The Wolverines ended up with a really large 2016 class with a total of 28 commitments by the time National Signing Day was all said and done. Many people expect Michigan to have somewhat of a smaller 2017 class, somewhere around 20-24 commitments in total. That number may go over the expected amout due to the many predicted commitments and decommitments. However, Scout’s Sam Webb reported that he is hearing Michigan will take a class around the same size as the 2016 class. That type of number for the 2017 class will be available because of the large expected amount of players who will graduate and transfer. Within the 2017 class, both the position groups of running backs and defensive tackles will play a big role on how many commits the 2017 class will finish with.
Below, I break down both the defensive line and running back positions. In addition, updates on the prospects and Michigan’s chances.
The coaching staff has already taken three commitments at the running back position for the 2017 class. Michigan already has three very talented backs in Kurt Taylor, A.J. Dillon and O’Maury Samuels. However, there are still a lot of elite running backs still on the board who are heavily interested in Michigan.
Michigan’s #1 RB still on the board is the nation’s second-best running back and Fontana, CA (Summit) four-star RB Stephen Carr. Over the last few weeks, Michigan has really started to push their recruiting efforts towards Carr, who is committed to USC. Carr has a lot of interest in the Michigan football program and he decided to visit for the spring game. I had a chance to talk to him about his visit to Ann Arbor. He told me after his visit to Michigan, he is “very interested” in Michigan and he plans to take a official visit to Ann Arbor this fall. However, many people have started to ask, will Michigan continue to recruit Carr? I believe they will keep pursuing him until the end, Carr is a player who is a most get and you can’t decline a commitment from him.
Michigan’s #2 running back still left on the board, who will not be on the board much longer is Wylie, TX (Wylie East) four-star RB Eno Benjamin. Benjamin really likes The Wolverines and has for a while, but Iowa has remained the favorite. Many people have backed off of Benjamin as a potential commit to Michigan. However, that is not the case. Benjamin talked to the coaching staff late Thursday night and they still want Benjamin and there is a spot open for him in the 2017 class. He announced on Twitter a few days ago that he will be making his commitment on April 18th, but it appears that he will end up committing to his longtime favorite Iowa Hawkeyes. However, I would not rule out Michigan as a threat here. During his visit, a while back Benjamin informed me he almost pulled the trigger on his commitment.
The final running back who is on the coaching staffs board is Salt Lake City, UT (Brighton) three-star RB Sione Lund. Lund is another target that Michigan is pursuing, but he seems more of a option if the guys above decide to go elsewhere. Lund is currently committed to Stanford, but he has been looking at Michigan for a while now. His commitment to Stanford has not played any role in his recruitment, he tells me that Michigan is in constant contact with him. The only problem here is, Lund may end up at fullback with Michigan; however, Michigan already has three running back commits so it would not be a big deal. He plans to visit Michigan in the fall for an official visit he tells me, so The Wolverines look to be alive and well in Lund’s recruitment.
Note: Another running back to keep an eye on is 2017 Illinois commit RB Mike Epstein. However, he appears to be solid with Illinois despite a recent visit to Michigan.
As of right now, the running back recruitment will start to slow down after Benjamin’s commitment on April 18th. If Benjamin commits to Iowa, like expected, Michigan will start to focus on other positions. However, I expect Michigan to continue to recruit Lund and Carr throughout the next ten months.
If you looked at what defensive tackles are Michigan’s top-targets in the 2017 class, you would hear names like Corey Bolds and Fred Hansard. However, things may not look as they appear for Michigan at the defensive tackle spot. With Phillip Paea now on board, things will get interesting.
One of Michigan’s defensive tackle targets, Princeton, NJ (Hun School ) four-star DT Fred Hansard released a list of his top schools and a commitment date (May 14th) a few days ago. At the time, The Wolverines appeared to have no shot in Hansard’s recruitment; Ohio State looked like the leader. However, after his spring game visit to Michigan, The Wolverines have emerged as a favorite for Hansard with his commitment date in May. Well, now Rivals’ Adam Friedman says that Hansard is now starting from scratch and postponing his recruitment. There is more reason to why he is starting his recruitment back up again. According to 247sports’ Steve Lorenz and some family members I have talked to regarding Hansard. He tried to commit to Michigan on his visit, but the coaching staff did not accept his commitment and informed him to hold off. Which is very shocking to me because Hansard appeared to be a major target at the defensive tackle position for Michigan.
Well, to make things even more weird, 247sports’ Steve Wiltfong reported that other major Michigan defensive tackle target, Paramus, NJ (Paramus Catholic) four-star DT Corey Bolds “has a lot of work to do, if he wants to join Michigan’s 2017 class.” If I had to guess why, it would have to be because Michigan is looking at other options at the defensive tackle positions. So, I don’t think Bolds is a major target for the staff now.
The other two defensive tackle prospects appear to be locks to end up in the 2017 Michigan recruiting class. Michigan’s top defensive target South Jordan, UT (Bingham) four-star DT Jay Tufele who has been on the coaching staffs radar for a while looks to be favoring Michigan. However, his recruitment looks to be heading for National Signing Day because he plans on taking all of his official visits and Michigan looks to be one of those schools that will get an official from him. If the coaching staff can get him on campus; which will most likely happen, I like Michigan’s chances with him.
As for the other defensive tackle, Mustang, OK (Mustang) three-star DT Deontre Thomas. Thomas has been a rising-recruit within the last few weeks, receiving offers from Arkansas, Arizona State, Texas A&M, Michigan, and others. After his recent visit to Michigan, The Wolverines have become Thomas’ leader and look to be in good position for a commitment. To make things sound even better, he will be making his commitment at the end of the month of April. Even though he will be visiting Oklahoma for their spring game, this is appears to be a lock for Michigan.
– Shane Kinnee (Senior Editor)