2018 Recruiting Overview: Offense

Submitted by Brian on 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 2:07 PM ^

more or less the projected 2017 class. 

State Position Player Approx. Stars Confidence Level
CO QB Dylan McCaffrey 4.5 Very High
GA RB Kurt Taylor 3 Commit
MI RB Allen Stritzinger 3.5 Very High
GA WR Jeremiah Holloman 4 Commit
MI  WR Donovan Peoples-Jones 5 Moderate
CA WR Joseph Lewis 4.5 Low
MI TE Carter Dunaway 3 Commit
CA TE Jimmy Jaggers 4 Moderate
MI OL JaRaymond Hall 4 Commit
NY OL Isaiah Wilson 5 High
FL  OL Tedarrell Slaton 4.5 Moderate
FL OL Cesar Ruiz 4 Moderate
WI OL Tyler Beach 3.5 Moderate
NJ DT Fred Hansard 4 Low
UT DT Jay Tufele 4.5 Low
MI DE Corey Malone-Hatcher 4 High
FL  DE Joshua Kaindoh 5 Moderate
NJ LB Drew Singleton 4.5 Very High
MI LB Josh Ross 4 High
CN CB Benjamin St Juste 3 Commit
FL  CB Trajan Brandy 4 Low
FL  CB CJ Cotman 4 Moderate
MI S Jaylen Kelly-Powell 4 Very High
MI S Scott Nelson 3 Moderate


I would say lets just relax right now and focus more on how DTR could end up being "God I wish Devin Gardner got coached by Jim Harbaugh"

Mr. Yost

February 6th, 2017 at 11:30 PM ^

I actually think that's a pretty solid guess though. Just because we didn't get (or want) some all of the guys doesn't mean they weren't recruited pretty heavily at some point.

Lewis, Brandy and Cotman are the only 3 players on that list that I don't think were ever truly mentioned with any type of consideration. Everyone else could've been in a winged helmet.


February 8th, 2017 at 3:49 PM ^

The point I'm making though is that 67% of the 2017 class wasn't even projected to be in it this time last year. Just saying, it's very early, and you'll have guys like Aubrey Soloman come visit, and it will change their recruiting picture immensly. Remember, Soloman wasn't even really on anyone's radar until he committed (The 1st time).


February 7th, 2017 at 8:17 AM ^

8 for 12 on commit, high, and very high.

2 for 12 on the moderates and low with just Ruiz and DPJ. 

Just at a glance, this suggest that there are certain guys that we know there is strong mutual interest (obviously), but that past that it's a guessing game and a lot changes before signing day. 

Mr Miggle

February 6th, 2017 at 12:43 PM ^

but something about it seems off. Projecting a bunch of lower rated players in a small class and too many players, period. A little bit like Dick Vitlale talking about who should be in the NCAA tournament. 

I Like Burgers

February 6th, 2017 at 3:38 PM ^

Problem is there aren't any higher-rated recruits you can project to Michigan right now.  There just aren't many that have shown more than a passing interest.


EDIT: If you don't believe me, go look on 247 or the site of your chosing and look at the interest level.  At least on 247, out of the 105 recruits they list as either a top target or high choice, only 22 are either committed or have warm or better interest in Michigan.  For Ohio State, its 37/63 and Penn State its 31/54.

Given that, it makes it a little difficult to project a class beyond something that feels luckluster.

Mr Miggle

February 6th, 2017 at 4:04 PM ^

2. Projecting a bunch of unnamed 3* recruits is overly pessimistic with a small class. If they were recruits with strong mutual interest they would be named.

3. Not only did we sign a number a 4* prospects in the 2017 class that we didn't project to a year ago, we could have gotten a bunch of others. We didn't take players like Aaron Banks, Ellis Brooks, Will Igmont, etc because we were getting the players we wanted more. Or at least thought we would. Those were all out of region guys too.

4.Where was Aubrey Solomon on our lists a year ago?

5. Harbaugh, Partridge, Mattison, etc. Don't sell our recruiters short. I guarantee that our rivals don't.

I Like Burgers

February 6th, 2017 at 4:42 PM ^

Which 4* and 5* players would you have Brian project then?

My basic point was referring to all of the "this is underwhelming" and "projecting a bunch of lower rated players" people.  Given the type and number of recruits that have shown interest in Michigan thus far, it is impossible -- at this moment -- to do anything other than come up with a list that is underwhelming or filled with lower rated people.

If you would have clicked on my link in the previous comment, you would have seen there's a total of eighteen 4* or better recruits that are either committed to, or have "warm" or better interest in Michigan -- and a whole LOT of "cool" interest levels.  

Eleven of those 18 are offensive players so if you think the offensive projection is weak or underwhelming, just wait for the defensive one.  But hey, if you think Brian should just throw shit against the wall and project a bunch of 4* and 5* players that have showed no interest in Michigan to make this list look better, then by all means, feel free to do that.

Also, I said nothing at all about how things were going to go between now and Feb. 2018.  Clearly, things will get rosier on the recruiting and projection front.  I don't think anyone is debating that.



February 6th, 2017 at 4:57 PM ^

It should be noted that a lot of guys who are 3* today will be upgraded to 4* before signing day in 2018. Also, a lot of guys haven't been rated at all. I was looking at Nevada ratings. Desert Pines seems to turn out a good bit of talent but there is no one from their school rated yet. Finally, there will be a number of St. Juste types who Harbaugh will recognize as being quite talented before the rating services pick up on them.


February 6th, 2017 at 12:53 PM ^

until we establish that, in addition to being a large human, Faalele can actually play American rules football, which is as yet inconclusive (but there's reason for optimism given the offer).

But at that point, go all in with both. Half measures don't work in this world.


February 6th, 2017 at 2:39 PM ^

Can't find his name, but he was like 6'9" and 310 former baseketball player.   He was all over the place.  Florida was in it then he went to Syracuse and may have ended up at Purdue.  Magnus posted about him a couple of weeks ago along with a bunch of others.  I think he got hurt and was out of football.


February 6th, 2017 at 12:49 PM ^

I'd be perfectly content with the 2018 class. Somewhere out there is a group of 5 guys that can play to Michigan's historic standard. None of the specialists really matter that much until we find those 5.


February 6th, 2017 at 1:01 PM ^

Just to make everyone feel a bit better about the underwhelming look of this class, Lorenz has maintained that the NFL draft this year will give a big boost to Michigan recruiting.  Harbaugh has sold the program as preparing guys for the next level and a draft with 8+ guys drafted will go a long ways to reinforcing that message.

Additionally, Michigan hasn't hosted a junior day or had the satelite camps that first got Michigan on Solomon's radar.


February 6th, 2017 at 1:38 PM ^

Exactly. I remember the same guys hoping and saying if we just get Martin It will be good, but I don't think we will get any of them. Them being Solomon, Collins and Martin. Does anyone realize NSD is almost a year away. After Michigan puts three guys in the first round ofthe NFL draft, lets see the names we start hearing about. I see at least five guys in the first two rounds of the draft and a top five class again at a class around twenty recruits. Is this the most negative fan base or what?. Shit OSU fans think there getting everyone so I guess it balances itself out.


February 6th, 2017 at 3:32 PM ^

There's a difference between being "concerned" and "perplexed" - I think it's a little perplexing that with the success Harbaugh has had, and the quality of the class he just signed, that the initial projection for '18 would be so "meh."

Especially in light of psu, for example, having so many '18 commits. And our top QB target saying he's more interrested in where Jedd Fisch goes than in JH?!

Now, I'm not concerned about it. But it's a head scratcher, you have to admit...



February 6th, 2017 at 1:08 PM ^

Are there any 2018 FBs? I am surprised there has been such a lack of attention on FB prospects. I know they went after Tory Carter in 2017, and Ben Mason could end up at the position, but Im wondering if there will be any pure FB Houma like prospects in 2018? because after next season we are down to Mason if hes a FB and no others besides walkons.