|Rancho Santa Margarita (CA) Catholic quarterback K.J. Costello is one of Michigan’s top targets
As of this moment in February of 2015, Michigan has 14 spots scheduled to open up in the 2016 class (LINK). Michigan also took 14 players in the class of 2015, but the numbers for 2016 should grow by the time a year goes past, and the class will probably be close to 20. Based on the current number, though, here’s how things should start off.
Seniors in 2015: None
Comments: With no seniors on the roster in 2015 but a slew of scholarship guys in their freshman to junior years, Michigan does not need to take two quarterbacks like they did this past Signing Day. Jim Harbaugh has taken two quarterbacks consistently in past classes, which is a stark contrast to Brady Hoke taking zero or one in each class. While Harbaugh could continue his own trend of taking multiple quarterbacks, the true need is only one.
Top targets: K.J. Costello, Messiah DeWeaver, Jacob Eason, Brandon Peters
Seniors in 2015: None
Comments: Michigan has three juniors and a sophomore on the roster, plus true freshman Karan Higdon. This is not a strong need, but Michigan needs to keep stocking the roster for a couple years in the future, when all of those juniors leave at once (or earlier if they want playing time elsewhere).
Top targets: Kingston Davis, Elijah Holyfield, Kareem Walker
Seniors in 2015: Sione Houma, Joe Kerridge
Comments: Harbaugh likes to use fullbacks quite a bit in his offense, and the two guys with significant playing time will both be gone after the upcoming season unless Houma somehow takes a redshirt year. The only fullback-type player left on the roster afterward will be Wyatt Shallman, a redshirt sophomore this year. The coaches could settle for having a walk-on back him up if they find someone who can get the job done.
Top targets: None identified yet
Seniors in 2015: Dennis Norfleet
Comments: Michigan will have nine receivers left on the roster after Norfleet leaves, which is a good number. The coaches may choose to recruit more players at the position depending on what they see out of the current guys on the roster. None of them seem like possibly early entrants to the NFL, so that should help maintain some continuity and allow the younger guys time to develop.
Top targets: Dylan Crawford, Demetric Felton, Theo Howard
Seniors in 2015: A.J. Williams
Comments: Michigan wanted to take both Chris Clark and Tyrone Wheatley, Jr. in 2015, but only Wheatley committed, and his long-term ceiling might be highest at defensive end. Taking one tight end likely assures that Wheatley stays on offense, whereas taking two could allow the coaching staff some more position flexibility. Starter Jake Butt will be a junior with the ability to depart early if Michigan is able to showcase his talents, so the coaches must have a contingency plan in place. Also, Harbaugh’s use of multiple tight ends requires several to be ready to play at any given time.
Top targets: Devin Asiasi, Luke Farrell
Seniors in 2015: Graham Glasgow, Jack Miller
Comments: Glasgow and Miller are both projected starters in 2015, and while they likely won’t be replaced by freshmen in 2016, Michigan does need to replenish their numbers very soon. Most linemen redshirt, so the 2016 class is essentially addressing the 2017 team. Michigan has four redshirt juniors, at least three of whom should be starting in 2016 and will need to be replaced. Michigan took just one lineman in 2014 and three in 2015, most of whom are projects and not blue-chippers. The Wolverines need to address the center and left tackle positions.
Top targets: Alex Akingbulu, Michael Jordan, E.J. Price, Erik Swenson (commit)
Seniors in 2015: Mario Ojemudia
Comments: The Wolverines appear to be going to more of a 3-4 look with a rush linebacker playing one of the defensive end spots, so this position can be folded into linebacker somewhat. The team brought in two freshman defensive ends in the past class and loses just Ojemudia, so the remaining group should be able to hold down the one true defensive end position.
Top targets: Quayshon Alexander, Terrell Hall, Khalid Kareem, Connor Murphy, Rahshaun Smith
Seniors in 2015: Ondre Pipkins
Comments: Michigan has a good number of defensive tackles spread across the years, although they did not take one in 2015. Pipkins has not played up to his recruiting ranking, so the younger guys have taken over and played fairly well. This is another position where 2016 defensive tackles address the 2017 team because so many young guys redshirt, although the Wolverines are in on a couple guys who could contribute early, such as Rashan Gary.
Top targets: Rashan Gary, Ed Oliver
Seniors in 2015: Joe Bolden, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Desmond Morgan, James Ross III
Comments: Michigan is very top-heavy at the linebacker position, where four guys are seniors and another two are juniors. Luckily, all three remaining linebacker recruits in 2014 (Michael Ferns III already transferred) were able to redshirt, but the position group needs to be replenished a little bit, and with Michigan looking to put four linebackers on the field instead of three, the group itself needs to expand.
Top targets: Camilo Eifler, Dele’ Harding (commit), Dontavious Jackson, Caleb Kelly, Jeffrey McCulloch,
Seniors in 2015: Blake Countess
Comments: Michigan wanted two corners in the 2015 class, and they only got one. With Countess graduating the Wolverines will likely take at least two, if not more. There’s also a chance that junior corner Jourdan Lewis gets the urge to leave early. The coaching staff has already been sending out lots of offers, so they consider this a position of priority.
Top targets: Jordan Fuller, David Long Jr., Trayvon Mullen
Seniors in 2015: Jarrod Wilson
Comments: The coaching staff does not appear to be confident in their options at safety, because a large number of offers went out early in the cycle. Wilson is the only proven player at the position, and so far the group lacks a guy who can play center field. They will be helped out at least temporarily by Jabrill Peppers, who moves from corner to safety for 2015, but he’s a guy who could be an early NFL draft entrant or who could play corner.
Top targets: Deontay Anderson, Marquel Dismuke, C.J. Pollard
Seniors in 2015: None
Comments: The coaches have kicker Andrew David and long snapper Scott Sypniewski on scholarship, both of whom are young guys with at least three years remaining. The punting duties should be handled by Kenny Allen, a redshirt junior, but punting can often be handled by walk-ons who earn scholarships. If there’s no suitable replacement waiting in the wings by 2016, expect the coaches to address it in 2017.