The Wolverine

March 2020 Issue

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 18 of 99

MARCH 2020 THE WOLVERINE 19 2020 FOOTBALL RECRUITING ISSUE Wolverines are precisely his kind of football players. He described them as: "A bunch of young guys that are go-getters. They like football. They like hitting the books. It's also a group that really wants it, too, I believe. I really have a good feeling about this class, in par- ticular that they are motivated to take advantage of opportunities put in front of them and also very motivated to create their own opportunities." Harbaugh then employed some well-placed understatement in sum- ming up the class of 2020. "It's not a group looking to be me- diocre," he said. According to, Michigan landed 13 four-star players on a five- star scale. It also pulled in 10 three- star performers. Coaches routinely scoff at star rankings provided by the various recruiting services around the coun- try, generally to deflect criticism of a low ranking or temper immediate ex- pectations for a five-star. Harbaugh chose a different path in discussing that aspect of the class with Jansen. "It means things," he said. "There are a lot of people evaluating high school football players that know what they're doing. They've got a really good eye for football, as well. "The thing you look at when it comes to the stars, is a player overrated or is he underrated at whatever star value he's been given? The thing that deter- mines it is all the layers. You're watch- ing him yourself. You're making your own evaluations of their football talent. "Then you're also meeting them, around them, interviewing, talking to their high school coaches, you want to meet the parents, you want to know that dynamic. You gather information, so the stars are not the thing our program or I think any pro- gram is really going off of, solely." There's no question Michigan's coaches trust their own eyes and ears more than they do any recruit- ing service. That's in part because they're looking for a fit within their program. It also involves the fact that they've invested years with many of the newly minted Wolverines. In that way, they feel as if they pos- sess by far the greatest knowledge of the all-around individual they're bringing into their locker room. "It's a culmination of going back to the first day when you evaluated a player, the first day you talked to them or they visited campus or you visited them," Harbaugh said to Jan- sen. "There's so many milestones along the way. And a friendship is formed. And trust is formed. There's a signing and they're Michigan Wol- verines. You feel like your team has gotten stronger and it's a happy day. It's a really neat experience. "I feel great about this class … they like football, they like hitting the books and it's also a group that really wants it, I believe. Sometimes what separates talent out there is you can have two talented players, one that ends up go- ing the farthest in the game of football or in school is the one that wants it the most. I really have a good feeling about this class in particular, that they are motivated to take advantage of oppor- tunities that are put in front of them." A BOOST ON OFFENSE One of the few serious disappoint- ments regarding the class involved the health status of quarterback J.D. Johnson. At the same time, Johnson's announcement that he would not play football at Michigan — due to an unresolved heart issue — came with his hearty endorsement of Har- baugh and his program. Upon receiving the test results, Harbaugh contacted Johnson, who answered the call with considerable trepidation. "Unsure and scared [about] what the conversation was going to be," Johnson tweeted, "Coach, without hesitation, said that my scholarship would be honored and offered me a position to join the Wolverine staff and helping any way I can. I am wit- ness to Coach Harbaugh's character and integrity in a situation where he has every reason to tell me, 'Good luck with your future.'" Instead of saying goodbye, Har- baugh said welcome to Michigan, and did the same for a host of others on the offensive side of the ball. ESPN's Tom Luginbill Said Michigan Found Fits With 2020 Class National Signing Day in February came and went without any fanfare in Ann Arbor, Michigan already having wrapped up its class of 2020. While others zeroed in on a number of unsigned players, U-M looked toward future recruiting. Meanwhile, others looked at what the Wolverines signed in December, most slotting U-M around No. 10 in the nation. ESPN's Tom Luginbill found the class intriguing, in terms of Michigan recruiting to some of its offensive changes. He offered via teleconference some takes on what stuck out to him regarding Jim Harbaugh's class. "They seemed to have gone a little bit smaller in terms of their offensive personnel to help them be more explosive within the passing game of their offense," Luginbill said. "I think they were trying to implement a scheme where maybe they didn't nec- essarily have that type of player to maximize what their scheme is capable of being. "One of the things that stood out to me about this class, and I do think it is important, there are some skilled athletes in this class that fit more of the quote- unquote speed in space of what they are trying to be on offense. You can say, 'Well, they have really good receivers on offense.' Yeah, but all their receivers, whether it is Tarik Black, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Nico Collins, all of those guys are big, physical, 50-50 ball pass catchers. "They don't have a lot of jitter-bug type guys that can take the ball on a five-yard slant and can turn it into an 80-yard touchdown. With guys like A.J. Henning, R.J. Moten — who can actually play on either side of the ball — you've got the players." The Wolverines helped themselves considerably, Luginbill said. While some will point out the dearth of a five-star performer among the new additions, the analyst noted there's no lack of talent. "To me, Braiden McGregor, A.J. Henning, Blake Corum, Andre Seldon, Jaylen Harrell, those guys are in the upper tier," Luginbill said. "They are all top-10, top- five, top-15 players at their respective positions nationally. "There are not as many five stars as people thinks there are. If there were, there would be 25 true freshmen dominating college football every fall, and there are not. … I think the caliber of player Michigan brought in, in this class is strong enough to compete against its competitors." — John Borton

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