With Michigan’s 2020 recruiting class essentially finished, the focus can now turn to 2021, where the Wolverines already have commitments from quarterback J.J. McCarthy and offensive tackle Giovanni El-Hadi, two national top-100 prospects in the 247Sports Composite.
Here are the storylines to follow:
►There has been some lamenting of Michigan’s in-state recruiting. The Wolverines signed four prospects from inside state lines in the 2020 class. What most do not realize is that historically, Michigan signs anywhere from three to eight in-state kids a year. Just for comparison’s sake, if we go back 20 years to the 2000 class, Michigan only signed three in-state kids in that cycle (Reggie Benton, Markus Curry and Roy Manning).
The 2021 class should produce a bigger in-state haul. El-Hadi is one. Michigan is considered a leader for Clarkston offensive lineman Rocco Spindler, Detroit Cass Tech center Raheem Anderson, Belleville linebacker Jamari Buddin, Detroit Country Day offensive tackle Caleb Tiernan, East Lansing wide receiver Andrel Anthony, and West Bloomfield running back Donovan Edwards, although Ohio State and Notre Dame are issuing strong challenges for Edwards. Michigan has also offered several more in-staters like Clarkston’s Garrett Dellinger and Southfield A&T’s Caleb Banks.
►Illinois could continue to be good to Michigan. The Wolverines have not taken a high volume of kids out of there, but A.J. Henning in the 2020 class and McCarthy in the 2021 class are two blue-chips. McCarthy could be joined by teammate and friend Ryan Keeler, a heavily-recruited defensive end, and offensive tackle David Davidkov, a 6-foot-6 Winnetka New Trier product. Michigan leads for both on the 247Sports Crystal Ball. Michigan has also offered Bolingbrook safety Justin Walters and will be a contender for him. Country Club Hills Hillcrest running back Mar’Keise Irving, an electric open-field runner, was also offered by Michigan and is looking to visit in the winter or spring.
►McCarthy would have been the highest-ranked player Michigan signed in the 2020 class. That was considered something the 2020 class did not have, a top 25-50 national prospect ala Daxton Hill, Rashan Gary, etc.
There are no lay-ups for Michigan in the rest of the top 50 but the Wolverines are in on several in that group. Olney (Md.) Good Counsel offensive tackle Landon Tengwall (No. 28) visited in October and is likely the best possibility on that list.
►Will the speed in space continue at receiver? Given the way the Wolverines recruited fast, explosive open-field athletes like Henning, Roman Wilson and Eamonn Dennis in 2020, it is a safe bet that they will continue to recruit that type of player in 2021. That said, none of those three were taller than 6-foot-0. Michigan may take a bigger outside receiver or two in the ’21 cycle. Several offers to national-level players who fit that mold have already been extended. That includes Agiye Hall (6-3, 190 pounds) from Seffner (Fla.) Armwood; Beaux Collins (6-2, 195 pounds) from Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco; Dont’e Thornton (6-4, 185 pounds) from Baltimore Mount Saint Joseph; and Latrell Neville (6-3, 195 pounds) from Missouri City (Texas) Hightower.
►Michigan fans have also hoped the team would be able to add big defensive tackles to the athletic pass-rushers they have on the team. They signed two highly-regarded defensive tackles in 2019, Chris Hinton and Mazi Smith, but no true defensive tackles in 2020.
In 2021, Michigan is off to good starts in their recruitment of 6-foot-4, 300-pound Tywone Malone of Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic, and 6-foot-3, 315-pound Victory Vaka of Westlake Village (Calif.). They also have offered two kids in Massachusetts, Terry Lockett and Ikenna Ugbaja, which is state they have done well in.
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.