Additions: Dylan McCaffrey
Exactly what Michigan needed and wanted at this position. Dylan committed early, helped the team get a massive wide receiver haul, and rather than providing drama the borderline five-star prospect went back to work and focused on getting better and helping the team. If Michigan found a way to have this again in 2018 somehow, count your lucky stars.
Running backs: B-
Additions: O’Maury Samuels, Kurt Taylor
It’s hard to be too disappointed when the conveyer belt churns out two more future play-makers, but Michigan’s class also featured A.J. Dillon for a long time and flirted with Najee Harris to no avail. But they didn’t really need to hit a home run here, with a deep and versatile crew already in town.
Samuels and Taylor both add a little more to that puzzle. Samuels is an exciting athlete with the kind of footwork and change of direction to get him on to SportsCenter one day. And Kurt Taylor is the complete package of quickness, refusing to go down, pass protection and receiving skills.
Wide receivers: A++
Additions: Donovan Peoples-Jones, Nico Collins, Tarik Black, Oliver Martin, Brad Hawkins, Jack Young, Evan Latham, Jake McCurry
Take the roof off for these guys, geez. I think we’re going to look back and remember this class for a long, long, long time. Fab Five, maybe?
You really can’t go wrong with hyping up any of these guys. DPJ is a very rare talent athletically, and he’s showed some quick learning at shoring up the other aspects of the game. Nico Collins and Tarik Black are both huge, physically punishing, athletic freaks.
Oliver Martin and Brad Hawkins are stellar as well - Martin specializes in getting separation with his smooth route-running and Hawkins can go up and get anything thrown in his area.
Tight ends: C+
Additions: Chris Hanlon
With a half-dozen Harbaugh tight ends filtering through the program already, Michigan didn’t need to devote a scholarship to the position in 2017. And they didn’t, but still managed to add a talented prospect in Chris Hanlon. Expect the 2018 class to feature a few more big guys, though, as they try to flood the NFL with more Rob Gronkowskis.
Additions: Ben Mason, Tyler Plocki
This is some beautiful timing here, considering that Michigan is just one year away from having to replace Khalid Hill and Henry Poggi, once again overhauling the fullback position and turning it over to unproven talent.
That worked out wonderfully last time, as Sione Houma and Joe Kerridge were hardly missed in lieu of Hill and Poggi. For it to work again, Ben Mason and likely a few walk-ons will have to take advantage of a full year of weight-lifting and conditioning.
Offensive linemen: B
Additions: Chuck Filiaga, Cesar Ruiz, JaRaymond Hall, Andrew Stueber, Joel Honigford, Jess Speight
To be honest, the task was pretty close to impossible here: I think we all hoped this 2017 class would ‘save’ Michigan’s offensive line and give us a feeling that the problems they’ve had at that position for the last 10-15 years would be gone.
In truth, these guys may still do that, but it’s unlikely to come in 2017. Filiaga and Ruiz are definitely potential contributors as true freshmen, and JaRaymond Hall frankly doesn’t get enough love. Andrew Stueber is a guy the coaches have raved about and seems to be a terrific worker during the off-season, so there’s optimism there as well.
Is it a home run? No. No, it’s not, but it’s still a very good building block for the future.
Defensive linemen: A+
Additions: Aubrey Solomon, James Hudson, Deron Irving-Bey, Corey Malone-Hatcher, Luiji Vilain, Phillip Paea, Donovan Jeter, Kwity Paye, Sean Fitzgerald, Ryan Veingrad
Let’s start by breaking this up into tackles and ends, shall we? Aubrey Solomon, James Hudson, Deron Irving-Bey, Phillip Paea, and Donovan Jeter are all tackles, and it’s a huge group (literally) that made it to campus just in the nick of time. They’ll provide depth in 2017 and start being important parts of the rotation in ‘18 and beyond.
Corey Malone-Hatcher, Luiji Vilain, and Kwity Paye are defensive ends who should provide solid run defense while increasing this defense’s ability to pass rush without having to blitz. (Of course, Don Brown will do that anyway, so good luck, opposing quarterbacks.)
Additions: Jordan Anthony, Drew Singleton, Josh Ross, Adam Fakih
In the end, Harbaugh couldn’t add Willie Gay to the fold, but this is still a great group of players that boost up the team’s depth and athleticism at a position with plenty of bodies, but also plenty of questions, for 2017.
There aren’t many linebacker groups in the country as polished and athletic as this.
Additions: Jaylen Kelly-Powell, J’Marick Woods, Hunter Reynolds
I’ll be very curious to watch this position over the next few seasons, and these guys in particular. J’Marick Woods doesn’t jump off the page with his speed, but he is deceptively fast and also has great length and good physicality. He’ll be an annoying conundrum for opposing coordinators (and quarterbacks).
Jaylen Kelly-Powell, meanwhile, has a lot of experience covering defenders one-on-one and would be a tough blitzer to handle, so despite looking more like a free safety physically, I wonder if Don Brown will get the most out of him around the line of scrimmage.
Also, Hunter Reynolds is an exciting non-scholly player I’ll make sure to mention a little too often. He’s raw but physically talented.
Additions: Benjamin St-Juste, Ambry Thomas
I really like this duo. Ambry Thomas is an amazing player to watch, and St-Juste is also worth the price of admission for his obvious dedication to his craft and the technique of being a cover corner. I’d be surprised if both these guys didn’t end up being starters at some point.
Special teams: A+
Additions: Brad Robbins
As it turns out, Michigan wasn’t done with adding just Aubrey Solomon and Nico Collins today. Bringing a scholarship punter into the fold (let alone the #1 guy in the country) was a reassuring move for anyone looking at next year’s special teams depth chart; the great Kenny Allen is moving on and Quinn Nordin was the only guy on scholarship. That doesn’t necessarily mean bad things, but it was an unknown. Now, at least, there are numbers at that position in case something goes wrong.