There’s no denying the star rating system for recruiting is imperfect.
Every year, a prospect who was a lowly two-star goes in the first round of the NFL draft (such as Rochester Hills Stoney Creek’s Eric Fisher, who went No. 1 overall in 2013), and there have been countless five-star prospects over the years who haven’t panned out. Still, there’s also no denying that five-star players, on aggregate, end up having stronger college careers than lower-ranked players.
That’s why Michigan’s list of official visitors this season has been impressive.
Since the home opener against Oregon State (when Rivals100 four-star defensive back Jared Mayden was the highest-ranked player on an official visit), the Wolverines have hosted at least one five-star prospect at each home game. California linebacker Caleb Kelly saw U-M beat UNLV on Sept. 19, New Jersey defensive tackle Rashan Gary was at the Big House for the win over BYU a week later and, last week, another New Jersey five-star – Ohio State running back commitment Kareem Walker – also made his way to Michigan Stadium.
The trend will continue this weekend, with Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy tight end Isaac Nauta making the trip.
“Michigan has also been recruiting me really hard and they use their tight ends,” Nauta said. “Jake Butt had like nine catches (against Utah). That’s what I like to see, and I just want to see them put together a good season.”
The Wolverines hold a 5-1 record, including shutouts in three consecutive games. Nauta, the top tight end and No. 18 overall prospect the nation, will watch U-M play rival Michigan State on Saturday.
Nauta has connections to Michigan – much of his family hails from southwest Michigan, and he has an uncle, Joel Smeenge, an ex-NFLer who played for defensive line coach Greg Mattison during the veteran assistant’s stint at Western Michigan in 1986.
U-M has one tight end committed in the 2016 class – Massachusetts two-star Sean McKeon – and will hold out on landing another unless it’s a prospect they’re very high on. The 6-4, 235-pound Nauta certainly fits that bill.
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.