By: Grace Boyles
On National Signing Day (Feb. 1st), Michigan hopes to add a few key players to their already extensive 2017 roster. Currently the Wolverines have 11 early enrollees, including Donovan People-Jones, the team’s only five-star recruit of the 2017 class -- for now. Having just one or two of the following undecided players sign with Michigan on Wednesday could up the Wolverines’ 2017 recruiting class rank.
The Wolverine’s Wish List:
5. Harbaugh recently made a last minute recruiting push and visited OT Mekhi Becton in Virginia a week ago. The 3-star recruit has been heavily recruited by Virginia Tech and is predicted to sign with the Hokies. Currently, 6-foot-7, 345 lb Becton is the No. 42 OT in the nation. A factor that may keep Becton from signing with Michigan on NSD is the fact that of the 26 recruits already committed to Michigan, two of them are 4-star OT’s and two others are 3-star OT’s. But having Becton on the team would still be an advantage for the Wolverines in the coming years. Often times coaches simply need to recruit football players and put them in positions instead of recruiting by position.
4. Mississippi native Willie Gay has been in a heated recruiting battle with SEC rivals LSU and Mississippi State. The 4-star OLB climbed the ranks his senior season. Gay ended his season with 84 tackles, 17 tackles for loss of yards, 9 broken passes, 6 sacks, 4 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles. At first the 6-foot-2, 223 lb player was committed to Ole Miss, but decommitted after an official visit to Michigan in October. The Wolverines have continued pursuing Gay, sending linebackers and special teams coach Chris Partridge to Mississippi twice since Gay’s visit to Ann Arbor. Maybe Gay’s initial love for Michigan will be enough to have him sign on Wednesday.
3. Michigan is also hoping to land #3 defensive tackle Jay Tufele. The 4-star recruit had a monster senior year at Bingham High School in Utah. He ended his senior season with 10.5 sacks and 57 total tackles. Tufele, 6-foot-3, 297 lb, has narrowed down his choices to Utah, BYU, Ohio State, USC, and Michigan. Utah currently has no defensive tackles in their 2017 recruiting class and the Utes are losing two seniors at the position. Ohio State, USC, and Michigan all have at least two defensive tackles committed already. In the end, it may be hard for Michigan to pry Tufele away from his home state and the opportunity to have a good amount of playing time right away.
2. #14 WR Nico Collins would be a great snag for Michigan come February 1st. Collins has primarily kept southern schools among his top picks. Some of these schools include his home state’s powerhouse Alabama, Georgia, Florida State, and LSU. Harbaugh, however, has been able to keep Michigan on Collins’ mind. Back in June 2016 Collins made the trek up to Ann Arbor and ran routes in The Big House, an experience he very much enjoyed. It was also during this visit that Collins met Dylan McCaffrey, the QB Michigan commit. Collins expressed that he very much liked McCaffrey and that McCaffrey’s presence at Michigan may have an influence on his decision of which college to attend. One factor to keep in mind when NSD rolls around is that Tyrone Wheatley Sr. was recruiting Collins, but now Wheatley has accepted a job with the Jacksonville Jaguars. This could possibly affect Collins decision if he generated a great connection with Wheatley. However, this most likely will not be a problem as Collins has connected with Harbaugh and has been pretty vocal about how he believes Harbaugh truly cares about the players.
1. 5-star Aubrey Solomon is at the top of Michigan’s wish list for NSD. Solomon is the #2 defensive tackle, a position the Wolverines have been heavily recruiting in hopes to maintain their reputation of having one of the best defenses in the country. The 6-foot-3, 288 lb player is the #3 player in Georgia and has been offered by the University of Georgia. Along with Georgia, going into NSD Solomon is considering USC, Alabama, and Michigan. Michigan has had a rocky road while recruiting Solomon. Originally Solomon committed to Michigan in June 2016 and then decommitted in August after receiving a letter from Michigan misspelling his name and thanking him for attending an event he did not attend. As of now, Solomon and few others know his final decision. The 5-star recruit claims that his decision was based on a mix of academics and athletics. So what better place to come than the #1 public university in the country?