Trieu: Breaking down Michigan's 2020 football recruiting class so far
Allen Trieu, the Midwest recruiting analyst for 247Sports and a Detroit News contributor, breaks down Michigan's 2020 recruiting class so far.
► Class in brief: This class will finish ranked slightly lower than last year’s, but in a similar ballpark. The class adds a lot of speed with several skill players holding impressive verified 40 times or track times. There may not be the one big national top 25 recruit like a Daxton Hill, Rashan Gary or Jabrill Peppers, but there 13 247Sports Composite four-stars in the class.
► Top recruit: A.J. Henning is one of several skill players signing who embody Josh Gattis’ "speed in space" mantra. Henning has run 10.7 in the 100-meter dash and 4.46 laser timed in the 40-yard dash. He showed dynamic abilities as a sophomore and junior, but was hampered some by injuries. Fully healthy as a senior, he was outstanding in leading his team to a state title. He catches the ball like a receiver, can run the ball like a running back and showed he had balance and tackle-breaking ability in addition to his speed.
► Strength of the class: The secondary class is very strong. R.J. Moten and Jordan Morant are two New Jersey-based safeties who had long offer lists and are ranked among the best in the country at their position. In-state safety Makari Paige (West Bloomfield) is a tall, rangy four-star. William Mohan is a hard-hitting viper prospect, and cornerback Andre Seldon (Belleville) has outstanding technique, closing speed, competitiveness and instincts.
► Best recruiting job: Morant, from powerhouse Bergen Catholic, was a strong job from the staff, not only because they got his commitment, but also that they held on to him through fall official visits to several other schools. Penn State, Texas A&M, USC and others pursued, but the Wolverines essentially won the battle twice.
► Sleeper: West Bloomfield linebacker Cornell Wheeler was highly productive in high school. He did not have verified measureables from camps and does not physically stand out from the pack like other members of this defensive class, but go watch a game of his and he is all over the field. He is very physical, aggressive, instinctive and he has a head start on learning the defense since West Bloomfield ran Michigan’s defensive scheme.
► Early impact: Some of the skill guys should have a chance to get touches. Running back Blake Corum had an outstanding senior year against great competition, and his speed should complement the bigger Hassan Haskins and Zach Charbonnet well. Tight end Matthew Hibner, a good athlete who was elevated to a four-star by 247Sports his senior year, could compete for time with Sean McKeon graduating.
► Best story: J.D. Johnson was committed to Michigan as the quarterback in this class. He committed in December of his junior year. He had come on in relief of five-star Oklahoma commit Spencer Rattler as a sophomore and played well, but only in a handful of games, then had a good camp season which led to schools like Arizona offering scholarships. Rattler would be declared ineligible just before the 2018 season and Johnson took over, passing for 2,004 yards and 17 touchdowns. Michigan offered after seeing what he did and earned a commitment.
As a senior, he validated their confidence, passing for 20 touchdowns to only four interceptions and 2,100 yards. However, toward the end of fall, Johnson announced that, because of an existing heart condition, he would have to medically retire from football. That part was unfortunate, but the silver lining is that Johnson, who was unsure of his future at that point, was assured by Jim Harbaugh that the Wolverines would not only honor his scholarship, but allow him to be a part of the Michigan football staff while he was in school there. Johnson, who posted the news to his social media, promised to make the most of the opportunity afforded to him by Harbaugh.
Allen Trieu covers Midwest football recruiting for 247Sports. 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.