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Michigan Rises to No. 3 in ESPN's 2016 Way-Too-Early Top 25 after Signing Day

Jim Harbaugh's splash on National Signing Day has caused ESPN to move the Wolverines into the top three of its way-too-early rankings.

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Projections for Michigan's 2016 season continue to improve after National Signing Day.

Last week, Maize n Brew's Alex Kolodziej reported that Michigan's Vegas odds to win the national championship got substantially better after U-M signed the nation's fifth-best class. Yesterday, SB Nation's Bill Connelly released his S&P+ projections, which view the Wolverines as the Big Ten's best team. Now, ESPN's Mark Schlabach has updated his 2016 Way-Too-Early Top 25, and Michigan has risen from No. 4 to No. 3:

2015 record: 10-3, 6-2 Big Ten

Returning starters: 8 offense, 6 defense, 1 special teams

Key losses: C Graham Glasgow, QB Jake Rudock, LB Desmond Morgan, LB Joe Bolden, LB James Ross, FS Jarrod Wilson, DE Willie Henry

Outlook: Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh made a big splash with his first full recruiting cycle, signing a top-10 class. The crop includes No. 1 prospect Rashan Gary, who might be able to help on the defensive line right away. The Wolverines have to replace only three starters on offense, and Houston transfer John O'Korn is the early favorite to replace departed quarterback Jake Rudock. New defensive coordinator Dan Brown will have to replace the team's entire starting linebacker corps, but incoming freshman Devin Bush Jr. might be able to help.

Michigan is the highest-ranked Big Ten team. The rest of Schlabach's top five includes No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Florida State, No. 4 Baylor, and No. 5 Clemson. The other Big Ten teams on his top-25 list are No. 10 Ohio State, No. 14 Michigan State, and No. 17 Iowa.