Hello. With the regular season over and basketball in full flower it's time for our annual handoff of recruiting content to some guy named Brian.
Let's play the feud! And by that I mean take a look at the current status of the recruiting class and where it might go. Some of this lives on the usually-pretty-accurate Recruiting Board.
Some months back Sam Webb reported that Michigan expected to take between 28 and 32 kids this cycle. They have 24 spots right now. 28 is easy to get to: we expect Peppers to enter the draft and potential fifth year seniors Wyatt Shallman, Shane Morris, and Scott Sypniewski to depart. Beyond that you're looking at transfers from underclassmen for playing time or other reasons, of which there are always a few.
We don't have definite word that anyone won't be back, but every year you see a handful of transfers from every program in America. Michigan got a number of players a degree in three years so they could have immediate eligibility elsewhere, and I'd bet you see a couple of those. 32 seems right given the number of guys on the roster who have dim prospects for meaningful PT and the way Michigan's recruiting.
Potential sixth years for Drake Johnson and Jeremy Clark are complicating factors; Michigan might need 34 spots for 32 kids. So too are available letters of intent. Michigan can backdate 6 early enrollees, which means they can only sign 31 players. Any extra will have to "blueshirt," which is arriving as a walk-on and immediately getting a scholarship. As always, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Inevitable Decommit Section
Michigan has 20 commits, leaving approximately 12 spots for additional recruits. In 2016 decommits are as inevitable as someone on twitter saying "lol u mad" ten seconds into a conversation; there will be some turnover. Currently wobbly gentlemen in the class include:
- NM RB O'Maury Samuels, who took an Arizona visit and has consistently expressed an interest in visiting various Big 12 and Pac 12 schools. Arizona probably isn't much of a threat after the year they had. Samuels might be prepping alternate plans in case Michigan does land CA RB Najee Harris, just like...
- MA RB AJ Dillon, who visits BC this weekend. There's also been a moderate amount of Wisconsin chatter that has so far not resulted in a visit. Dillon is coming in for Michigan December 9th recruiting weekend; it would be a surprise if he ended up elsewhere without the Harris bomb dropping.
- AL S J'Marick Woods visited Mississippi State and Arkansas. His final-final decision is Friday. Both Arkansas and MissSt insiders are expressing optimism; guys like Lorenz and Webb don't think there's anything to fret about.
- FL OL Kai-Leon Herbert has visited both Miami and Florida. He plans to go out to Miami and maybe Florida again in January; with teammate FL OL Tedarrell Slaton trending away from M and possibly to one of those two schools this is a situation to keep an eye on.
Those are listed in approximate order of wobbliness.
On top of that, Michigan's been known to have second thoughts about particular recruits and may ship a couple dudes to Pitt. And on top of that, Michigan's clear desire to pack both OL and DL like cordwood may induce some current commits to look to less crowded depth charts.
Expect somewhere between 2 and 65 decommits by signing day. Trust no one!
[After THE JUMP: positional breakdown.]
Position By Position
As one does.
yes, that McCaffrey
QUARTERBACK. Michigan has composite #53 Dylan McCaffrey and is done.
RUNNING BACK. Michigan has the aforementioned two wobbly guys plus GA RB Kurt Taylor. Taylor has not taken an official visit, which is often a precursor to a parting of the ways. Dillon and Samuels are similar in all ways but stature: they are both athletic freaks who test off the charts at combines from low-talent states who have a lot of potential and a lot of questions to answer. Dillon is enormous; Samuels is average-sized.
The only prospect still on the board is the aforementioned Najee Harris, the nation's #1 prospect and an Alabama commit. His mother continues to say he's solid to Alabama, but Harris has been more circumspect. He'll take his second visit to Michigan during their December 9th recruiting weekend; as an early enrollee we won't have to wait too long to find out his choice.
FULLBACK. Three-star Ben Mason is listed as a linebacker. Look at the fullback depth chart. Look at Michigan's linebacker recruiting. Look at Don Brown's linebacker preferences. Look at Mason's listed 247 pounds. Mason will be a fullback at Michigan.
Michigan pursued LSU commit Tory Carter but reports have it that Da Coach O's hire in Baton Rouge will solidify his status as a Tiger; OH FB Alonzo Booth is a fringe name.
TIGHT END. Michigan looks set to take a pass on this position. If they do end up with a TE in this class it'll probably be someone not currently known to be interested. With just two of the nation's top 35 TEs currently uncommitted, it would almost certainly be a flip. VT commit Dalton Keene and CA TE Josh Falo are the only guys with even semi-active Michigan recruitments at the moment.
NOT BAD, DPJ
WIDE RECEIVER. NJ WR Brad Hawkins will make it to campus after a prep semester and extremely impressive season. While he hasn't officially announced anything we consider him a commitment.
The rest of the board is short and impressive. Instate five star Donovan Peoples-Jones has been to campus over and over and it's not clear who the main competition is. AL WR Nico Collins has had at least three unofficial visits to Michigan and with Alabama focused on some other guys and Georgia coming off a season that did not improve their standing in the recruiting world, he seems very likely to pick M.
CT WR Tarik Black was widely regarded a lock until recently, when he named Alabama his leader... in an article where the author predicted he would end up at Michigan anyway. Creating drama? Not a take for 'Bama? Either way that would mean he ends up at M unless Bama does not get a couple of their targets. Michigan was also supposed to lead for IA WR Oliver Martin after he bonded with various Michigan commits at the opening; he recently set an official to Notre Dame, which is currently his only scheduled. Michigan is set to take four guys, so they can miss on one of these gents and still get the numbers they're looking for.
OFFENSIVE LINE. Hoo boy. Sit down. Michigan has four commits: OH OL Joel Honigford, CT OL Andrew Stueber, MI OL JaRaymond Hall, and the aforementioned Herbert. The former three are all 3.5 star-ish commits, though Stueber is close to 6'7" and reportedly severely underrated. (Playing in Connecticut will do that.) All can play tackle; Herbert and Hall are more likely to move to the interior than the aforementioned two.
Meanwhile Michigan has a pile of OL they are still recruiting and may go up to a whopping and unprecedented eight guys in this class. IMG C Cesar Ruiz is the easiest: he is a center, Michigan badly wants him, and it is not clear they have real competition. Re-adding Hawkins, a former high school teammate, only helps.
Past that basically anything could happen. A number of guys have gone off the board already, making a crowded situation less so. Gentlemen on the board in order of likelihood they join the class:
- NY OL Isaiah Wilson. Has been at the top of Michigan's board forever, multiple visits, kind of tweets like he's already a commit. Alabama the prime and probably only competition
- TX OL Chuck Filiaga. Named Michigan his leader after an official visit; went to Oregon, OU, and now plans Nebraska. High academic kid who just moved to Texas from California, so location probably won't be a big factor. Tom Herman could be a curveball.
- VA OL Mekhi Becton. Becton is less touted than the rest of the guys on this list but Michigan likes him better than at least a couple guys the services are really high on. He took an official, and said Michigan "separated themselves" afterwards. Virginia and VT are the competition, so it's more about where Becton stands on the board.
- CA OL Aaron Banks. Ace probably hopes Michigan doesn't get Banks because he's deciding on December 9th, smack dab in the middle of a huge recruiting weekend for M featuring a bunch of early enrollees poised to drop. Nobody has any idea who he'll pick—he's got one Crystal Ball, that for USC, that's a year old.
- FL OL Tedarrell Slaton. Slaton had Michigan as his leader for most of the process but was unable to make an official because of grades or test scores, per Slaton himself, and is now looking more closely at the instate schools. If Michigan pushes for him they'll have a good shot to reignite that prior feeling.
- FL OL Alex Leatherwood. Bama commit who might be swayed by departure of Mario Cristobal and prospect of early playing time, but prospect seems much fainter than it did a couple months ago.
A couple of weeks ago this board was even bigger: LSU commit Austin Deculus is once again off the radar after Da Coach O's hire; Jedrick Wills committed to Bama; Henry Banivalu committed to in-state Washington.
Every one of those guys save Becton is a very highly touted gentleman, and they're all enormous. Listed weights on 247 range from 327 (Leatherwood) to 350 (Wilson). Michigan needs at least one ready-to-go tackle for next year and could take up to three off that list.
DEFENSIVE END. The weakside is well stocked with VA DE Luiji Vilain, MI DE Corey Malone-Hatcher, and RI DE Kwity Paye. The strongside is also well stocked, depending on who fits where exactly. PA DE Donovan Jeter and OH DE James Hudson are both DE/DT swing guys. Malone-Hatcher might bulk up to SDE size as well.
Michigan is mostly done here, with instater Deron Irving-Bey, another swing player, the only DE shaped guy left on the board. They are strong leaders for him; space is always a concern.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE. Hudson probably ends up a Willie Henry-ish three tech; Michigan also has a commitment from instater Phil Paea.
There are three other names on the board. Jay Tufele and Aubrey Solomon are both top 50-ish prospects. Solomon is a decommit, and while those are often hard to get back in the fold the circumstances of his quick commit and Michigan's ability to win over mom on his official visit have them back in strong contention, possibly the drivers' seat. Tufele is tough to read because he's one of those guys who says everything is awesome; Utah, OSU, and Michigan are the main contenders.
The third name is Oregon commit Rutger Reitmaier, a 3.5-star type who Lorenz reported was "like a bigger Glasgow." It is my policy to be interested in anyone Brady Hoke thinks can play DL. Reitmaier's from Tennessee; Oregon is in shambles; if Michigan has room a flip is probable.
LINEBACKER. Michigan has Josh Ross committed. They're a strong leader for Paramus LB Drew Singleton, with Clemson chatter dying down. They are a strong public leader for MS LB Willie Gay, but you know all about the Mississippi black hole—Jeremy LeSueur is the only Mississippi native to ever(!) play for Michigan. Those three guys would be a complete set, and a very strong one.
[UPDATE: I forgot about FL LB Jordan Anthony, believed to be a strong M lean.]
If Michigan does have to expand their board, FL LB Shanon Reid looks like he's in a holding pattern after an official to Michigan was expected to result in a commit but did not. Michigan may have slow-played themselves out of the race after LSU got involved. USC commit and guy literally from American Samoa Juliano Falaniko might be an option if Michigan pushes. VA LB Ellis Brooks has been on campus and is a high-academic guy currently looking at Maryland and Duke; he looks like a guy Michigan could swoop in on late if necessary.
CORNERBACK. CN CB Benjamin St Juste recently reaffirmed his commitment; he's Jeremy Clark with an elite shuttle time. Michigan has a strong lead for instater Ambry Thomas. CA CB Darnay Holmes has rescheduled his official for the December 9 weekend, but family ties are widely expected to see him end up at UCLA.
They appear to want a third corner in the class and have offered a handful of commits to other schools; of those ND commit Elijah Hicks is the most likely to flip. He took an official to the Indiana game; ND has no defensive coordinator and a coach very much on the hot seat.
Other names to look out for if Michigan needs to open up the board include BC commit Brandon Sebastian and Iowa commit Matt Hankins. CA CB Deommodre "Clamp Clampington" Lenoir just decommitted from Oregon as well; Michigan was involved before he went off the board.
SAFETIES. Michigan has commits from AL S J'Marick Woods and instater Jaylen Kelly-Powell. Steve Lorenz just reported that PSU commit Brelin Faison-Walden has reaffirmed with PSU and Michigan is out, which is disappointing for fans who want to believe there is a viscount on the team.
The rest of the names on the board are fringe ones. Michigan apparently dropped NJ S Markquese Bell; NV S Bubba Bolden is supposed to be a heavy OSU lean. AZ S Isaiah Pola-Mao is a recent offer who expressed serious interest. If he schedules an official that could heat up quickly, especially since he has a hyphenated last name. Michigan dominates the state of Hyphen.
Unless Woods unexpectedly decommits Michigan is likely to stand pat with two.
A Totally Meaningful Projection
Our current best guess at the recruiting class:
- QB: Dylan McCaffrey
- RB: AJ Dillon, O'Maury Samuels
- FB: Ben Mason
- WR: Brad Hawkins, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Nico Collins, Tarik Black
- TE: N/A
- OL: Joel Honigford, Andrew Stueber, JaRaymond Hall, Kai-Leon Herbert, Cesar Ruiz, Chuck Filiaga, Isaiah Wilson
- DE: Kwity Paye, Corey Malone-Hatcher, Luiji Vilian, Donovan Jeter.
- DT: James Hudson, Phil Paea, Aubrey Solomon or Jay Tufele, Rutger Reitmaier, Deron Irving-Bey.
- LB: Josh Ross, Drew Singleton,
Willie GayJordan Anthony.
- CB: Benjamin St Juste, Ambry Thomas, Elijah Hicks
- S: Jaylen Kelly-Powell, J'Marick Woods.
That is 32. FWIW, this would garner 298 points on 247's ranking system, which would have been a hair behind Bama for last year's best class. It would probably finish second or third this year.