Isaiah Hole/247Sports
Jalen Mayfield of Grand Rapids Catholic Central is a 4-star offensive tackle commit for Michigan's 2018 class.

Michigan recruiting mailbag: Keeping top in-state talent in Ann Arbor; recruiting O-linemen with attitude

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 discuss recruiting in-state players, the offensive line and whether any former Tennessee commits have interest in Michigan.

Q: Does it worry you that state of Michigan No. 1 recruit is not considering Michigan? — George Felekides via Facebook

A: I don’t know that “worry” is the correct term. George could be speaking of 2018 No. 1 Marquan McCall, an offensive lineman who is committed to Kentucky, or 2019 No. 1 Devontae Dobbs. He is from Belleville, also an offensive lineman and rated No. 8 overall in the country by the 247Sports composite rankings. Early prognostications have Dobbs leaning everywhere but Michigan.

Michigan State, Ohio State, Alabama and Clemson top his list of schools, according to 247Sports.

What the Wolverines did in 2017 in signing seven of the top eight players in the state set the bar at an extreme high. That just isn’t going to happen every year. To think just because you carry the name “Michigan” that every player in the state will immediately side with you would be arrogant. That might have been the case during the Schembechler years, when scholarship limits weren’t at 85 as they are now. There is plenty of competition for players in the state. 

As things stand, Michigan has commitments from three of the top 5 2018 players in the state: defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (No. 2), offensive tackle Jalen Mayfield (No. 4, video highlights above), and offensive tackle Ryan Hayes ( No. 5). They are very much in the mix for 2019 top-5 players Logan Brown, Mazi Smith and Marvin Grant.

Recruiting is about relationships and fits. It has to be right for both sides.

Q: Who is Michigan’s most probable WR commit? ― Demetrus Stokes via Facebook

A: After signing four wide receivers in 2017 (Brad Hawkins since has been moved to safety/viper) the position won’t command as much attention in 2018 but the Wolverines still want to add another player or two. If this season shows you anything, it’s that the position is not as easy a transition as many think from high school to college.

There are a few names to watch out for in 2018: Ja’Marr Chase is a 4-star, former Florida commit who will be taking an official visit on Nov. 25. Dillon Spalding (3-star) visited Michigan in September and has the Wolverines and West Virginia as his final two choices. Chris Olave (3-star) from Mission Hills, Calif., is another player to watch. He’s gotten attention from Michigan and Ohio State recently.

Q: Will we get any top 50 players this year? ― Ron Ellis via Facebook

A: Good question, Ron, and thanks for asking it.

Michigan has gotten at least one player rated in the top 50 of the country, according to the 247Sports composite rankings, in five of the past six recruiting cycles. The one exception was in 2015, which was Jim Harbaugh’s first recruiting class. Remember that he was hired in late December 2014 and had about six weeks to put that class together.

As far as the 2018 class is shaping up, tight end Mustapha Muhammad is the top-rated player committed to Michigan. He’s No. 109 on the 247Sports list. Michigan has signed seven players in each of the last two classes rated higher than that spot. Don’t expect Muhammad, who is a 4-star rated player and who should fit nicely into Michigan’s offensive system, to be the top-ranked player in this class.

Of the top 50 players on the 247Sports list, 23 of them are still uncommitted. Michigan is still in play for a handful of these players, including defensive end Eyabi Anoma (No. 41) and offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere (No. 42). Both players are scheduled to take official visits with the Wolverines on Nov. 25.

Q: Recruit some O-Line… big, mean, nasty linemen!!! ― Dave Burkett via Facebook

A: This isn’t so much a question as it is a comment. Or, rather, a command from a Go Blue faithful.

It might just be perception, but as the game of football has evolved over the years into more of a passing game, with spread formations and multiple receiver sets, the old school, rough-and-tumble style of offensive line play has diminished. Certainly there are players who fit that mold. Senior left tackle Mason Cole comes to mind immediately as that kind of player, and I think freshman Cesar Ruiz has shown similar traits in the last two games as the starter at right guard. Michael Onwenu won the right guard spot in part because he got better in that regard.

Jalen Mayfield and Ryan Hayes are 2018 commits who are projected tackles in college. Mayfield (6-foot-5, 273 pounds) already plays the position, while Hayes (6-7, 252) is expected to convert to it after being a tight end in high school at Traverse City (Mich.) West. Nolan Rumler (6-4, 290) of Akron (Ohio) Hoban is a 2019 commit who is also a tackle. Video of him from this season is below.

The mean and nasty part is more attitude than physical ability. You’ve seen Michigan’s offensive line keep its blocks a little longer the past few games. That’s attitude.

Q: Any interest in Tennessee’s commits? ― James T. Horrocks via Facebook

A: Certainly, but interest has to go both ways. There have been three recent de-commits associated with the firing of coach Butch Jones: offensive tackle Cade Mays, as well as wide receivers Alontae Taylor and Shocky Jacques-Louis.

Michigan and every other program would take Mays, a 5-star prospect rated No. 15 overall and the No. 2 offensive tackle in the country, in a heartbeat, but the Wolverines aren’t on his list of top choices. Taylor is also looking elsewhere, according to various reports. Jacques-Louis took an official visit to Ann Arbor this season but it appears both sides have moved on from each other.

Tennessee’s 2018 class is rated No. 15 in the country by 247Sports following those three de-commit announcements.

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.