Predictions: Michigan makes CFP; Willekes, Bachie, Hill first-team All-Americans

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Shea Patterson

It’s not even Memorial Day, but the college football preseason publications have already hit the newsstands, and Michigan fans will be pleased to see that Athlon Sports has Michigan winning the Big Ten and playing Alabama in the College Football Playoff.

Street & Smith isn’t nearly as high on Michigan, or the Big Ten for that matter, placing national champion Clemson, Alabama, Georgia and Oklahoma in the CFP, with Ohio State winning the Big Ten and playing Oregon in the Rose Bowl, with Michigan finishing second in the East, followed by Michigan State.

Still, Street & Smith does give the Spartans and Wolverines some love by having MSU’s Kenny Willekes (defensive line) and Joe Bachie (linebacker), along with Michigan’s Lavert Hill (defensive back) as first-team All-Americans.

Athlon also has Willekes and Bachie as first-team All-Americans with Hill and Wolverines offensive lineman Ben Bredeson as second-team All-Americans, along with Iowa offensive lineman Alaric Jackson, who was a standout basketball player at Detroit Renaissance.

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Athlon has Alabama beating Michigan in the Peach Bowl and Clemson beating Georgia in the Fiesta Bowl to force a rematch of last year’s national title game, won by Clemson.

Athlon has Michigan as the Big Ten’s top unit for quarterback, receiver/tight ends and offensive line.

Kenny Willekes

Western Michigan also received high grades from both publications, being a team on the rise by Street & Smith. Athlon had running back LeVante Bellamy, receiver Jayden Reed, tight end Giovanni Ricci, offensive lineman Luke Juriga and defensive lineman Ali Fayad (Dearborn) all being first-team All-MAC selections.

Athlon also had WMU ranked No. 1 in the MAC for its running backs and receiver/tight ends units, with its quarterback combination of Jon Wassink and Kaleb Eleby No. 2.

However, the publication was put out before the news that last year’s freshman phenom, Jayden Reed (56 receptions, 797 yards, eight TDs), announced his intension to transfer last Tuesday.

“Recruiting is now open, thank you WMU for the opportunity,” Reed said in a Twitter post.

WMU running back Chase Brown, who had a solid freshman season, also entered the transfer portal, so the Broncos could slip from the predictions by both publications that they would finish second behind Toledo in the West Division.

Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan were picked to finish fourth and sixth, respectively, in the MAC West by both publications.

Street & Smith picked Ferris State No. 2 in Division II behind Valdosta State after returning 18 starters — 10 on defense — from last year’s team, which reached the national championship game. Ferris State quarterback Jayru Campbell (Detroit Cass Tech), who won the Harlon Hill Award, was picked as a first-team All-American.

Grand Valley was ranked No. 10.

Street & Smith also had Oak Park offensive lineman Justin Rogers as a second-team All-American. The publication has Port Huron Northern’s Braiden McGregor as a second-team defensive lineman.