Just as the final stretch begins on the recruiting trail for high school seniors, Sept. 1 signals the real beginning of the recruiting cycle for 2018 recruits as coaches are allowed to make limited contact with juniors for the first time.
Michigan, like most other programs, went full steam ahead in contacting a wide variety of players across the country as midnight struck on the first. With the staff slated to sign a second straight large class in 2017, the odds are heavily in favor of the 2018 class being a smaller class across the board, with a likely focus on star power at most positions rather than depth.
While it is seemingly an eternity to national signing day 2018, there are some notable names fans can start keeping an eye on as the process begins for the Wolverines:
Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (Las Vegas Bishop Gorman): Thompson-Robinson, whose mother attended U-M, is Michigan’s top quarterback target in the 2018 class. This is despite the fact that he’s never started a high school game, as he sits behind 2017 Ohio State verbal commitment Tate Martell. Thompson-Robinson is a more dual-threat style quarterback than Harbaugh has recruited so far at U-M, but with Brandon Peters and Dylan McCaffrey in the fold the last two cycles, they’re more apt to chase a high-ceiling prospect in 2018. UCLA appears to be the biggest threat to the Wolverines in this race.
Tight end Mustapha Muhammad (Missouri City (Texas) Ridge Point): Muhammad is U-M’s top target at the tight end position in a strong 2018 cycle. He visited the Wolverines earlier this summer and gave a glowing review. The four-star prospect has offers from virtually everybody already, and has yet to narrow his recruiting list. He is much more of the receiver type of tight end (think 2016 signee Nick Eubanks) than he is the bulky H-Back style (Devin Asiasi), but is another prospect with almost unlimited potential.
Defensive end Dorian Hardy (Montvale (N.J.) St. Joseph Regional): Michigan will once again be a factor in New Jersey in the 2018 class, with Hardy being arguably their top target within the state for the cycle. Defensive end may be a spot of need in 2018 depending on how the staff finishes out in the 2017 class, and Hardy is a guy who the Wolverines may end up battling Alabama for. He has seen both campuses and has a good relationship with linebackers coach Chris Partridge and defensive line coach Greg Mattison.
Defensive tackle Taron Vincent (Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy): Vincent is the nation’s top ranked defensive tackle in the 2018 cycle, and is talented enough to possibly challenge for that title regardless of class. The son of former NFL cornerback Troy Vincent, Taron has one major connection to U-M in associate head coach Biff Poggi, who coached Vincent at Baltimore Gilman School before his transfer to IMG and the hire has piqued his interest in the Wolverines. Ohio State is the leader for now, and this one may come down to the two bitter rivals.
Offensive lineman Penei Sewell (St. George (Utah) Desert Hills): Michigan has made Polynesian recruits across the country a priority, and Sewell is one they’re especially high on up front on the offensive line. He was a late scratch for the BBQ at the Big House in August, but has expressed considerable interest in the Wolverines and in coming back up for a game this fall. Sewell says he is wide open at this point, and holds offers from Oklahoma, Florida, Nebraska and a host of others.