The Wolverine

January 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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32 THE WOLVERINE JANUARY 2021 T hree of the top recruiting experts in the industry — Tom Lemming, Mike Farrell and Josh Helmholdt — shared their thoughts on Michigan's 2021 class that was inked in Decem- ber's early signing period. Lemming is the co-host of CBS Sports' The Lemming Report and editor of Prep Football Report, while Farrell is the national director of re- cruiting for Helmholdt, meanwhile, serves as Rivals' Mid- west recruiting analyst. Rivals lists the group No. 11 na- tionally, while it checks in 14th per 247Sports and 12th according to 247Sports' composite ranking. What are your thoughts on the class as a whole? Tom Lemming: "I thought [U-M head coach] Jim Harbaugh did an excellent job. I have the class No. 11 nationally, even though they lost those two kids at the end [Jackson- ville (Fla.) Sandalwood four-star linebacker Branden Jennings and Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro four-star defensive end Quintin Somerville]. "It's an outstanding class and Coach Harbaugh deserves a lot of credit, because it was a difficult year to hang on to players, and he hung on to almost all the good ones. It's a class that will help Michigan get back to where they want to be. "Getting [West Bloomfield (Mich.) High four-star running back] Dono- van Edwards on Signing Day was a big, big catch, with everyone else com- ing after him and so many schools needing a running back. "Signing [Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy four-star quarterback] J.J. McCarthy and [Brentwood (Tenn.) Ravenwood four-star linebacker] Ju- nior Colson were also big, and [Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei four-star re- ceiver] Cristian Dixon was another big-time guy. "I saw almost every single one of their players in person — [Clayton (Ohio) Northmont three-star safety] Rod Moore and [Mansfield (Mass.) High three-star defensive end] TJ Guy were the only two I didn't see. I liked every single kid I saw; when I go to see someone, it means they're a re- ally good player because I only try to watch the top 1,000 or so at a few hundred schools." Mike Farrell: "It was up and down, but they finished as well as could have been expected. It could have been a lot worse. The class finished 11th, though it was in the top 10 most of the year. "Some important things occurred late, like Edwards choosing Michigan and not going to the SEC, and [Fresno (Calif.) Central four-star wideout] Xavier Worthy doing the same. [Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas four-star athlete] Jaydon Hood signing was also big. There were also down- ers, with Jennings and Somerville leaving. "Grade-wise, I'd give it a B." Josh Helmholdt: "Michigan cer- tainly faced some challenges with this recruiting class, most notably the uncertainty around Jim Harbaugh's future. The athletic department didn't do anything to alleviate that leading up to Signing Day, which could have certainly hurt Michigan substantially. It ultimately didn't have a huge im- pact on the class, so that's a positive." Who do you think is the best player in the class? Lemming: "J.J. McCarthy. I've been seeing him since his freshman year at Nazareth [High School in LaGrange Park, Ill.]. He's a quarterback who has all the tools, and Harbaugh knows how to train quarterbacks. The com- bination of Harbaugh and McCar- thy will bring the Wolverines back to where they want to be. "Michigan fans should relax a bit, because everyone has these horrible years every now and then. They'll bounce back. McCarthy will be young next year, but could be thrown into the mix right away due to his maturity and talent. When I was in Chicago, I saw all the other top players gravitate toward him. That has a lot do with his personality and leadership skills. "He has what it takes to lead Michi- gan back to prominence." Farrell: "I think Worthy is the best player. Unfortunately, he didn't get to play his senior season or in an all- star game. We didn't get to see him in the spring either, so he missed crucial evaluation opportunities. He started off as a three-star and moved up to a Rivals100 kid. "He's a track star, and is ex- tremely fast and dynamic. I feel like he would've had a crazy senior year MICHIGAN RECRUITING National Recruiting Analysts Weigh In On Michigan's Class Two of the three national recruiting analysts The Wolverine talked to about Michigan's class picked four-star quarterback J.J. McCarthy as the top signee. Longtime national recruiting insider Tom Lemming said he "has what it takes to lead Michigan back to prominence." PHOTO BY EJ HOLLAND

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