2018 Best Guess Recruiting Class: August 30th

Still a ways away, the 2018 recruiting class is starting to gain more and more traction on the trail as the recruits head into their junior seasons. But one team that hasn’t made too big of a push just yet for those junior prospects is Michigan. The staff looks to be mainly focused on wrapping up the 2017 class but that hasn’t meant a lack of 2018 news.

Michigan lost two commitments earlier this month in DL Leonard Taylor, who looked very likely to decommit sooner or later, and OG Jalil Irvin, who mentioned “lack of communication” as a main reason. The latter is another prime example of the staff focusing on the senior class more than the junior class. Though, that doesn’t mean they’re not still keeping tabs on their top targets.

The 2018 class will be much smaller than the 2016 and 2017 class for Michigan, which means the staff will be much pickier with their offers and accepted commitments than in years past.  Looking at the current scholarship numbers and adding in a projected 30 person class in 2017, the number looks to be around 12-15 for the 2018 class (depending on 5th year players not coming back). Add in the likelihood of transfers and other departures, I have the list below at 18 members.

So, enough with the explanation, check out my first 2018 Best Guess Recruiting Class prediction:

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

1. QB: Dorian Thompson-Robinson, 6’2” 195lbs. Las Vegas, NV (Gorman)

Photo Credit: 247Sports.com

Thompson-Robinson is the top quarterback on Michigan’s board and for good reason. Not only is his mom an alum of the University but his true duel-threat playing style would give the depth chart something it hasn’t had since Denard Robinson. The staff will continue to pitch him on being the duel threat in the QB room but will need to be on their A-game throughout as he’s admitted that UCLA is his leader at this point. This will be a tight race between the two programs up until he makes his decision next May but with Jedd Fisch making him a main priority, I’ll go out on a limb and add him to this class.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: Now
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #74 overall) – Rivals (4*, #53 overall) – 247 (4*, #74 overall) – ESPN (4*, #96 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #54 overall, #4 Duel QB, #2 in Nevada
  • Crystal Ball: None
  • Other Options: Artur Sitkowski

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

Photo Credit: Michael Owen Baker/LA Daily News

Pledger looks to be the biggest shot in the dark on this list. Coming out of California, most have him pegged to stay in-state and play for USC. And while the Trojans are the early favorites, look for Michigan to make a push for him throughout the cycle. With the lower number of scholarships, the staff will be able to pitch one super to be the lone back in the class, Pledger could very well be their main target. His speed and elusiveness would be a dynamic addition to the power backs on UM’s depth chart.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: No
  • Michigan’s Chances: Fair to Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: Now
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #19 overall) – Rivals (4*, #56 overall) – 247 (4*, #205 overall) – ESPN (4*, #43 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #58 overall, #3 APB, #8 in California
  • Crystal Ball: None
  • Other Options: Jordan Moore, Jaelen Gill, Fabian Franklin, Andrew Cunningham 

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

Photo Credit: TheOZone.net

Dotson is one of the top ranked receivers in the class and, like the other skill positions in this class, Michigan will have the chance to pitch him on being the only player at his position in this class. He visited Ann Arbor back in June. With UM’s New Jersey connections, he should remain a top option for this class moving forward.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: Now
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #37 overall) – Rivals (4*, #77 overall) – 247 (4*, #92 overall) – ESPN (4*, #87 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #52 overall, #6 WR, #2 in New Jersey
  • Crystal Ball: None
  • Other Options: Jalen Hall, Marquis Spiker, Austin Osborne, Justin Shorter, Jasiah Provillon 

4. WR/TE: Will Mallory, 6’5” 200lbs. Jacksonville, FL (Providence)

Photo Credit: Scout.com

Mallory is the son of former Michigan linebacker Mike Mallory which is a big reason why he’s one of the safest bets to end up in this class. UM offered the versatile big man back in May of 2015 and quickly jumped to the top of his list. Though he’s since landed offers from the likes of Alabama, USC and Miami, all signs continue to point towards the Wolverines here.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Excellent
  • Highlights
  • First on List: May 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #248 overall) – Rivals (4*, #240 overall) – 247 (4*, #262 overall) – ESPN (4*, #103 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #222 overall, #11 TE, #36 in Florida
  • Crystal Ball: Michigan
  • Other Options: Malcolm Epps, Zach Sheffer, Trenton Gillison, Judge Culpepper

5. TE: Mustapha Muhammad, 6’4” 225lbs. Missouri City, TX (Ridge Point)

Photo Credit: Hudl.com

According to Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz, Muhammad is the #1 tight end target on the board for Michigan. He’s the prototypical, pass catching tight end prospect that has the frame and athleticism to be a big time player in college. Thanks to the staff’s heavy pursuit and his visit to Michigan in June, UM looks to have as good of a chance as anyone to land him.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: Now
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #41 overall) – Rivals (4*, #242 overall) – 247 (4*, #142 overall) – ESPN (4*, #40 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #100 overall, #5 TE, #12 in Texas
  • Crystal Ball: None
  • Other Options: Malcolm Epps, Zach Sheffer, Trenton Gillison, Judge Culpepper

6. OT: Antwan Reed, 6’5” 285lbs. Muskegon, MI (IMG Academy)

Photo Credit: Scout.com

Reed is a player that I quickly put in a Crystal Ball prediction to Michigan after receiving his offer from the staff. Being from Muskegon, UM was in very good shape right away. However, he decided to make the move down to Florida and enroll at IMG Academy which has clearly made things a little cloudy on UM’s chance. That move will likely mean he’ll receive even more attention from the nation’s top programs but I’m sticking with the home state love to win out in the end.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: May 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (3*) – Rivals (4*, #183 overall) – 247 (4*, #237 overall) – ESPN (4*, #220 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #291 overall, #28 OT, #5 in Michigan
  • Crystal Ball: None
  • Other Options: Richard Gouraige, Nicholas Petit-Frere, Colten Blanton 

7. OL: Penei Sewell, 6’4” 320lbs. St George, UT (Desert Hills) 

Photo Credit: RecruitingNewsGuru

Sewell is a name to remember throughout the 2018 recruiting cycle. He earned his offer from Michigan back in May and quickly looked to become a top offensive line target for the staff. That early offer and pursuit had him planning on visiting for the BBQ but he was unable to make it up to Ann Arbor. As a top talent and Poly player, look for both Tim Drevno and Tony Tuioti to make him a priority moving forward.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: No
  • Michigan’s Chances: Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: Now
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #51 overall) – Rivals (4*, #44 overall) – 247 (4*, #50 overall) – ESPN (4*, #222 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #67 overall, #9 OT, #1 in Utah
  • Crystal Ball: None
  • Other Options: Richard Gouraige, Nicholas Petit-Frere, Colten Blanton 

8. OG: Marquan McCall, 6’4” 320lbs. Oak Park, MI (Oak Park) 

McCall is a player that looked to be the next possible addition to the class for Michigan but a recent trip to Tennessee looks to have put things on pause a bit. While the Vols look to be a definite threat, I still believe the Wolverines will win out in the end thanks to his proximity to Ann Arbor and relationships with the coaches and recruits/players. Though, as the top player in the state, he won’t be an easy pull.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good to Excellent
  • Highlights
  • First on List: May 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #77 overall) – Rivals (4*, #32 overall) – 247 (4*, #70 overall) – ESPN (4*, #194 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #70 overall, #2 OG, #1 in Michigan
  • Crystal Ball: Cloudy
  • Other Options: Emil Ekiyor, Marcus Tank Jenkins, Richard Gouraige, Colten Blanton 

9. DT: Michael Thompson, 6’4” 290lbs. Saint Louis, MO (Parkway North)

Photo Credit: 247Sports.com

Thompson is a name that hasn’t received much attention from the world of Michigan recruiting coverage but is a name to remember moving forward. According to Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz, Thompson is not only a top target for the UM staff but the Wolverines may already be his leader ($). It’s still very early and he’s one of the top 100 players in this class but, at this point, he’s a guy that Michigan looks to have a very good chance at landing in the future.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: No
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: Now
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #54 overall) – Rivals (4*, #92 overall) – 247 (4*, #44 overall) – ESPN (4*, #203 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #75 overall, #10 DT, #1 in Missouri
  • Crystal Ball: None
  • Other Options: John Waller, Taron Vincent, Shabazz Dotson, Matthew Jones, Leonard Taylor 

10. DL: Thomas Booker, 6’4” 255lbs. Baltimore, MD (Gilman) 

Booker is another player whose offer from Michigan looks to have possibly put the Wolverines out front for his services. Though he’s listed by some as a tight end, Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz is reporting that UM is targeting him at the defensive tackle position. With former Gilman head coach, Biff Poggi, a part of the UM coaching staff, things look very good for Booker to end up in Ann Arbor at this point.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: No
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: May 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #126 overall) – Rivals (4*, #188 overall) – 247 (3*, #313 overall) – ESPN (3*, #259 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #233 overall, #12 TE, #7 in Maryland
  • Crystal Ball: None
  • Other Options: John Waller, Taron Vincent, Shabazz Dotson, Matthew Jones, Leonard Taylor 

11. DL: Tyler Friday, 6’3” 255lbs. Ramsey, NJ (Don Bosco)

Photo Credit: Scout.com

Friday is another highly ranked defensive lineman that Michigan is in great shape with early on. He was offered almost a year ago, has received multiple visits from Chris Partridge and unofficially visited Ann Arbor in June, which looks to have put the Wolverines out front. Though it’s early, he’s a guy I’ve already put in my Crystal Ball for to Michigan thanks to the heavy pursuit from the staff, need for defensive tackles in the class, connections to New Jersey and his first visit to campus.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good to Excellent
  • Highlights
  • First on List: May 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #60 overall) – Rivals (4*, #26 overall) – 247 (4*, #35 overall) – ESPN (4*, #92 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #34 overall, #2 DT, #1 in New Jersey
  • Crystal Ball: Michigan
  • Other Options: John Waller, Taron Vincent, Shabazz Dotson, Matthew Jones, Leonard Taylor 

12. DE: Aidan Hutchinson, 6’5” 235lbs. Dearborn, MI (Divine Child) 

Photo Credit: Hudl.com

There may not be a player that I feel more confident in Michigan landing in 2018 than Hutchinson. He’s the son of former UM defensive standout, Chris Hutchinson, and is a top target for the staff in this class. Though he’s likely to blow up even more on there recruiting trail, all signs continue to point for him to end up in Ann Arbor.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Excellent
  • Highlights
  • First on List: May 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #203 overall) – Rivals (3*) – 247 (4*, #84 overall) – ESPN (4*, #85 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #198 overall, #8 SDE, #2 in Michigan
  • Crystal Ball: Michigan
  • Other Options: KJ Henry, Micah Parsons, Xavier Thomas, Malik Vann, Leonard Taylor 

13. DE: Dorian Hardy, 6’5” 245lbs. Montvale, NJ (St. Joseph)

Photo Credit: 247Sports.com

Hardy is another highly ranked defensive lineman that visited Ann Arbor a couple months ago and now looks to have the Wolverines near the top of his list. Though he’s said that Alabama was the “offer he’s always wanted”, that unofficial visit to Michigan in May and the staff’s high need of pass rushers in this class has me keeping the highly ranked New Jersey talent on the list.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good to Excellent
  • Highlights
  • First on List: May 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #195 overall) – Rivals (4*, #76 overall) – 247 (4*, #201 overall) – ESPN (4*, #70 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #117 overall, #6 SDE, #5 in New Jersey
  • Crystal Ball: None
  • Other Options: KJ Henry, Micah Parsons, Xavier Thomas, Malik Vann, Leonard Taylor 

14. OLB: Otis Reese, 6’3” 195lbs. Leesburg, GA (Lee County) 

Photo Credit: Lee County High School

Reese was said to be the staff’s top SAM linebacker target in the 2018 class. So, landing him as early as they did was a celebration at Schembechler Hall. However, being a top talent out of the south means he’s a guy who will be tough to hold onto throughout the cycle. His teammate, 2017 DT Aubrey Solomon, already proved how easily a southern commit can leave the class. Difference there though is the fact that Reese had been very high on the Wolverines since landing his offer from the staff back in April. The LSU offer is one to watch but, at this point, things continue to look good for UM.

  • Story
  • Highlights
  • Commitment Date: 6/20/16
  • First on List: Now
  • Rankings: Scout (4*, #229 overall) – Rivals (3*, #29 S) – 247 (4*, #122 overall) – ESPN (4*, #184 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #236 overall, #22 S, #21 in Georgia

15. LB: Antwuan Johnson, 6’2” 225lbs. Springfield, OH (Springfield)

Johnson is another committed linebacker whose teammate decommitted from Michigan. However, unlike Reese, the UM staff should not have as much trouble holding onto his commitment. Though Ohio State and other Midwest powers are likely to come calling, I believe Johnson stays in this class throughout the cycle.

  • Story
  • Highlights
  • Commitment Date: 3/21/16
  • First on List: May 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (3*) – Rivals (3*, #12 ILB) – 247 (4*, #164 overall) – ESPN (4*, #204 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #298 overall, #6 ILB, #14 in Ohio

16. LB: Kolin Demens, 6’1” 205lbs. Beverly Hills, MI (Country Day)

Photo Credit: Scout.com

Demens is yet another name on the list that I feel very good about joining the class thanks to his family ties to the program. His older brother, Kenny, played linebacker for the Wolverines so the family is already full of UM fans. With athletic linebackers consistently being a high need for UM and the likelihood of Demens making several visits to Ann Arbor throughout the cycle, hard not to put him on the list.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Excellent
  • Highlights
  • First on List: May 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (3*) – Rivals (3*, #19 OLB) – 247 (3*, #10 OLB) – ESPN (3*, #246 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 3 star, #378 overall, #10 OLB, #8 in Michigan
  • Crystal Ball: Michigan
  • Other Options: Solomon Tuliaupupu, Bumper Pool, Palaie Gaoteote, Jacquez Jones, DeAndre Square

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

Photo Credit: Scout.com

Gervin is the next big thing expected to come out of Cass Tech as he’s been a well-known name on the recruiting front for quite awhile now. And, like most top in-state players, this will very likely be a Michigan-Michigan State battle. He’s made several visits to both schools but with his connections to multiple players in Ann Arbor and the chance to be one of the only DBs in the class, I’m leaning towards the Maize and Blue here.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good to Excellent
  • Highlights
  • First on List: May 2016
  • Rankings: Scout (3*, #298 overall) – Rivals (4*, #83 overall) – 247 (4*, #119 overall) – ESPN (4*, #192 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 4 star, #202 overall, #14 ATH, #3 in Michigan
  • Crystal Ball: Michigan
  • Other Options: Brendon Radley-Hines, Derrik Allen, Kyler McMichael, Olijah Griffen

18. S: Chamarri Conner, 6’1” 190lbs. Jacksonville, FL (Trinity Christian) 

The safety position will easily be one of the most prioritized positions in this class because of depth chart concerns. They’ll be looking for a player that could come in and compete right away. Though Conner may not be the top ranked safety, he’s a big, physical player that looks to fit exactly what the staff wants out of their safeties. With the UM offer in his pocket, the Wolverines look to be near the top of his list. They’ll likely need to battle several other Power 5 programs for him throughout the cycle if they want to land him.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: No
  • Michigan’s Chances: Good
  • Highlights
  • First on List: Now
  • Rankings: Scout (3*) – Rivals (3*, #21 S) – 247 (3*, #280 overall) – ESPN (4*, #159 overall)
  • Composite Ranking: 3 star, #324 overall, #28 S, #56 in Florida
  • Crystal Ball: None
  • Other Options: Amari Burney, Tyreke Johnson, Cam Taylor, Jaiden Woodbey, Aashari Crosswell 

Just Missed

  • TE Malcolm Epps
    • Though still committed to Alabama, most analysts believe his decommitment is just a matter of time. If/when that happens, Michigan looks to easily be one of the most realistic landing spots thanks to the staff’s pursuit and the tight end posibilities in Ann Arbor.
  • QB Artur Sitkowski
    • Originally, I had my Crystal Ball on Michigan for Sitkowski as he looked to be the staff’s #1 target for the position in the class and he was all about what UM had to offer. However, the staff looks to have pulled off a bit and now Florida looks to be the leader here.
  • ATH Davion Williams
    • The basketball player turned part time football player made his way to Ann Arbor for the BBQ and looks to be extremely high on Michigan. However, he has yet to play a high school football game or earn an offer. There’s a good chance he shows out on the gridiron this fall. So, look out for him moving forward.
  • ATH Cam Taylor
    • Taylor is a player that would likely commit to Michigan as soon as possible, if it would be accepted. However, that looks to be the biggest hangup at this point. Though he’s one of the most physically impressive players in the class at this point, the staff looks to be slow playing him a bit to see how he performs during his junior and senior seasons.
  • DL Leonard Taylor
    • Taylor, unsurprisingly, decommitted from Michigan right before this list came out. He was a surprise commitment in the first place and the fact that he didn’t hide his openness to visit, not only other schools, but Ohio State multiple times were a big red flag. With his decommitment, OSU looks to be the likely landing spot.
  • OG Jalil Irvin
    • Though he wasn’t as unsurprisingy as a decommitment as Taylor, Irvin’s departure from the class didn’t send shockwaves throughout the UM recruiting world. He was a player that committed quickly before his offers started to come in. Though he’s originally from Detroit, the SEC offers now on hand look likely to win out here.

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Photo Credit: ESPN.com

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