The Wolverine

March 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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MARCH 2021 THE WOLVERINE 63 BY EJ HOLLAND M ichigan's 2021 recruiting class saw a strong finish during Feb- ruary's late signing period when the Wolverines added a trio of defen- sive linemen — Rivals100 Oak Park (Mich.) High prospect Rayshaun Benny, Rivals250 Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep product George Rooks and three-star Garland (Texas) Lakev- iew Centennial recruit Ike Iwunnah. With a late surge at a position of need, Michigan moved up the Ri- national recruiting class rankings and finished with the No. 9 overall group of incoming freshmen nationally with a total of 23 signees. The Wolverines finished with the ex- act same number in the 2020 cycle and brought in a haul of 26 the year prior. Class size always seems to fluctu- ate, so it's tough to give an exact pre- diction of how many prospects the Wolverines will take in 2022. Ideally, it would be close to 25, which is con- sidered by most to be a "full" class. Michigan currently has five verbal commitments in the 2022 class, so there is a long way to go in terms of filling it out. Still, the Wolverines are ahead of schedule. At this time last year, U-M had just two pledges. Michigan is fresh off landing two four-star prospects on the back end, and with a coaching staff rejuvena- tion, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Wolverines continue to build momentum on the recruiting trail throughout the offseason. Jim Harbaugh and his staff always seem to finish with a top-15 class nationally, but U-M has a chance to enter the next tier. He has brought in a staff full of young, energetic recruit- ers and made it clear his focus is to close the gap with rival Ohio State by winning some battles for top talent. As of Feb. 15, Michigan had the No. 14 2022 class nationally per Ri-, but the Wolverines could contend for a spot in the top five when it's all said and done. The right staff is now in place to do so, but the team obviously has to win on the field to help make that happen. Here is a position-by-position look at U-M's needs and where the Wol- verines stand with top targets as the attention fully turns to the 2022 cycle (all rankings courtesy Quarterback Need: 1 Commits: 0 Michigan landed one of the best quarterbacks in the country last cycle in Rivals100 Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy product J.J. McCarthy, the No. 44 overall prospect nationally, and may have a difficult time find- ing a top-end signal-caller to come in behind him. Michigan has already seen a num- ber of top targets at the position com- mit elsewhere or eliminate U-M from their top schools. With quarterbacks coach Ben McDaniels no longer with the program, Harbaugh will per- sonally lead what should be a wide search for a 2022 field general. After landing a high-floor prospect in McCarthy, Michigan may look at the upside route. The Wolverines recently extended an offer to four- star Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove prospect Tayven Jackson, the No. 6 dual-threat quarterback nationally. The four-star is still a little raw as a pure passer, but he has great arm strength, can make plays with his legs and is a winner. Jackson passed for 1,756 yards and accounted for 23 total touchdowns en route to leading Cen- ter Grove to an undefeated season and a state title last year. Jackson has high interest in Michigan early on. Another recent offer went out to Ri- vals250 Austin (Texas) Westlake pros- pect Cade Klubnik, the No. 9 pro-style quarterback and No. 146 overall pros- pect nationally. Like Jackson, Klubnik is a winner. He passed for 3,495 yards and tallied 50 total touchdowns, lead- ing Westlake to a state championship in the highest classification of Texas high school football last fall. Klubnik will be a tough pull from the South, but Michigan does have his attention. Three-star Medina (Ohio) High's Drew Allar is seeing his stock boom on the recruiting trail, while Clovis (Calif.) High's Nate Johnson is an un- ranked dual-threat quarterback with a high ceiling. Both added Michi- gan offers in January and are two to watch as well.   FOOTBALL RECRUITING An Early Look At Michigan's 2022 Recruiting Class Highlands Ranch (Colo.) Valor Christian's Gavin Sawchuk, the No. 1 running back and No. 41 overall prospect nationally, is extremely high on the Wolverines and has even visited Ann Arbor already. PHOTO BY NATE CLOUSE/HUSKERONLINE.COM

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