Emil Ekiyor de-committed from Michigan earlier Sunday, knocking the Wolverines’ Class of 2018 list of commits down to 14.
But the loss of Ekiyor, a 4-star offensive lineman from Indianapolis Cathedral High School, does more than just remove a name from Michigan’s class. It takes away the top-rated player from the class and puts the Wolverines in search of adding interior line help. Ekiyor has played tackle, guard and center during his four seasons on the Cathedral varsity team, including starting at center this season. He is projected to play inside at the college level.
Before we go any further, here’s a look at the commits Michigan has for 2018, with all ratings coming from the 247Sports composite:
|Mustapha Muhammad||TE||4-star||Missouri City, Texas|
|Otis Reese||LB||4-star||Leesburg, Ga.|
|Joe Milton||QB||4-star||Orlando, Fla.|
|Aidan Hutchinson||DE||4-star||Dearborn, Mich.|
|Jalen Mayfield||OT||4-star||Grand Rapids, Mich.|
|Ryan Hayes||OT||4-star||Traverse City, Mich.|
|Gemon Green||CB||3-star||DeSoto, Texas|
|Christian Turner||RB||3-star||Buford, Ga.|
|Kevin Doyle||QB||3-star||Washington, D.C.|
|Sammy Faustin||CB||3-star||Naples, Fla.|
|Luke Schoonmaker||TE||3-star||Hamden, Conn.|
|German Green||S||3-star||DeSoto, Texas|
|Hassan Haskins||RB||3-star||Eureka, Mo.|
The class was ranked No. 14 in the country and No. 3 in the Big Ten prior to Ekiyor’s announcement. It had briefly bumped from No. 14 to No. 13 when tight end Mustapha Muhammad announced his commitment to the Wolverines on Oct. 20 but the rankings are fluid. As soon as a player commits to one school (or de-commits) the rankings fluctuate. Michigan’s 2016 class ranked No. 7 in the country and the 2017 class was rated No. 5, so while this one isn’t as highly ranked as the previous two, it is a solid overall class with room to add at least eight more players.
The NCAA has instituted a 72-hour early signing period that will run Dec. 20-22 ahead of the traditional signing period that begins Feb. 7, 2018, and runs to April 1. Most players who are committed are expected to take advantage of the early period by signing their National Letters of Intent and making their pledges official.
This class still has two offensive line commits, both from the state of Michigan. Jalen Mayfield of Grand Rapids Catholic Central and Ryan Hayes of Traverse City West are both 4-star prospects who recruiting analysts believe have high ceilings. Mayfield is 6 feet, 5 inches, weighs 273-pounds and plays for the defending Michigan Division 4 state champions; Hayes is a 6-7, 252-pound player who is being used as a tight end on offense for West. Hayes caught a 20-yard touchdown pass last Friday in West’s 49-19 first-round Division 2 playoff win against Midland Dow.
Michigan has signed nine offensive linemen the previous two recruiting cycles, including starting guards Ben Bredeson and Michael Onwenu. Freshman Cesar Ruiz was the top-rated center in the country for the 2017 class. Freshman James Hudson was originally signed as a defensive tackle but has been switched to the offensive line.
Those numbers mean Michigan can still be judicious about signing linemen for 2018. The Wolverines don’t have to have a replacement for Ekiyor in December, although they can certainly use more interior line help by the time the February period rolls around.
Here’s a look at five interior linemen (in alphabetical order) who could be on Michigan’s radar:
Curtis Dunlap, OG, Jacksonville, Fla.
Dunlap plays at IMG Academy in Bradenton. He’s from Florida and is committed to Florida, with the backing of his family. But could the firing of Gators coach Jim McElwain on Sunday sway him to change his mind?
Trey Hill, OG, Warner Robins, Ga.
The No. 2-rated guard in the country is on everyone’s radar, with home-state Georgia getting the lean from the 247Sports Crystal Ball projections. Michigan has had good results recently in the Peach State but Hill will be a tough get.
Tank Jenkins, OG, Montgomery, Ala.
Michigan has offered Jenkins, a 4-star prospect, but most of his interest has been from Louisville, Auburn and Missouri, according to 247Sports.
Marquan McCall, OG, Oak Park, Mich.
The No. 1-rated player in the state of Michigan chose Kentucky over the Wolverines in May. Looking for someone to possibly flip, McCall has a previous relationship with Michigan. The question is how much, if at all, have they stayed in contact?
Jamaree Salyer, OG, Atlanta
Back to Georgia for the nation’s No. 1-rated guard. Like Hill, analyst predictions have Salyer staying in-state with Georgia, but he took an official visit to Ohio State this weekend. Like Hill, it’ll be tough to get into this race now, but Michigan has never been one not to aim high.