2018 Best Guess Recruiting Class: February 9th

The 2017 class is officially in the books and all eyes have now turned to the 2018 class, and that includes the eyes of the Michigan coaching staff. A boat load of offers have gone out to 2018 targets but most of the top targets early on look to have gained their offers from the staff. And that’s who makes up the majority of my latest BGRC.

Here’s how I put together my class prediction:

  • Class Size: This is the million dollar question at the beginning of every class. And, like always, the exact answer will not be known until NSD. But just looking at the expected departures plus the normal attrition that comes with every season, I have this class being much smaller than the previous two classes.
  • Position Numbers: With a limited amount of space in this class, the staff will have to choose exactly which position it will load up on with tight end and defensive backs being a main focus. Besides those two position groups, I expect the staff to use the smaller sized class to pitch elite talents to be the only commit of the class. That includes running back, wide receiver and inside linebacker.
  • Class Attrition: Michigan has only two commits in the class so far and both look to be pretty safe bets to remain. However, you never know what will happen over a year of recruiting.

Chances Key:

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

Check out my latest 2018 Michigan football recruiting class prediction:

1. QB: Dorian Thompson-Robinson , 6’1” 195lbs. Las Vegas, NV (Bishop Gorman)

Photo Credit: Review Journal

Photo Credit: Review Journal

Thompson-Robinson is now well known as the top quarterback on the staff’s board. He’s one of the top athletes in the class, as he played both quarterback and wide receiver as a junior, and has the tools to be a superstar as a duel threat quarterback. And Jim Harbaugh could be the perfect coach for him. Michigan could use a running threat on the depth chart and knows it.  Add in DTR’s mother being a UM alum and his planned return visit to Ann Arbor this spring, and I’m feeling good enough here to put my Crystal Ball in for DTR to Michigan.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good to Excellent
  • Highlights
  • First on List: August 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #74 overall) – Rivals (4*, #54 overall) – 247 (4*, #70 overall) – ESPN (4*, #107 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: Four star, #52 overall, #4 Duel QB, #2 in Nevada
  • Crystal Ball: Michigan
  • Other Options: Cameron Rising, Theo Day

2. RB: TJ Pledger, 5’9” 185lbs. West Hills, CA (IMG Academy) 

Photo Credit: Michael Owen Baker/LA Daily News

Photo Credit: Michael Owen Baker/LA Daily News

For awhile now, Steve Lorenz has mentioned multiple times that Pledger is the staff’s top running back target in this class. And it’s for good reason. Michigan will likely look to only take one super in this class and Pledger is definitely one of those. He’s a lightning fast, shifty back that reminds me of former Cal Bear and Detroit Lions RB Jahvid Best. With Michigan pushing hard for him to be “the guy” in this class and an early relationship already formed between both parties, I’m going out on a limb and predicting Jay Harbaugh and the Wolverines pull the five star talent away from USC, Notre Dame and many others.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: No
  • Michigan’s Chances: Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: August 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #19 overall) –  Rivals (4*, #30 overall) – 247 (4*, #65 overall) – ESPN (4*, #47 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: Five star, #25 overall, #2 RB, #4 in Florida
  • Crystal Ball: None
  • Other Options: Markquese Stepp, Chris Curry, James Cook Jaelen Gill 

3. WR: Jahan Dotson, 6’0” 160lbs. Hightstown, NJ (The Peddle School)

Dotson is one of the top ranked receivers in the class and just so happens to be from one of the staff’s favorite states. There isn’t too much of a connection built just yet but with the staff offering him early on and him being one of Pep Hamilton’s first visits after joining the UM staff, he’s a guy to watch throughout the cycle as the staff will likely look to be very particular with the one, maybe two, receivers they take in this class.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Good to Very Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: August 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #39 overall) – Rivals (4*, #102 overall) – 247 (4*, #96 overall) – ESPN (4*, #96 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: Four star, #59 overall, #7 WR, #2 in New Jersey
  • Crystal Ball: None
  • Other Options: Austin Osborne, Jalan Hall, Justyn Ross, Amon-Ra St.Brown, Marquis Spiker, Brian Hightower

4. TE: Will Mallory, 6’5” 210lbs. Jacksonville, FL (Providence) 

Mallory is one of the fast rising recruits in this class and also happens to look like one of the best bets on the board. Though he’s starring as a wide receiver at the high school level, his frame is set for him to be a pass catching tight end in a college offense. And all signs point to Michigan as he’s related to three previous Wolverines, including his father, Mike Mallory, who was a standout linebacker for the Wolverines in the mid-80’s.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Excellent
  • Highlights
  • First on List: May 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #132 overall) – Rivals (4*, #53 WR) – 247 (4*, #300 overall) – ESPN (4*, #114 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: Four star, #227 overall, #11 TE, #41 in Florida
  • Crystal Ball: Michigan
  • Other Options: Jeremy Ruckert, Mustapha Muhammad, Malcolm Epps, Brevin Jordan, Judge Culpepper

5. TE: Zach Sheffer, 6’3” 230lbs. Ponte Verda, FL (Nease)

The staff is looking to take a couple tight ends in this class and with Mallory looking like a lock to fill at least one spot as a true pass catching tight end, I believe Sheffer is the odds on favorite to fill the H-Back role. His game reminds me a lot of Khalid Hill’s as his big body, athleticism and pass catching ability make him a true threat out of the backfield or in a route tree. Michigan has already been all over him early on. He looks like a great fit in a Harbaugh-run team.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: Now
  • Rankings: Scout (3*) – Rivals (3*, #14 TE) – 247 (3*, #19 TE) – ESPN (
  • Composite Ranking: Four star, #77 overall, #3 TE, #2 in New York
  • Crystal Ball: None
  • Other Options: Jeremy Ruckert, Mustapha Muhammad, Malcolm Epps, Brevin Jordan, Judge Culpepper

6. OT: Daniel Faalele, 6’9” 390lbs. Melbourne, Australia (IMG Academy)

Photo Credit: Rivals.com

Photo Credit: Rivals.com

Faalele is the biggest recruit in this class. Both physically and question mark wise. Though he’s extremely raw (in a report from ESPN, he didn’t even know what a first down was when he got to IMG), he’ll be a problem for defenders once he truly learns the game thanks to already having elite size and good athleticism. Michigan was lucky enough to see him up close and personal during the satellite camp to Australia over the summer and with the early offer, they could be the favorites here. He’s definitely a name to watch very closely.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: No
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: Now
  • Rankings: Scout (NR) – Rivals (NR) – 247 (NR) – ESPN (NR)
  • Composite Ranking: None
  • Crystal Ball: None
  • Other Options: Richard Gouraige, Marquan McCall, Michael Furtney, Brey Walker, Jamaree Salyer, Curtis Dunlap, Finn Dirstine

7. OL: Antwan Reed, 6’5” 290lbs. Muskegon, MI (Muskegon) 

Reed is an interesting recruit this cycle. My Crystal Ball has been on Michigan for him since he received his offer from the staff but it’ll be interesting to see how hard they push for the big man from Muskegon. If he’s a take all day and they make him a priority, I think he’s very likely to choose the Wolverines. But, we’ll see exactly how big of a target he is during the spring and summer.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: No
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: May 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (3*) – Rivals (4*, #193 overall) – 247 (4*, #287 overall) – ESPN (4*, #323 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: Four star, #305 overall, #26 OT, #6 in Florida
  • Crystal Ball: Michigan
  • Other Options: Richard Gouraige, Marquan McCall, Michael Furtney, Brey Walker, Jamaree Salyer, Curtis Dunlap, Finn Dirstine

8. OL: Penei Sewell, 6’4” 319lbs. Saint George, UT (Desert Hills)

Sewell is one of the top offensive lineman in the class and looks to be a top target for the staff as well. He was a late scratch to the BBQ of the Big House last summer but both parties still look to be very interested in one another. This should be a long, tough recruitment but with Michigan getting in early and in need of top lineman in the class, I like where things stand early on here.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: No
  • Michigan’s Chances: Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: August 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #54 overall) – Rivals (4*, #57 overall) – 247 (4*, #61 overall) – ESPN (4*, #234 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: Four star, #83 overall, #9 OT, #1 in Utah
  • Crystal Ball: None
  • Other Options: Richard Gouraige, Marquan McCall, Michael Furtney, Brey Walker, Jamaree Salyer, Curtis Dunlap, Finn Dirstine

9. OG: Emil Ekiyor, 6’3” 325lbs. Indianapolis, IN (Cathedral) 

Photo Credit: Rivals.com

Photo Credit: Rivals.com

Ekiyor was the 2nd addition to the class and is a guy that shouldn’t be taken for granted. With the staff always in need of talented lineman, he’s one of the top interior lineman in this class. It will be interesting to see how much his game grows over his senior year but all signs point to him remaining one of the higher ranked players in this class.

  • Story
  • Highlights
  • Commitment Date: October 2nd
  • First on List: Now
  • RankingsScout (4*, #123 overall) – Rivals (4*, #135 overall) – 247 (4*, #124 overall) – ESPN (4*, #74 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: Four star, #99 overall, #4 OG, #1 in Indiana

10. DT: Tyler Friday, 6’3” 260lbs. Ramsey, NJ (Don Bosco) 

Photo Credit: Scout.com

Photo Credit: Scout.com

Friday is another highly ranked player that Michigan is sitting in great position with early on. He visited over the summer which looked to give UM a step up on the competition. My Crystal Ball is already in for the Wolverines as I believe the staff will continue to push for the versatile big man. Expect him back on campus this spring and/or summer.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: May 2016
  • RankingsScout (4*, #61 overall) – Rivals (4*, #33 overall) – 247 (4*, #51 overall) – ESPN (4*, #102 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #38 overall, #2 DT, #1 in New Jersey
  • Crystal Ball: Michigan
  • Other Options: Michael Thompson, Taron Vincent, Matthew Jones, Austin Fontaine, Rick Sandidge

11. DL: Thomas Booker, 6’4” 260lbs. Baltimore, MD (Gilman) 

Photo Credit: GridironJersey

Photo Credit: GridironJersey

Booker is another versatile defensive lineman that Michigan looks to be in great shape with early on. The staff made sure to offer him early on, which helped their chances. But the thing that really looks like it could put/keep UM out front is his former coach, Biff Poggi, being on the Wolverines staff. Look for Poggi and the other coaches to try and get Booker on campus this spring and/or summer.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: No
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: May 2016
  • RankingsScout (4*, #125 overall) – Rivals (4*, #210 overall) – 247 (3*, #363 overall) – ESPN (3*, #269 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: Four star, #249 overall, #19 ATH, #11 in Maryland
  • Crystal Ball: None
  • Other Options: John Waggoner, Michael Thompson, Taron Vincent, Matthew Jones, Austin Fontaine, Rick Sandidge

12. DE: Aidan Hutchinson, 6’6” 240lbs. Dearborn, MI (Divine Child) 

Photo Credit: TheWolverine.com

Photo Credit: TheWolverine.com

Hutchinson is my early bet to end up finishing the class as the top ranked player in the state of Michigan for 2018. At 6’5”, his length and athleticism makes him a dominant force at the high school level. But it’s his motor and tenacity that stands out the most. He looks like a great fit for Brown’s defense and Mattison’s defensive line. And it looks very likely they’ll get to chance to coach him as he looks to be one of the safest bets in this class as he’s another legacy recruit (son of former UM standout Chris Hutchinson).

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Excellent
  • Highlights
  • First on List: May 2016
  • RankingsScout (4*, #201 overall) – Rivals (3*) – 247 (4*, #80 overall) – ESPN (4*, #94 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: Four star, #199 overall, #8 SDE, #2 in Michigan
  • Crystal Ball: Michigan
  • Other Options: John Waggoner, Dorian Hardy, Micah Parsons, KJ Henry, Tyreke Smith

13. OLB/DE: Nik Bonitto, 6’4” 210lbs. Ft. Lauderdale, FL (St Thomas Aquinas)

Photo Credit: 247sports

Photo Credit: 247sports

Pass rushers are a huge part of Don Brown’s defensive scheme and Bonitto is one of the best in the class. And that early pitch from the staff looks to be working as Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz is hearing that Michigan is in good shape early on ($). As a top player in the Sunshine State, he’ll be a tough pull but I like UM’s chances right now.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: No
  • Michigan’s Chances: Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: Now
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #139 overall) – Rivals (4*, #187 overall) – 247 (4*, #47 overall) – ESPN (
  • Composite Ranking: Four star, #75 overall, #3 WDE, #18 in Florida
  • Crystal Ball: None
  • Other Options: John Waggoner, Dorian Hardy, Micah Parsons, KJ Henry, Tyreke Smith

14. OLB: Otis Reese, 6’2” 195lbs. Lee County, GA (Lee County)

Photo Credit: TheWolverine.com

Photo Credit: TheWolverine.com

Reese was the first member of this class and may end up being the highest ranked get for the staff by the time NSD rolls around. His athleticism, length and instincts make him a dominant force in high school. If he shows those skills off at camps throughout the spring and summer, he should continue to shoot up the rankings. As for Michigan’s chances to hold onto him, things look as good as ever after Aubrey Solomon signed on NSD.

  • Story
  • Highlights
  • Commitment Date: 6/20/16
  • First on List: August 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #191 overall) – Rivals (4*, #203 overall) – 247 (4*, #108 overall) – ESPN (4*, #194 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: Four star, #185 overall, #8 S, #7 in Georgia

15. LB: Kolin Demens, 6’2” 195lbs. Beverly Hills, MI (Country Day)

Photo Credit: Brice Marich/TMI

Photo Credit: Brice Marich/TMI

Demens is the younger brother of former Michigan standout linebacker, Kenny Demens, which is an obvious reason why UM is in great position here. Add in being an in-state talent that should continue to rise up the rankings as NSD nears. Though he may not be the staff’s #1 target at the interior linebacker position, he’s a guy that’s hard not to put in this class. As long as he’s a take, it just seems like it’s a matter of time before he’s a part of this class.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Excellent
  • Highlights
  • First on List: May 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (3*) – Rivals (3*, #23 OLB) – 247 (3*, #14 ILB) – ESPN (3*, #255 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 3 star, #446 overall, #14 ILB, #12 in Michigan
  • Other Options: Dallas Gant, Teradja Mitchell, Solomon Tuliaupupu, Palaie Gaoteote 

16. CB: Kalon Gervin, 5’11” 180lbs. Detroit, MI (Cass Tech) 

Gervin is this class’ Cass Tech standout and another top in-state recruit. He’s an athletic cornerback that the staff looks to be in fantastic shape with early on. The CT connections, early offer and the need for defensive backs in this class have me feeling pretty good about him eventually committing to UM but it’s not as much of a slamdunk as some may think. He has plenty of suitors and should be a name to watch throughout the cycle.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Excellent
  • Highlights
  • First on List: May 2016
  • RankingsScout (4*, #296 overall) – Rivals (4*, #90 overall) – 247 (4*, #147 overall) – ESPN (4*, #192 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #222 overall, #17 ATH, #3 in Michigan
  • Crystal Ball: Michigan
  • Other Options: Kyler McMichael, Brendon Radley-Hines, Derrik Allen, Olijah Griffen, Jalen Green

17. DB: Josh Jobe, 6’1” 180lbs. Miami, FL (Columbus) 

Photo Credit: Miami Herald

Photo Credit: Miami Herald

Jobe is one of the top defensive backs in this class and happens to be teammates with sophomore OLB Josh Uche. And though he’s already committed to nearby Miami, he’s shown plenty of interest in Michigan early on. That included an unofficial visit to campus in early November, which looks to have put UM in contention. As a local kid, he’ll be tough to pull from the Hurricanes but Michigan and Alabama look to be in good position to do so.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Committed to Miami (Good)
  • Highlights
  • First on List: Now
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #42 overall) – Rivals (4*, #163 overall) – 247 (4*, #86 overall) – ESPN  (4*, #80 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: Four star, #63 overall, #12 CB, #16 in Florida
  • Crystal Ball:
  • Other Options: Kyler McMichael, Brendon Radley-Hines, Derrik Allen, Olijah Griffen, Jalen Green

18. S: Myles Sims, 6’3” 160lbs. Atlanta, GA (Westlake) 

Myles “Spider” Sims is another top target out of SEC country that Michigan looks to be making a move with early on. According to Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz, Michigan has a “legitimate” shot with after the staff stopped by to see him in January ($). He’ll be a very tough pull out of the home of the SEC but the early pursuit and need at safety makes him a real possibility.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: No
  • Michigan’s Chances: Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: Now
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #83 overall) – Rivals (4*, #63 overall) – 247 (3*, #28 S) – ESPN (4*, #211 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: Four star, #210 overall, #17 S, #20 in Georgia
  • Crystal Ball: None
  • Other Options: Shayne Simon, Josh Proctor, Tyreke Johnson, Amari Burney, BJ Foster

Projected Class Score: 273.54 (per 247Sports)

At this point, this would be a very nice class for Michigan. This score would have landed them the #7 class in the 2017 rankings and the #10 class in 2016. But this early on is hard to judge, class score wise, as several of the names above will likely see a nice jump in the rankings as camps and their senior seasons take place.

Just Missed/Names to Remember

  • TE Jeremy Ruckert
  • LB Teradja Mitchell
  • OG Marquan McCall
  • DT Michael Thompson
  • DE Dorian Hardy
  • WR Amon-Ra St. Brown
  • DT Taron Vincent
  • WR Jalan Hall
  • CB Kyler McMichael
  • Shayne Simon
  • DE KJ Henry
  • LB Solomon Tuliaupupu
  • DE John Waggoner
  • OL Colten Blanton

Photo Credit: Bryan Fuller/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