The Wolverine

March 2020 Issue

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 72 of 99

MARCH 2020 THE WOLVERINE 73 T h e 2 0 2 1 h i g h s c h o o l football talent in Michigan is shaping up to be one of the best crops in recent memor y, with nine pros- pects already residing in the Rivals250. Since R began n u m e r i c a l l y ra n k i n g t h e country's top 250 players in 2006, the 2007 class is the only time the state of Michi- gan has finished with more than nine of its athletes (11) inside the final Rivals250. The Michigan Wolverines' football team already has a 2021 commitment from a local Rivals250 member (Sterling Heights Stevenson four-star offensive tack le Giovanni El-Hadi), and ap- pears to be in outstanding shape with several others (most notably, Clarkston H i g h fo u r- s t a r o f fe n s i ve guard Rocco Spindler). Belleville High four-star d e fe n s i ve t a c k l e D a m o n Payne currently resides as the top player in the state and plays at a huge position of need after the Wolverines were shut out of any true in- terior defenders last cycle. The Maize and Blue last reeled in the Mitten State's top player in 2017, when Detroit Cass Tech five -star wideout Donovan Peoples-Jones inked with the program (U-M actually signed the top three players in the state that year, with current senior cornerback Ambry Thomas and redshirt junior linebacker Josh Ross being the other two). Prior to Peoples-Jones, however, Michigan hadn't signed the state's top player since 2009, when Detroit Cass Tech five-star William Campbell was brought on board. It's also important to note, however, that the U-M coaching staff hasn't al- ways pursued or been interested in the top local prospect for a variety of rea- sons, with class of 2019 East Kentwood four-star offensive tackle Logan Brown being the most recent example. Another noteworthy aspect surround- ing the local crop of 2021 prospects is the amount of high-end talent it con- tains. Five of the nine prospects reside in the Rivals100, a feat that has never been seen since began ranking its top 100 national recruits in 2002. Th e s t a t e o f M i c h i g a n has produced at least four top-100 players only twice since 2002 — in 2008 (De- troit Cass Tech four-star cor- nerback Boubacar Cissoko, Grand Haven H igh four- star offensive tackle Dann O'Neill, Detroit Martin Lu- ther King four-star defensive end Nick Perry and Detroit Country Day four-star run- ning back Jonas Gray) and 2011 (Detroit Renaissance four-star linebacker Law- rence Thomas, West Branch Ogemaw Heights four-star d e fe n s i v e e n d A n t h o ny Zettel, Saginaw High four- star receiver DeAnthony Ar- nett and Grand Blanc High four-star running back Jus- tice Hayes). It's also worth noting the state's loaded crop of 2007 — which had a record 11 players in the final Rivals250 — only contained three prospects among the na- tion's top 100 (Muskegon High five-star receiver Ronald Johnson, Orchard Lake St. Mary's four-star cornerback Dionte Allen and Detroit Cass Tech four-star defensive tackle Joseph Barksdale). The state of Michigan as a whole has seen a spike in high-level talent in re- cent years, evidenced by not only the 2021 class, but the two before it as well. The 2020 class featured six prospects inside the Rivals250 and the 2019 haul eight, marking the most in the state over a two-year span since 2007 and 2008 (18 total). The amount of top-end talent in the state was bleak prior to 2019, with only three Rivals250 prospects residing in the 2018 class, five in 2017, eight in 2016 (this year being an exception), two in 2015 and three in 2014. The Wolverines don't always heav- ily focus on in-state recruiting, but it would make sense if they emphasize it this cycle with so much high-end talent residing in their backyard. — Austin Fox State Of Michigan's 2021 Class Shaping Up To Be One Of Best Ever U-M offensive line commit Giovanni El-Hadi is ranked as the No. 49 overall player in the class of 2021 by, which is second highest among prospects from the state of Michigan. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN RIVALS250 PROSPECTS FROM THE STATE OF MICHIGAN SINCE 2006 Class Rivals250 Signed Members With U-M 2021 9* — 2020 6 2 2019 8 1 2018 3 1 2017 5 3 2016 8 2 2015 2 1 2014 3 1 2013 5 3 2012 6 4 2011 5 2 2010 5 1 2009 6 2 2008 7 3 2007 11 1 2006 1 1 * Rankings subject to change prior to February 2021 — Austin Fox

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