Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio (1 p.m., NBC) will showcase several Michigan commitments — and perhaps grow the Wolverines’ 26-player 2017 recruiting class.
Among committed players, receivers Donovan Peoples-Jones and Tarik Black, cornerback Ambry Thomas and defensive lineman Deron Irving-Bey will be playing for the East team, while quarterback Dylan McCaffrey will play for the West.
But even more intrigue lies with prospects who still are being recruited, especially those who are scheduled to announce during the game.
Michigan’s best shot to land someone appears to rest with Aledo, Texas, offensive lineman Chuck Filiaga, who moved from California before his senior year. Down to U-M, Oklahoma and Nebraska, the 6-foot-6, 335-pound four-star prospect would be a boost to U-M’s rebuilding offensive line. He seemingly long has favored the Wolverines.
Ranked as the No. 14 offensive tackle and the No. 98 overall player in the 247Sports Composite rankings, Filiaga would be the sixth-highest-ranked prospect in U-M’s class. Michigan already has five offensive linemen in the class, but one, Ft. Lauderdale four-star Kai-Leon Herbert, is looking at other schools, with official visits scheduled for Auburn, Miami (Fla.) and Florida.
Michigan is also a finalist for Wylie, Texas, tailback Eno Benjamin, a 5-foot-10, 203-pound former Iowa commit who is ranked as the nation’s No. 8 running back. He’s down to Arizona State, Missouri, Texas, Utah and Michigan. ASU and Texas appear to be the front-runners.
Michigan’s interest in Benjamin appeared to wane recently — probably because of Antioch, Calif., running back Najee Harris. The nation’s No. 1-ranked player has been committed to Alabama since April 2015, but Michigan has continued to recruit him heavily.
Even this week, U-M tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh, Harris’ lead recruiter, has dropped vague Twitter messages, trying to sway him.
Though Harris will make his decision between the Crimson Tide and Michigan this weekend, he has said he won’t announce it. He plans to just arrive at the school at which he will begin classes next week. That has recruiting reporters chasing his plane plans, with the latest report from 247Sports and USA TODAY being that he is headed to Birmingham, Ala., on Sunday.
Michigan already has two running backs in the class — four-star O’Maury Samuels and three-star Kurt Taylor — and Harris’ decision could affect the Wolverines final weeks on the recruiting trail leading up to National Signing Day next month.
Three other players in U.S. Army game also are on U-M’s recruiting radar, but none is expected to announce Saturday.
Starkville, Miss., four-star linebacker Willie Gay (No. 111 overall), Bingham, Utah, four-star defensive tackle Jay Tufele (No. 56) and Lee County, Ga., five-star defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon (No. 31) all have U-M among their finalists.
Michigan is not considered the favorite for any of the three, though coaches are allowed to get back on the road Jan. 12-28.