Big 10

Michigan Football: Early Grades for 2017 Recruiting Class

May 16, 2016

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Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan football coaching staff are off to a respectable start in the 2017 recruiting cycle, holding 12 verbal commitments.

The Wolverines own the No. 8 ranking nationally, largely thanks to a 5-star highlighting a slightly larger offensive haul. To date, the group has seven pledges compared to five on defense.

Michigan has secured a handful of prospects it must view as underrated, however, because its class lacks top-rated talents. That’s certain to change eventually, but 3-stars dominate the current group.

Note: Special teams would receive its own section, but the Wolverines have no specialists committed at this point. After reeling in No. 1 prospect Quinn Nordin last year, that’s not a surprise.

 

Offense

Taking a quarterback in every class is the smart route. Not every prospect pans out, and depth is a necessity because the roster must be ready to replace its starter.

Michigan signed Brandon Peters in the 2016 class, and he’s often referred to as the quarterback of the future. But Peters will have excellent competition in Dylan McCaffrey, the No. 1 pro-style gunslinger.

A 6’5″, 200-pounder, McCaffrey has thrown for 5,178 yards and 49 touchdowns during two seasons as a starter in high school.

The Wolverines added five receivers in February, so they can focus on elite targets—like Donovan Peoples-Jones, Joseph Lewis and Nico Collins—to join McCaffrey.

Running back, however, is a different story.

Michigan needs depth, since De’Veon Smith and Drake Johnson will use up their eligibility in 2016. O’maury Samuels (little “M”) and A.J. Dillon are the No. 1 prospects in New Mexico and Massachusetts, respectively. Kurt Taylor rounds out the trio of commits.

They’ll run behind mostly new faces on the offensive line, which could lose four starters if Mason Cole declares for the NFL draft. The Wolverines must continue building usable depth, and JaRaymond Hall is a quality first pledge.

Now, Michigan is far from finished up front because of that depth concern. Fortunately, the 2017 class is absolutely loaded with linemen. Isaiah Wilson, Tedarrell Slaton, Robert Hainsey and Cesar Ruiz are just four of several names worth tracking.

Longtime commit Carter Dunaway and No. 1 fullback Chase Lasater are the final members of the class.

Less than five months after signing day, Michigan has a stud quarterback, fast-riser in Samuels and 4-star lineman in Hall. Key targets remain undecided, so this is a commendable yet unfinished group.

Grade: A-

 

Defense 

Of the five defensive pledges, only Josh Ross carries a 4-star billing. It’s safe to say the Wolverines aren’t done here, and it’s important to remember attrition is always a factor.

Among other standouts, Michigan is pursuing Drew SingletonAmbry Thomas, Jordan AnthonyCorey Malone-Hatcher, Luiji Vilain and Jay Tufele.

The Wolverines are also favored to land local 4-star safety Jaylen Kelly-Powell, and he’s not only getting recruited by the coaches. Current commit J’Marick Woods is talking to Kelly-Powell, too.

“When I met Jaylen we just became cool at that moment,” Woods said, according to Brice Marich of Scout. “I would love to play with him. I want to play with him, so I’m going to be on him.”

Woods is the nation’s 20th-best 3-star, so he’s on the verge of earning 4-star status.

If D-tackle Phillip Paea‘s rise continues, he might grab another star, too. Though Paea is Michigan’s only commit in the trenches, the defensive line should be a focal point in 2017.

Ben Mason (6’2″, 247 lbs) and Benjamin St-Juste (6’3″, 190 lbs) are projects, but they both possess a frame suitable for the Big Ten. Those are the type of developmental players to take.

While Michigan needs a few highly rated defensive recruits in this class, finishing strong as expected would make the current commits adequate complements.

Grade: B-


All recruiting information via 247Sports. Stats from cfbstats.com or B/R research. Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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