Inside the Fish Bowl Might Just Pull Off the Impossible

Coming off a big win over the Badgers, there is a lot of confidence in Ann Arbor. Michigan is up to #6 in the AP poll and #7 in the Coaches Poll. The spread is growing against Michigan State. But it’s not just the on the field play that’s creating that confidence. The staff hosted a notable group of visitors for the Wisconsin game and thanks to the dominant performance under the lights, things are looking excellent on the recruiting front.

The Wolverines have been making plenty of noise on the recruiting front over the last couple of months and may be on the verge of making it explode. Take a dip Inside the Fish Bowl for the latest Michigan recruiting news, rumors and analysis:

Pulling Off the Upset 

Landing elite five-star talents isn’t a surprise for Michigan. Landing elite five-star talents out of Columbus definitely is. And that’s what Michigan just may do in the 2019 class as momentum is building for the That Team Up North in the battle for the #5 player in the country, Olentangy Orange (OH) DE Zach Harrison.

Growing up in Lewis Center, Ohio, which is in the suburbs of Columbus, everyone expected Harrison to end up at Ohio State. Plenty of people, including myself, still aren’t completely sold that won’t end up happening. It’s one of those almost too good to be true kind of things. The thought of Michigan landing Harrison looked to be nothing more than a pipe dream early on the recruitment but thanks to multiple visits to campus, connections to the staff and recruits, plus an academic advantage, things are looking very good for the Wolverines.

Heading into his unofficial visit for the Wisconsin game, Michigan was in good shape. There was a sense Harrison wanted to play his college football outside of the state, Penn State was the flavor of the week for a second there but now it looks to all be shifted towards the maize and blue following his latest visit.

247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong has consistently been hearing the Wolverines being a top two option for Harrison and now following the latest unofficial visit, his sources in Ann Arbor are now confident in Michigan’s chances ($). The national recruiting analyst switched his Crystal Ball from Ohio State to Foggy with Michigan possibly being the next move and it could be followed be plenty of others.

This one isn’t over yet but it’s starting to feel a lot like the Daxton Hill recruitment. It’s gone from no chance to maybe to things are looking good. Michigan was able to close on Hill following his gameday visit. Will the staff be able to do the same with Harrison? Like many have said, the longer this goes on the better it looks for Michigan. Ohio State and Penn State can’t be counted out but all signs are starting to point towards the maize and blue here.

Another Harrison for Michigan

For the first time in a long time, the quarterback position is in fantastic shape. The depth chart is stock full of talent, Cade McNamara is coming in 2019, and the staff is setting itself up to add another high ceiling prospect to the fold in 2020.

Marietta (GA) QB Harrison Bailey is not only another Harrison on the Michigan recruiting board but he’s also another top flight prospect that could very well end up at Michigan. Things have been looking very good between Bailey and the Wolverines for a while now and it’s only looking better following his unofficial visit two weeks ago for the Maryland game.

While Rivals’ Chad Simmons and Woody Wommack aren’t sure if Michigan is the favorite over Tennessee or not, Wommack is hearing that a decision from Bailey could be coming soon ($). He’s expected to make a return trip to Ann Arbor for the Penn State game, which is a very good sign for Michigan. Another good sign, TMI’s Steve Lorenz was hearing that a verbal was possible heading into Bailey’s latest visit if things went well enough. Well, following the weekend trip, Lorenz is hearing it couldn’t have gone any better ($).

If the top-50 quarterback’s decision is coming soon, Michigan is the odds-on favorite. That is why I put my Crystal Ball in for Bailey to Michigan. If that ends up happening, Jim Harbaugh and Pep Hamilton will have built the deepest quarterback room in the country.

Which Tackle Will It Be?

With 23 scholarships already claimed in Michigan’s 2019 recruiting class, the few remaining spots are extremely valuable. One position that is still a big need is at offensive tackle. Karsen Barnhart and Trente Jones are both really nice prospects but the roster could use another in this class. And Michigan is in the running for two of the best in the country in Crystal Lake South (IL) OT Trevor Keegan and Lakeville North (MN) OT Bryce Benhart.

Keegan has long been a top target for the staff and a name I’ve had my Crystal Ball in on for a long time. But he’s one of the most wanted recruits left in this class. Michigan is battling Georgia, Ohio State, Clemson, and Penn State for the four-star tackle and he’s not giving up who he may be favoring.

He officially visited Ann Arbor for the Wisconsin game, which was one of the offensive line’s best performances of the season. And that was big because TMI’s Sam Webb is hearing that Keegan is paying close attention to the line’s progress throughout the season ($).

This one is going to be a battle throughout. Keegan still has official visits to Penn State, Georgia, and Clemson coming up. Michigan has been near/at the top of his list throughout the cycle and still has the family factor on its side. I put him on my latest Best Guess Recruiting Class and don’t expect to be changing my Crystal Ball until something drastic changes. We’ll see if the longtime recruitment and comfortability with Michigan wins out here.

As for Michigan’s other tackle target, Benhart may be the best tackle in this class. He’s a 6’8” 300lb. athlete that has the talent to play right away. And that just so happens to be one of the biggest factors in his recruitment. It’s why the top two teams on his board have reportedly been Michigan and Nebraska for a minute now. 247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong has his Crystal Ball in for Nebraska and is sticking with it, but mentioned Michigan being the top contender ($).

According to TMI’s Sam Webb, Benhart is scheduled to take his official visit to Ann Arbor for the Penn State game ($). Though Michigan’s offensive line has been getting better and better as the season has rolled along and young talent is waiting in the wings, the staff can definitely pitch the chance at immediate playing time. Jim Harbaugh has never shied away from the best players playing and with Benhart having elite measurables and an extremely high ceiling, the possibility is there.

Nebraska is 0-6 in Scott Frost’s first season so pitching a damn near guaranteed starting spot wouldn’t be that hard. But can they sell him on coming to a team that could potentially end up only winning 3 games over a team that may win 10+ games? That official visit for the Penn State will be one to watch.

Quick Hitters

  • Not only did Michigan beat the top team in the Big Ten West, but the gameday visit may also have been the icing on the cake for Michigan to land 2020 Cosby (VA) LB Ethan West. The four-star prospect has been high on Michigan since landing his offer and now this visit has UM very high on his list ($). Things went so well that TMI’s Steve Lorenz put in a Crystal Ball for West to the Wolverines.
  • Another defensive priority for the staff in 2020 is in-state standout DE Braiden McGregor. The staff was able to get him back on campus for the Wisconsin game and while I believe Michigan is at/near the top of his list, this likely won’t be a short recruitment. He’s becoming a wanted recruit by some of the nation’s elite programs and could take his time to enjoy the process as recruits should.
  • Remember the Name: 2021 Clarkston (MI) OT Garrett Dellinger not only has an amazing first name but he also is an elite prospect as just a sophomore. He’s rated the #2 overall player in the class early on and is an early priority for the staff. He visited for the Wisconsin game and is a player that may be a familiar face in Ann Arbor throughout the recruiting cycle. Oh and his teammate and classmate, DL Rocco Spindler is the #10 prospect in the class.

Photo Credit: Patrick Barron/MGoBlog

Garrett Fishaw