Most of the initial reaction regarding Michigan and its 2018 recruiting class regards who the Wolverines didn’t sign. There are plenty of big names they didn’t get, including tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere and linebacker/long-time commit Otis Reese, who chose Ohio State and Georgia, respectively, on National Signing Day. This is the first year since 2011 that Michigan hasn’t signed a player ranked in the top 100 of the 247Sports composite, so there is disappointment.
Yet, the class is still ranked No. 21 nationally and third in the Big Ten, albeit a good distance behind top-five teams Ohio State (No. 2) and Penn State (No. 4). Top 25 classes are nothing to be criticized. Could it have been better? Yes, absolutely, but it still has a good group of players that should help the Wolverines win a lot of games, and even contend for a Big Ten championship that has eluded them since 2004.
The difficult thing about grading recruiting classes — or draft classes in the NFL — is looking at the difference between the players added and those not, and then trying to gauge what those players will become over the next four years.
Let’s take a closer look at Michigan’s 2018 class
Ratings breakdown: There are four 4-star signees, and six 3-star signees
The Wolverines added a 4-star quarterback in Joe Milton, a 4-star tight end in Mustapha Muhammad and a pair of 4-star tackles in Jalen Mayfield and Ryan Hayes, who may begin his career as a tight end. Muhammad was the Houston Touchdown Club’s Offensive Player of Year and an Under Armour All-America Game selection. Mayfield had an impressive performance in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, particularly after switching from right tackle to left tackle in the second half. He hadn’t practiced at the position during that week and played right tackle in high school at Grand Rapids (Mich.) Catholic Central.
The rest of the group includes running backs Christian Turner, Hassan Haskins and athlete Michael Barrett. Turner participated in the Opening Finals last summer. Haskins was the Missouri Class 6 Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for more than 2,000 yards at Eureka. Barrett was Georgia’s Class 7A Offensive Player of the Year as a quarterback at Valdosta Lowndes.
Fullback/H-back Ben VanSumeren, wide receiver Ronnie Bell and tight end Luke Schoonmaker weren’t household names on the recruiting circuit but they are players that fit a style that Michigan is seeking, athletes that bring multiple skill sets with them. VanSumeren is going to get a lot of comparisons to Ben Mason, who signed last year as a linebacker but was moved to fullback and forced his way onto the field despite the presence of fifth-year seniors Henry Poggi and Khalid Hill.
Ratings breakdown: There are three 4-star signees, and six 3-star signees
The 4-star players are defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, linebacker Cameron McGrone and cornerback Myles Sims. Hutchinson and McGrone were U.S. Army All-Americans, while Sims was an Under Armour All-American. Hutchinson wowed scouts and viewers of the Army game by making multiple plays behind the line of scrimmage, including coming up with 2 sacks.
Sims is one of five defensive backs Michigan signed in this class, and they all have similar characteristics. They’re tall (at least 6-foot-2), have good arm length and speed. Defensive coordinator Don Brown demands that his secondary members be able to play man coverage, and they’ve all got experience in that scheme. Ge’mon Green and German Green, twin brothers from DeSoto, Texas, epitomize that mold.
The most intriguing player of the entire class is defensive end Julius Welschof of Germany. Brown doesn’t want to hear the term “project” used in relation to Welschof but there are a lot of unknowns about him when it comes to playing at this level. There are no questions about his athletic ability or his desire to play, but now it’s up to the coaching staff to bring out that potential.
Ratings breakdown: There are seven 4-star signees, and 12 3-star signees
It’s important to look at this class of players for the individuals who make it up, not the ones who weren’t signed. It’s not fair to compare the class to 2016 or 2017, classes that were ranked No. 8 and No. 5, respectively. Those are high standards.
This class doesn’t have the 5-star elite prospect in it. There is no Rashan Gary, Donovan Peoples-Jones or Aubrey Solomon in the group from that standpoint, but that doesn’t mean these players can’t become high-end performers before their careers are complete at Michigan. There is more potential than star ratings with this group.
|Aidan Hutchinson||DE||6-6||260||4-star||Dearborn, Mich.||Dec. 20|
|Cameron McGrone||LB||6-1||225||4-star||Indianapolis, Ind.||Dec. 20|
|Mustapha Muhammad||TE||6-4||235||4-star||Missouri City, Texas||Dec. 20|
|Myles Sims*||CB||6-2||173||4-star||Atlanta||Dec. 20|
|Joe Milton*||QB||6-5||230||4-star||Tampa||Dec. 20|
|Jalen Mayfield||OT||6-5||273||4-star||Grand Rapids, Mich.||Dec. 20|
|Ryan Hayes||OT||6-7||252||4-star||Traverse City, Mich.||Dec. 20|
|Ge’mon Green||CB||6-2||165||3-star||DeSoto, Texas||Dec. 20|
|Christian Turner||RB||5-11||187||3-star||Buford, Ga.||Dec. 20|
|Taylor Upshaw*||DE||6-5||240||3-star||Bradenton, Fla.||Dec. 20|
|Sammy Faustin||CB||6-2||190||3-star||Naples, Fla.||Dec. 20|
|Ben VanSumeren||TE||6-3||225||3-star||Essexville, Mich.||Dec. 20|
|Julius Welshof||DE||6-6||250||3-star||Weisbach, Germany||Dec. 20|
|Vincent Gray||CB||6-2||180||3-star||Rochester, Mich.||Feb. 7|
|Michael Barrett||ATH||5-11||215||3-star||Valdosta, Ga.||Feb. 7|
|Luke Schoonmaker||TE||6-6||225||3-star||Hamden, Conn.||Dec. 20|
|Hassan Haskins||RB||6-1||202||3-star||Eureka, Mo.||Dec. 20|
|German Green||S||6-2||168||3-star||DeSoto, Texas||Dec. 20|
|Ronnie Bell||WR||6-1||170||3-star||Kansas City, Mo.||Feb. 7|
* = early enrollee; players listed in order of 247Sports composite rankings