Anthony Broome is a writer at the Wolverines blog Maize-n-Brew. His opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the Detroit Free Press nor its writers. Read his column every week here and contact him anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s shaping up to be a busy week or so for Michigan’s 2016 football recruiting class. Things have been quiet on the trail recently, but things are about to start picking up again as we head into the actual football season.
The Wolverines have questions on offense heading into 2015. That much is for certain. They are doing their best to address those concerns for the future starting with the current recruiting cycle.
A pair of four-star recruits in Egg Harbor City (N.J.) Cedar Creek wide receiver Ahmir Mitchell and Philadelphia Imhotep Institutional Charter School tight end Naseir Upshur will both be making their college decisions leading into Michigan’s week one match-up with the Utah Utes.
Mitchell’s recruitment has come down to the Wolverines and Ohio State, two teams he will chose from on Aug. 27. The Maize and Blue look to be firmly in the lead here, with nearly all predictions on 247’s Crystal Ball in favor of U-M.
On an offense that will spend this season trying to find someone that can be dangerous with the ball in their hands, a commitment from Mitchell would be very big for the future. He is a taller target, not a burner by any means, but can definitely do some damage in the open field because he is extremely tough to tackle.
While U-M fans expect good news from Mitchell this week, Upshur’s recruitment looks to be trending the opposite way. For the longest time, it appeared that he was heavily favoring the Wolverines and was close to pulling the trigger on a commitment earlier this summer. Instead, Florida State has been heavily recruiting him following Isaac Nauta, the nation’s top tight end, decommitting from the program.
Upshur has announced Sept. 1 as the date that he will choose between U-M and the Seminoles, though it looks like he is likely Tallahassee-bound where we stand today.
Michigan’s offense uses the tight end position quite a bit, so Upshur has been a sizable target for them throughout the process.
The modern tight end is a lot of times a player that can be flexed out to the slot or as an outside receiver, but that’s not Upshur. He is a very good all-around tight end with good hands, but is even better as a run blocker. With the Wolverines running a powerful pro-style offense under Jim Harbaugh, he seems like the perfect fit in Ann Arbor.
With all of that being said, the allure of playing for an elite program like Florida State, who is coming off a playoff berth following a national title year, will outweigh the promise of playing for Harbaugh.
It would be a bit of a blow to lose out on both Chris Clark and Upshur in consecutive classes, but three-star 2016 tight end commit Sean McKeon out of Dudley, Mass., is a solid prospect in his own right. If they miss out on Upshur, they will just have to move to the next guy on the board.
So is the world of recruiting.
The staff has addressed its needs on the recruiting trail in 2016 so far. Depth on the offensive line, at wide receiver and at tight end have all been addressed or in the process of being done so.
Home run hitters are also sparse on the current roster and they have been able to add that in guys like Indianapolis Ben Davis’ Chris Evans and Winchester, Ind., star Kiante Enis, who both possess the breakaway speed to take any touch to the house for a touchdown.
In any recruiting cycle, you are bound to whiff on a few of your top targets. Michigan is no exception to that rule. What separates the average programs from the great ones is the ability to recover from those misses, something the old staff was unable to do at times.
U-M fans should rest well at night knowing that the new staff will scan all corners of the country and find the diamonds in the rough. Those are the types of players that make or break programs.
Harbaugh and company have their work cut out for them, but they also possess a resume that suggests the work that needs to get done will get done.