One Team’s Struggles are Harbaugh’s Gains: Elsewhere Committed Prospects to Watch

Michigan football has seen just about all there is to see in college football in the past 24 months. Two years ago the Wolverines were having one of their worst seasons in their storied history and on the verge of firing athletic director, Dave Brandon, and head coach, Brady Hoke.

Today, Michigan is ranked No. 4 in the AP poll and just inches away from a winner-take-all game with Ohio State at the end of the season which could propel the Wolverines to their first Big Ten title game and potentially a spot in the College Football Playoff.

With several normal power teams having subpar seasons, would Jim Harbaugh consider seeking out their commits to gage their interest in coming to Michigan? Harbaugh’s first four weeks on the job proved he can convince players that had not been recruited by Michigan at all to sign. Now, he has a full season under his belt and the beginning of what could turn out to be something special with a 6-0 start.

Here is a list of potential new targets for Michigan:

LSU (3-2)

LSU has fired Les Miles and are on the path to restructure their program.

  • DB JaCoby Stevens: An athletic, playmaking defensive back.
  • DL Neil Farrell: Michigan should jump in Farrell’s running at this point in time.
  • OL Austin Deculus: Was on Michigan’s radar before committing to LSU.
  • OL Saahdiq Charles: A 6-foot-4, 315-pound guard prospect.
  • OL Seth Stewart: A monster of a man at 6-foot-9, 320-pounds.

Notre Dame (2-4)

There was lots of talk about Notre Dame in August and it has all faded away after a disappointing 2-4 start. Brian Kelly has not looked that great either.

  • TE Cole Kmet: A pro-style tight end prospect.
  • OL Joshua Lugg: At 6-foot-7 and almost 300 pounds, Lugg would fit well with Michigan’s offensive line.
  • ATH CJ Holmes: At 6-foot, 200 pounds, Holmes is an athlete that can play a similar position to Jabrill Peppers. Also happens to be Tarik Black’s teammate.

USC (3-3)

Clay Helton appears to be in over his head at USC’s big stage program.

  • RB Stephen Carr: Mutual interest with Michigan for a long time.
  • DE Hunter Echols: Camped at Michigan over the summer before committing to USC.
  • LB Juliano Falaniko: Harbaugh and Tony Tuioti seemed to make Polynesian prospects a priority. Falaniko is an excellent linebacker from Samoa.
  • WR Randal Grimes: Tall receiver at 6-foot-4.

Florida State (4-2)

Yes, Florida State is 4-2. But no that is not to the standard Jimbo Fisher has set. In other words, on October 1, they were basically disqualified from winning the National Championship and the buzz of Fisher to LSU has already started.

  • CB Stanford Samuels: Has been recruited by Michigan for a long time and shown some interest in return.
  • TE Alex Marshall: An interesting tight end prospect at 6-foot-7, 240-pounds.
  • DT Cody Durden: Another interesting FSU commit at 6-foot-4, 287-pounds in the middle of the d-line.

Oregon (2-4)

The Ducks are simply not flying this year.

  • ATH Jaylon Redd: Redd is an explosive offensive threat much like Eddie McDoom was a year ago.
  • DT Rutger Reitmaier: Was just offered by Michigan.
  • TE Tre McKitty: A very versatile tight end that could fit Michigan’s multi-tight end offense.

Oklahoma (3-2)

Boomer Sooner, a playoff team a year ago, not only is already out of the running this year, but looked dreadful against Houston and at home against Ohio State.

  • LB Jacob Phillips: Definitely a longshot possibility because Phillips has already used four out of five official visits and has not been in communication with Michigan.
  • OL Tyrese Robinson: Robinson has great size at 6-foot-5, 300-pounds. Was once offered by Michigan and has been committed to Oklahoma since January.

Michigan State (2-3)

It has been rough going for Michigan State thus far. Most notably, the stereotypical dominant defense is nonexistent and therefore can’t hide the lack of offensive firepower.

  • ATH Darien Clemons: Clemons is an excellent high school running back and defensive back, but has great instincts, as a linebacker/safety. He could turn out to be like former Spartan, Denicos Allen.
  • TE Matt Dotson: Committed to Michigan State over Michigan in July.
  • DE Lashawn Paulino: A very athletic defensive end from Florida, Paulino could flourish with Michigan’s d-line success after a few years in the strength program; he only weighs 230 pounds.

Stanford (3-2)

Not the season that the Cardinal faithful saw coming as they’ve already fallen behind the eight ball in terms of an Pac 12 title.

  • ATH Sione Lund: Michigan has been in the mix for Lund for a while and with Stanford’s slow start, could land him in Ann Arbor.
  • TE Colby Parkinson: Michigan is in need of tight ends and Parkinson fits Harbaugh’s mold at 6-foot-4, 235-pounds.
  • WR Osiris St. Brown: Could be the best of the St. Brown brothers.

Rutgers (2-4)

Rutgers is not a good football team or program right now. Period.

  • LB Tyshon Fogg: Michigan has not offered, but Fogg is a decent linebacker prospect.
  • ATH Tyler Hayek: Hayek has Harbaugh player written all over him. Although he only has four offers, he can play either cornerback or receiver well. At 6-foot-4, he is potentially a great fit opposite LaVert Hill/David Long.

Penn State (4-2)

It does not seem likely that James Franklin will be back at Penn State next year and would not be surprising if their commits wouldn’t consider a team that blasted them, 49-10.

  • S/LB Brelin Faison-Walden: Michigan is in the market for at least one more linebacker, likely 2-3.
  • DB Jonathan Sutherland: Sutherland and Michigan commit Luiji Vilain are friends and once played together in Canada.
  • WR Mac Hippenhammer: Michigan can afford to sign four receivers this class and have none committed. Yes, there are 3-4 prospects that are highly interested, but Hippenhammer is a nice prospect to at least inquire.

Iowa (4-2)

Even though Iowa is 4-2, they have two losses… already. They still have to play Wisconsin, Michigan, and Nebraska.

  • DE AJ Epenesa: Michigan had offered before Epenesa commited to the Hawkeyes. Yes, Michigan has three other defensive ends committed, but there is always room for one more.

Which struggling teams do you think Harbaugh could target on the recruiting trail? Let us know in the comment section below! 

Photo Credit: Irish Sports Daily/Twitter 

Evan Paputa

Evan Paputa

Born and raised in Plymouth, Michigan. Primarily a writer for The D Zone, but will be guest writing for MGoFish in addition.
Evan Paputa