Michigan recruiting: Wolverines begin focus on returning to top 10 with 2019 class

michigan recruiting-2019 class-devontae dobbs

Now that Michigan’s recruiting class of 2018 is completed, what do the Wolverines need to do in the 2019 class? They signed 19 players in this year’s class after signing 56 combined in the previous two classes, and it’s those 2016 and 2017 players who will make up the foundation of the 2018 team.

Michigan has taken criticism for the 2018 class, not for the players it did sign but because of the players it missed out on signing. After garnering top 10 classes in 2016 and 2017 that included 34 players rated 4- or 5-star prospects, Michigan’s 2018 class finished ranked No. 21 in the country in the 247Sports composite with seven 4-star players.

Land of 10 takes a look at the top five position groups of need for the Wolverines in 2019, some of the top players they are targeting at those positions and the chances of signing them.

Offensive line

2018 signee: Jalen Mayfield
2019 commit: Nolan Rumler

This is the No. 1 area of concern for the Wolverines if they want to break through against Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State in the Big Ten East. They’ve had some good signings the last couple of years who have already paid dividends in Ben Bredeson, Michael Onwenu and Cesar Ruiz, and 2017 class members Chuck Filiaga and James Hudson could break onto the scene next season. Mayfield is a 4-star recruit from Grand Rapids Catholic Central who was a U.S. Army All-American and has the potential to be a starter at tackle in the future.

Rumler is viewed as a firm commit. The 4-star prospect from Akron (Ohio) Hoban High School has helped his team win three straight state titles and is projected as an interior player at the college level.

Michigan missed on top tackle targets Nicholas Petit-Frere and Jarrett Patterson on National Signing Day this year. That puts more emphasis on signing some top talent in this next cycle. One of the best in country is in Michigan’s backyard, Devontae Dobbs of Belleville.

Dobbs is a 5-star prospect and the No. 1-ranked tackle in the country, according to the 247Sports composite. Michigan is just starting to build a relationship with him through passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton. Dobbs has been to Michigan a few times, including a visit in January, but Michigan State and Ohio State have got a head start on the Wolverines, with Michigan State getting the early nod from recruiting analysts as the leader. It’s early, but the Wolverines have work to do to get into contention for Dobbs.

Two players Michigan is high on are tackles Xavier Truss of Warwick, R.I., and William Harrod of Fort Washington, Md. Harrod plays at National Christian Academy.

Wide receiver

2018 signee: Ronnie Bell

Wide receiver wasn’t a significant priority for the 2018 class after Michigan signed four receivers last year — Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tarik Black, Nico Collins and Oliver Martin, but it’ll change next year. Last season was a good example of just how difficult it is for receivers to transition to the college game. Black was off to a good start before suffering a season-ending foot fracture in the third game. Peoples-Jones struggled all season to find a rhythm, but those are struggles that should benefit him next season.

The Wolverines already have a good rapport started with 4-star prospects Marcus Washington of St. Louis, David Bell of Indianapolis and Luke Ford of Orange, Calif. All three are ranked among the top 100 players in the country. Washington and Trinity Catholic teammate Isaiah Williams, a quarterback who is being recruited as an athlete, are way up on Michigan’s recruiting board.

The Wolverines offense needs to keep diversifying its passing game. They threw just 9 touchdowns last season. The wide receivers were part of the issue, and this group needs to continue to grow. Last year’s freshmen are going to be better but they’ll need more quality threats behind them.

Defensive line

2018 signees: Aidan Hutchinson, Taylor Upshaw, Julius Welschof
2019 commits: Christopher Hinton, Stephen Herron Jr.

The defensive line is always going to be a priority for the Wolverines. They have now signed 13 in the position group in the last three years and have two top-notch commits already lined up for 2019 in Hinton and Herron. Hinton is a 5-star from Norcross, Ga., while Herron is a 4-star from Louisville, Ky. They are going to have suitors aplenty coming after them, so the Wolverines will need to be diligent in keeping up the recruiting on both.

Michigan knows it will lose fifth-year senior end Chase Winovich after next season. Chances are pretty good the Wolverines will lose junior Rashan Gary as well. The NFL is going to be calling for Gary if he has another season like he did in 2017, so they need to keep restocking their most talented position group.

Michigan could use more bodies inside. It added four in the previous two classes with Michael Dwumfour, Aubrey Solomon, Phillip Paea and Donovan Jeter but didn’t sign any defensive tackles in 2018. There’s a top in-state target in 4-star Mazi Smith of East Kentwood who the Wolverines would love to have. Smith was in Ann Arbor for a visit the first weekend of February. The Wolverines are also in on the No. 1 overall player in the country, Ishmael Sopsher of Amite, La. It will be tough to pull him out of SEC country and LSU’s backyard but they are part of the process at this point.

Another top-100 player to keep an eye on is Jowon Briggs of Cincinnati. He’s 6-foot-2, 275 and ranked the No. 3 player in the state of Ohio. Michigan hasn’t made recruiting Ohio important the last few years but with Rumler committed, that could be changing.

Quarterback

2018 signee: Joe Milton

Michigan goes into this season with only four scholarship quarterbacks after Kevin Doyle’s late de-commitment, and it could be down to three depending on the NCAA’s determination of transfer Shea Patterson’s eligibility. Brandon Peters is as much of an incumbent as any player of the group but he only started four games last season, so the position isn’t automatically his. Dylan McCaffrey is going to get a shot at winning the job, and Milton didn’t come to campus as an early enrollee just to watch.

Quarterbacks are different from every other position group. Only one can play at a time, and you want players who are greedy enough to want the job but not so greedy that they are detriments to the rest of the position group room. It’s a tough balance. Michigan also has to figure out what kind of quarterback it wants. So far under coach Jim Harbaugh, the quarterbacks have been asked to be game managers as opposed to players who do most of the heavy lifting. Patterson was a 5-star recruit out of high school and can be much more than a game manager.

What’s the leave for 2019? Does Michigan go after a dual-threat type such as Taisun Phommachanh of Avon, Conn.? The Wolverines have offers out to Taulia Tagovailoa — the brother of Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama’s national title game-winning quarterback — and Paul Tyson, a 4-star prospect from Trussville, Ala. How the offense progresses under whichever quarterback wins the job in 2018 will tell a lot about what happens for the 2019 class.

Running back

2018 signees: Christian Turner, Hassan Haskins, Michael Barrett

One of the biggest questions we get at Land of 10 Michigan regarding recruiting is: “When is Michigan going to get a 5-star running back?”

The answer very well could be “2019” as the Wolverines are among the top choices for Quavaris Crouch of Charlotte, N.C., the No. 22-ranked player in the country. He rushed for more than 3,000 yards last season in leading his Harding University High School team to a state title. He’s already accepted an invitation to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Michigan will have to beat out South Carolina, Clemson and others for Crouch but he’s liked what he’s seen so far from the Wolverines.

The Wolverines will lose Karan Higdon after this season. They’ve got depth at the position with Chris Evans, Kareem Walker (who was a highly-touted 4-star recruit) and some under-the-radar players in O’Maury Samuels, Kurt Taylor and the three 2018 signees — Turner, Haskins and Barrett.

Michigan won’t have to sign a lot of running backs, but Crouch is definitely at the top of the list.

Eric Gray of Memphis, Tenn., is an interesting prospect. He came to Michigan’s Elite Camp last summer and impressed those watching. He’s an all-purpose back, more in the mold of Evans, but he’s a player to watch.

The post Michigan recruiting: Wolverines begin focus on returning to top 10 with 2019 class appeared first on Land of 10.

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