With Michigan’s three commitments over the weekend – the first pledges of the Jim Harbaugh era — the Wolverines are up to nine players in the 2015 class. However, the Maize and Blue are only up to No. 75 in the Rivals.com team rankings, and that’s not where Harbaugh and his assistants hope to finish.
Fortunately, there are plenty of big fish in the sea, and U-M plans to reel in as many as 16 pledges to boost the class back to the expected territory. With one week to go before Signing Day, bringing in some of those prospects to the commitment class would help accomplish what Harbaugh hopes for his program: building the best team in the nation.
The top dog on the board is Long Beach (Calif.) Poly cornerback Iman Marshall. The 6-foot-1, 194-pounder is ranked tops in the nation at his position and No. 3 overall. Marshall officially visited Ann Arbor Jan. 19, and should he pick the Wolverines, would mean two consecutive years with a five-star defensive back (after 2014 five-star Jabrill Peppers).
Marshall should be a tough pull, though. He has options all over the country, including Oregon, Notre Dame, Oklahoma — and hometown schools UCLA and Southern California pose the biggest threats to landing his signature. A more realistic top option for U-M is Avon (Conn.) Old Farms tight end Chris Clark. The No. 79 overall player and top prospect at his position is a onetime U-M commitment who will make his final decision between the Wolverines and UCLA on National Signing Day, Feb. 4.
“Landing Clark would be huge for not only the running game but also the passing game,” said Rivals.com Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Analyst Adam Friedman. “He is an asset as a run blocker and creates a lot of match-up problems as a receiver because of how fast he is. In the bigger picture, this could been seen as Harbaugh’s first signature recruit and could serve as a signal that Michigan is quickly making its way back to being a recruiting powerhouse.”
The Wolverines are also chasing a number of other top prospects — including four-star tight end/defensive end Tyrone Wheatley Jr., who took a surprise official visit to Ann Arbor Tuesday. A shot at Georgia duo Roquan Smith (a Rivals100 linebacker) and Chris Williamson (a four-star cornerback) also means there will be plenty of excitement leading up to Signing Day.
Michigan’s approach to the deadline was often mundane under coach Brady Hoke, who filled his classes early in the process. Under Harbaugh, at least this year, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Tim Sullivan is the Football Recruiting Editor of The Wolverine magazine and TheWolverine.com. He is also a contributor to national football recruiting coverage on the Rivals.com network. You can follow him on Twitter @TimS_Wolverine.