The Wolverine

March 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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16 THE WOLVERINE MARCH 2018   INSIDE MICHIGAN ATHLETICS Finishing No. 24 Nationally Isn't Great For The Future By Brandon Brown I don't think the 2018 class is going to send the Michigan football program into a tailspin, nor will it result in more losses than wins down the line, but I do think that a few areas were neglected and that could create an issue in a couple of years. Signing Grand Rapids (Mich.) Catholic Central four-star offensive tackle Jalen Mayfield as the lone offensive lineman could end up hurt- ing Jim Harbaugh and his staff. Each year, regardless of numbers, teams need to bring in at least three offensive linemen to stay stocked in the trenches. The staff also failed to bring in a true interior defensive lineman. Dearborn (Mich.) Divine Child four-star strongside defensive end Aidan Hutchinson already weighs almost 260 pounds so he could bulk up and play on the inside, but that's not the plan right now. All in all, there are some very good players in the class, but U-M did miss on many of its top targets. Results on the field in 2018 and 2019 could reach new heights for the Harbaugh era, but after that, the 2018 class could prove to possess a couple of holes that eventually show. One 'Down' Year Is No Cause For Concern By Chris Balas There's only room for 11 guys on a football field at any one time, and while it's important to have depth (obviously), you don't need to recruit like Alabama — multiple five stars at almost every position — to field a good football team. Yes, it would be ideal to be able to choose from the best of the best during position battles in the spring and fall … and guess what? This year and next, head coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff will be doing a lot of that, having secured the No. 4 recruiting classes nationally in both 2016 and 2017. Without question, losing four-star Georgian Otis Reese was a blow, especially since he'd been committed for so long (since 2016) before flipping on Signing Day, and he would have moved Michigan up a few spots in the rankings. But look at the bodies U-M has there now — a group that includes freshmen Josh Ross, Drew Singleton and former five-star Jordan Anthony, as well as a sophomore in Devin Gil and an elite youngster in sophomore Devin Bush Jr. U-M is off to a great start in 2019, and there are plenty of capable bodies in the 2018 class too. POINT ❙ COUNTERPOINT IS THE 2018 RECRUITING CLASS A LONG-TERM DETRIMENT TO THE FOOTBALL PROGRAM? Jim Harbaugh's first two full recruiting cycles at Michigan resulted in classes ranked fourth nationally, but this year's group checked in at No. 24 in the land per Rivals. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN U-M IS AMONG THE BIG TEN'S BEST IN RIVALS' NATIONAL RANKS OVER LAST THREE YEARS Jim Harbaugh is entering his fourth season as Michi- gan's head football coach. That means he has had three full recruiting classes under his watch, starting with the 2016 class. In that time span, U-M is second in the conference in terms of's national recruiting class average. The Wolverines' two No. 4 finishes help keep the three- year average high, despite the drop to 24th this year. Michigan has yet to have a higher-rated recruiting class than Ohio State in Harbaugh's tenure, but he has topped Michigan State all three years. Overall, Michigan is No. 8 in the country over the last three years in average recruiting class ranking — one of two Big Ten teams in the top 10. The Buckeyes are No. 1 in the nation, followed by Alabama and Georgia. — Andrew Vailliencourt THE BIG TEN BY RIVALS NATIONAL RANK Rk. School 2016 2017 2018 Average 1. Ohio State 3 2 2 2.33 2. Michigan 4 4 24 10.67 3. Penn State 21 12 5 12.67 4. Nebraska 24 20 21 21.67 5. Michigan State 18 33 26 25.67 6. Maryland 39 17 29 28.33 7. Wisconsin 35 35 39 36.33 8. Iowa 42 40 39 40.33 9. Minnesota 50 56 42 49.33 10. Northwestern 46 55 59 53.33 11. Indiana 54 65 44 54.33 12. Illinois 67 48 50 55.00 13. Rutgers 78 43 57 59.33 14. Purdue 73 68 49 63.33

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