Ann Arbor — Michigan landed a couple five-star recruits and filled many holes on its depth chart in the early signing period in December.
On National Signing Day on Wednesday, it’s just a matter of putting a bow on the 2019 recruiting class by adding four-star defensive back Quinten Johnson.
Johnson, from St. John’s College High in Washington, D.C., is expected to be the only addition for the Wolverines. It will bring Michigan’s class of signees to 26.
Michigan had been expected to add Kansas athlete Amauri Pesek-Hudson, but he announced Monday afternoon he had decommitted. Earlier Monday he informed a number of recruiting analysts that Michigan had backed off and wanted him to attend prep school for a year and join UM’s 2020 class.
Of the 26 signees, two – safety Daxton Hill and defensive tackle Chris Hinton – are five stars, and eight have enrolled early, including quarterback Cade McNamara and running back Zach Charbonnet.
The class currently is ranked No. 8 nationally by 247Sports composite and No. 9 by Rivals.
John Niyo and Dave Goricki take a look at National Signing Day for college football with Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher, Cass Tech defensive end James Ester and 247Sports analyst Allen Trieu. The Detroit News
“It’s going to be close to a top-10 class,” Brandon Brown, who handles recruiting for TheWolverine.com, said this week. “There’s a handful of schools right on Michigan’s heels in terms of the class ranking, as far as the point system that Rivals uses. Michigan is at No. 9 and they’ve got several schools within striking distance. Penn State is right behind them, Florida is right there and Notre Dame is right there. So there’s a handful of schools still looking to land a couple kids, and if they do they could theoretically jump Michigan.
“However you slice it, it’s going to be close to a top-10 class. I think they addressed everything they needed to address. There’s really no holes. They got five offensive linemen, several defensive linemen, a couple receivers, some versatile athletic guys that can play both ways.”
Brown pointed out the importance of landing McNamara at quarterback and Charbonnet at running back. McNamara (6-1, 206), from Reno, Nevada, and Charbonnet (6-2, 215), from Westlake Village, Calif., are both four-star prospects.
“They got some glue guys, too, like (safety) Joey Velazquez, who wasn’t the highest-rated kid, but he’ll run through a brick wall, he’s from Ohio, he gets it,” Brown said. “You don’t look at the class and say, ‘Ah, man, they should have gotten something here.’ There isn’t any of that. Some star-power with a couple five-star kids, some lower-rated kids you need to hold a class together.”
Michigan addressed areas that needed more depth.
“They had some clear needs to fill for a team that had a good season,” said Allen Trieu, Midwest recruiting analyst for 247Sports. “They did have some areas where freshmen can come in and help. Running back was definitely one. That’s a pretty bare running back room, so the top guy in the class is Zach Charbonnet. You know as well as I do that the high school press clippings don’t always translate, but he’s the highest-ranked guy in the class. We’re really strong on the West Coast; we have really good analysts out there and they really like the kid.”
Charbonnet was named the top running back in California by the Los Angeles Times and could see the field this fall for the Wolverines.
“He was quiet,” Trieu said. “Didn’t speak on recruiting, didn’t go to camps much. Was supposed to play in the Under Armour game and didn’t, so if you were ever looking for a kid that could have slid under the radar, not been ranked highly, he was the one. He didn’t do any of the things normal, top-50 in the country recruits do, and he’s still ranked there just based on the strength of what he did in his high school career. He was very concentrated on his school and what he was doing there.”
Michigan had some needs on the defensive line and recruited the position hard. Among the linemen signed are Mazi Smith and David Ojabo, along with Gabe Newburg, all early enrollees.
“You’ve got several highly-ranked guys there and guys who are on campus already,” Trieu said. “Those are a couple of guys who can help you at positions where you needed help.”
Keeping Hill in the class was a major boost for the Wolverines. He briefly decommitted from UM and committed to Alabama, but the Wolverines were able to secure him during the early signing period.
“The big cherry on top was getting Daxton Hill back in the class,” Trieu said. “If he stays at Alabama, it definitely takes some of the luster off this class. Getting him back was huge for reasons of his talent, but also there was a lot of negativity, it seemed, around recruiting for Michigan. At the time, they weren’t going to get Zach Harrison, Daxton flips, and I think getting him back really was a huge momentum shift.”
Also, having Hinton, a Georgia native, sticking with the class was a significant plus. Hinton committed to the Wolverines way back in August 2017.
“Georgia would have done anything to get him and he stayed true and signed,” Brown said.
While the Wolverines won’t finish with a top-five recruiting class, analysts agree there is considerable talent in this group and Michigan shored up areas that were thin.
“It’s not going to be (Jim) Harbaugh’s highest-ranked class, but it’s really good top to bottom,” Brown said. “They filled all the holes and they got some star power. That’s about all you could ask for, really.”