Keep in mind with the grades below that this is just based on the early signing period. Players can still sign in February (or beyond), transfer in, etc. So the ink isn’t dry on the class just yet.
Michigan landed an elite player, J.J. McCarthy (5-star, #2 pro-style QB, #22 overall). Not only is he elite on the field, but I think his attitude helped keep the class together when things got a little bit rocky. Naturally, the hope for Michigan fans is that he maintains that kind of leadership throughout his career in Ann Arbor. He’s also the first quarterback recruited out of high school by Jim Harbaugh who actually fits the mold of an RPO signal-caller.
Hit the jump for more.
RUNNING BACK: A+
The Wolverines landed two players, and while they really only needed one to replace Chris Evans, I think it’s always good to sign multiple running backs. The first to commit was Tavierre Dunlap (3-star, #19 RB, #405), who has the potential to be a Chris Perry type of runner. The second one was the prized target at the end of the early signing period, in-stater Donovan Edwards (4-star, #4 RB, #44). I’m not sold on Edwards being a superstar runner, but he’s a good all-around back. Michigan set their sights on him and landed him, and it’s hard to imagine any program landed a better group of runners.
WIDE RECEIVER: A-
If you ever listen to the Move the Sticks podcast with Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks, they talk about building a wide receiver corps like a basketball team. You want a variety of talents available to run your route tree. Michigan landed the star point guard in Xavier Worthy (4-star, #12 WR, #74) and a couple wings in Andrel Anthony (3-star, #81 WR, #523) and Cristian Dixon (4-star, #38 WR, #221). What they’re lacking is the power forward/center type, the 6’4″ guy who can be a size mismatch. Technically, Michigan only loses Nico Collins – though he opted out of the 2020 season – but the squad was a little short on receiver options. Now there’s more depth, so Michigan doesn’t have to play every single freshman in 2021.
TIGHT END: B+
If Michigan wants to keep playing with two and three tight ends on the field at any given time, they need more depth. You need to expect some attrition while also leaving room for at least one guy to sit on the sideline and redshirt/develop. They signed Louis Hansen (4-star, #11 TE, #273), who says he’s 6’5″ and about 243 lbs. now. I think he will be ready to contribute fairly early, but Michigan whiffed on some players that I think are more talented, such as Thomas Fidone (signed with Nebraska). I’m okay with it if Michigan alters its style to put more receivers and fewer tight ends on the field, but from what they’ve shown during Jim Harbaugh’s tenure, I think they’re a little light at the position.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B
The highest rated prospect is in-stater Giovanni El-Hadi (4-star, #12 OT, #85), who’s a good prospect but is a little bit overrated, in my opinion. I see him having a Jon Runyan, Jr.-like career, and Runyan was solid but never a star. I’ve heard glowing reports about center Raheem Anderson II (4-star, #3 C, #210) on a personal and leadership level, and I also like him as a player. He reminds me a little bit of former Iowa center James Daniels. I’m not so high on Greg Crippen (4-star, #6 C, #275), though his size might give him a little positional flexibility. Then there’s Tristan Bounds (3-star, #36 OT, #419), who’s listed at 6’7 1/2″ and 285 lbs. Bounds has a ton of potential and I think has a bit of a nasty edge, where he could end up being a Taylor Lewan type of player, minus a little bit of Lewan’s athleticism. I’m also going to throw in Louisiana Tech offensive tackle Willie Allen, a grad transfer who could slot in at guard or tackle. Michigan whiffed on several top targets at offensive tackle, and the only sure tackle seems to be Bounds, who’s a bit of a project based on his junior film (and did not play as a senior due to COVID). This is a good class, but it’s hard to give the coaches an “A” when they whiffed on blue chip in-state targets Rocco Spindler (Notre Dame) and Garrett Dellinger (LSU) and didn’t really seem to capitalize on the fact that they had four linemen drafted in 2020.
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