2017 Best Guess Recruiting Class: April 26th

Thanks to the spring game and junior day weekend, Michigan’s 2017 recruiting class is much more filled up. That definitely helps out with my latest class prediction but there is still so much time to go so a ton of questions remain. Some of the hardest positions to predict include both defensive end and tackle, as well as a 2nd receiver and the cornerback position.

But after reading the tea leaves, talking to some of the top targets and doing some research, I’ve put together my April version of my 2017 Best Guess Recruiting Class.

Before we dive into the names, a quick couple things of note:

So, without further adieu, 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)

Ray Chen/ArrayPhoto.com

Photo Credit: Ray Chen/ArrayPhoto.com

The five star and #1 overall quarterback in the class is well known for his family (son of former NFL receiver Ed and brother of Stanford star running back Christian) but looks likely to make a big name for himself at the college level. He not only comes from a family full of elite athletes but he may be the best of the bunch. His size, athleticism, mechanics and pocket presence mixed with the tutelage of Jim Harbaugh gives him a chance to be a star in the Maize and Blue.

2. RB: Kurt Taylor, 5’8” 195lbs. Covington, GA (Newton) 

Photo Credit: Kurt Taylor

Photo Credit: Kurt Taylor

The three star is a tough, stout, quicker than fast running back that loves contact. When you look at how built he is for a high school student (or anyone for that matter), you can see why he has no problem looking for defenders. Though he can also beat the defense with a quick first step, he has similar running style to former Wolverine, Mike Hart. But he’s also a name to watch until the finish line as other programs look to be ramping up the pressure.

3. RB: AJ Dillon, 6’1” 235lbs. Groton, MA (Lawrence Academy) 

Photo Credit: Sam Feeley/TheGrotOnline

Photo Credit: Sam Feeley/TheGrotOnline

The four star back is the prototypical Jim Harbaugh recruit. He’s a very smart player both on and off the field, plays and excels at multiple positions and happens to do so with a hard nosed mentality. And that is what jumps off the screen on his highlight tape. At Michigan, he could be a workhorse similar to DeVeon Smith.

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

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin

Kenn Rodriguez-News-Bulletin

The three star back (but rising) is one of the best athletes in the entire class. He proved his all around athleticism at The Opening Regional camp at JerryWorld, posting a 138.30 rating (which is the best in the class so far) against some of the top players in the nation. That speed, strength, agility and physical build is what the staff wants and needs out of another running back in the 2017 class as he’s the true home run threat the depth chart needs. If he takes to the coaching, he could be a star for the Wolverines.

5. FB: Chase Lasater, 6’2” 238lbs. Jacksonville, FL (Trinity Christian)

The unranked Floridian is the first full back commit of the Harbaugh era and looks to be a perfect fit in UM’s pro-style, ground and pound offense. He is a physical, hard nosed, athletic player that plays both fullback and linebacker for his high school but is expected to be used primarily on offense in the Maize and Blue.

6. WR: Donovan Peoples-Jones, 6’2″ 175lbs. Detroit, MI (Cass Tech)

(via Julian H. Gonzalez, Detroit Free Press)

The five star remains on the list though it’s truly tough to know what exactly he’ll do. He’s one of the toughest players to predict at this point with basically every top program making him a priority but thanks to his family ties to UM and familiarity with the staff, I’ll stick with Michigan. Add in the likelihood of a very nice 2016 season for the Wolverines and that should help keep the top player in the state close to home.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good
  • First on List: March 2015
  • Highlights
  • Other Options: Nico Collins, KJ Hamler, Joseph Lewis, Isaiah Hodgins, Leroy Henley

7. WR: Tarik Black, 6’3” 185lbs. Cheshire, CT (Cheshire Academy) 

This spot is a difficult one to predict. There have been reports that Michigan may only take one true receiver in this class but if they are indeed planning on bringing in 28-32 recruits in 2017, I can’t imagine them not taking a 2nd receiver. That is where the four star comes into play. I believe Stanford, UCLA and Notre Dame are right at the top along with Michigan and Alabama but with a great 2016 season, UM could end up landing the big play receiver over the other elite programs.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Good to Very Good
  • First on List: May 2015
  • Highlights
  • Other Options: Nico Collins, KJ Hamler, Joseph Lewis, Isaiah Hodgins, Leroy Henley

8. TE: Matt Dotson, 6’5” 235lbs. Cincinnati, OH (Moeller)

The four star out of Ohio has been a name I’ve been watching pretty closely for over a year now as he looked to be one of the best tight ends in the region. Well, he finally landed his offer from Michigan not too long ago and visited two weeks ago, which looks to have pushed UM out front of his recruitment. If they stay on him and keep pushing, I believe they’ll land the Moeller standout sooner rather than later.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good to Excellent
  • First on List: Now
  • Highlights
  • Other Options: Jimmy Jaggers, Major Tennison

9. TE: Carter Dunaway, 6’6” 225lbs. Bloomfield Hills, MI (Brother Rice)

Photo Credit: MIPrepZone/Jason Schmit

Photo Credit: MIPrepZone/Jason Schmit

The three star is a legacy recruit as his father Craig played for Bo from 1980-82 and his brother Jack will be joining Michigan this summer as a preferred walk-on. Add in his lifelong affinity for the Maize and Blue, and this was a quick and easy decision that only took two weeks after landing his offer.

10. OT: JaRaymond Hall, 6’5″ 255lbs. Oak Park, MI (Oak Park)

(via scout.com)

While the four star was not the most offered recruit in the state (at the time of his UM offer), he is a player that was expected to blow up on the scene throughout his recruitment. Though I don’t believe it would change his decision to Michigan as he’s looked like a near lock to end up in the Maize and Blue since the day they offered. Add in how high the staff is on him and something big would have to happen for him not to sign with the Wolverines on NSD.

11. OT: Isaiah Wilson, 6’7” 322lbs. Brooklyn, NY (Poly Prep) 

Photo via Isaiah Wilson

Photo via Isaiah Wilson

The five star has gone from favoring to Michigan to the Wolverines being among his top schools. Bad sign? I don’t believe so. UM was his leader really early on and with visits under his belt, it’s a good sign that they’re still in the running unlike the neighbors to the south. There’s still plenty of time and Alabama looks to be a the biggest contender for Michigan. With a great year on the field and the staff continuing to make him a priority, UM could land their top OL target in a long time.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good
  • First on List: August 2015
  • Highlights
  • Other Options: Trey Smith, Aaron Banks, Foster Sarell, Henry Bainivalu, Walker Little, Alex Forsyth

12. OL: Tedarrell Slaton, 6’5” 325lbs. Ft Lauderdale, FL (American Heritage) 

(via 247sports.com)

The five star lineman is an elite level player and has continued to name Michigan his leader multiple times over the past year. And he continues to say they are his leader. With him valuing education just as much as football, Michigan looks to be the best for him and could steal one of the top players out of the Sunshine State because of it.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Excellent
  • First on List: August 2015
  • Highlights
  • Other Options: Brett Neilon, Wyatt Davis, Henry Bainivalu, Jordan Reid, Popo Aumavae, Joshua Fedd-Jackson

13. OL: Robert Hainsey, 6’5” 280lbs. Monroeville, PA (IMG Academy)

Rivals.com

Rivals.com

The four star Florida transplant (Monroeville, PA) is another versatile standout lineman that looks to be at the very top of the staff’s board. He could play tackle or guard at the next level and fits the nastiness that Drevno wants from his lineman. But will they be able to pull him away from rumored longtime favorite MSU? It’ll be tougher than most think and if he takes his time, this fall could be a deciding factor as both programs look to be hitting a crossroad.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good
  • First on List: May 2015
  • Highlights
  • Other Options: Brett Neilon, Wyatt Davis, Henry Bainivalu, Jordan Reid, Popo Aumavae, Joshua Fedd-Jackson

14. OL: Cesar Ruiz, 6’4” 290lbs. Camden, NJ (IMG Academy)

(via 247sports.com)

The four star New Jerseyan is the top center in the class and a top target for the staff. But does Michigan love him at center? Brett Neilon could be the top center on the board but Ruiz is a priority thanks to his ability to be a standout at any interior position. Thanks to that prioritization and his familiarity with UM (has visited several times in the past; former teammates in the 2016 class), I believe he ends up choosing the Wolverines whenever he makes his final decision.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good to Excellent
  • First on List: June 2015
  • Highlights
  • Other Options: Brett Neilon, Drew Dalman, Wyatt Davis, Jordan Reid, Popo Aumavae

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

The rising three star is a big, physical and versatile athlete that could play multiple positions at the next level. In high school, he plays both offensive guard and defensive tackle but thanks to his wrestling background, it looks like he’ll be a run stuffing big man in the middle of the Wolverines defense for years to come.

16. DT: Neil Farrell, 6’4” 295lbs. Mobile, AL (Murphy) 

Mike Kittrell | preps@al.com

Mike Kittrell | preps@al.com

The defensive tackle spot is another one that is difficult to predict at this point. There are plenty of names on the board but UM doesn’t look to be clearly standing out to any of the names that are takes at this point (Corey Bolds and Fred Hansard don’t look to be takes at this point, per Wolverine247). So, I went with the three star. He’s an up and coming prospect and Michigan looks to have got in at the perfect time. He told Scout’s Chad Simmons that Michigan is in his top three, along with LSU and Clemson ($). If UM pushes for him and is able to build the relationship over the summer (at the satellite camp or UM camp), they could land another up and coming Alabama prospect.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: No
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good
  • First on List: Now
  • Highlights
  • Other Options: Corey Bolds, Marlon Tuipulotu, Popo Aumavae, Greg Rogers, Darnell Ewell 

17. DT: Jay Tufele, 6’3” 285lbs. South Jordan, UT (Bingham) 

Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune

Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune

The four star tackle looks to be one of the top DTs on the staff’s board and is taking a liking to what UM, especially Tony Tuioti, is pitching. With the high need for tackles and the budding relationship between him and the staff, as well as their prioritization of his teammate Langi Tuifua, Michigan could pull two of the top players out of Utah.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: No
  • Michigan’s Chances: Good
  • First on List: February 2016
  • Highlights
  • Other Options: Corey Bolds, Marlon Tuipulotu, Popo Aumavae, Greg Rogers, Darnell Ewell

18. DE: Langi Tuifua, 6’3” 210lbs. South Jordan, UT (Bingham) 

Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune

Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune

The four star end has been committed to Oregon since July 2015 and looks pretty solid in his commitment. However, there’s plenty of time left in the cycle and with the arrival of Brady Hoke as the new Ducks DC, he could look around a bit. And Michigan is said to be very high on him. Add in the chance he’d have to team up with UM’s other top defensive line target and teammate Jay Tufele in Ann Arbor, and I’m going out on a bit of a limb to predict them both to the Wolverines.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Committed to Oregon (Good)
  • First on List: Now
  • Highlights
  • Other Options: Deron Irving-Bey, DJ Johnson, Guy Thomas, Labryan Ray

19. DE: Luiji Vilain, 6’4” 235lbs. Alexandria, VA (Episcopal) 

Photo Credit: CanadaFootballChat.com

Photo Credit: CanadaFootballChat.com

Vilain, who is a four star and very familiar with the program after visiting multiple times in the past, is a name to watch very closely. All of his trips were with teammate and good friend Jonathan Sutherland for the Sound Mind Sound Body camp in Detroit, another prospect I’m very high on and believe would be a great fit for UM’s secondary. If the staff pushes for then, they could definitely land the Canadian duo.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good
  • First on List: March 2015
  • Highlights
  • Other Options: Deron Irving-Bey, DJ Johnson, Guy Thomas, Labryan Ray

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

There isn’t an uncommitted player on this list that I’m more confident in choosing Michigan than the versatile four star defender. He’s one of the top players in the state and pass rushers in the Midwest, and could be a really nice fit in Don Brown’s blitz heavy defense. An exact decision date doesn’t look to be set just yet but it looks like it could come at any time in the not-so-distant future.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Excellent
  • First on List: March 2015
  • Highlights
  • Other Options: Deron Irving-Bey, DJ Johnson, Guy Thomas, Labryan Ray

21. LB: Drew Singleton, 6’2″ 215lbs. Paramus, NJ (Paramus Catholic)

via Twitter.com)

The four star standout may be the top defensive target on the staff’s board and for good reason. Not only is he out of Michigan’s top out-of-state pipeline school but he also happens to be one of the best linebackers in the class. And though Clemson is a very real threat here, all of his visits to Ann Arbor and strong relationships with current players and coaches should put UM over the top whenever he ends up making his decision.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good
  • First on List: March 2015
  • Highlights
  • Other Options: Willie Gay, Jordan Anthony, Will Ignont, Leonard Warner, Sampson Niu

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

(via @Joshua_Ross05/Twitter)

The four star is one of the top 2017 linebackers and players in the state. While he was a top target for the previous coaching staff, he became a true priority when Harbaugh took over. And for good reason. There aren’t many linebackers that are better pure tacklers in the class which should make him a great fit at the SAM or MIKE spot in Brown’s defense.

23. CB: Benjamin St-Juste, 6’3” 170lbs. Montreal, Quebec (Cegep du Vieux) 

Hudl.com

Hudl.com

The three star Canadian committed to the 2016 recruiting class over the summer after putting on a standout performance at the UM camp. But because of the Canadian high school system, he reclassified to the 2017 class. This is actually a good move for both St-Juste and Michigan as it will allow him to continue to grow as a player and will give the staff even more time to evaluate his play.

24. CB: Randall Haynie, 6’0” 175lbs. Fort Lauderdale, FL (Cardinal Gibbons)

@SleeperAthletes

@SleeperAthletes

The three star is a new name to the list after he told 247Sports that Michigan was his leader, even before visiting Ann Arbor. Though it’s not known where he sits on the board, he looks to be a player that would the defense really well. He also happens to be from a powerhouse program in Florida so pulling a player out of CG could be a huge coup for the staff moving forward.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: No
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good to Excellent
  • First on List: Now
  • Highlights 
  • Other Options: Deommodore Lenoir, Jaylon Redd, Amir Riep, Stanford Samuels III, Kary Vincent Jr

25. CB: Alex Perry, 5’10” 165lbs. Las Vegas, NV (Bishop Gorman)

Bleacher Report

Bleacher Report

The four star corner is a former Arizona State commit but with his spring game weekend visit to Michigan and an offer in hand, he looks to be a top candidate for Michigan. According to Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz, Perry is a top target for the staff and is a sure fire “take” ($). If UM keeps pushing for him and can get him back on campus for another visit this summer and/or fall, they could land the BG star.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good
  • First on List: Now
  • Highlights 
  • Other Options: Deommodore Lenoir, Jaylon Redd, Amir Riep, Stanford Samuels III, Kary Vincent Jr

26. CB: Ambry Thomas, 5’10” 160lbs. Detroit, MI (King)

via YouTube.com

The four star in-state standout has long been a part of this list and things are looking better and better for Michigan as the cycle moves forward. Not only is he a priority for the staff but he’s also cousins with DB Jaylen Kelly-Powell, who could end up committing to UM in the next couple months. If JKP chooses Michigan, like expected, odds will definitely increase for UM with Thomas.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good
  • First on List: March 2015
  • Highlights 
  • Other Options: Deommodore Lenoir, Jaylon Redd, Amir Riep, Stanford Samuels III, Kary Vincent Jr

27. DB: Jaylen Kelly-Powell, 6’0” 183lbs. Detroit, MI (Cass Tech)

YouTube.com

YouTube.com

The four star safety out of Cass Tech has long looked like he’d commit to Michigan. However, he held off on his plans to announce a decision after his junior year as Ohio State looked to be gaining ground. Well, according to his dad’s interview with TMI’s Sam Webb, things have now completely swayed back to UM ($). A decision looks to be coming in the next couple months and, at this point, it should be for the Wolverines.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Excellent
  • First on List: May 2015
  • Highlights
  • Other Options: AJ Harris, Markquese Bell, Collin Smith, Chaz Ah You, Paris Ford

28. S: J’Marick Woods, 6’3” 205lbs. Florence, AL (Florence)

USATodayHSS

USATodayHSS

Woods is one of the biggest safeties in the class. At 6’3″+, he has the size, length and athleticism to be a real game changer on the backend of the defense. Though he’s still a bit raw as a cover man, he can play the centerfield position with the best of them thanks to that length and ball hawking ability. Something every defensive coordinator wants and needs.

29. S: Jonathan Sutherland, 6’0” 190lbs. Alexandria, VA (Episcopal) 

Photo Credit: Hudl.com

Photo Credit: Hudl.com

The four star safety has been a name on the Michigan recruiting board since the Hoke era thanks to multiple trips made to the Sound Mind Sound Body camp in Detroit. Though he’s originally from Canada, he and his good friend/teammates Luiji Vilain moved to Virginia to show off their talents on the gridiron. Thanks to that, he’s received an offer from the staff thanks to his big hits and big play ability. With the familiarity already there, if the staff pushes, I believe they land both Canadian transplants in this class.

  • Offer: Yes
  • Visit: Yes
  • Michigan’s Chances: Very Good
  • First on List: March 2015
  • Highlights
  • Other Options: AJ Harris, Markquese Bell, Collin Smith, Chaz Ah You, Paris Ford

Projected Class Score: 301.98 (per 247Sports)

If Michigan ended with this class and somehow no one’s rankings changed (not sure which one is less likely to happen), UM would sign one of its best classes of all time. It also would have ended up being the best class in the nation in 2016 (.55 better than Alabama’s).

Just Missed

  • DE DJ Johnson
    • Johnson is a top candidate to be a part of this class and was the last name I took off of this list. He looks to be very high on UM early and if the staff can get him on campus this summer and/or fall, they could really make a move for his pledge.
  • OC Brett Neilon
    • Neilon was another last minute subtraction because of numbers. Though, if Webb is right, there’d definitely be a spot for the California center. It looks to be a UM vs USC battle here with Michigan in solid shape to steal one from the Trojans.
  • ATH Deejay Dallas
    • Dallas is one of the most versatile players in the class and reminds me a bit of Jabrill Peppers. And he happens to be very high on Michigan. If UM and Peppers have a great 2016 season and Dallas gets to campus, they could move firmly ahead of Georgia and Miami.
  • WR Nico Collins
    • According to 247Sports, Michigan is pitching Collins on being “the man” for the UM offense. With his ties to the state and program, a visit could go a very long way. If he does make it to campus this offseason, the staff could possibly steal Alabama’s top in-state player.
  • TE Jimmy Jaggers
    • I’ve had Jaggers on the list from the start so it was tough to take him off now. However, Dotson looks like the much safer bet to take the 2nd tight spot at this point though I still wouldn’t rule out Jaggers joining the class later on.
  • FB Ben Mason
  • DE Deron Irving-Bey
    • DIB very recently received his offer from the staff and is starting to blow up on the recruiting trail. As an in-state guy, Michigan has a fantastic shot here but it depends on how hard they push. At this point, I’m leaning towards MSU for him but UM could definitely make a move quickly.
  • ATH Markquese Bell
    • There were some rumors floating around that Bell nearly committed to Michigan after/during his spring visit but he held off. And now, it looks like he could stay in-state and join the Chris Ash movement at Rutgers, according to Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz.
  • OG Jordan Reid
    • Reid recently named his top teams, which included Michigan, and mentioned that he was close to making a decision. While I don’t think UM would turn down his commitment, they look to have other lineman higher on the their board. This will be an interesting decision, whenever it’s made.
  • S AJ Harris
    • Michigan looked extremely close to landing Harris’ commitment a couple weeks ago but things went array and now it looks like he’s not a take for the staff at this time. However, things could definitely change with so much time remaining in the cycle.

What do you think of the class? How about my predictions for the tougher positions to guess (DE, DT, CB)? Let me know what you think and how you think the class will look in 9 months in the comment section below!

Photo Credit: TOLEDO BLADE/LORI KING