Michigan fans received several early Christmas presents last week in the form of commitments from one of their top remaining defensive targets, linebacker Devin Bush Jr. and five-star running back Kareem Walker, and the addition of defensive coordinator Don Brown, who led the nation’s top defensive unit (yardage-wise) at Boston College.
Michigan’s focus is now is on its Jan. 1 Citrus Bowl matchup with Florida. Recruiting still continues during this dead period where no in-person contact or visits are allowed, but does not truly heat up again until Jan. 15, the first weekend prospects can make visits again.
With that, here are some of the Wolverines’ remaining priorities down the stretch in recruiting.
■ Rashan Gary: The nation’s top prospect continues to keep recruiting fans on the edge of their seats. Gary (Paramus Catholic, New Jersey) is looking at Michigan, Ohio State, Clemson and several SEC schools. He visited Auburn with Walker and their relationship may provide some boost for Michigan. His connection with the Buckeyes’ new defensive coordinator Greg Schiano moves Ohio State’s chances up. Michigan is still the favorite in the race and the Wolverines were able to close out on Bush and Walker after lengthy periods of time where they led for both. Doing the same with Gary would make the class a grand slam.
■ Khaleke Hudson: Hudson (McKeesport, Pennsylvania) takes his official visit on Jan. 15. Penn State, Pittsburgh and UCLA are his other contenders. A versatile athlete who scored 22 touchdowns on offense and made 60 tackles and intercepted three passes on defense as a senior, Michigan is recruiting Hudson as a “football player” and he is clearly a top target for the class and one the Wolverines would love to close out on his official visit if possible.
■ Cornerback: Michigan still looks good with two top, nationally-rated cover men in Lavert Hill of Detroit King and David Long (Los Angeles). Long recently decommitted from Stanford, leaving Michigan and Washington as his top two. Hill will take all of his officials (he already took one to Ann Arbor) and is expected to announce on Signing Day. Landing one would be great. Landing both, a distinct possibility, would give the Wolverines even more defensive stars for Brown to work with. Jordan Fuller (Old Tappan, New Jersey) is also high on Michigan’s board. He is listed as a cornerback but could play other positions as well.
■ Wide receiver: Michigan has two remaining targets at wide receiver in Miami’s Keyshawn “Pie” Young and Dylan Crawford (Santa Margarita, California). The revelation that Oregon is no longer recruiting Crawford immediately moved Michigan back to the forefront of his recruitment. The Michigan Insider’s Sam Webb recently reported that even if Crawford committed to the Wolverines, he believes there would still be room for Young, who plans a Signing Day decision. Donald Stewart (Paramus Catholic, New Jersey) is still taking an official to Michigan on Jan. 22 as well.
■ Offensive line: Michigan is likely to add one more offensive lineman and it is likely down to Jean Delance (North Mesquite, Texas) and Terrance Davis (Hyattsville, Maryland) for that spot. There remains an outside possibility that, if neither decide on Michigan, the Wolverines would use the scholarship on another position since they already have four highly regarded offensive linemen — Ben Bredeson, Michael Onwenu, Devery Hamilton and Erik Swenson — committed in the class.
■ Linebacker: Even with Bush’s commitment, Michigan is still looking for one more linebacker in the class. Their top targets are Florida native Jonathan Jones and Texas native Dontavious Jackson. If Jones and Jackson go elsewhere, the Wolverines are in the final four for Elysee Mbem-Bosse (Ellenwood, Georgia) and other targets could emerge if Michigan misses on all three.
■ Quinn Nordin: The nation’s top kicking prospect has an official visit set to Michigan on the weekend of Jan. 15, with Penn State, where he is committed, on the following weekend and Baylor getting the last shot with him the weekend of Jan. 29. The Wolverines continue to be the popular pick, but it looks as though they will have to wait until Signing Day or close to it to find out the Rockford standout’s decision.
■ Tight end: One more tight end remains a possibility. With five-star Isaac Nauta expected to choose Georgia, the Wolverines have offers out to Jacob Mathis (Tampa, Florida) and Chase Allen (Nixa, Missouri) and the chances remain good that they can add one of those two prospects although Allen, one of the hottest prospects in the nation at the moment, has added new offers from Florida State and Missouri since Michigan’s recent offer.
■ Defensive end: Michigan is in the top four for Levi Onwuzurike (Allen, Texas) and remains a contender for Connor Murphy (Phoenix). They will also be receiving an official visit from Joel Dublanko of IMG Academy, who does not have an offer from the Wolverines but could earn one.
Allen Trieu began covering the state of Michigan for Scout.com in 2005 and began managing the entire Midwest in 2009. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at detroitnews.com.