Kevin Goheen/Land of 10
Linebacker Marcel Lewis of Chippewa Valley High School in Michigan got an offer from the Wolverines in January and made an unofficial visit to campus the first weekend of February.

Michigan recruiting mailbag: Wolverines can’t ignore in-state prospects; what’s happening at QB, RB

Kevin Goheen

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 look at how Michigan is approaching its recruitment of in-state players, which players the Wolverines are targeting at quarterback and running back, and how many players will make up the 2019 class. 

Q: Why did Michigan seem to ignore the ’19 in-state recruits until recently? — Adam Pietron via Facebook

A: I spoke with Allen Trieu, the Midwest recruiting coordinator for 247Sports, and this was one of the topics we discussed. When you’re the big-name in-state school, as Michigan is, you can’t miss on players from your state. What Trieu meant is if Michigan offers a scholarship to a player from the state, it can’t afford to not follow up and build its relationship or later pull the offer. Those types of actions can have serious ramifications down the road when the coaches are trying to recruit other players. You don’t want to develop a bad reputation within your own state.

There is a balance that has to be struck in the timing. The state of Michigan has one of its deeper classes in 2019 with 10 players rated 4-star prospects or better by the 247Sports composite. That is the same number as the highly touted 2017 class and one more than 2016. The 2018 class had six 4-star prospects. Michigan got a commitment from Aidan Hutchinson on Feb. 21, 2017, but didn’t offer Ryan Hayes until late in February and Jalen Mayfield until March. The two other in-state players signed for the 2018 class, Ben VanSumeren and Vincent Gray, weren’t offered until December. By comparison, the Wolverines have made offers to more than 10 in-state players from the 2019, 2020 and 2021 classes since the start of the new year.

I think that is a clear indication the coaching staff recognizes the level of talent in the state and that it doesn’t want to get caught behind.

Q: Who is the most likely QB to commit in the ’19 class? — Ryan Swartz via Facebook

A: This is something that is too early to speculate upon because there is plenty up in the air for the 2018 season. The eligibility of junior transfer Shea Patterson has yet to be determined. If he is ruled eligible to play in 2018, will it be the only season he plays at Michigan? What happens with the futures of redshirt sophomore Brandon Peters and redshirt freshman Dylan McCaffrey? Would they entertain thoughts of transferring after 2018 if things don’t work out for them?

All those things are going to play a role in the decision-making of 2019 quarterbacks. Joe Milton was the one quarterback Michigan signed in 2018; it had planned on two, but Kevin Doyle de-committed late and signed with Arizona. The Wolverines may need to sign two next year. Some names to pay attention to at this point are 4-star Paul Tyson, 4-star Graham Mertz (committed to Wisconsin) and 3-star Sam Johnson of Walled Lake (Mich.) Western. I think it’s going to be some time before Michigan gets a quarterback commit.

RELATED: 2019 Michigan recruiting big board  

Q: Where do we stand on running back commits? — Ron Cole via Facebook

A:  There are no running backs committed to Michigan for 2019, but the Wolverines are in good position with several top prospects. Their top target is 5-star standout Quavaris Crouch of Charlotte (N.C.) Harding University High School; he also has South Carolina and Clemson among his top teams. Coach Jim Harbaugh and assistant Jay Harbaugh have visited Crouch on multiple occasions, and I’m sure they will try to arrange for him to make a trip to Ann Arbor this spring. They also hosted 4-star John Emery Jr. from Louisiana in January.

Eric Gray of Memphis, Tenn., is another 4-star running back Michigan has shown a lot of interest in pursuing. Gray is ranked the No. 2 all-purpose back in the country, and his style will remind you of Chris Evans. He camped at Michigan last summer and was impressive.

Q: Do you think the Hintons will follow Reese to Georgia? ― Taylor Jacquith via Facebook 

A: I think any player from the state of Georgia is going to be a possibility to end up at the University of Georgia with the momentum Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs have built the last few years. Michigan lost 4-star linebacker Otis Reese to the Bulldogs on a National Signing Day flip. Christopher Hinton is a 5-star defensive end from Norcross, Ga., in the Atlanta area who is committed to Michigan for the 2019 class. Myles Hinton is his younger brother, a 2020 offensive lineman, who is a top target for the Wolverines. He has not committed to a school at this point.

Michigan coaches did everything they could to keep Reese in the fold this year, and there’s no doubt they’ll put the same effort and priority on Christopher Hinton, but Georgia is a constant threat.

Q: How many student-athletes can we sign in ’19? ― Chad Izworski via Facebook

A: There is a good chance the 2019 class size will be similar to the 19 players signed in 2018. The roster for this season still needs some trimming; by the unofficial Land of 10 Michigan count, the Wolverines are four players over the 85-scholarship limit. There are eight players who have fifth-year eligibility in 2018 and 10 other seniors who joined the program in the 2015 recruiting class. There are 51 players on the roster who were signed during the 2016 and 2017 classes, plus recent transfer Patterson.

Junior defensive end Rashan Gary is being talked about as a possible early entry into the 2019 NFL Draft. Could other Wolverines leave early if they have a strong year? Cornerbacks Lavert Hill and David Long as well as viper Khaleke Hudson could fall into that category.

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.