Inside the Fish Bowl Already Sees the 2021 Finish Line

After landing two four-star wide receivers and taking the 2021 recruiting class to 20 members deep, the staff can be really picky with its remaining spots. An exact number isn’t known or set yet since it’s only July. But there’s a good sense of where the staff is expecting the total to be and that looks to be around 23-26 signees with likely attrition (it’s a damn near given these days) to the current commitment list prior to National Signing Day.

So, the million dollar question, who could fill those final 3-6 spots?

Here’s my breakdown of the current Michigan recruiting board:

There are a lot of wanted names left on the board in each category but with only so many spots available, so many needs already checked off, and extremely positive trends on top 2022 targets and the staff will be playing with nothing but house money if they can land their priority targets.

NFL Lineage on the Line

Ed Warinner has been putting in work on the recruiting trail since day one of his arrival in Ann Arbor. This class is no different as he’s already received the pledges from four lineman in top-100 OT Giovanni El-Hadi, three-star OT Tristian Bounds, four-star C/G Raheem Anderson and four-star G/C Greg Crippen.

To wrap up the 2021 offensive line haul, Warinner and the staff have two top-100 interior lineman at the top of board, both of which are sons of former NFL standouts.

The main guy on the priority list above is the top 50 in-stater who just so happened to set his announcement date for later this summer.

Spindler is the 50th ranked overall player in the 247Sports Composite Ranking and would be the highest ranked lineman for the Wolverines. But first, the staff has to secure that commitment.

For months now, it has been a back and forth tug-o-war between Michigan and Notre Dame for the four-star guard. The Crystal Balls are split down the middle with Michigan/midwest writers feeling positive for Michigan and the Notre Dame side feeling good about the Irish, as normal.

That 50/50 split is quite normal on 247 for a top-end target when its these two teams battling it out but as things get closer to the finish line, I believe the sway will go to the in-staters for the son of former Detroit Lions standout DL Marc Spindler.

The Wolverines’ EJ Holland has continued to feel confident in his FutureCast to Michigan for months ($), comparing his recruitment multiple times to Braiden McGregor‘s a year ago.

The Notre Dame momentum seemed to die down a bit Coronavirus pandemic has rolled on. Michigan has really separated themselves as a program on the recruiting trail during these times and the Spindler recruitment could be a clear sign of that if the staff can receive his commitment.

But here’s the thing; Spindler may not be the first top interior lineman target to decide this summer.

Four-star, top 100 Noble & Greenough (MA) OG Drew Kendall has been set for a summer decision for quite some time, with July looking like the target month. Well, guess what month it is?

Michigan has had the Crystal Ball, FutureCast, Best Guess Recruiting Class, and overall lead/momentum for months now. Most, including myself thought he would’ve already committed to the class long ago.

Kendall’s decided to wait and take his time, which is almost always the best move. However, like mentioned above, there are only so many spots available and the four-star knows that himself.

Michigan already has two interior lineman committed and has all of its eggs in the Spindler basket. Unless you’re new to the sport, it’s pretty rare to see four interior lineman on the field at once. Add in what Warinner and the Wolverines have put together in terms of guard gets in the last two classes, you can see why numbers are a real factor.

So, will it deter Kendall from joining? Well, Spindler isn’t committed just yet and according to EJ Holland, “Kendall wants to make his decision this month and definitely before Spindler.” ($).

There has been a lot of rumors of things falling off for Michigan the longer this recruitment went on, especially with Kendall’s father, Pete Kendall, a Boston College alum and longtime NFL guard, still holding out hope for his son to follow in his footsteps with the Eagles.

Stanford is another team making a strong push but besides some confidence levels going down a bit the Crystal Ball board remains 100% in favor of Michigan.

Holland is still feeling it’ll be Michigan and his colleague at Rivals, Adam Friedman continues to hear good things for the Wolverines, including Kendall already getting his academic plan in place in Ann Arbor ($).

If/when Kendall follows through with the longtime lean to the Wolverines, no matter what happens with the Spindler announcement, this offensive line haul will be stacked.

But both would be much better.

More Positive Momentum in Michigan

The top name on the staff’s board for pretty much all of this cycle has been top 50 four-star West Bloomfield (MI) RB Donovan Edwards. But even though he’s long been atop the board, Michigan wasn’t always at the top of his. Ohio State was a well-known favorite in the spring but once the Buckeye staff added a second running back to the class, it opened the door back up for the Wolverines.

Fast forward to today and Michigan looks to have a firm hold here.

The staff has consistently made him a priority and have yet to land a back in this class. Edwards has always felt Michigan but as a national recruit, kept his options open with the top suitors.

Oklahoma and Georgia continue to be threats here but both also look to have higher priorities on their running back boards.

A commitment date isn’t set and he’s long been a guy that wanted to take all of his visits. However, there continues to be rumors of him ending things earlier than that.

At this point, whether he commits tomorrow or in December, I’d be shocked if it weren’t the Wolverines.

As for another guy I’d be pretty shocked if he didn’t end up choosing Michigan is the other in-stater on the priority list above, four-star Oak Park (MI) DT Rayshaun Benny.

I made a bold move by taking Benny off my 2nd Best Guess Recruiting Class at the last second because of a numbers crunch as he looked to be open to so many teams. Teams like Iowa, Kentucky, Penn State, Arkansas and a darkhorse in Ohio State were fully involved. But that clearly looks to have been a mistake as the four-star lineman is now heavily trending to Michigan as TMI’s Steve Lorenz and Sam Webb have their Crystal Ball predictions in for the Wolverines, and EJ Holland has put in his FutureCast as well.

Benny recently told Rivals’ Josh Helmholdt that he wanted to wait until December to make a decision after he can take more visits ($), though he knows that may not be possible.

A legit national level recruit at one of the most important positions of need in this recruiting cycle, Benny is a must get for the staff. All signs are pointing to Michigan but even if he makes a decision sooner rather than later, Shaun Nua and Don Brown will have to continue to fight for him.

Recruiting visits have been suspended for months now but that hasn’t stopped recruits from visiting campuses. Coaches aren’t meeting with them and touring them around facilities but things are still happening.

“Unofficial” Unofficial Visits

This new style of unofficial visits helped OT Tristian Bounds make up his mind about Michigan and it may do the same for four-star DT George Rooks, who reportedly made a trip to Ann Arbor with his family at the beginning of this month ($).

His sister played for the basketball team as a grad transfer in 2018-19, he’s at a high position of need, is a true academic/athletic prospect, and the staff has continued to make him a top target.

Like with the other names on the priority list, it would be a big surprise if he didn’t pick Michigan at this point. Syracuse, his dad’s alma mater, looks to be the biggest threat.

Quick Hitters

  • The newest and fastest commit in the 2021 class, Central East (CA) WR Xavier Worthy has quickly put his recruiting cap on. His first target is another electric athlete and fellow Californian, 2021 Monterey Trail (CA) RB/CB Prophet Brown.

Photo Credit: Patrick Barron/MGoBlog

Garrett Fishaw