Michigan recruiting mailbag: Wolverines tracking 5-star running back; where team stands with in-state players
Have Michigan football recruiting questions? We’ve got answers. Join us every Wednesday for the Land of 10 Michigan recruiting mailbag to discuss Wolverines recruiting. This week we try to figure out what factors recruits look at most when choosing a school, where Michigan stands with a standout running back, and which 2018 class members will see the field as freshmen.
Q: What are your thoughts on recruiting as far as winning and they will come vs. having positions stacked with young talent so high schoolers go elsewhere? — Anthony Booth via Facebook
A: An interesting dilemma and a balancing act all teams face. Where’s the line of demarcation?
The No. 1 goal is to win as many games as possible. Win games and no doubt top recruits will always want to play for you, but there are only a handful of programs that can stake a claim to that kind of prowess. Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Southern Cal and, yes, Ohio State are in that select group. Penn State has momentum in that department but I wouldn’t put it in that group just yet.
Is Michigan? I’d say no when it comes to winning — that Big Ten title drought lingers — but the Wolverines certainly have everything else at their disposal to be one of those programs. They have a head coach who has been successful everywhere he’s been, and no one could be more Michigan than Jim Harbaugh. The history and tradition of the program is among the best in the country, and the facilities are upgraded constantly.
Recruits want to play for winning programs that have a shot at championships. They also want to know that they’ll have the best preparation and development possible for a shot at the NFL. If their position group is stacked, it won’t deter them from a school as long as they see the team winning and those players progressing. They want to play with the best talent.
I’ll use defensive backs as an example. Michigan has signed 14 players in the position group in the last three recruiting cycles. That won’t stop it from going after more top defensive backs in coming years. Derek Stingley Jr. of Baton Rouge, La., and Chris Steele of Bellflower, Calif., are ranked Nos. 2 and 3 among 2019 cornerbacks nationally by the 247Sports composite, and Michigan is pursuing them heavily. Stingley put the Wolverines among his top 6 choices this week. Daxton Hill of Tulsa, Okla., is the No. 2 2019 safety in the country. He is scheduled to visit Ann Arbor this weekend.
Q: Do you think we have a good chance of getting Quavaris Crouch? — Brandon Grierson via Facebook
A: I do but it won’t be easy to get Quavaris Crouch, the 5-star running back from Charlotte (N.C.) Harding University High School. He’s ranked as the No. 18 overall player in the country and the No. 2 running back and also holds offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida, South Carolina and Georgia, among many. Chris Partridge has been the point man for Crouch’s recruitment along with running backs coach Jay Harbaugh, as well as coach Jim Harbaugh.
Clemson is getting the nod from analysts at this time but there is still a long way to go in the process. It will be interesting to see if Crouch takes advantage of new rules allowing for official visits this spring, and if Michigan garners one of his five allotted visits.
RELATED: 2019 Michigan recruiting big board
Q: With all of this positivity why can we not dominate the great state of Michigan when it comes to recruiting? — George Felekides via Facebook
A: Domination just isn’t what it used to be, even if the past is the last couple of recruiting classes. Michigan signed seven of the top-8 players in the state, including the top 6, in 2017 as well as the top-3 players (Aidan Hutchinson, Jalen Mayfield, Ryan Hayes) in the 2018 class
Things aren’t looking as promising at the top of the 2019 class with the top three players (Devontae Dobbs, Logan Brown, Julian Barnett) either committed elsewhere or looking elsewhere, but it’s not as bad as you might think. The 2019 class in the state is among the deepest since 247Sports began compiling its composite list in the early 2000s. Defensive tackle Mazi Smith, safety Marvin Grant, linebacker Lance Dixon and defensive end Michael Fletcher all are rated as 4-star prospects and are targets for the Wolverines.
I’ve said it before in this space: Michigan has gotten off to a slow start with this 2019 class. It has ground to make up but it’s getting there.
Q: HEY! I think the 2018 class is for depth and 2019 is gonna be better. Now which of the 2018 players will get some action? ― C’mon Son Harper via Facebook
A: I’ll point to my answer at the top of the mailbag about stacked positions. There are a lot of stacked positions on the 2018 team because there has been such low turnover. The 2017 team didn’t have a lot of seniors, and it will be the same this season. That makes it tough for freshmen to come in and garner playing time.
Not impossible, however, especially on special teams. I think you’re going to see linebacker Cameron McGrone and cornerback Myles Sims get playing time as the season progresses. Watch out for fullback Ben VanSumeren. That’s a spot that doesn’t have much depth, with just sophomore Ben Mason returning. The Wolverines have lost Khalid Hill and Henry Poggi to graduation, so there is opportunity for VanSumeren.
Aidan Hutchinson put on an impressive performance at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January. Chase Winovich and Rashan Gary are going to take the majority of snaps at defensive end, but there is opportunity to learn and grow as a backup behind two of the best in the country.
Mustapha Muhammad comes into a deep tight end room that returns Sean McKeon, Zach Gentry, Nick Eubanks and Tyrone Wheatley Jr. McKeon and Gentry became starters last season. Eubanks and Wheatley Jr. have something to prove after injuries and other struggles in 2017. If Muhammad gets on the field, he’ll have done something special, and Michigan only will benefit.
Have a question about Michigan recruiting? Tweet us @Landof10MICH or follow on the Land of 10/Michigan Facebook page and ask us there. We’ll try to answer in a future mailbag. Check to see if your issue already was addressed by reading previous Michigan recruiting mailbags here.