with ND coming off a 4-8 season and Oghoufo wobbling a little bit publicly he's at least somewhat in play.

Outside the state, Michigan is going to try with VA LB Teradja Mitchell but is currently trailing. OH LB Dallas Gant, the cousin of former Wolverine Allen, is in nearby Toledo and will be heavily pursued.

The Projection. Reese and one ILB type. Demens is the most likely.

Defensive back


Taylor-Stewart has a hyphen, you know

The Roster. Michigan took four and maybe a fifth if they move Brad Hawkins to safety, but they lost that many guys so there has not been a major influx. Everyone's young—no seniors—so Michigan will go relatively light here.

The Recruits. MI CB Kalon Gervin is your annual Cass Tech cornerback prospect. At 5'11' he's a little bigger than they usually are. CA CB Isaac Taylor-Stuart has a hyphen in his name, recently moved up to the #15 prospect in the country on 24/7, and says Harbaugh is his favorite coach. He recently backed off naming Alabama his leader, FWIW. FL Brendan Radley-Hiles is at IMG, has a hyphen, and visited Michigan over the summer.

At safety, TX S BJ Foster is a top ten player in early rankings who Michigan will try to get in with. They haven't had much luck getting guys out of Texas—even Chuck Filiaga was more or less from California—but it's de riguer to mention the five star you've offered in these things. Same deal with FL S Tyreke Johnson, who the nation is after, and FL CB/S Al Blades (yes that Blades). Blades has already committed to and decommitted from his father's alma mater Miami.

GA S Myles Sims is a less highly touted name who Lorenz says Michigan is after as if he is one of those top top guys.

The Projection. Gervin seems likely what with the Cass Tech thing, and then let's flip a hyphen for the second corner spot. Sims seems like the most realistic shot at safety.

Wild-ass guess that should be taken seriously in no way whatsoever

FWIW, the version of this that was published a year ago got 10 of Michigan's eventual 30 signees correct. We're projecting 20 this year.

A confidence level of "high" means approximately a 50/50 shot they end up in the class. "Low" means this is more or less a placeholder. The composite currently has zero fullbacks ranked and they'll probably go get a guy. This is denoted in the chart appropriately.

State Position Player Approx. Stars Confidence Level
NV QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson 4 Moderate
FL RB TJ Pledger 4 Moderate
USA FB Some Guy 3 Low
MI WR Brandon Gray 3 Low
TX WR Al'vonte Woodard 4 Low
FL TE Will Mallory 4 Very High
NY TE Jeremy Ruckert 4.5 Low
NV TE Brevin Jordan 4 Moderate
IN OL Emil Ekiyor 4 Commit
FL OL Daniel Faalele ? Moderate
MI OL Marquan McCall 4 Moderate
FL OL Richard Gouraige 4.5 Low
NJ DT Tyler Friday 4.5 Moderate
MI DE Aidan Hutchinson 4 Very High
FL DE Nik Bonitto 4 High
GA LB Otis Reese 4 Commit
MI LB Kolin Demens 3 Moderate
MI CB Kalon Gervin 4 High
CA CB Isaac Taylor-Stuart 5 Moderate
GA S Myles Sims 3.5 Moderate

This might be less of a blockbuster class since Michigan is not, at first glance, in on a bunch of five star sorts. That should change in 2019 when the state has two guys who will contend for that status.



February 9th, 2017 at 4:21 PM ^

then you think.  OSU had that most NFL draft class last spring and reeled in a crazy high ranking recruiting class a week ago.  Michigan is projected to have a crazy draft class in a couple months.  I think that will pull a lot of kids in.


February 9th, 2017 at 5:54 PM ^

i hope youre right.  and im sure m will do just fine on the trail.  but as much as i hate to mention it, osu recently won some big games including a national title and had like 7 dudes drafted in first 70 picks or whatever.  m will be well represented in upcoming draft and itll def help to replenish the pro ranks with wolverines, osu is just a tough comparison.

osu has also out-recruited m, more often than not, in recent history (though m started moving back in the right direction with harbaugh and should win their share on the field and on the trail)

I Like Burgers

February 10th, 2017 at 12:16 PM ^

Yeah, that's the problem with "Michigan will get in on more 5-stars than you think" mentalitly.  They really aren't in the mix for any at the moment.  On the 2018 247 composite there are 26 5-stars, and 11 of them are already committed.  Two are committed to Ohio State and two are committed to Penn State.  Michigan is only listed as "warm" for one: BJ Foster from Texas a 100% Texas lean.

Meanwhile, Ohio State is listed as warm for 8 of the uncommitted ones, and they are the crystal ball favorite for 3 of those.

Michigan is pretty far behind with top prospects in this class and has a LOT of ground to make up.  And the fact that Penn State and Ohio State are off to very hot starts and targeting a lot of the same guys Michigan would certainly doesn't help.


February 10th, 2017 at 1:30 PM ^

The same thing can be said for the 5-stars in the 2017 class, aside from Donovan Peoples-Jones and Isaiah Wilson, IIRC. It's tough to get in the top group of 5-stars, because a) they're usually not from Michigan and b) there's a lot of competition.

But as for the aforementioned Wilson, he wasn't super high on Georgia early in the process. So obviously there are things that are going to happen between now and February of 2018 to change the dynamics of the class.

(Not to mention the fact that the list of 5-stars will change between now and then.)

I Like Burgers

February 11th, 2017 at 4:25 PM ^

Let me rephase that then, unless Michigan is looking to employ the same tactics Georgia did to land Wilson then its tough to make up a lot of ground when starting from ground zero.

And they were in on both Wilson and DPJ at this point last year.  They aren't in on anyone of that caliber at the moment.

Is landing some 5-stars possible?  Sure.  Is it likely?  No.  To chase 5-stars you need a few irons in the fire because not all of them are going to pan out, but its not even apparent where the fire is at the moment.


February 9th, 2017 at 4:26 PM ^

I don't see any way Michigan only takes 8 kids on defense this cycle. The DL and CB class is particuarly loaded. I look for 10-12 kids on that side of the ball. This class will go over 20 because Harbaugh. Just my opinion.


February 9th, 2017 at 5:20 PM ^

No, but Urban Meyer seems to be landing everyone from Ohio...and 3 of the top 10 Ohio players this year are already committed to Michigan State. Michigan already had commitments from Antwuan Johnson and Leonard Taylor but both decommitted and don't seem likely to end up in the class again. Michigan is recruiting much more nationally under Harbaugh, therefore making Ohio less of a priority compared to landings guys from CA, NJ, FL, GA or TX.


February 10th, 2017 at 9:36 AM ^

Sims, Foster, Stuart, Gervin, Hutchinson, Reese, Mitchell, Friday, Bonitto and de from NJ playing for the best defensive coordinator and D-line coach in the country. Who wouldn't want to play for the #1 defense in the country. All of these guys are a real possibility and a few other highly ranked players also. We will have an epic class and for sure on the defensive side of the ball.


February 9th, 2017 at 4:58 PM ^

Is there an explanation for why Michigan isn't at least in contention for more 5 stars this early in the cycle?  It seems like we'd at least appear on their top lists or would have hosted a couple for a visit.  It is pretty difficult to get engaged with a highly ranked player later in the cycle, so I'm surprised there aren't at least a few names out there.  



I Like Burgers

February 10th, 2017 at 11:54 AM ^

Yeah I don't get it either.  They aren't in the mix for any.

Granted, its early in the cycle still and they weren't in the mix for Aubrey Solomon at this point last year either, but in general its tough to make up ground on other schools when you're starting from zero.

That's why I think the projections of a more 4-star heavy class with some 3-star fliers is accurate.  Its just the way things are trending for this class.


February 9th, 2017 at 5:05 PM ^

Also now that I think about it, Ray Guy's parents did us all a disserverice by naming him William Ray Guy.


Think about the "Some Guy" award given every year to the nation's top punter.


It's the award we need.


February 9th, 2017 at 5:10 PM ^

Devontae Dobbs from Belleville, Logan Brown from Grand Rapids are 5 stars atm and then you have Jaren Mangham from Cass Tech who is as about as close to 5 star you can get at .9715. 


So Michigan might actually have 3 5 star prospects in 2019 in state if they grow into what their potential is. Crazy. 


February 9th, 2017 at 5:28 PM ^

Not in on top guys because many are from Texas/Louisiana/Georgia.  Recruiting grounds we haven't done as well in in the past.


If they were from Illinois, New Jersey, Virginia, etc. we'd be in on more.  Midwest recruiting is way down in 2018

Gentleman Squirrels

February 9th, 2017 at 10:13 PM ^

I'm really curious if Eubanks can bulk up to playing weight this year. He was listed at 236 in last year's roster, but if he can get up to 250ish, he could be a pretty great red zone option. Gentry is also in a similar mold, but he probably needs more work with route running and learning the position. All in all, Bunting, Wheatley, Eubanks, Gentry, and McKeon make a pretty imposing TE crew.