Four players flip for Michigan, giving Wolverines No. 9 class in country

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

It was a national signing day of flips and turns for Michigan, who went for beef in the trenches, added numbers in the secondary and size and speed and size at receiver, as well as a couple of quarterbacks, tight ends and a running back for good measure..

Michigan signed four players who flipped from previous commitments — Keon Sabb from Clemson, Amorion Walker from Notre Dame, Alex Orji from Virginia Tech and Derrick Moore from Oklahoma — and lost one, edge rusher Ethan Burke, who opted to stay home and will attend Texas.

Will Johnson signs his letter of intent to attend Michigan on Wednesday at Parc Detroit Restaurant.

The Wolverines signed 22 players on Wednesday during the first day of the early signing period. Michigan is 12-1, won the Big Ten championship after beating Ohio State at Michigan Stadium while several recruits were visiting. The Wolverines are No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings and will face No. 3 Georgia in a national semifinal on Dec. 31 at the Orange Bowl.

“It’s a really good class. Some of the flips and some of the guys they got, like a Keon Sabb, were aided by what they did on the field,” Allen Trieu, 247Sports Midwest Recruiting Director, said.

“Usually you see more of the impact from a good season in the next recruiting cycle, but it can help you finish out on a couple guys like a Keon Sabb. They flipped Derrick Moore, who’s a four-star guy, and that may not happen without the season that they have. They did a good job of filling some needs. they’ve been trying to get bigger on the defensive line in the last couple of classes.”

For subscribers: Wojo: Amid recruiting chaos, Michigan, Michigan State steady and strong

Five-star cornerback Will Johnson is the most highly rated player in the class. He is the son of former Michigan player Deon Johnson, who played in the early 1990s.

“(Michigan has had) recent classes that have more pizazz as far as star power,” Trieu said. “I think this is going to be a more workmanlike class that helps them win a lot of games. A lot of the good players are big guys in the trenches. There’s not gonna be a lot of guys in this class scoring the touchdowns. This is a class that definitely helps them win games.”

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, in his seventh season with the Wolverines, appeared on the “In the Trenches” podcast hosted by Jon Jansen. Harbaugh said recruiting defensive backs was a priority.

“Our starters are getting up there in age, class,” Harbaugh told Jansen. “This is the future and I think a lot of these youngsters will have the license and ability to play right away.”

Johnson (6-3, 190) is “everything you want in a corner” Harbaugh said, "in terms of length and movement skills."

“He’s a signature guy in the class, and he’s an even better guy,” Harbaugh said.

The Wolverines added some bulk on the defensive line, as well, in what Harbaugh called a “great position of need.” Moore, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound four-star defensive lineman who had been committed to Oklahoma is ranked the No. 12 player at his position by 247Sports Composite. Harbaugh said Moore has the physique of someone who’s already a junior in college.

They also added Mason Graham (6-4, 295) and Kenneth Grant (6-2, 335)

“We’ve got someone as big as (defensive line coach) Shaun Nua now,” Harbaugh said jokingly referring to Grant. “It’s nice to see the biggest guy isn’t the coach.”

Michigan signed three linebackers, Jimmy Rolder, Micah Pollard, and Deuce Spurlock. Harbaugh said Pollard is versatile and and could play on the edge or inside. A landing spot has not been determined.

“He’s got real pass-rush ability but he also has a nose for the football,” Harbaugh said, adding he likely will start on the edge.

Rolder, who has a baseball background, reminds Harbaugh of Wisconsin linebacker Leo Chenal, the Big Ten Linebacker of the Year this year, and said Spurlock is similar. He said they will “probably play next to each other as inside linebackers.”

Michigan added three offensive linemen, including Alessandro Lorenzetti (6-6, 285) and Connor Jones (6-7, 285).

“Just what you want your tackles to look like,” Harbaugh said.

Marlin Kline and Colston Loveland signed as tight ends. Loveland is listed at 6-5, 230, but Harbaugh said he already looks “like he belongs” and is at about 238 pounds and will probably add 20 pounds in college.

C.J. Stokes is 5-11 and 190 pounds and with Michigan leading rusher Hassan Haskins heading to the NFL after this season, he fills a need at running back.

“Big physical back. Very mature,” Harbaugh said. “Shoulders that look they’re boulders. Very fast. He’s gonna be a physical type back. I think he’s gonna be a real physical guy between the tackles.”

For subscribers: Breaking down Michigan's 2022 football recruiting class

Michigan signed receivers Tyler Morris (6-foot, 175), a four-star, three star Amorion Walker (6-4, 175), and Darrius Clemons (6-3, 205), a four star.

“Darrius Clemons, think (former Michigan receiver) Nico Collins if I could make a comparison for you,” Harbaugh said. “Tall, physical, great big catch radius. Runs all the routes well. Physical. Tyler Morris is very Roman Wilson-like, very fast, elusive, shifty, playmaker. Can do the reverses and very shifty. Walker is very Andrel Anthony-like in build and catch radius.

“I would expect them to come into a receiver room that’s already really good and produce and be factors. Kind of guys that are high level. Not going to keep them on the bench very long.”

Michigan has Cade McNamara and J.J. McCarthy as experienced quarterbacks but signed two on Wednesday, Orji and Jayden Denegal. Harbaugh likes what Orji offers as a dual-threat.

“When you meet him in person, it’s like looking at Herschel Walker playing quarterback,” Harbaugh told Jansen.

Denegal is more of a pro-style, a three-quarterback.

“It’s a great feeling having two quarterbacks coming in the same class,” Harbaugh said. “We haven’t had that in a long time. It bodes really good for us.”

Twitter: @chengelis