Going into spring practice, the coaches are doing well with regard to their recruiting class. Really well, in case you hadn't heard. The size of the class, at this moment, has allowed for them to narrow down on a few kids that really tickle their fancy. In this post, I'll attempt to narrow down who the top targets for this staff are, based on a combination of their interest in UM, UM's interest in them, UM's remaining needs, and their ability.
So what are the needs? Right now, I can think of only 3 position groups in which Michigan is completely finished; quarterback, tight end and offensive line, as in further commitments from other prospects would be point-blank denied (although in the case of the TE position, it's simply because no offer recipients remain uncommitted, at this point). Several positions have been well covered and are no longer considered positions of 'need', which includes...well..most of them. The staff has gotten what they 'need' with Shallman and Smith at RB, although they'd take the commitment of someone like VA RB Derrick Green or Ty Isaac if they were offered. The same is true at LB, CB, and S, where UM is simply chasing the elite options, at the moment. Two groups, WR and DL, remain positions of need. With regard to the defensive line, I think a NT is the only part sorely required, but the staff remains in pursuit of 7/9, 5, and 3 technique type players, as well. With all of this in mind, I'll begin...
1. IL WR Laquon Treadwell. Simply put, I think losing Treadwell would hurt more so than any prospect Michigan's lost out on in the past few recruiting cycles. Last year, losing out on someone like Armani Reeves or Josh Garnett was covered up with other signees, mitigating the necessity of their commitments. Treadwell, however, is such a well-rounded talent, whose first offer was from Michigan, who's from the Midwest, who's been on campus countless times, who has been thoroughly courted by other members of the 2013 class. It's not often that such a picture paints itself so neatly for the grasping, or lines up so well with the current needs in the class.
2. NJ NT Greg Webb. A lot of people haven't followed Webb's recruitment that closely, but based off of recent developments, I wouldn't be surprised if Webb is near or at the top of the priority board, at the moment. Nose tackle is such a critical point of emphasis for this recruiting class for a few reasons. After Campbell leaves, the staff will be left with only 2 at the position, both of whom are completely unproven to this point (Ash and Pipkins). Nose tackle is one of the most physically exhausting positions on the field, due to the excessive amount of contact and double teams they face, making rotation more of a necessity than an option. Unless both Ash and Pipkins can really prove themselves this year, getting a solid option off the bench, and to eventually replace Pipkins, will be a must. Webb is, to this point, one of the few NTs Michigan has offered and continues to pursue, which is a bit curious.
3. IL RB Ty Isaac. I'd like to pretend that he's a bit lower on the totem pole, but that simply isn't true. Isaac would be the most complete running back Michigan has landed in years, and likely the best system fit since Fitzgerald Toussaint committed. I'd like to pretend that Shallman and Smith are complete enough to take the sting out of losing Isaac, but that's not true, either. Just like Treadwell, Isaac is an elite kid who's been on campus countless times, and seems to really love Michigan. At this point, seeing him go to ND (where I think he'd be headed if not Michigan) would be a big-time miss for the staff.
4. VA LB EJ Levenberry. I almost put Levenberry a hair above Isaac, but ultimately kept him out because of the physical distance, although that doesn't truly seem to bother him. Although I'd like to believe that McCray is coming in as a SAM linebacker, all signs point towards the beginnings of his career in the middle, instead. Although Michigan is very comfortable at SAM right now, due to have 2 players of solid experience and athleticism, there's little behind them. With Beyer moving to WDE instead of SAM, there are no players from the past 2 recruiting classes lined up there. The coaching staff will need to find someone to back up and eventually replace Ryan, since Gordon will only be around for 2 more years. As shown this year, they aren't afraid to cycle here, either, so playing time could be a real incentive for Levenberry.
5. MD DL Henry Poggi. Michigan landed a few good 3 tech/5 tech type players in last year's class, but Poggi is simply too good of a recruit to miss out on. His explosion and athleticism for his size are freakish, and he looks like he'd be an instant impact type player at either position, regardless of how this year's class pans out. He'll be a very tough kid to land, but Michigan did an excellent job of identifying him early, and has been consequently rewarded with several visits.
6. CA WR Darrell Daniels. I'll update my breakdown of the WR landscape before too long, and when I do, Daniels will be near the top. I'm a really big fan of his game breaking speed and ability at the WR position. The depth issues at WR are obviously why Daniels finds himself in this position on the Big Board, and recent chatter suggests that UM is really pushing hard for Daniels to find his way to Ann Arbor sometime soon. I'm hoping that visit comes through, and that Daniels can be stolen away from from the West Coast, which is showing a surprising lack of interest in him.
7. VA RB Derrick Green. Green is another excellent player at a position that Michigan...well...isn't really needing at the moment. With two backs in the class, Green would be an excellent addition, but adding another power back doesn't seem to be a real necessity. By bringing him on campus last week, even after the commitment of Deveon Smith, the staff showed that they were still very interested in Green as a third option for the spot, but I think they're a little more focused on Isaac at the moment. Still, in my opinion, Green would probably be the best all-around back in the class, were he to commit.
8. OH LB Ben Gedeon. Gedeon, too, is a high caliber player that Michigan doesn't, per se, truly need at this point. With all four LBs from the last class, as well as McCray from this one, being slotted for the WLB or MLB spots, depth isn't really a concern, nor is the future of those positions. Still, Gedeon would be a very solid addition to the class. In my opinion, he's a better linebacker than McCray, despite the ratings. There are some rumors and rumblings that this was very close to happening as of a few weeks ago, but things have cooled off a bit. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if he was a member of the class by the end of April.
9. CA S Su'a Cravens. I know some people probably think he's higher on the board, but I'm not certain that they have a truly valid argument to back that up. Sure, he's a high quality player. But Michigan's already gotten one SS in the class (Dymonte), and we took at least one last year in Allen Gant. The need isn't really there. Cravens is one of the players that falls into the 'best of the rest' category. We'll recruit him hard, maybe get an official visit out of him (if he hasn't committed elsewhere by then, most likely USC), and it'll probably keep going up to Signing Day. A lot of things can change, but I don't foresee this recruitment being anything for Michigan fans to get excited about, yet.
10. DC CB Devin Butler. While I think people would be happier with me if I told them this spot were to be occupied by Vernon Hargreaves III or Kendall Fuller, Butler is the hot player right now. After visiting last week, he informed media outlets that he'd be announcing on May 12. The staff clearly isn't satisfied with just 2 CBs in the class, as they continue to actively recruit others (such as Cameron Walker, Tim Harris, Priest Willis, Antwuan Davis, and the two aforementioned players), and Butler is a big, physical corner that could come in an, perhaps, play early as fellow CB Gareon Conley puts on weight. I wouldn't be shocked if Butler announced for Michigan on May 12th.