Anyone who has attended college can remember those first few months. For some, it's an easy transition to living independently as a college student away from family. For others, it can be a difficult getting acclimated to college with handling many distractions, learning time-management, homework and being a student-athlete with an elite school.
Michigan’s 2017 recruiting class not only ended in the top five rated nationally, it also includes 11 early enrollees. Jim Harbaugh had some of them over for steak and milk in early January. Ben Mason shared the group picture on Twitter.
Some of them are seen below in a post on February 1 getting prepared in their khaki’s and Jumpman gear for the ‘Signing of The Stars’ event.
Let's get to know them all and who could make an immediate impact with the team next fall.
The Early Enrollees
Cesar Ruiz (Center, 6-3/315 lbs)
The IMG Academy graduate and top rated center in the nation has known for awhile he wanted to be a Wolverine. He may be in the best position within this group to see early playing time with the need for big men on the offensive line. He feels comfortable with this incoming class, has ties with the New Jersey players and the coaches.
Donovan Peoples-Jones (WR, 6-2/193 lbs)
He is the overall biggest recruit for this class, not only because he's the top rated player at the WR position, but also because he's staying close to home. Michigan will benefit from him already being on campus because he will participate in spring practice and get time with the QB group. He may be the most athletic player in the entire class and provides an immediate upgrade to the WR group.
Corey Malone-Hatcher (DE, 6-3/243 lbs)
The player that helped recruit other prospects throughout the recruiting process more than anyone else. He is another Michigan native staying close to home and played alot at linebacker in high school. Don Brown and his staff can benefit from this extra time with him to determine where he can develop and fit with this rush-style defense.
Jalen Kelly-Powell (S, 6-0/200 lbs)
Another player staying in his home state and one that can benefit from this time with conditioning. Jalen comes with a very physical and tough approach to his game as local fans saw with the Detroit Class Tech guys who proved their talents in high school. If he can get stronger and more physical that’s needed at this level, he can get some playing time on the defense early.
Tarik Black (WR, 6-4/208 lbs)
Left of Jim Harbaugh below.
So much Greatness in One Pic pic.twitter.com/GixI4oEXXX— Tarik Black (@LetmeRockk_) February 2, 2017
The tallest of the new WR group and Connecticut native will benefit with his size no doubt. Similar to Donovan, he can also use this time to get familiar with the QB group and work on finding his way in the rotation on offense quick.
Ambry Thomas (CB, 5-11/174 lbs)
Ambry is another local guy ready to contribute quickly. His 1-on-1 ability can be an opportunity for quick playing time if he can learn the system. He has big shoes to fill with Jourdan Lewis moving on to the the NFL. He enters a young group of cornerbacks with David Long and Lavert Hill, so he has an opportunity to step in and make an impact quickly.
Donovan Jeter (SDE, 6-5/250 lbs)
The Pennsylvania native comes with the size and ability to contribute as a defensive end. If he can add 15-20 pounds and get familiar with the conditioning required, he can turn into a huge contributor to this team over the next few years.
JaRaymond Hall (OT, 6-5/282 lbs)
The Oak Park graduate will come in and can focus most on getting acclimated to the offensive groups size at the next level. He will benefit from getting stronger and faster the next nine months before fall camp. His film shows how aggressive and physical he can be on the offensive line.
Benjamin St-Juste (DB, 6-3/188 lbs)
This is one player that may be looked at as the most interesting recruits of the group because of his potential. The Canadian could play safety or corner, so it all depends on where this coaching staff can find his ability meeting their needs in the rotation. At the Nike Opening Finals, he recorded a 4.58-second 40-yard dash. He is quick and has shown that in events the last year.
Ben Mason (ILB, 6-2/247 lbs)
He was an elite linebacker in his home state of Connecticut rushing with close to 2,000 yards, five interceptions and a touchdown in his fullback position. Since he can play linebacker and fullback, his position will depend on what this coaching staff sees as a position he can be successful playing.
J’Marick Woods (S, 6-3/205 lbs)
The Alabama native brings great size and the experience from high school playing against some of the elite players in the highly competitive south. Like others, he will be able to get to campus with the next nine months to work on his conditioning to compete for playing time in a defense that will see new faces with several moving to the NFL.
The guys who have the best opportunity to make an immediate impact are Cesar Ruiz, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Tarik Black. Several guys on the defensive side can benefit from the extra nine months and prove what it takes to get in the rotation, so keep an eye out for this entire group come fall camp.