EDIT: Updated for 1/9
EDIT: Updated for 1/8
I'm proud to self-identify as a "mentally-ill" level recruiting observer. But I know many Michigan fans aren't nearly as interested as I am in covering college football's silliest of its silly seasons. Accordingly, I think it may be helpful to establish a recruiting board for more casual recruiting fans.
Just one note - anytime you see a numbered list below, it's ordered by the 247 Composite overall ranking.
Where Do We Stand in Terms of Numbers?
Currently, Michigan has 27 commitments and can expect to eventually sign a class with between 30 and 32 guys in it. This means we're getting into the final stretch.
Where Do We Stand in Terms of Quality, as of Today?
This class is going to be really really good, even if things don't break well for us down the stretch. We'll likely be ranked in the top five nationally with Alabama and OSU #s 1 and 2, and with Michigan alongside UGA and FSU in some order. It has the potential to be epic if things do break our way, in which case we'd likely be ranked #3 after Alabama and OSU.
If it's epic, that's good, because OSU's class is the thing legends are made of. It's an unusual year for recruiting in that respect - the top four or five recruiting teams are light years better than the middle-tier P5 recruiting classes. We're not catching Alabama or OSU under any circumstances, so let's hope to narrow the gap as much as we can.
How Many Early-Enrollees Are in This Class?
An unusually high number. Guys who have actually enrolled as of today include:
- C Cesar Ruiz
- WR Tarik Black
- S Jaylen Kelly-Powell
- DE Donovan Jeter
- DE Corey Malone-Hatcher
- OT JaRaymond Hall
- CB Benjamin St-Juste
- S J'Marick Woods
- FB Ben Mason
In addition, the following Michigan commits will early enroll and hit campus soon:
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones
CB Ambry Thomas
DT Phillip Paea, although his status as an EE is questionable
EDIT: Both Peoples-Jones and Thomas have enrolled. Paea seems unlikely to do so. This means that we're all set with early enrollees.
The fact that we could have
12 11 early enrollees at the end of the day is pretty significant for two reasons. First, an EE is more likely to play early (in statistical probability terms) than a player who arrives in the early summer and play in a college football game mere weeks later. Second, once a player is locked on campus you don't have to work to recruit him anymore. This frees up resources to focus on as-yet uncommitted targets and on keeping your non-EE commits in the fold. Recruiting ain't over until the final bell. Never forget this.
What Positions of Need Must Michigan Still Fill?
Depends on what you mean by "need." Michigan absolutely must sign at least one DT, and probably needs two. Michigan would very much like one more OT, and may reach to get one if space permits. We also could probably use another WR, although we won't reach down to the mid-three star range to get one if we miss on any of our top guys. We also seem interested in bringing in another CB for a reason that isn't clear to me but must be evident to the coaches. Trust them over me.
So Who Is Left on the Board?
Our top targets include five guys:
RB Najee Harris, whom you may have heard of once or twice
- DT Aubrey Solomon
- DT Jay Tufele
- WR Nico Collins
- LB Willie Gay
How likely are we to get each of these players? Harris is... well, nobody knows. Notably, he's also an EE, so we'll know with finality on Monday. Solomon is unlikely, but possible. Tufele is probably more likely than Solomon, but stil not very likely. Collins and Gay are in the same boat - widely rumored to be "silent commits" and long-time counted as "locks" in the class, rumors have circulated that suggests each of them may end up elsewhere (UGA for Collins and LSU for Gay).
Make no mistake - it's extremely unlikely we get all five of these guys. In fact, my read is that we have about a 50% chance to get one, and maybe have a 10% chance to get two. Anything more than that is wishful thinking. But all of these players are absolutely elite; Harris is the top-ranked player in the entire country, and Solomon is a five-star at an impact position. And Tufele, Collins, and Gay are all fringe Top 100 guys. Were we to somehow (and again, this won't happen) sign all five of these players, it would be the best Michigan recruiting class of all time by some distance.
After that, you have some backup options:
WR Oliver Martin has been an interesting recruitment. He was a really under-the-radar guy who exploded at The Opening, which is a big-time fall camp. Now he's a highly rated and regarded guy. For a while he was believed to be a Michigan lock, but then we sort of ran out of room at WR and we cooled on him. But with Nico Collins allegedly getting wobbly, there's a chance we'll reach back out to Martin. And with how lukewarm Martin has seemed about the other schools in the mix for his commitment (ND, MSU, Iowa), I think it's very possible that he'd end up in the class if Collins is out.
OT Mekhi Becton is an absolutely enormous big body with exceptional athleticism. He's also a hard worker. But there are concerns about how "tough" or "nasty" he is, which is more than just a virtue-signalling buzzword for a brutal position like offensive line. At this point I think Becton is a "next guy up" if literally any of our top five targets fall through and if OT Kai-Leon Herbert decommits as expected (people are "sour grapes-ing" this potential decommitment, by the way; I agree it looks like Herbert will decommit but we really, really don't want him to). Consensus opinion is that he's likely to come if we roll out the red carpet. The only other school likely in the mix for his commitment is UVa.
OT Toryque Bateman is another possibility. He's a little lower-ranked than Becton, and doesn't have Becton's sky-high potential. But his floor is a little higher too. Bateman wanted, at one point, to go to Michigan very badly. But we slow-played him back when we were in it for lots of higher-ranked guys. Will he answer the call if we turn to him now? I think he might. But Becton is higher on our priority list right now.
LB Ellis Brooks is an interesting name. He's a thick-legged kid without tons of sideline to sideline ability, but he's stout and a good run stuffer. He also showed up in a big way recently, and demonstrated superior athleticism than most people thought him capable of. I'm not sure where the optimism surrounding him is coming from, but most people now think that if Michigan actually pursues him he's possible to come on board. I think we'll turn up the heat if Gay turns us away and we meet our DT/OT need and still have room.
CB Brandon Sebastian is another guy people are talking about. He's currently a BC commit and teammates with Tarik Black, a current Michigan commit. I don't mean to be negative, but I don't really like his film, his ranking, or his offer list, and I don't see how CB is a remaining position of need. But Michigan feels differently supposedly and I'd trust the coaches more than me if I were you.
Finally, we have guys who people are talking about but who are extremely unlikely to be coming here:
- OT Isaiah Wilson - long time Michigan lean who was a suprise UGA flip; not happening
- OT/DT Tedarrell Slaton - seemed like a Michigan lean in the fall; may have grade concerns; definitely isn't coming here
- S Paris Ford - Reportedly wants Michigan badly but has mega off-the-field concerns; too bad because he's an elite recruit
- CB Elijah Hicks - Michigan would take him, but he's solid to ND after some initial waffling
- DT Rutger Reitmaier - same situation as Hicks, but with Oregon instead of ND
Who Else Do You Think We'll End Up With?
You're asking my personal opinion? I think
Harris goes blue (don't @ me), Collins stays with Michigan in the end, and then we get one of Becton or Bateman. I then bet we pick up some mid-three star DT nobody sees coming who is currently committed to a Nebraska/TCU/VT level P5 school (I don't know of any name in particular, but the need there is just so overwhelming). I would also guess we'll get one other "surprise commit" at OL, DT or CB. I also guess that OT Kai-Leon Herbert and one RB will decomitt, and I hope that decommit isn't current RB commit O'Maury Samuels. That would give us a class of 30 and we'd either end up ranked #3 or 4 in the final team rankings depending on how UGA finishes.
So, Harris isn't coming. Now what?
This probably doesn't change anything about Michigan's board. RB wasn't a position of need; Harris was merely such a great prospect that Michigan made him a priority until he boarded an airplane for Tuscaloosa. At least we went down swinging and were publicly associated with being in a dogfight for a top prospect.
Pay attention to current Michigan RB commit O'Maury Samuels in the coming days. His commitment is a little bit wobbly, reportedly, but retaining him in our class is now a critical need. He'll be visiting in January and hopefully we can shore him up then.