The Wolverine

October 2020

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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34 THE WOLVERINE OCTOBER 2020 BY EJ HOLLAND W ith the 2021 recruiting cycle winding down, Michigan doesn't have very many spots left to fill. At this point in the process, Michi- gan is focused on just a handful of targets and is looking to finish with 25-26 recruits in the class. Jim Har- baugh and company currently boast a top-10 class nationally — it sat at No. 7 in the team rank- ings as of Sept. 22 — but a top-five class is definitely in the cards. After all, Michigan is still in the mix with a handful of highly touted pros- pects. Perhaps no target is more im- portant than Rivals100 West Bloom- field (Mich.) High running back Donovan Edwards — both from an on-field and perception standpoint.'s No. 2 running back and No. 65 overall prospect in the country is as talented a ball carrier as anybody in the class, and earning his pledge would give the Wolverines a statement victory in their own back- yard amidst local criticism. Edwards is still considering a num- ber of programs, but his focus really seems to be on three schools — Geor- gia, Michigan and Oklahoma. Michigan has built a strong relation- ship with Edwards over the last couple of years. The Wolverines have pitched him on just about everything. Now, U-M is letting him have his space. "They know that I can impact the program and change everything around," Edwards said. "But they don't really say much about that. They just make sure that I'm straight and doing well. They are just taking it day by day and making sure every- thing is right with me." Edwards has never been to Okla- homa and the Sooners are on the verge of landing five-star running back Camar Wheaton, which would likely put them out of the Edwards sweepstakes. That leaves Georgia as Michigan's main competition. Edwards made an unofficial visit to UGA before the dead period and loves the program's history at the running back position. The Bulldogs have produced current NFL stars like Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Georgia would also give him an opportunity to expand his hori- zons further away from home. Still, Edwards has concerns about being a culture fit down south. He's comfortable with Michigan. His head coach, Ron Bellamy, is an ex-Wolver- ine. His former teammates, Makari Paige and Cornell Wheeler, just signed with U-M last cycle. Edwards has been to Ann Arbor on numerous occasions and lives just a stone's throw away. If it comes down to comfort and trust, well, U-M should be a strong position to close out this heated recruitment with a win. For now, though, Edwards doesn't have a set decision timeline and is still weigh- ing his options. "It's up to me at this point," he said. "I've said that with other programs, too. They ask what more they can do for me. It's nothing at all. I don't ask for anything at all. It's my decision. Nobody can change that. I've seen what I've wanted to see and heard what I've wanted to hear from mul- tiple programs. I know the real from the fake. It's just my decision now." Edwards isn't the only big fish left in the state of Michigan. The Wolverines have continued to ramp up their pursuit of Rivals100 Oak Park (Mich.) High defensive lineman Rayshaun Benny. U-M hasn't landed a true defensive tackle in recent classes, and Benny has an opportunity to be a dominant three- technique at the next level. Benny, the No. 90 overall prospect in the country per Rivals, was dead set on taking official visits before mak- ing a decision. However, the NCAA extended the dead period through the end of the calendar year, which means schools cannot host recruits for visits. Taking it down to February is an op- tion for Benny, but he could make a de- cision sooner rather than later — and that gives Michigan an upper hand. Like with Edwards, Michigan has spent years cultivating relationships with Benny. He visited Michigan be- fore the dead period earlier this year and has been on campus multiple times. In a time with so many question marks, Michigan has been a constant for Benny and may be the safe pick. "I love Coach [Shaun] Nua, Coach [Sherrone] Moore and everybody," Benny said of the U-M coaching staff. FOOTBALL RECRUITING Two In-State Prospects Top Wish List Heading Into Stretch Run Of 2021 Cycle West Bloomfield (Mich.) High four-star running back Donovan Edwards — the nation's No. 65 overall recruit — may be the Wolverines' top remaining target. PHOTO BY BRANDON BROWN

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