Harbaugh: Early signees appreciate what UM has to offer

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Quarterback Joe Milton was among one of several four-star prospects who signed to Michigan during the start of the early period on Wednesday.

Ann Arbor — Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff did not alter their approach to recruiting although the early signing period was a new twist.

Sure, there was some juggling going on with bowl practices on top of recruiting, but Harbaugh said he feels good about the still-to-be-completed freshman class of 2018. Michigan signed 16 of its 19 commitments on the first day Wednesday, and although this group did not dazzle in terms of star power, it was ranked No. 12 nationally by 247Sports.

Otis Reese, a four-star linebacker and the top-rated player in the class, was not expected to sign during the early period and did not. Michigan did sign four-star tight end Mustapha Muhammad, strong-armed quarterback Joe Milton and cornerback Myles Sims.

Michigan still has recruiting work to accomplish to complete the class, and that will be wrapped up in February during the traditional signing period.

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“I was very excited last night,” Harbaugh said. “I could hardly sleep. Just the way I am the night before the signing day in February. I experienced that. Experienced the joy from the players and their families today and now we have two of those days. I’m happy.

“We managed it well. It was maybe a little busier than it would’ve normally been, but there’s so many hours in the day and we (worked). You love doing it, though. It doesn’t seem like working doing either coaching or recruiting.”

Michigan currently has 19 members in its 2018 class, including the three who did not sign on Wednesday. It is expected to be about 22 when all is said and done in February.

“It was the same approach,” Harbaugh said. “You want the guys who get the best grades, win the most awards and excel at sports.”

He said what he likes most about the class is that they’re all devoted to Michigan.

“They appreciate what Michigan has to offer and they can understand it both as a football powerhouse and an academic powerhouse,” Harbaugh said. “It provides both. There’s no one in (this class) that thinks they’re doing us the favor. It’s equal. That’s what I like the most.”

It’s a diverse class, despite not having any five-star players. Among the most unique is Michigan’s first European-born player defensive end Julius Welschof of Germany. The class also features two quarterbacks, Milton and Kevin Doyle, who plans to sign in February.

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“I like the production in football, guys who are record-setters. We’ve got state champions and productive (people) who are also productive in the classroom,” Harbaugh said. “They’re coming here to get a degree and their parents expect them to get a very good degree.

“They’re not going to college to major in eligibility. They’re going to major in a legitimate discipline. There’s going to be rigor here and they welcome that.”

While Michigan has added depth to the quarterback room with the addition of five-star Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Milton adds tremendous athleticism and upside.

“Just blessed by mom, dad and God. He’s very physically talented and he’s got a real fire to be great,” Harbaugh said. “Every time I’m around him he’s working on something. If he’s walking down the hall in school, he’s working on a move or a drop. He thinks about football all the time. He’s sending us videos of his daily progress. He’ll be here in 10 days and he’s got an unbelievable drive about him.”