Michigan’s 2017 Recruiting Battles: Battling the Buckeyes

Beating your arch rival on and off the field is what it’s all about. But Michigan fans haven’t had much luck in either department over the last 10 years or so when it comes to their main nemesis, Ohio State.

Over the previous 10 years, Michigan has only won one time on the field (2011) and only two times on the recruiting front (2010 and 2007, per ESPN). Though there were several close finishes between the two programs, more so in recruiting than on the field during that period, it hasn’t been the best decade of the rivalry for fans of the Maize and Blue.

But could that change in 2016-17? Both programs have highly ranked teams and recruiting classes in mid-summer with real chances to be crowned the champions on either front. And while the on-the-field battle won’t take place until November 26th, Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer are locked into a dog fight on the recruiting front.

So far, OSU has beat out UM for the likes of OL Wyatt Davis and OL Jake Moretti while UM has won in the recruitments of DE Luiji Vilain and DE Corey Malone-Hatcher. But there are plenty of big fish still left in the pond, including one current Buckeyes commit.

Check out where things stand in mid-summer for the biggest 2017 recruiting battles between Michigan and Ohio State:

DT Jay Tufele

Michigan and Ohio State have plenty of big name battles in this cycle but there’s none bigger than the big man out of Utah. He’s the top defensive tackle target for both staffs and for good reason. Both are in need of a nice defensive tackle haul in 2017 and, though they both already have nice gets, there aren’t many defensive lineman as talented as Tufele. His size, speed and aggressiveness makes him a priority recruit for both. And Tufele has already named UM and OSU (along with Utah) as his top teams this summer. At this point, OSU looks to have the upper hand thanks to their recent success on and off the field but Michigan is making a strong push. The entire UM staff worked with Tufele at the Poly Prep camp in June which really resonated with the big man.

This is a recruitment that may come down to a mixture of on the field success this fall and his official visits to both schools. I believe it could go anyway as it will come down to the Buckeyes and Wolverines at the end of the day. This is truly a 50/50 battle IMO.

  • Crystal Ball: None

WR Donovan Peoples-Jones

Though several teams are still in the running here, it looks to be a race between Michigan, Ohio State and Florida (FSU is a team to watch in the future). But at this time, most, including me, believe the Wolverines are the team to beat thanks to his family ties to the University, familiarity wth the staff and program, as well as his internship at the UM hospital. The Buckeyes are never a team to count out, especially with their success with Detroit athletes in recent classes but this one may be harder than the others.

With a smaller class and OSU already looking very good for three top ranked receivers (Trevon Grimes, Tyjon Lindsey and Jaylen Harris), it may be tough for them to pitch him as a priority receiving target as time goes on.

That numbers game is one of many reasons I believe Michigan wins out in the end.

  • Crystal Ball: Michigan

CB Shaun Wade

Could Michigan flip a commit out of Ohio State’s ridiculous 2017 class? If there’s one name that’s even kind of a possibility, it’s Wade. The talented cornerback has been committed to the Buckeyes since January of 2015 and hasn’t wavered in that pledge very much until recently. Push from Alabama, Michigan and others have opened his eyes a bit. Rumor has it that he may not sign with OSU and, while I think Bama is the next best bet, the Wolverines just may have their shot at him as it has been reported several times that he’s planning on visiting Ann Arbor for the BBQ on August 6th.

Whether that trip does indeed happen or not, an official visit this fall looks very possible. I’ll need to see and hear a lot more to start feeling optimistic about Michigan’s chances here, especially with Urban Meyer’s ability to hold onto commits and close around NSD.

I’ll stick with OSU for now.

  • Crystal Ball: None 

OLB Baron Browning

Browning is, arguably, the best linebacker in the entire class. His athleticism and versatility will allow him to make an impact from day one at his chosen program. Though he’s out of Texas, it looks like he’s a good candidate to leave the Longhorn state. And two programs that look to have a good chance to pull him out are Michigan and Ohio State.

The talented linebacker visited Ann Arbor on June 20th with his brother, who played for Harbaugh at Stanford, and both looked to come away impressed. However, Ohio State may be the team to beat along with UCLA. This is a recruitment to watch and UM and OSU will fight to get him on campus for an official this fall. This one could come down to on the field play, staff pursuit and fit in the class.

If it were between UM and OSU today, I believe it would be OSU.

  • Crystal Ball: None

CB Darnay Holmes

Holmes is another elite, five star player that Michigan and Ohio State are battling with UCLA for in this class. However, unlike Browning and Wade, I am much more optimistic about UM’s chances here. The staff looks to be pushing hard for the talented west coaster but it’s the recruitment from freshmen CB David Long, who happens to be a childhood friend of Holmes.

He’s expected to take official visits to both Ann Arbor and Columbus this fall but he’s also planning on possibly visiting Michigan for the BBQ on August 6th. If that visit happens on top of the official, I firmly believe Michigan could become the out of state favorite for Holmes.

(It definitely won’t but) If it came down to OSU and UM, I’ll go with the Wolverines here.

Crystal Ball: None 

Ohio State has the #1 class in the country with 14 commitments and about 5 spots left in the class. But don’t sleep on Michigan as they are sitting at #4 with 18 commitments and around 10 spots left in the class. Though OSU may already have the average star ratings battle locked up, UM has a good shot at surpassing the Buckeyes total point score if they can win a couple of these battles on top of signing a large class.

So, who do you think Michigan will beat Ohio State for in the 2017 class? How about which recruits OSU will win out for? Let us know in the comment section below!