2023 Recruiting Grade: Running Back

Tag: 2023 recruiting

7Feb 2023
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2023 Recruiting Grade: Running Back

Cole Cabana (image via Twitter)


On Saturday I covered the quarterback position, so here’s a look at the running back spot.

2023 NEEDS: 2

2023 COMMITMENTS: Dexter (MI) Dexter RB Cole Cabana, Kennesaw (GA) North Cobb RB Benjamin Hall


  • Jaden Booker – Naples (FL) Palmetto Ridge: Undecided
  • Dalton Brooks – Shiner (TX) Shiner: Texas A&M
  • Jeremiah Cobb – Montgomery (AL) Catholic: Auburn
  • Mark Fletcher – Fort Lauderdale (FL) American Heritage: Miami
  • Justice Haynes – Buford (GA) Buford: Alabama
  • Sedrick Irvin, Jr. – Miami (FL) Columbus: Stanford
  • Kaleb Jackson – Baton Rouge (LA) Liberty: LSU
  • Christopher Johnson – Fort Lauderdale (FL) Dillard: Miami
  • Jaquez Keys – Ironton (OH) Ironton: Wake Forest
  • Jayden Limar – Lake Stevens (WA) Lake Stevens: Oregon
  • London Montgomery – Scranton (PA) Prep: Penn State
  • Samuel Singleton, Jr. – Orange Park (FL) Fleming Island: Florida State
  • Daylan Smothers – Charlotte (NC) West: Oklahoma
  • Dijon Stanley – Granada Hills (CA) Granada Hills: Utah
  • Darius Taylor – Walled Lake (MI) Western: Minnesota
  • Treyaun Webb – Jacksonville (FL) Trinity: Florida
  • Richard Young – Lehigh Acres (FL) Lehigh: Alabama


REASON FOR THE GRADE: Michigan needed at least one running back in the class of 2023 to bump up its scholarship backs from four to five. As we saw this past season, four scholarship running backs leaves Michigan precariously thin at the position. When Blake Corum hurt his knee and backup Donovan Edwards hurt his hand, Michigan was stuck with redshirt freshman Tavierre Dunlap, true freshman C.J. Stokes, position switchers, and walk-ons. That led to an array of plays in which more talented backs would have made Michigan’s season a little easier, such as walk-on Isaiah Gash’s dropped pass against Illinois and converted linebacker Kalel Mullings’s fumble against TCU. Michigan should have at least five scholarship backs on its roster at all times.

So Michigan needed at least one, and then a lot of people expected Blake Corum to leave for the NFL after a highly productive season, bumping up the need to two. Indeed, Michigan landed speedster Cole Cabana (4-star, #10 RB, #161 overall), who might be more of a scat back who can split out wide. And they also took a fairly early commitment from Benjamin Hall (3-star, #55 RB, #781 overall). Hall is the bigger question mark of the two, not only because of his lower ranking, but also because he didn’t start for most of his senior season. Hall is a bigger back (5’10”, 225 lbs.) and lacks great speed. One might expect to see him be a bruising downhill runner, but he bounces a lot of his runs outside and tries to reverse field, which he will not have the speed to do in college.

Michigan tried to get in late on in-state Minnesota commit Darius Taylor, but it was too late to get much movement there. So obviously the coaching staff wanted a third back – or perhaps to replace Hall in the class – but that didn’t happen. That not only solidifies my confidence that Michigan wanted at least two backs, but it makes me question how much confidence they have in the guys they brought in.

Right now the Wolverines are in a good position with Corum, Edwards, Dunlap, and Stokes all returning (for now), plus Cabana and Hall entering the program. Even if someone like Dunlap or Stokes transfers following the spring, Michigan would still have five scholarship guys on the roster.

4Feb 2023
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2023 Recruiting Grade: Quarterback

UCLA signee Dante Moore (image via Bleacher Report)

I’m going to start something that I haven’t done in a few years, and that’s handing out recruiting grades. As Michigan’s recruiting has dropped off a little bit in 2023 to the low teens, I want to share how I feel about Michigan’s efforts overall.

I’ll start off with the most important position on the football fied: quarterback.

2023 NEEDS: 1

2023 COMMITMENTS: Indiana transfer Jack Tuttle


  • Arch Manning – New Orleans (LA) Isidore Newman: Texas
  • Dante Moore – Detroit (MI) King: UCLA
  • Malachi Nelson – Los Alamitos (CA) Los Alamitos: USC
  • William Watson III – Springfield (MA) Central: Virginia Tech
  • Creed Whittemore – Gainesville (FL) Buchholz: Florida


REASON FOR THE GRADE: First and foremost, Michigan completely whiffed on the quarterback position in the class of 2023 unless you count sixth year senior Jack Tuttle, who is a one-year backup rental. Technically, Michigan offered superstar recruits Arch Manning and Malachi Nelson, but both were extreme longshots and the Wolverines never really had a chance. Meanwhile, Watson and Whittemore are both undersized QB/ATH recruits who are probably likely to play a different position in college.

So really, Michigan put all of its eggs in the Dante Moore basket. Unfortunately, Moore had a desire to play immediately, and the presence of J.J. McCarthy blocked Moore at Michigan for at least the 2023 season, if not 2024. Moore is a 5-star prospect and could perhaps be the best quarterback in the class when all is said and done, and it hurt to lose him. It stings a little bit less since he didn’t end up at Michigan State or Ohio State, two programs he was also considering. But Michigan had a lot of connections and still couldn’t close the deal. Moore committed to Oregon initially, and when his future QB coach left for Arizona State, Moore flipped to UCLA. Personally, I think UCLA is an odd fit because head coach Chip Kelly does not have a strong record of developing pro-style quarterbacks.

Regardless, Michigan tried to land a quarterback in 2023 and failed. They could have potentially earned a commitment from Warren (MI) De La Salle’s Brady Drogosh (4-star, #20 QB, #317 overall) if they moved on him earlier, but they waited too long and burned that bridge. That leaves the cupboard relatively bare, since beyond McCarthy for the future, the Wolverines have only walk-on Davis Warren and projects Jayden Denegal and Alex Orji. That puts a lot of pressure on the staff to land a very good 2024 quarterback and/or explore the transfer portal for a future starter.

2Feb 2023
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2023 Recruiting Update: February 2, 2023

Cameron Brandt


Chatsworth (CA) Sierra Canyon defensive end Cameron Brandt committed to Michigan (LINK).


Washington (DC) Archbishop Carroll tight end Nyckoles Harbor committed to South Carolina. Michigan put their version of the full-court press on Harbor, but NIL reportedly played a huge factor, and South Carolina offered the best deal. Oregon supposedly finished second with Maryland and Michigan following behind.

Altamonte Springs (FL) Lake Brantley linebacker twins Andrew and Michael Harris re-committed to UCF. They both took an official visit to Michigan last spring, but Michigan pulled back. They then committed to UCF, decommitted, and were considering Maryland, too.

Chicago (IL) Marist defensive tackle Jamel Howard re-committed to Wisconsin. Michigan appeared to lead back in December, but he pushed back his commitment date, which allowed Wisconsin to retake the lead.

Ole Miss transfer cornerback Davison Igbinosun committed to Ohio State after visiting both Columbus and Ann Arbor this past weekend. He may have been able to come in and start for the Wolverines in the fall, but now Michigan might have to look to the post-spring transfer portal for help at corner in the fall.

Folsom (CA) Folsom tight end Walker Lyons committed to USC. He had been committed to Stanford earlier in the process.

Gardena (CA) Junipero Serra cornerback Rodrick Pleasant committed to Oregon.

Jacksonville (FL) University Christian linebacker Desirrio Riles committed to Indiana.

1Feb 2023
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Cameron Brandt, Wolverine

Chatsworth (CA) Sierra Canyon defensive end Cameron Brandt (image via Twitter)

Chatsworth (CA) Sierra Canyon defensive end Cameron Brandt flipped from Stanford to Michigan on Wednesday afternoon. He picked the Wolverines over offers from Arizona, Cal, Oregon, UCLA, and USC, among others.

Brandt is listed at 6’4″ and 260 lbs. As a senior in 2022, he made 61 tackles, 4 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles.

ESPN: 4-star, 80 grade, #25 DT
On3: 3-star, 88 grade, #66 DL
Rivals: 3-star, 5.7 grade, #31 DT
247 Sports: 4-star, 90 grade, #41 DL

Hit the jump for more.

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1Feb 2023
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Zack Marshall, Wolverine

Carlsbad (CA) Carlsbad tight end Zack Marshall (image via Twitter)

Carlsbad (CA) Carlsbad tight end Zack Marshall committed to Michigan way back in August 2022. And since I was in the throes of fall camp for football, I didn’t write up a commitment piece at the time . . . and then it slipped my mind until now. Marshall picked Michigan over offers from Arizona, Cal, Utah, and Washington State, among others. He signed with Michigan in December and enrolled in college in January.

Marshall is listed at 6’4″ and 220 lbs. His Hudl profile lists him with a 4.79 forty, a 4.41 shuttle, a 32″ vertical, a 265 lb. bench press, and a squat of 315 lbs. As a senior in 2022, he caught 23 passes for 284 yards and 5 touchdowns.

ESPN: 3-star, 78 grade, #24 TE-H
On3: 3-star, 89 grade, #28 TE
Rivals: 3-star, 5.7 grade, #28 TE
247 Sports: 3-star, 88 grade, #46 ATH

Hit the jump for more.

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