The Wolverine

March 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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18 THE WOLVERINE MARCH 2018 BY JOHN BORTON M ichigan's second signing day in two months didn't fill up Hill Auditorium, usher in Tom Brady or even evoke the wit and wisdom of Lou Holtz. No, this time around the first Wednesday in February proved all business — like Michigan football figures to remain in the months lead- ing up to the 2018 season. This National Signing Day figured to be different than previous ones from the very start. Per new NCAA rules, Jim Harbaugh's crew already had 16 signatures on the dotted line back in December. Scholarship numbers dictated the Wolverines weren't going to expand past that figure extensively. When Feb. 7 rolled around, they added three more signees, finishing off a 19-man class ranked No. 24 nation- ally by Harbaugh expressed appreciation for the new members of his crew, in a very different recruiting season. "I'm very excited about the class," he assured. M i c h i g a n ' s t h re e l a t e a d d i - tions were Michael Barrett, a 6-0, 215-pound athlete out of Valdosta, Ga., listed by as a three- star prospect; Ronnie Bell, a 6-1, 174-pound wide receiver from Kan- sas City, a two-star; and defensive back Vincent Gray, a 6-2, 180-pound three-star out of Rochester, Mich. Bell is the only player in the class listed strictly as a wide receiver, after Michigan brought in five wideouts a year ago. He'll be looking to compete like he did in high school, an effort that got Harbaugh excited. "I love all his athletic ability," Michigan's head coach offered. "Start off with the production — [89] catches, [over 1,600] yards, Kansas City Player of the Year in football. He's also an excellent basketball player. "We love the family, love him. Pro- duction. Production being the key thing." Barrett could bolster the wide re- ceiving corps as well, although he could also see time in the backfield, according to Harbaugh. "I envision him getting the ball in his hands," Harbaugh noted. "Wide receiver, slot receiver, running back — those two areas, primarily, for him. "I've spent time with Anquan Boldin, who was also a high school quarterback and I think played some quarterback in college before he eventually became a wide receiver. He's somebody who can get the ball and make yards after the catch or yards after contact, a receiver who can run like a running back and I think will also have the ability to be a running back. So there are a lot of different areas where Michael can get the football." Gray, meanwhile, figured to sign with Missouri until U-M called two days prior to the early signing period (Dec. 20-22). The No. 21 player on The Detroit News' Blue Chip list of the state's top recruits saw a chance to become a Wolverine — and took it. Gray noted Harbaugh spoke with him about a number of items on his checklist and Gray proved fully on board, jumping into Michigan's class of 2018. SWINGS AND MISSES, IN A BRAND NEW SCHEDULE One big-time player Michigan hoped would join the crew ulti- mately did not. Elite prep linebacker Otis Reese, who committed to the Wolverines 18 months prior to the National Signing Day Feb. 7, did not ink a national letter of intent in De- cember. Nor did he in February, at least not for Michigan. Instead, he opted to re- main in his home state, signing with Georgia. "Found out today," Harbaugh NEXT MEN UP Signing Day II Trio Boosts U-M's Class To 19 Wideout Ronnie Bell originally signed with Missouri State to play basketball before receiving a Michigan football offer in mid-December. He quickly committed to his lone gridiron tender. PHOTO BY DARRYL WOODS 2018 FOOTBALL RECRUITING ISSUE

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