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Weekend wrap-up: Stars are not the be-all, end-all for the Michigan secondary

Jim Harbaugh has found success from all types of cornerbacks in Ann Arbor.

Penn State v Michigan Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images

Most Michigan Wolverines fans could not have been too shocked to lose out on cornerback recruits Bryce West and Aaron Scott to Ohio State. Getting either four-star prospect to choose the Wolverines over the in-state Buckeyes was going to be a long shot, but after missing out on five-star Domani Jackson to USC last season, it felt all too familiar once again.

Michigan responded by securing commitments from both Jo’Ziah Edmond and Jeremiah Lowe to help fill out the 2023 class. While the three-stars were clearly not at the top of the recruiting board, this does not necessarily spell doom for Jim Harbaugh. Yes, top talent is a great asset to deploy in the secondary, but plenty of recruiting gems have flashed in Ann Arbor as well.

A familiar path

While Edmond and Lowe will have an uphill journey, there is plenty of recent history suggesting they can find success. Maybe it seems a little strange that a top-five (or better) team in the nation will feature a secondary with some smaller-name prospects, but this is nothing new for Harbaugh.

The 2018 class featured three-star Vincent Gray, who had his flaws but was an overall positive contributor in the Michigan secondary. The next year brought in three-star D.J. Turner, who really should be called second-rounder D.J. Turner after the completion of the most recent NFL Draft.

The verdict is still out on a couple more three stars: Ja’Den McBurrows and Amorion Walker. Both are in contention for a starting cornerback spot this fall, and neither came from much recruiting hype. The same can be said for UMass transfer Josh Wallace, who also is vying for playing time in the secondary.

That means that two-thirds of the starting cornerbacks are likely going to come from nondescript recruiting backgrounds. Mike Sainristil was definitely not a blue-chip prospect, and like Walker came to defense after spending time with the Michigan offense. I doubt many people were thinking about his lack of recruiting accolades when he was making arguably the biggest play of the Harbaugh tenure in Columbus last season.

Keep it in perspective

All of that being can be fun bringing in elite talent too. It took Will Johnson less than a full season to show why he was a top-40 prospect, and the trio of David Long, Lavert Hill, and Ambry Thomas were all four-star recruits as well. Top cornerbacks have allowed Michigan to play in certain ways that are less viable with different sorts of athletes.

These are all just cornerbacks; top safeties have fared similarly under Harbaugh as well. Daxton Hill, Rod Moore, and R.J. Moten are a few recent examples of competitive recruits who came to Ann Arbor and performed early on, helping get the Wolverine defense back to where it needed to be.

So the recruiting losses at cornerback hurt, but they are not the end of the world. The odds are against Edmond and Lowe becoming superstars, however, the possibility of either of them ending their career as a starter is very realistic as well. Harbaugh has been a good recruiter, but an even better developer of talent. At a position like cornerback, that is a huge weapon in Michigan’s arsenal.