2017 Best Guess Recruiting Class: September 27th

With the 2016 season here and going about as well as any Michigan fan could have asked for, recruitment is about to really start picking up. That will start this weekend with the program’s biggest recruiting visit list of the season, including multiple five star prospects and top 100 players coming to town. And there’s a chance some fireworks could go off. But, before the visit takes place, it’s that time again of the month where I make my predictions on the 2017  Michigan recruiting class.

Check out how I put together the numbers of the list:

  • Total Number
    • Everyone is still hearing the staff is aiming to take 28-32 players in this class. And while the senior departures only brings the total of open scholarships to 23, there’s expected to be plenty of attrition in other forms. That includes redshirt juniors not receiving a 5th year and transfers as well as possible grayshirts, blue shirts.
      • Grayshirts: Allowed to enroll at the University but are not on scholarship until the following year. CB Jeremy Clark came to Michigan as a grayshirt.
      • Blue shirt: “Unrecruited” prospects (no official visit, coaching visits, didn’t sign LOI) are on scholarship right away but are unable to play their sophomore year.
  • Class Attrition
    • Though you hate to see it, signs are pointing towards multiple decommitments prior to National Signing Day. The number isn’t known, obviously, but I could see anywhere from 2-4 more players leaving the class for better possibilities elsewhere. Those losses could come from any mix of meritocracy, grades or a better fit in another program.
  • Positional Numbers
    • After six was said to be the sure-fire number on the offensive line, it looks like seven is the more realistic outcome. With four OL already committed and several top targets favoring UM, this is the most likely position group to see big changes.
    • The wide receiver number remains at four.
    • One spot that looks like it could increase in signed prospects is the safety position. With depth concerns this year, the staff could look to bring in 3-4 safeties in 2017.

Got it? So, without further adieu, see what a lot of digging and gathering came up with. Check out my latest 2017 Michigan football recruiting class prediction:

Chances Key

  • Excellent – Top Team
  • Very Good – Top Three
  • Good – Top Five
  • Fair – Puncher’s Chance
  • Poor – Likely Not Happening

1. QB: Dylan McCaffrey, 6’5″ 205lbs. Littleton, CO (Valor)

Photo Credit: Ray Chen/ArrayPhoto.com

Photo Credit: Ray Chen/ArrayPhoto.com

Though McCaffrey has taken a bit of a tumble in the recruiting rankings, the quarterback commit is still the highest rated player in the class. On top of his talent level, he’s a leader of the class in terms of recruiting the other top talent around the country. Just a couple of top rated recruits he’s targeted includes Donovan Peoples-Jones, Nico Collins and Tedarrell Slaton.

  • Story
  • Highlights
  • Commitment Date: 2/16/16
  • First on List: March 2015
  • RankingsScout (4*, #102 overall) – Rivals (4*, #50 overall) – 247 (4*, #54 overall) – ESPN (4*, #45 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #45 overall, #3 Pro-QB, #1 in Colorado

2. RBKurt Taylor, 5’8” 200lbs. Covington, GA (Grayson) 

Taylor was one of the first members of Michigan’s 2017 class and looks to be as solid as can be in a commitment. He’s been a consistent visitor to campus throughout his recruitment, including his official visit this past weekend for the Penn State game. Things still look as solid as ever here but if UM adds another running back, his recruitment could become a little more interesting.

  • Story
  • Highlights
  • Commitment Date: 10/16/15
  • First on List: August 2015
  • RankingsScout (3*, #48 RB) – Rivals (3*, #26 RB) – 247 (3*, #48 RB) – ESPN (3*, #65 RB)
  • Composite Ranking: 3 star, #827 overall, #50 RB, #84 in Georgia
  • Other Options: Najee Harris, Stephen Carr, Sione Lund

3. RB: AJ Dillon, 6’1” 240lbs. Groton, MA (Lawrence Academy)

Dillion is the top ranked player out of Massachusetts and proved his ranking after his performance at The Opening. Though his talents translate more to padded football than the 7v7 game, his athleticism consistently shows. He fits the mold of an old-school power back and reminds me a bit of former OSU standout Chris Beanie Wells.

  • Story
  • Highlights
  • Commitment Date: 3/28/16
  • First on ListFebruary 2016
  • RankingsScout (3*, #40 RB) – Rivals (4*, #17 RB) – 247 (4*, #99 overall) – ESPN (3*, #38 RB)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #295 overall, #18 ATH, #1 in Massachusetts
  • Other Options: Najee Harris, Stephen Carr, Sione Lund

4. RB: O’Maury Samuels, 5’10” 190lbs. Los Lunas, NM (Los Lunas) 

Samuels posted the best rating in The Opening Regional camps with a 138.30 rating (which was the best on the regional circuit). That put his name on the map even more than his commitment to Michigan. With that extra attention, official visits elsewhere are expected. Though I still believe he sticks with the Wolverines in the end, he’s another name to watch if the staff adds a 4th running back to the class.

  • Story
  • Highlights
  • Commitment Date: 4/4/16
  • First on List: April 2016
  • RankingsScout (4*, #23 RB) – Rivals (4*, #18 RB) – 247 (3*, #25 RB) – ESPN (4*, #236 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #271 overall, #20 RB, #1 in New Mexico
  • Other Options: Najee Harris, Stephen Carr, Sione Lund

5. FB: Chase Lasater, 6’2” 235lbs. Jacksonville, FL (Trinity Christian)

Lasater has long been committed to Michigan but, according to multiple reports, he’s a guy that still has some work to do. He’s shown his tenacity and potential as a fullback in the past. Though, he’s a guy to watch from now until NSD.

  • Story
  • Highlights
  • Commitment Date: 4/1/16
  • First on List: April 2016
  • RankingsScout (2*) – Rivals (3*) – 247 (NR) – ESPN (3*, #2 FB)
  • Composite Ranking: 3 star, #1335 overall, #2 FB, #186 in Florida
  • Other Options: Sione Lund, Tory Carter

6. WR: Donovan Peoples-Jones, 6’2″ 195lbs. Detroit, MI (Cass Tech)

For another month, things continue to look better and better for Michigan to land Peoples-Jones. He just made another unofficial visit to Ann Arbor this past weekend for the Penn State game and will very possibly return for an official this year as well. Some believe he may just be enjoying his recruitment at this point and knows where he wants to go and I agree. While nothing’s guaranteed, I can’t see him signing with anyone but UM at this point.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Excellent
  • Highlights
  • First on List: March 2015
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #33 overall) – Rivals (5*, #13 overall) – 247 (5*, #8 overall) – ESPN (4*, #32 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 5 star, #12 overall, #1 WR, #1 in Michigan
  • Crystal Ball: Michigan
  • Other Options: Mike Harley, Omar Manning

7. WR: Nico Collins, 6’5” 200lbs. Pinson, AL (Clay-Chalkville)

Though Georgia and Alabama are starting to make a push, I’m still feeling confident in Collins choosing the Wolverines. He was unable to make it to Ann Arbor this past weekend, like expected, but is expected back later this fall. With that visit and the opportunities at Michigan, UM is still my choice and I don’t expect that to change.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good to Excellent
  • Highlights
  • First on List: November 2015
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #112 overall) – Rivals (5*, #23 overall) – 247 (4*, #152 overall) – ESPN (4*, #156 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #87 overall, #13 WR, #3 in Alabama
  • Crystal Ball: Michigan
  • Other Options: Mike Harley, Omar Manning

8. WR: Tarik Black, 6’4” 205lbs. Cheshire, CT (Cheshire Academy)

Photo Credit: Justin Weekes / For the Record-Journal

I put in my Crystal Ball for Black to Michigan prior to his official visit for the season opener and feel 10x more confident now than I did when I hit the submit button on my prediction. That’s because of his reaction to the visit, reading the tea leaves and some inside information. One source is actually hearing that Black is actually already committed but waiting to make his announcement later on in the cycle. And that makes sense after his decision plan in the first place was to silently commit before his season and announce at the Army All-American game. Out of all of the names on the list, there aren’t many that I feel more confident about than Black, at this point.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Excellent
  • Highlights
  • First on List: May 2015
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #104 overall) – Rivals (4*, #99 overall) – 247 (4*, #186 overall) – ESPN (4*, #223 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #132 overall, #17 WR, #1 in Connecticut
  • Crystal Ball: Michigan
  • Other Options: Mike Harley, Omar Manning

9. WR: Oliver Martin, 6’1” 190lbs. Iowa City, IA (West) 

My Crystal Ball for Martin to Michigan has been in since mid-July and, though there have been some rumors of Michigan State and Notre Dame becoming a favorite, I still feel confident in my prediction. Martin was originally planned to unofficially visit Ann Arbor this past weekend but changed it to this upcoming weekend so he could see South Bend. And that may have worked out even better than UM could have imagined. The Fighting Irish dropped to 1-3 on the year while the Wolverines are steam rolling through their competition to a 4-0 start. With a lot of questions arising around Brian Kelly, the stability and direction Harbaugh has UM going could become a big factor here.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: July 2016
  • RankingsScout (4*, #268 overall) – Rivals (3*) – 247 (4*, #67 overall) – ESPN (3*, #94 WR)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #262 overall, #36 WR, #1 in Iowa
  • Crystal Ball: Michigan
  • Other Options: Mike Harley, Omar Manning

10. TE: Josh Falo, 6’5” 225lbs. Sacramento, CA (Inderkum) 

Photo Credit: Bleacher Report

Tight end recruiting is easily the hardest position to predict at this point. Falo is still my choice at this point but I’m not extremely confident in that decision. He was expected to visit Michigan for the BBQ but plans fell through. So, it’ll likely come down to his official visit, which hasn’t been announced just yet. If/when he makes it to town, look for the staff to push hard and roll out the red carpet for the talented pass catcher as they’ll, now, be able to sell him on being the only tight end recruit in this class. Add in Oregon and USC struggling, and UM looks to be in good shape here.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: No
  • Michigan’s Chances: Good to Very Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: July 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #219 overall) – Rivals (4*, #225 overall) – 247 (4*, #59 overall) – ESPN (4*, #161 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #151 overall, #4 TE, #16 in California
  • Crystal Ball: None
  • Other Options: Major Tennison, Cole Kmet, Lecitus Smith 

11. OT: JaRaymond Hall, 6’5″ 285lbs. Oak Park, MI (Oak Park)

Photo Credit: MIPrepZone

Hall has been committed to Michigan since last December and looks to be solid in that commitment. There were some questions raised by UM fans after Hall was unable to make it to the BBQ at the Big House earlier in the month. However, I believe Hall is solid to Michigan and will sign with the Wolverines barring any crazy changes.

  • Story
  • Highlights
  • Commitment Date: 12/5/16
  • First on List: March 2015
  • RankingsScout (4*, #249 Overall) – Rivals (3*, #68 OT) – 247 (3*, #42 OT) – ESPN (4*, #173 Overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #312 overall, #32 OT, #8 in Michigan

12. OT: Andrew Stueber, 6’6” 290lbs. Darien, CT (Darien) 

Photo Credit: Scout.com

Photo Credit: Scout.com

Stueber may not be the most recognizable name or highly ranked recruits but he’s easily one of the most college ready prospects in UM’s class. He also has the versatility to play all along the line at Michigan, which is another reason why the staff is so high on him. Add in him being a top recruiter, with the likes of Henry Bainivalu and Isaiah Wilson among his top targets, and I don’t see him going anywhere.

  • Story
  • Highlights
  • Commitment Date: 6/25/16
  • First on List: July 2016
  • RankingsScout (3*, #44 OT) – Rivals (3*, #64 OT) – 247 (3*, #77 OT) – ESPN (4*, #39 OT)
  • Composite Ranking: 3 star, #581 overall, #63 OT, #3 in Connecticut 

13. OT: Joel Honigford, 6’6” 275lbs. Sugarcreek, OH (Garaway) 

Photo Credit: 247Sports

Photo Credit: 247Sports

Honigford is a recruit that has a high ceiling but he’s got a bit of a ways to go to get there. Though he’s very athletic and has the ideal frame for an offensive tackle, his weight is something that he’ll need to work on. Now, that will come with age and more time in the weight room so it’s not a big problem. Once he gets the size and strength necessary, he could be a very nice tackle prospect for Drevno.

  • Story
  • Highlights
  • Commitment Date: 6/29/16
  • First on List: July 2016
  • RankingsScout (3*, #47 OT) – Rivals (3*, #46 OT) – 247 (3*, #72 OT) – ESPN (4*, #204 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 3 star, #433 overall, #47 OT, #20 in Ohio

14. OT: Kai-Leon Herbert, 6’5” 285lbs. Ft Lauderdale, FL (American Heritage)

Herbert was one of the biggest recruiting wins of the class so far for Michigan after beating out the likes of Florida and Miami (FL) for the Sunshine State standout. But will UM be able to hold onto him? Herbert visited UF at the beginning of the season and is expected to visit his “dream school”, Miami, this fall ($). With Michigan openly going after every top lineman on the board and his longtime love for the local schools, this recruitment is one to watch closely up until NSD.

  • Story
  • Highlights
  • Commitment Date: 7/6/2016
  • First on List: June 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #180 overall) – Rivals (4*, #228 overall) – 247 (3*, #70 OT) – ESPN (4*, #109 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #218 overall, #27 OT, #32 in Florida

15. OL: Henry Bainivalu, 6’5” 290lbs. Seattle, WA (Skyline) 

Bainivalu is on the list, once again. He’s a guy that’s a bit undervalued from the Michigan faithful though I believe he’s one of the highest ceiling lineman in the entire class. And UM is in great shape here. Bainivalu was unable to make it to town for the BBQ but is expected to take an official visit this fall. Though Washington is still a real threat, his spring visit and fit in the program has me sticking with my Crystal Ball prediction to Michigan.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good to Excellent
  • Highlights
  • First on List: May 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #230 overall) – Rivals (4*, #29 OT) – 247 (4*, #135 overall) – ESPN (4*, #160 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #185 overall, #22 OT, #4 in Washington
  • Crystal Ball: Michigan
  • Other Options: Alex Leatherwood, Aaron Banks, Austin Deculus, Chuck Filiaga, Jedrick Wills

16. OL: Isaiah Wilson, 6’7” 350lbs. Brooklyn, NY (Poly Prep) 

Photo Credit: Scout.com

Photo Credit: Scout.com

Wilson is right at the top of the “wish list” for Michigan staffers and fans, and things look to be trending towards the Maize and Blue. According to multiple reports, the BBQ was a big win for the Wolverines in their pursuit of Wilson and, with Alabama possibly not having the space to take him, Michigan is the favorite again. He’s scheduled to be back in Ann Arbor in November and, while I’m not expecting an in-person decision, UM should be the clear cut favorite going into and leaving that trip.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Excellent
  • Highlights
  • First on List: August 2015
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #68 overall) – Rivals (5*, #6 overall) – 247 (5*, #100 overall) – ESPN (5*, #2 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #35 overall, #9 OT, #1 in New York
  • Crystal Ball: None
  • Other Options: Alex Leatherwood, Aaron Banks, Austin Deculus, Chuck Filiaga, Jedrick Wills

17. OL: Tedarrell Slaton, 6’5” 350lbs. Ft Lauderdale, FL (American Heritage)

Photo Credit: 247Sports.com

Photo Credit: 247Sports.com

Slaton received my Crystal Ball prediction in mid-August and I continue to feel very confident in the choice. And that should be the case even if his teammate and good friend, Kai-Leon Herbert, jumps ship. Slaton has family in the state of Michigan and his relationships with the staff look to be stronger than anywhere else. At this point, I’d be very surprised if he ended up committing to anyone besides Michigan.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Excellent
  • Highlights
  • First on List: August 2015
  • Rankings: Scout (5*, #30 overall) – Rivals (4*, #56 overall) – 247 (4*, #157 overall) – ESPN (4*, #43 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #54 overall, #2 OG, #12 in Florida
  • Crystal Ball: Michigan
  • Other Options: Alex Leatherwood, Aaron Banks, Austin Deculus, Chuck Filiaga, Jedrick Wills

18. OC: Cesar Ruiz, 6’3” 315lbs. Camden, NJ (IMG Academy)

Photo Credit: 247Sports

After Alabama made a summer run on the Crystal Ball predictions, everything is firmly pointed back towards Michigan for Ruiz. He’s the top rated center prospect in the class and UM is in huge need of depth at the position. With the chance to play early and all of his deep ties to the staff and roster, it’s not smart to best against UM right now.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Excellent
  • Highlights
  • First on List: June 2015
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #98 overall) – Rivals (4*, #118 overall) – 247 (4*, #63 overall) – ESPN (4*, #70 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #66 overall, #1 C, #14 in Florida
  • Crystal Ball: Michigan
  • Other Options: Alex Leatherwood, Aaron Banks, Austin Deculus, Chuck Filiaga, Jedrick Wills

19. DT: Phillip Paea, 6’4” 280lbs. Berrien Springs, MI (Berrien Springs)

Paea is one of the biggest “just scratching the surface” members of the class. That’s in both his game and as a recruiter. He’s a raw talent but has the chance to be a very good defensive tackle thanks to his sneaky athleticism and wrestling background. As a recruiter, he told Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz about his plans for a “Poly pipeline” to Michigan ($). Some of the Poly recruits that he’ll likely be going after includes Henry Bainivalu, Jay Tufele and Sione Lund.

  • Story
  • Highlights
  • Commitment Date: 4/2/16
  • First on List: March 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (3*, #26 DT) – Rivals (3*, #16 OG) – 247 (3*, #27 DT) – ESPN (4*, #30 DT)
  • Composite Ranking: 3 star, #436 overall, #35 DT, #11 in Michigan

20. DT: Popo Aumavae, 6’4” 315lbs. Stockton, CA (St. Mary’s)

Photo Credit: Rivals.com

Aumavae is a player I’ve been very high on for awhile now. He’s high on Michigan and Michigan looks to be very high on him as well. As a fit at the defensive tackle position, which is greatly needed in this class, he’s a guy to keep an eye on from now until NSD, especially on his (expected) official visit.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: No
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: July 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #23 DT) – Rivals (3*) – 247 (3*, #44 DT) – ESPN (3*)
  • Composite Ranking: 3 star, #368 overall, #26 DT, #40 in California
  • Crystal Ball: None
  • Other Options: Jay Tufele, Hunter Echols, Robert Porcher IV, Donovan Jeter, Kwity Paye

21. DL: James Hudson, 6’5” 280lbs. Toledo, OH (Central Catholic) 

Photo Credit: Scout.com

Hudson is the latest commitment in the class and is a big time add for the staff. At 6’5” 280+, he has the size and athleticism to play all along the defensive line but is expected to play the 3-5 technique for Michigan. Though MSU was a close 2nd place finish, I don’t expect him to end up anywhere besides Ann Arbor, barring any craziness.

  • Story
  • Highlights
  • Commitment Date: 8/8/16
  • First on List: May 2016
  • RankingsScout (3*, #32 DE) – Rivals (4*, #233 overall) – 247Sports (4*, #221 overall) –ESPN (4*, #30 DE)
  • Composite Ranking: 3 star, #314 overall, #13 SDE, #15 in Ohio

22. DE: Luiji Vilain, 6’4” 235lbs. Ontario, Canada (Episcopal (VA)) 

Photo Credit: Hudl.com

Vilain was the 2nd Canadian addition the class and, like fellow Canadian Benjamin St-Juste, he’s a player with a very high ceiling. Though he’s already a top 100 recruit in the class, I firmly believe he’d be a top 50 guy, pushing for five star status, if he played his entire high school career in the US. Luckily for Michigan, they’ll get the chance to reap the benefits of his natural ability throughout his career.

  • Story
  • Highlights
  • Commitment Date: 6/12/16
  • First on List: March 2015
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #138 overall) – Rivals (4*, #181 overall) – 247 (4*, #85 overall) – ESPN (4*, #102 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #101 overall, #6 WDE, #3 in Virginia

23. DE: Corey Malone-Hatcher, 6’4” 240lbs. Saint Joseph, MI (St. Joe’s)

Malone-Hatcher is another one of those “scratching the surface” commitments mainly because of the injury that kept him out for a large portion of his junior season. But he’s back to 100% and should put on a show during his senior year. At Michigan, he’s projected to play weak side defensive end but he’ll continue to play linebacker and tight end throughout his senior season. If he stays healthy and plays well, he should rise back up the rankings. And don’t worry about him going anywhere in this class. He’s become the vocal leader and recruiter for the 2017 class.

  • Story
  • Highlights
  • Commitment Date: 6/2/16
  • First on List: March 2015
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #297 overall) – Rivals (4*, #14 SDE) – 247 (4*, #261 overall) – ESPN (4*, #273 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #281 overall, #17 WDE, #5 in Michigan

24. OLB: Drew Singleton, 6’3″ 215lbs. Paramus, NJ (Paramus Catholic)

Photo Credit: Steve Hockstein | For NJ Advance Media

Singleton has firmly been a member of this class prediction and continues to be a part of it, even after tearing his ACL and being out for the rest of his senior season. That injury is a hiccup at this point and I don’t believe it will affect his standing with the staff. His great relationships with both the players on the roster and staff have me still feeling very confident he’ll end up choosing Michigan over Clemson and others.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good to Excellent
  • Highlights
  • First on List: March 2015
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #68 overall) – Rivals (4*, #43 overall) – 247 (4*, #77 overall) – ESPN (4*, #131 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #60 overall, #3 OLB, #1 in New Jersey
  • Crystal Ball: Michigan
  • Other Options: Shanon Reid, Baron Browning, Juliano Falaniko, Ellis Brooks

25. OLB: Jordan Anthony, 6’1” 230lbs. Olney, MD (IMG Academy) 

Anthony is a player I’ve had Crystal Balled to Michigan since June and continue to feel confident in that choice. He’s another top target on the board that looks to have a great connection with the staff and has the athleticism UM is looking to add to the depth chart. While he was unable to visit for the BBQ, he’ll officially visit this weekend for the Wisconsin game and I believe he’s a visitor to watch. There are only so many LB spots in this class and he’s clearly a top target. It may not happen during the trip but the visit could be what solidifies Michigan at the top of his lis moving forward.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good to Excellent
  • Highlights
  • First on List: June 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #150 overall) – Rivals (4*, #70 overall) – 247 (4*, #200 overall) – ESPN (4*, #125 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #113 overall, #7 OLB, #23 in Florida
  • Crystal Ball: Michigan
  • Other Options: Shanon Reid, Baron Browning, Juliano Falaniko, Ellis Brooks

26. ILB: Josh Ross, 6’2″ 225lbs. West Bloomfield, MI (OLSM)

Photo Credit: MIPrepZone

Ross is easily one of the most solid commitments in the class. As a four star inside linebacker, he’s not only a big get for the staff but he’s also a player that should see the field quickly. He has the athleticism and instincts to be a game changer as both a blitzer and coverage linebacker in Don Brown’s defense.

  • Story
  • Highlights
  • Commitment Date: 3/22/16
  • First on List: March 2015
  • RankingsScout (4*, #230 overall) – Rivals (4*, #206 overall) – 247 (4*, #194 overall) – ESPN (4*, #234 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #218 overall, #10 ILB, #3 in Michigan

27. ILB: Ben Mason, 6’3” 245lbs. Newtown, CT (Sandy Hook)

Photo Credit: H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media

Mason is one of the two-way players in the class which makes him a player that doesn’t look to be going anywhere. His ability to play both linebacker and fullback at the collegiate level fits Harbaugh’s style to a tee. Outside of his on the field play, he’s also a pretty big recruiter for the class as he targets the east coast targets in Tarik Black and Isaiah Wilson. It’s looking highly unlikely he signs with anyone besides the Wolverines.

  • Story
  • Highlights
  • Commitment Date: 5/3/16
  • First on List: May 2016
  • RankingsScout (3*, #64 DE) – Rivals (3*) – 247 (3*, #35 ILB) – ESPN (4*, #28 OLB)
  • Composite Ranking: 3 star, #732 overall, #30 ILB, #5 in Connecticut

28. CB: Benjamin St-Juste, 6’3” 190lbs. Montreal, Quebec (Cegep du Vieux) 

Photo Credit: CEGEP du Vieux Montreal

St-Juste went from an unknown recruit to a legit four star cornerback after showing off the size and athleticism that the Michigan staff saw during the camp circuit. Besides recruiting analysts, other programs have started to take notice as well. Virginia Tech is the biggest new comer to extend an offer to St-Juste and is expected to receive an official this fall. However, it looks highly unlikely the Canadian standout leaves UM’s class.

  • Story
  • Highlights
  • Commitment Date: 6/23/2015
  • First on List: August 2015
  • Rankings: Scout (3*, #32 CB) – Rivals (4*, #215 overall) – 247 (4*, #92 overall) – ESPN (3*, #61 CB)
  • Composite Ranking: 3 star, #350 overall, #38 CB, #1 in Quebec

29. CB: Ambry Thomas, 5’10” 170lbs. Detroit, MI (King)

Photo Credit: CampusInsiders

Thomas looks to be the #1 priority on the defensive board and for good reason. Not only is he a top player in the state but he’s at a position that is in dire need of bodies in 2017. That available playing time and his connections to the current players, coaches and recruits is why I’m firmly sticking with my Crystal Ball prediction for Thomas to Michigan. He’s expected to announce his decision at the Army All-American game at the beginning of January.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good to Excellent
  • Highlights
  • First on List: March 2015
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #55 overall) – Rivals (4*, #174 overall) – 247 (4*, #32 overall) – ESPN (4*, #257 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #101 overall, #13 CB, #2 in Michigan
  • Crystal Ball: Michigan
  • Other Options: Brandon Sebastian, Shaun Wade, Matt Hankins, Elijah Hicks

30. CB: Darnay Holmes, 5’10” 190lbs. Calabasas, CA (Calabasas)

Photo Credit: MaxPreps

Holmes is back on the list because I’m sticking to my guns here. I put in my Crystal Ball prediction for Holmes to Michigan soon after his unofficial visit for the BBQ and still feel pretty good about it. However, UCLA is more than a threat here. They look to be the favorite right now because of his longtime relationship with Bruins DB coach Demetrice Martin but if they continue to struggle on the field, UM could take advantage. Add in his expected official visit after he finishes his standard testing, his close relationships with David Long and Kekoa Crawford, as well as the chance to play early and play multiple positions in Ann Arbor, I’m sticking with Michigan to pull off the shocker and sign Holmes.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: March 2015
  • RankingsScout (5*, #8 overall) – Rivals (5*, #15 overall) – 247 (5*, #18 overall) – ESPN (4*, #40 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 5 star, #11 overall, #2 CB, #3 in California
  • Crystal Ball: Michigan
  • Other Options: Brandon Sebastian, Shaun Wade, Matt Hankins, Elijah Hicks

31. SJaylen Kelly-Powell, 6’0” 183lbs. Detroit, MI (Cass Tech)

Photo Credit: YouTube.com

Kelly-Powell is, once again, the best bet on this list to eventually commit to Michigan. There’s really not much more to say about him that hasn’t been said 100 times before. It looks like he’ll continue to enjoy his recruitment and make a decision later on in the process. And that decision should be for the Wolverines.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Excellent
  • Highlights
  • First on List: May 2015
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #276 overall) – Rivals (3*, #27 S) – 247 (4*, #145 overall) – ESPN (4*, #265 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #259 overall, #19 S, #4 in Michigan
  • Crystal Ball: Michigan
  • Other Options: CJ Holmes, Matt Hankins, Grant Delpit, Elijah Hicks

32. S: J’Marick Woods, 6’4” 205lbs. Florence, AL (Florence)

Photo Credit: USATodayHSS

Woods has long been committed to Michigan and has been a top recruiter for the staff throughout the cycle. He’s been talking about helping build a pipeline from Alabama to Michigan, which Harbaugh and his staff have been trying to set up since they got to Ann Arbor. Look for Woods to, not only sign with UM, but to be a big reason why others sign with UM moving forward.

  • Story
  • Highlights
  • Commitment Date: 3/28/16
  • First on List: April 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #26 S) – Rivals (3*, #36 S) – 247 (3*, #32 S) – ESPN (4*, #21 S)
  • Composite Ranking: 3 star, #334 overall, #26 S, #17 in Alabama

33. S/LB: Markquese Bell, 6’3” 195lbs. Bridgeton, NJ (Bridgeton) 

Bell is a player I’ve consistently put on and taken off this list. He’s a player that looks to be a great fit into Michigan’s defense as a long, rangy, hybrid safety/linebacker and the coaching staff knows it. Now, question is, how hard will they push to add him to the list? He’ll officially visit Ann Arbor this weekend, which could push and solidify UM at the top of his list. I’m not 100% confident in his addition but, if the staff pushes hard for him, I believe they’ll get him.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: September 2015
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #201 overall) – Rivals (4*, #226 overall) – 247Sports (4*, #235 overall) – ESPN (4*, #93 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #179 overall, #6 ATH, #3 in New Jersey
  • Crystal Ball: None
  • Other Options: Juliano Falaniko, Shanon Reid, CJ Holmes, Grant Delpit

34. S/LB: Brelin Faison-Walden, 6’1” 200lbs. Greensboro, NC (Grimsley) 

Photo Credit: InsideCarolina.com

Photo Credit: InsideCarolina.com

Could Jim Harbaugh really flip another Penn State commit? While it’s a bit of a reach at this point, I’m going out on a limb and saying yes. And Faison-Walden is, by far, the best bet. He’s a player that reminds me a ton of 2016 signee and PSU flipper, Khaleke Hudson, thanks to his athleticism and versatility at the safety position. With Michigan in need of more safeties in this class because of depth concerns and the extremely hot seat under James Franklin, I could see UM making a move soon. This weekend could be the first wiggle as BFW is reportedly taking a visit to Ann Arbor for the Wisconsin game.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Good (Committed to Penn State)
  • Highlights
  • First on List: Now
  • Rankings: Scout (3*, #34 S) – Rivals (4*, #23 OLB) – 247Sports (3*, #32 OLB) – ESPN (3*, #37 S)
  • Composite Ranking: 3 star, #442 overall, #27 OLB, #14 in North Carolina
  • Crystal Ball: None
  • Other Options: Juliano Falaniko, Shanon Reid, CJ Holmes, Grant Delpit

Projected Class Score: 304.70 (per 247Sports

If Michigan were to finish with the class above, it would be one of their best in the history of the program. The score would be better than Alabama’s #1 class in 2016 though it would (likely) still struggle to surpass Ohio State’s class this year for the top spot. But that shouldn’t make it look bad. OSU’s class is one of the best of all time and this is only Jim Harbaugh’s 2nd full class since taking over the Wolverines program. Not too bad, if it were to pan out this way.

Just Missed

  • DL Deron Irving-Bey
    • DIB was the last name taken off the list because of numbers alone. He’s a guy I believe could definitely end up at Michigan as momentum looks to be firmly in UM’s corner at the moment. However, MSU has long been the favorite here and will fight tooth and nail to land the Flint standout.
  • DT Jay Tufele
    • Tufele is another top target for the Michigan staff and is a player I believe could very well end up in this class. He’s expected to officially visit Ann Arbor this fall and that could be a game changer. But, until then, it’s hard to put him in this class with Ohio State looking like they’re still in the driver’s seat.
  • OLB Juliano Falaniko
    • Falaniko is another name to watch very closely for this class. Though he’s committed to USC, according to multiple reports, he’s open to what Michigan could offer him. Distance may end up being a bit of a factor for the American Samoan but he’ll be able to figure out if the trip is worth it during his official visit later this year.
  • CB Brandon Sebastian
    • Sebastian was the recipient of one of Michigan’s latest 2017 offers which means he’s a name to watch closely. Though he’s committed to Boston College at the moment, he’s high school teammates with WR Tarik Black and looks very open to hearing more about what Michigan has to offer. If the staff wants him, it’s hard to see them not getting him.
  • OL Chuck Filiaga
    • Filiaga is another high level recruit that the staff looks to be quite high on. He’ll officially visit this weekend for the Wisconsin game and things could start to pick up even more. At this point, there’s just not enough to put him on the full list. But he’s a name to watch.
  • OL Austin Deculus
    • The LSU commit is a player that could be back on the open market in the near future after Les Miles was fired this past weekend. Michigan was a finalist for him when he made his commitment to the Tigers so they’re a team to watch if/when he opens things back up.
  • OLB Shanon Reid
    • Reid is another player that will officially visit Michigan this weekend and a player that, though he doesn’t receive a ton of publicity, could very well end up in this class. According to multiple reports, he’s down to UM and Mississippi State. This looks like another recruitment that, if the staff pushes, they can definitely get him.
  • RB Stephen Carr or RB Najee Harris
    • I’m feeling better and better about Michigan’s chances to add another running back to the class and these two elite prospects look to be, by far, the top targets.
      • With Carr, USC is falling apart and it’s looking more and more likely that Clay Helton will be fired. If that happens, the door opens for UM to steal the talented tailback. However, there’s a chance he stays out west either way.
      • As for Harris, he’s arguably the top over target on the staff’s wish list. Though committed to Alabama, he’s shown a lot of love for Michigan and Jim Harbaugh over the past couple months, especially after visiting for the BBQ in August. It’s looking unlikely he leaves the Crimson Tide but, if he does, UM is the safest bet to flip him.

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Photo Credit: Patrick Barron/MGoBlog

Garrett Fishaw

Born and raised in Metro Detroit. Played soccer and graduated from Seton Hill University. SEO and Content Specialist. Owner and Managing Editor of MGoFish.com