Kevin Goheen/Land of 10
Dylan McCaffrey was a 4-star quarterback recruit for Michigan in the Class of 2017. He'll be a redshirt freshman competing for the starting job in 2018.

Michigan recruiting mailbag: The eternal search for QB and players to protect him

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 the need for depth at quarterback, a big tackle target, and New Jersey.

Q: Why do we need 5 QBs? — Steven Douglas Reed via Facebook

A: If the 2017 season taught Michigan fans anything, it’s that there is always a need for good quarterbacks. The loss of Wilton Speight to injury at Purdue on Sept. 23 was followed by John O’Korn losing the starting job to Brandon Peters five weeks later because of a lack of production. Then Peters went down with an injury against Wisconsin on Nov. 18 and O’Korn was back in the starting role. Team foundations are found on the line of scrimmage, but in order to win a division title, a conference championship and have a shot at playing for a national championship, a top-level quarterback has to be running the show.

That’s why Jim Harbaugh welcomes the transfer of Shea Patterson from Ole Miss. He was a 5-star recruit and No. 4-ranked player in the country coming out of IMG Academy in the Class of 2016, according to the 247Sports composite. He was forced to play as a freshman at Ole Miss because of injury and then injury cut short his sophomore season after seven games, but he’s got more game experience than anyone else on the Michigan roster. Peters will be a redshirt sophomore. Dylan McCaffrey was a 4-star recruit in 2017 who will compete for the job next season after redshirting his freshman year, but these two are largely unproven. The 2018 class includes 4-star Joe Milton and 3-star Kevin Doyle, two talented players who will be new to the college game.

Harbaugh loves the term “meritocracy” because it lets everyone on the team know there is competition for every spot. The more players he has competing for a job, the better.

Q: Think we land Nicholas Petit-Frere? ― Jason Milliman via Facebook

A: I have no particular inside information as to what Nicholas Petit-Frere, a 5-star tackle from Berkeley Prep in Tampa, is thinking, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Michigan does end up as his choice. No guarantees, but the Wolverines have made him a priority prospect. They’ve even secured Berkeley Prep as a practice site for the Outback Bowl against South Carolina on Jan. 1.

He has several excellent programs pursuing him, including Alabama, Auburn, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Florida and others. Reports from various outlets have mentioned Notre Dame and Michigan as standing out a little more because of the academics at the schools. Again, I have no special knowledge of his ultimate decision, but I think Michigan is able to sign him.

Q: Why is our recruiting class so weak! We had two great classes but this class is very weak so far. Why? ― William Potts via Facebook

A: I believe Mr. Potts and most everyone else have a different definition of the word “weak.” Michigan’s class, heading into the first day of the early signing period, had 18 commits, 16 who were expected to sign and become official recruits. The class could eventually grow to about 25 players, so there is still room to add more quality to the group.

This class includes eight players rated as 4-star prospects and overall had a national ranking of No. 11. True, that’s not as high as the two previous years, when the Wolverines were ranked No. 8 (2016) and No. 5 (2017), but I would hardly call it “weak.”

Q: Who are we chasing after the early signing day? ― Ron Bekkering via Facebook

A: Besides the aforementioned Petit-Frere, Michigan will continue pursuing tackle Jarrett Patterson of Mission Viejo, Calif., and defensive lineman Tyler Friday of Ramsey, N.J., as top prospects. The Wolverines also are prioritizing keeping the two commits they have who aren’t expected to sign during the early period: Doyle and linebacker/safety Otis Reese. Doyle has said he plans on signing with the Wolverines on Feb. 7, National Signing Day, but Reese has been quiet about his recruitment.

Reese is from Leesburg, Ga., and Georgia is making a big push to flip him from Michigan. Michigan isn’t backing away. It has had a long relationship with Reese, who committed in June 2016, and believes it can maintain Reese’s commitment.

Q: Any news on players headed to Michigan from the New Jersey Paramus Catholic pipeline. Any future Wolverines playing over in Jersey? — Brian Yonkoski via Twitter

A: Aside from Friday, this recruiting cycle looks to be barren in terms of New Jersey-to-Michigan for 2018. You are correct about how important the state has been as a recruiting area for Michigan recently, including Paramus Catholic. That’s where linebackers/special teams coach Chris Partridge was coaching before joining Harbaugh’s staff in 2015. It’s where current Wolverines Juwann Bushell-Beatty, Rashan Gary and Drew Singleton went to high school.

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.

Correction: In the original post, Berkeley Prep was misspelled. Land of 10 regrets the error.