Inside the Fish Bowl is Fighting to the Finish Line

The 2018 recruiting cycle hasn’t exactly been a favorite of the Harbaugh-era for some Michigan fans. Even though the class features several All-Americans and is ranked in the top 15 overall, the lack of five star additions and the excess of lower rated/higher ceiling signees has some questioning the class. I’m in the boat of this class being better than its final ranking indicates as the staff has added a ton of taller athletes that fit what the staff wants to do on both sides of the ball. But I also agree the class could use a boost prior to National Signing Day on February 7th.

And it might just get it.

Michigan has had a nice little run on the recruiting trail as of late as the staff has added Utah grad transfer DB Casey Hughes, 2018 Rochester Adams (MI) DB Vincent Gray and 2018 Lowndes (GA) ATH Michael Barrett since the end of the dead period in mid-January. Along with transfer Shea Patterson, Michigan has 23 scholarships accounted for coming in this year so far. But that’s not all the staff is planning on adding prior to NSD.

Beating Out the Bulldogs 

First step to finishing the 2018 class on a high note is receiving longtime commit Lee County (GA) OLB Otis Reese‘s signature on February 7th. But there’s still plenty of work to do for both Michigan and Georgia heading into National Signing Day.

It’s no secret that Georgia had pretty much all of the momentum throughout the fall thanks to the close proximity and wildly successful season. However, Michigan holding onto Chris Partridge, his familiarity with the team, the chance to play in the same state as his brother at Central Michigan, and a successful official visit to town has the Wolverines looking as good as they have in months. The Wolverine’s Brandon Brown reported that  “confidence is high in Ann Arbor” of holding onto Reese ($) following the mid-January official visit. But Georgia still had plenty of time to make back up the ground.

The Bulldogs best chance was likely this past weekend when Reese made his official visit to Athens. According to 247Sports’ Rusty Mansell, the visit was going as well as expected ($). While it’s not like that is big news or is it even unique for Reese to visit Georgia, it’s clear the Bulldogs are still in play in a big way.

So, which school will he choose? This one is really close and the strong push from Georgia may be too much to overcome for the out-of-state Wolverines. But it’s not over. Jim Harbaugh, Don Brown, and Chris Partridge will have a final shot at holding onto their longest tenured commit. I believe this could go either way.

Too Close to Call

As for another close call, Mission Viejo (CA) OT Jarrett Patterson is a critical piece to this class. It’s no secret that Michigan needs to add more offensive line help (especially tackles) and Patterson is the most likely recruit to fill that spot in the 2018 recruiting class. With not much time left before he decides, it looks like the Wolverines may be the slight favorite.

Patterson’s is down to Michigan, Notre Dame and UCLA, with the Bruins receiving his last visit this past weekend. However, this looks like it may be more of a Michigan-Notre Dame battle heading down the stretch. The Crystal Ball is tied between Michigan and UCLA (Notre Dame has yet to receive one), while TMI’s Steve Lorenz is leaning towards UM over ND.

Barring a big change in momentum, he’ll be in my final Best Guess Recruiting Class. But there’s time and in-home visits let. Each team will have this final week of the cycle to give its final pitches, making this the uncommitted decision to watch the closest before National Signing Day.

Mullen Making Moves

As for the lone five star target left on the board, Berkley Prep (FL) OT Nicholas Petit-Frere would be the best way for Michigan to end its 2018 recruiting class. However, it’s looking unlikely that he’ll be donning the maize and blue on National Signing Day.

Not only is Michigan hardly mentioned anymore in reports regarding his recruitment but he’s also on campus for his official visit to in-state Florida this weekend. The Gators have had a lot of momentum since the Dan Mullen hire and now 247Sport’s Luke Stampini is hearing that Florida is hearing even better things about UF’s chances since he’s been on campus ($).

Notre Dame’s shakeup on the offensive line coaching staff looks to have dropped the Fighting Irish while Petit-Frere’s exact amount of interest in Michigan is pretty unknown. Alabama has made its push as well but, at this point, it looks like Dan Mullen will receive his Letter of Intent on NSD.

Another Instant Impact Transfer?

The staff is spending plenty of time trying to sure up the offensive tackle depth issues in the 2018 class but there isn’t an instant impact answer in the class or left on the board. So, Michigan went back to the free agent pool to fix it. And though it’s far from a lock, UM has a real chance to reel in their top target at the position in Rice grad transfer OT Calvin Anderson, who officially visited Ann Arbor this past weekend.

Texas has been the team most have said was the team to beat thanks to Anderson being from Austin. However, while Tom Herman will eventually get the Longhorns back on track, Michigan’s 2018 season outlook looks to be much brighter. But can that beat out home cooking? This is a decision that’s not expected to come until later on.

Michigan will receive at least three LOIs on National Signing Day in WR Ronnie Bell, ATH Michael Barrett and DB Vincent Gray. QB Kevin Doyle is very likely to send his in as well but there’s obvious questions on everyone else. Who else do you believe Michigan will receive LOIs from on National Signing Day? Let us know in the comment section below!

Photo Credit: Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog

Garrett Fishaw