2018 Recruiting Overview: Offense Comment Count

Brian February 6th, 2017 at 12:13 PM

Class size

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.

Running back

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.

Wide receiver


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.

Tight end

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.

Offensive line

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.



February 6th, 2017 at 3:47 PM ^

PSU and OSU are prolly gonna have better classes than us in 2018. Obviously, over performing on the field can change that... 

2018 just feels off so far recruiting wise in terms of interest. Going to have to prove it on the field to attract some names ala USC. 


February 6th, 2017 at 12:28 PM ^

But, bottom line, we need

1. Offensive Tackles (2-3)

2. Tight Ends (2-3)

3. Other Offenive Lineman (2)

4. QB Du Juour (1)

That's already half the class once you add a few WR/RBs. Luckily, we can really concentrate on Offensive line and TE, since we don't nessecarily need a 5* to come in right away anywhere else (and because Harbaugh can get in the door with ANY QB).

It wouldn't surprise me if we take a "Nick Eubanks" approach to RB/WR: Just find a really talented but raw athlete and see if you can't get lucky. 


February 6th, 2017 at 12:29 PM ^

Seems like this is the recruiting cycle where Harbaugh should be reeling in loads of top-tier talent. Not that this last class was shabby, but by now he's had a chance to identify talent in younger kids and start working the reltationship with parents and high school coaches.  

The outlook in this post isn't exactly positive. Doesn't seem like we're in on a lot of talent. Hopefully as we get into summer/fall, more big name players are trending M. 


February 6th, 2017 at 12:42 PM ^

Yeah it's weird with how this last class finished up. Michigan seems to be the leader for a few middling 4 stars but no top 50 types seem that high on Michigan right now. I don't remember what it was like last year at this time.

I Like Burgers

February 6th, 2017 at 1:01 PM ^

I was looking around on 247 the other day at the 2018 class to get a lay of the land, and it might be harder to Michigan to pull in some top flight talent in this class.  There's not as much top shelf talent in their traditional watering holes (MI, OH, NJ), and Penn State has already snapped up quiet a few guys Michigan would normally go after.

Just seems like this class in general is going to be quiet a bit different than the other Harbaugh classes.  Like you said, they don't seem to be in on a lot of talented guys and the talent just isn't there this year in the places they normally get it.

Feels like it'll be a pretty late developing class.


February 6th, 2017 at 1:17 PM ^

Gonna go ahead and project this class to Michigan:

3* QB Theo Day (MI)
4* RB Markese Stepp (IN)
4* TE Brevin Jordan (NV)
4* TE/WR Will Mallory (FL)
4* OT Antwan Reed (MI)
4* OT Nicholas Petit-Frere (FL)
2* OT Daniel Faalele (FL)
4* OG Emil Eyikor (IN)

4* DE Aidan Hutchinson (MI)
4* DE Nick Bonitto (FL)
4* DT Michael Thompson (MO)
4* DT Tyler Friday (NJ)
3* LB Kolin Demens (MI)
4* CB Kalon Gervin (MI)
4* S Otis Reese (GA)


February 6th, 2017 at 2:23 PM ^

Did you forget Marquan McCall in your projection, or have you decided JH should just stop pursuing him to concentrate on Fla guys instead?

Also, to the best of my knowledge Michigan has yet to sign a player from Bishop Gorman? Yet you project perhaps the #1 TE in the class to M despite this?

I think other than that you might have a pretty good feel for our '18 board... I'm still processing the '17 haul. Color me impressed!



February 6th, 2017 at 5:06 PM ^

I feel McCall is just as likely to end up at MSU or Tennessee as is Michigan. Definitely wouldn't be surprised if the landed him, but I just didn't include him because I don't think they get him in the end.

As for Brevin Jordan, wanted a bit of a wildcard guess in there, so I picked a top TE they have a shot at. Didn't want to be too conservative on the projections.


February 6th, 2017 at 5:14 PM ^

Add in DTR and Mccall and a couple others and thats a great class. As of right know I see the #2 DT and #3 and #4 guards. Hutchinson and Reese will be rising. Jordan and DTR are package deal and gives us the #1 TE and #4 DT QB. Stepp is commited to ND, but I guess could flip but we will get a top back this cycle as I feel we only take one or two. Add a WR,Lb and safety and this is a great and realistic class. Some of the guys on this list will be 5*'s also at the end. I really don't get the negativity, but I for one am bullish on some Jim Harbaugh and a great 2018 class.

Mr. Yost

February 6th, 2017 at 7:23 PM ^



  1. QB: Dorian Thompson-Robinson
  2. RB: Jaelin Gill
  3. FB: Daniel Bolden
  4. WR: Brandon Gray
  5. WR: Cam Taylor
  6. TE: Brevin Jordan
  7. TE: Will Mallory
  8. OL: Marquan McCall
  9. OL: Antwan Reed
  10. OL: Daniel Faalele
  11. OL: Emil Ekiyor
  12. DE: Tyreke Smith
  13. DE: Aidan Hutchinson
  14. DT: Tyler Friday
  15. DT: Tommy Togiai
  16. LB: Kolin Demens
  17. LB: Otis Reese
  18. CB: Houston Griffith
  19. DB: Kalon Gervin
  20. S: DeAndre Square

....who the heck knows. I just looked at 247 like everyone else.


February 6th, 2017 at 9:32 PM ^

Using the class calculator, as of today, that class would finish 14th in the 2017 class rankings according to 247.


Another safety is really needed since Reese projects to Sam. So I added in Myles Sims and that moved the class up to 10th. With only 16 guys.


However, the rankings are very top heavy in 2017, so the above would be 17th and 15h in 2016, respectively.

Brian Griese

February 6th, 2017 at 12:53 PM ^

some of the top 2018 recruits from a geographic perspective the other day. The article hits on it a little, but there's no real slam dunks for Michigan next year. It's weak in-state, Ohio continues to be a black hole, penn state is off to a great start and most of the top QB's are off the board. I'm sure Harbaugh will do fine, but I do not think this class will have 20 kids where 16 are four stars and 2 are five stars.


February 7th, 2017 at 8:46 AM ^

McCall, Hutchinson, Garvon, Reed will all be heavily sought after and probably will all ascend. Those four are 20% of the class and I feel all will choose Michigan. In the end those four will average higher than 2017 top four IMO. I can think of at least three or four other top 100 guys trending Michigan. I think we have more of a solid home base then most realize and I think we are in great shape to have a stellar class.


February 6th, 2017 at 12:59 PM ^

lots of underclass men on the field and the Rome trip should enhance the program's appeal to elite guys but the list of likely signees is below this year's class.

Change in recruiting pluses or minuses:
Producer of NFL draftees - new plus
Immediate starting potential - new plus
International trip - new plus
HS coaching relationships - stronger plus
Elite recruit relationships - stronger plus
On field winner - equal (assuming 9-4 or 10-3)
Facilities & support - equal
Harbaugh magnetism - equal


February 6th, 2017 at 1:12 PM ^

Where's the immediate starting potential on offense? WR and slot are loaded with talent after the last 2 classes. TE has Bunting, Wheatley and McKeon. The pipeline is flowing at QB. Bredeson, Ruiz, Onwenu and Filiaga should be solid at 4 OL spots. Hopefully, Newsome will be back. Otherwise JBB, Ulizio, Steuber, Hall and others will be aiming for the last spot. At RB we have the guys Brian listed.

I'm not suggesting that there are no 5* out there who could earn a starting position in 2018, but there aren't any gaping holes like there were for WR and OT next year. RB and OL seem most likely, but there's talent at both.


February 6th, 2017 at 2:11 PM ^

Should have been "proof of meritocracy".

As a recruit for 2017, I could easily argue that JH preferred to play 4th/5th year guys and just inserted underclassmen as a default. We know that class was loaded and JH surely wanted better options on the OL, but recruits usually want proof to believe in playing time.

This fall, we should see lots of underclassnen starting and an elite recruit should say, "JH plays/starts underclassmen if they're good enough and I will earn a starting position."


February 6th, 2017 at 12:40 PM ^

Thinking Michigan is going to end up with a few generic three stars at WR is ridiculous. This is Jim Harbaugh we're talking about. He's going to sign another top 10 class. This post seems overly pessimistic. Also, Brandon Peters was #61 overall in the composite.


February 6th, 2017 at 12:53 PM ^

Compared to last year it feels like MIchigan is behind in 2018 recruiting.  At this point last year there was a much clearer picture of 10 guys who Michigan either had committed or led for.  I think it's partly due to a down year in Michigan.  But in February last year we knew Michigan was in great shape for Ruiz, Singleton, McCaffrey, Ross, JKP, Hall, CMH, St-Juste, as well as had a good shot with DPJ.  Outside of the current commits, and the 2 legacy guys, there doesn't seem to be as much top interest.

Now, there have been no junior days, no NFL draft if 10 wolverines selected, and no satelite campes.  But for now these aren't unrealistice expectations.


February 6th, 2017 at 1:24 PM ^

My thoughts exactly. Michigan grabs a kid from the deep south who Georgia throws everything at and then a four star kid out of Iowa whose parents both went to Iowa. Also get a kid out of conn., also high four star and the #1 receiver in the nation, but we will only be able to get some three star after thoughts. Are you freakin kidding me.

G. Gulo of the Dale

February 6th, 2017 at 1:44 PM ^

But it is going to be darn near impossible to finish in the top ten, unless we pick up at least 20 recruits, which seems like the upper bound of what we can expect, and even then it will be difficult  (I see below that your are projecting 20).

I don't think there is any team whose 2017 class matches what we're aiming for in 2018.  Perhaps 2016 USC is a comparable:  they made it inside the top ten (barely, at #10), had 20 recruits in their class (approximately our upcoming maximum), and also had an avg. recruit ranking (91.38) slightly above our present class (91.03, though with a punter).

In 2015, UCLA had a class of 19 with an avg. star rating of a still healthier 91.58 and finished #12 overall.  

So, I think a top-ten finish is possible, but we've got our work cut out for us.  Luckily, Harbaugh is all about work.


February 6th, 2017 at 2:51 PM ^

That would be nice. I think the ceiling will be lower just because of the number of kids in the '16 and '17 classes.

Recruits look at depth charts so to get elite recruits at, say, WR/LB/DB/DE Michigan needs to be #1 with players who really don't care about that sort of thing or have such a strong connection to M or the coaching staff the concerns are negated. They'll get a number of those guys but I don't expect that to be the entire class, which is what you need to get a score like that.

I'm a bit more bullish than Brian's writeup just because of what the staff has shown us thus far. I think it's a good guess given difficulties in projecting, particularly with how focused the staff was on '17 until now (and rightly so).

G. Gulo of the Dale

February 6th, 2017 at 6:26 PM ^

... if by "aiming for" OSU's class, you mean that OSU's 2017 class is some kind of regulative ideal, then that's fine.  But this isn't exactly realistic, since an average of "94 and change"--or, to be precise, OSU's 94.5 avg.--was simply without precedent prior to this year.  And we don't have nearly unrivaled access to a football hotbead, like OSU's access to the top Ohio high schoolers.  On top of that, our home state doesn't seem like it's going to be producing a glut of elite prospects, even by its more modest standards.  So, an avg. of "94 and change" would have been almost unthinkable prior to this year, and I don't see the conditions in place to reduplicate in 2018 what OSU did in 2017.  

If we could grab 18-20 guys, and maintain a 92 avg., that would be a pretty big win, at least in my opinion.  Of course, the biggest concern is getting top guys at positions of need (e.g., OL).   


February 6th, 2017 at 11:15 PM ^

Average ranking per player is what you really want to pay attention to.  Clemson's had one Top 10 recruiting class in the last 5 years, but their average player ranking is Top 10 and sometimes Top 5 just about every year.  The catch is Clemson rarely signs more than 25 players.  They usually sign 20-23 recruits.  Class rankings can be heavily titled to  the schools that sign lots and lots of recruits.

Magnum P.I.

February 6th, 2017 at 12:41 PM ^

Three things:

  1. Do we really need three tight ends in a class of maybe 16 total?
  2. This is an underwhelming list.
  3. Petit-Frere is an amazing name for a offensive linemen, but we would be obstructing cosmic destiny by blocking this kid from attending MSU.

I Like Burgers

February 6th, 2017 at 1:08 PM ^

Take a look around 247's 2018 list

I did the same exercise Brian did a few days ago and came to the same conclusion.  Its an underwhelming list for a reason.  At least accoriding to 247's reporting, most of the top recruits aren't showing much interest in Michigan at this point.

It also doesn't help that Penn State is off to a ridiculous start in 2018 recruiting and snapping up and drawing interest from guys Michigan would likely be targeting.


February 6th, 2017 at 1:39 PM ^

True, but you also forgot to mention the OL class it projected...

I do, however, really like our OL class, but it was below expecations at least a bit. Every other position group, outside of TE which wasn't filled at all, I believe surpassed expecations. Michigan will pull ahead with some of these top kids and new top kids will pop up. Wait until after the Draft when we end up with the school with the most drafted players. It will be a huge selling point.