Michigan recruiting mailbag: Who returns for Wolverines; updates on Nicholas Petit-Frere, Otis Reese
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, Land of 10 looks at how the Wolverines are shaping up with scholarships for 2018, and where they stand with two of their top 2018 recruiting targets.
Q: How many players are coming back? — Michael Romzek via Facebook
A: This is an important question because of scholarship limitations. The NCAA limit is 85, but by my count, which is completely unofficial, Michigan is responsible for 87 scholarships in 2018 at this point. That includes the 16 players signed in December for the 2018 freshman class but doesn’t account for the three other commits ― Otis Reese, Kevin Doyle and Ronnie Bell ― the class has or any other player Michigan is targeting to sign on Feb. 7.
It’s also a question with an undetermined answer.
A lot of roster movement happens behind the scenes and isn’t announced publicly unless the player does so. Potential fifth-year seniors Wilton Speight, Maurice Ways and Drake Harris have already announced their intention to transfer, as has quarterback Alex Malzone, who will graduate in April after just three years. All of those players will be eligible to play immediately for their next schools as grad transfers. The Wolverines have eight other players who have a fifth year of eligibility available to them: Jared Wangler, Ian Bunting and Juwann Bushell-Beatty on offense, and Chase Winovich, Bryan Mone, Lawrence Marshall, Noah Furbush and Brandon Watson on defense. Winovich has announced he is coming back next season.
Michigan will have to make some changes to get to the 85-scholarship limit. Some fifth-year players won’t be back. Other players may transfer out of the program (running back Kareem Walker is a favorite name for speculation) or decide they are done playing football because of medical reasons, as was the case with 2017 signee Corey Malone-Hatcher.
Q: What are the chances Michigan lands Frere? Also, is Reese still fully committed to Michigan? ― from @MaizeBlue2
A: The question from Twitter-verse refers to offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere and the above-mentioned Otis Reese, a linebacker/safety who committed to Michigan in June 2016 but did not sign during the early signing period.
Petit-Frere is a 5-star prospect, according to the 247Sports composite. He’s from Tampa, Fla., and he visited Michigan in November and attended a Michigan practice ahead of the Outback Bowl at his high school, Berkeley Prep. The combination of Petit-Frere having a chance to play sooner rather than later at Michigan and the academics the school offers gives the Wolverines an excellent chance to land the 6-foot-6, 272-pound player. The loss of tackles/tight ends coach Greg Frey to Florida State could end up hurting those chances. Notre Dame is also in the mix for Petit-Frere, who is being courted by the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State and Florida, among others.
As for Reese, he is the most-asked about player in the 2018 class. The Leesburg, Ga., resident has made numerous visits to in-state school Georgia but he also plans on making visits to Clemson and LSU this month. Michigan has never wavered on its desire to have Reese come to Ann Arbor, where defensive coordinator Don Brown envisions him playing the viper position. One thing working in Michigan’s favor is the size of Georgia’s class. There simply may not be room for Reese as the College Football Playoff runner-up Bulldogs fill out their class.
Q: Thoughts on Christian Turner and Hassan Haskins? ― Mike Berger via Facebook
A: The two running backs in the 2018 class aren’t the biggest names on the recruiting boards but they are a couple of backs who should complement each other and do well in Michigan’s offensive scheme that emphasizes a power running game. Haskins, from Eureka, Mo., is the bigger (6-1, 202) of the two 3-star prospects and is coming off a senior season in which he was named the offensive player of the year in Missouri’s Class 6A after rushing for more than 2,100 yards and scoring 25 touchdowns.
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Turner (5-11, 187) is shorter but compact is a better description of him. He’s a strong runner who shared the load in a talented backfield for Buford (Ga.) High School and still produced more than 2,000 yards in the last two seasons. They both bring a conviction to their running styles. Michigan has a crowded running back room but one that has a lot of talent. Haskins and Turner only add to it.
Q: Is Ronnie Bell a hard commit? He’s my steal of this class. ― Jay Slone via Facebook
A: If the NCAA rules had allowed Bell to sign in December, he would have signed. That’s pretty committed. The only reason he didn’t was that he had previously signed a letter of intent with Missouri State to play basketball. Players can sign just one letter of intent per calendar year, hence Bell has to wait until Feb. 7. He is the only wide receiver in the Wolverines’ class of 2018 at this point, but they like him very much even if he wasn’t highly regarded by other teams or scouting services.
Q: We need players that can play now on offense and defense, is there anyone coming in? — John Thompson via Facebook
A: The College Football Playoff championship game between Alabama and Georgia showcased a lot of talented freshmen playing on the biggest stage. That’s an aberration for most of college football. The Wolverines will see their greatest influx of new players on the field coming from the 2016 and 2017 classes, not the 2018 class. That’s not to say some players won’t contribute as freshmen, but the foundation of the 2018 team is going to be the junior and sophomore classes.
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.