Searching for the Spatula: Top 2017 Targets Committed Elsewhere

Since taking over the Michigan football program, Jim Harbaugh and his staff have made it a common occurrence to flip elsewhere committed recruits to the Wolverines at/near National Signing Day. That list includes QB/TE Zach Gentry from Texas and RB Kareem Walker from Ohio State.

So, it makes sense that the staff is continuing to recruit and prioritize top targets committed elsewhere in the 2017 class as well. Check out some of the top targets on the staff’s board who happen to have already pledged to another program:

RB Najee HarrisAlabama

Harris is the top player in the class and is one of the biggest instant impact recruits in the last couple classes. He has an elite combination of size, speed and athleticism that has every program still recruiting him though he’s been pledged to the Crimson Tide since April of 2015. And Michigan is one of the programs that are pushing for him the most.

Jim Harbaugh visited Harris in January while Jay Harbaugh visited Harris right after the end of the spring quiet period. Michigan is also headlining a satellite camp at Antioch high school on June 23rd. And this is all for one guy: Najee Harris.

According to Scout’s Greg Biggins, Harris is looking to unofficially visit Michigan this “spring or summer” ($). If the staff can get him on campus, they’ve shown their ability to change the mind of committed prospects. Could Harris be the next big flip? Running back is one position that the staff has yet to land a top ranked recruit in their time in Ann Arbor. Expect Harbaugh and the entire staff to push for him until he signs his LOI.

Shot at the Spatula: Puncher’s Chance

RB/FB Sione LundStanford

Lund is a player that looks like a great fit for the Michigan offense and that’s what the staff is pitching him on. He has the ability to play either running back or fullback at the collegiate level and mentioned that he’s open to whichever he best fits physically. And that shows his team player mentality that is another great trait that Harbaugh loves.

Even though Michigan has five players that can play running back or fullback already committed, OL coach Tim Drevno has been in constant contact with Lund as well as the other coaches on the staff, including RB coach Tyrone Wheatley. He’s still firmly committed to Stanford but Michigan and others are coming, and it looks like they’re making headway.

Lund said he’s planning on visiting the California schools this summer as well as participating in all of the in-state satellite camps as well as 1-2 out of state camps. With Michigan planning on making an appearance at the All Poly Pride Camp in Orem, UT on June 17th, expect the staff to spend some time speaking with Lund.

Shot at the Spatula: Very Possible

RB Stephen CarrUSC

Carr is another top running back recruit that Michigan had pushed hard for soon after NSD 2016, and for good reason. He’s a very talented player and could be an instant impact player in Michigan’s pro-style system. That mixed with his clear openness to look around had UM very interested.

The Californian standout made his way all the way across the country on April 1st for the Michigan spring game which shows how interested he happens to be in the Wolverines. And from all accounts, things went very well on his trip. So good that Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz heard from a great source soon after the visit that “Michigan has a real shot here” ($).

It has been sometime since any news has come out about Michigan and Carr, which doesn’t really mean a ton at this point in the cycle. Alabama’s recent offer to him is one to definitely watch, especially with questions surrounding Najee Harris’ commitment. If Michigan isn’t 100% satisfied with their current running back haul and continues to believe Carr is open to flipping to the Maize and Blue, he’s a name to watch throughout the cycle.

Shot at the Spatula: Possible

TE Major TennisonTexas

If you didn’t know, the Harbaugh’s love tight ends. In their first two recruiting classes, they’ve signed five tight ends and already have one committed in the 2017 class. And they’re clearly looking to add more to the stable. One name that is at/near the top of their board is Tennison and for good reason.

Tennison is a prototypical, “do-it-all” tight end. At 6’6” 240lbs, he’s nearly college ready before his senior season and the staff has made him a priority.

The Texas commit made his way to Ann Arbor for the Spring Game and, from all reports, had a great time. According to Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz, Tennison looks likely to end up signing with someone other than Texas ($) and Michigan looks to be a top option. If the staff pushes for him throughout and he makes the 2nd unofficial visit to Ann Arbor this summer, like Lorenz is expecting.

Shot at the Spatula: Very Possible

OT Alex LeatherwoodAlabama

Leatherwood is one of the premier tackles in the 2017 class and was one of the first commits of Alabama’s class (June 2015). He has the elite size, plays with great strength and has quick feet. Add in Michigan badly in need of tackles in the class, you can see why the staff is continuing to take a run at the Pensacola, FL. star.

According to MaizenBrew’s Brandon Justice, Michigan’s Tim Drevno recently visited Leatherwood and caught his spring practice. The visit went so well that the Bama pledge admitted Michigan is “really close” with Alabama. He also spoke with The Michigan Insider’s Brice Marich and told him he’ll definitely visit this summer or for an official this fall ($).

Flipping a five star recruit from the defending national champions will be very tough. However, Michigan has put their best foot forward and Drevno is leading the charge. If they can get him on campus this summer and/or fall, they’ll have a shot. Especially with the high need for tackles and the early playing time available.

Shot at the Spatula: Puncher’s Chance

DT Marlon TuipulotuWashington

Tuipulotu looked to be a top target for Michigan and Tony Tuioti which made him a potential member of the class. However, somewhat out of the blue, he committed to Washington during a visit to campus.

Early commitments out of the blue like this normally means the door remains open for other programs to possibly flip him later on in the cycle. Could that be the case here? I believe this recruitment is far from over. Oregon is still heavily pursuing Tuipulotu and Michigan will likely push to get him on campus this summer or fall.

If the staff can get a visit out of him, they could have a chance. Now, there’s a very real chance he runs the table and sticks with the Huskies but with the high need at defensive tackle for Michigan and his proximity to several top Northwest programs, Tuipulotu won’t have a shortage of attention coming his way from now until NSD.

Shot at the Spatula: Puncher’s Chance

DE Hunter EcholsUCLA

Even though he’s raw and still learning the game, Echols is one of the best pass rushers in the class thanks to his natural mix of size and athleticism. He’s got that quick twitch that allows him to dominate at the high school level and with some more coaching and the right system, could be a star on Saturdays.

Could Michigan be the right system? Though Echols is committed to nearby UCLA, he’s admitted that he’s still looking around and just so happens to have grown up cheering for a certain Big Ten program. The LA end told TMI’s  Brice Marich that he grew up watching and cheering for Michigan while his brother and family are huge fans of the Maize and Blue ($).

Being a fan of a program or having family members that are fans of a program doesn’t always mean a player will end up at that school. You can use 2015 DE/OLB Keisean Lucier-South as a perfect example. However, if he does make it to Ann Arbor for a visit in June, like he told Wolverine247, UM could become the biggest threat to the Bruins for Echols signature. I believe he’s one of, if not the, most likely names on this list to flip his commitment to the Wolverines.

Shot at the Spatula: Very Possible

DE Langi TuifuaOregon

Tuifua is another defensive end that looks to be at/near the very top of Michigan’s defensive line board. He’s been committed to the Ducks since July of 2015 but with the change at defensive coordinator from Don Pellum to former UM head coach Brady Hoke, is the Bingham standout looking around?

Michigan’s Tony Tuioti quickly made Tuifua and his teammate/top 2017 target DT Jay Tufele priority recruits after joining the program and it looks like it’s helping the Wolverines chances. According to Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz, the UM offer was one Tuifua “was really looking for and hoping for” ($).

If the Michigan staff can push for Tuifua and Tufele enough, they look like a real threat to the Ducks. Tufele told 247Sports’ Justin Hopkins that Michigan is one of the teams sticking out to him most and even talked about a possible ‘packaged deal’ with him and Tuifua ($).

A visit from the duo this summer or fall could put UM in the drivers seat as Oregon has a no-visit policy that helped the Wolverines land 2016 signee WR Eddie McDoom.

Shot at the Spatula: Possible

Other Names to Watch 

Out of every name listed above, who do you believe Michigan has the best shot at flipping? Who do you want Michigan to flip the most? Who do you think is more than a reach? Let me know in the comment section below!

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