The Michigan Wolverines are 25-3 over the last two seasons, with two Big Ten championships and College Football Playoff appearances. There has been a culture shift in Ann Arbor during this timeframe that has made them one of the more feared programs in the country. It all would not have been made possible without a 2019 recruiting class that featured some groundbreaking talent, specifically on defense.
The Athletic re-ranked the Wolverines’ class of 2019 from their original 247Sports ranking of No. 8 overall to No. 3 overall. This class included first-round safety Dax Hill, first-round defensive tackle Mazi Smith, All-American David Ojabo, second-round corner DJ Turner, and 2022 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year Mike Morris as the top signees. They also brought in five-star Christopher Hinton and transfer Mike Danna, as well.
The offense wasn’t too shabby either. Cade McNamara led the culture shift once he took over in 2020 and was named starter in 2021. Even with his transfer to Iowa, McNamara left his mark on the program, as have guys like Trevor Keegan, Karsen Barnhart and Cornelius Johnson, to name a few from a great class for the Wolverines.
Glaringly, the article failed to mention Mike Sainristil, who has competed on both sides of the ball since coming in. He’s now one of the best nickels in the Big Ten heading into 2023.
This group’s four-year record is 36-11 (76 percent), and that includes a 2020 season that was one to forget. Now in 2023, the expectation is for that record to improve even more with many considering Michigan to be the favorites to win the Big Ten this fall.
Only two teams were ranked higher for the 2019 class re-rank: No. 2 Ohio State (lol) and No. 1 Georgia.
It puzzles me an Ohio State 2019 class that has gone 1-2 against Michigan gets ranked higher. However, there are some pretty strong names here like transfer quarterback Justin Fields, wide receiver Garrett Wilson, linebacker Tommy Eichenberg and offensive tackle Dawand Jones. The article mentions this class also “had receiver Jameson Williams, who started in 2020 before joining Alabama for one season and breaking out as a first-round talent.” That National Championship appearance in 2020 appears to be carrying this class.
But there is no debate Georgia’s 2019 class deserves the No. 1 ranking up from their original No. 2. Nakobe Dean, Travon Walker, Nolan Smith and Lewis Cine made up one of the best defenses college football has ever seen in 2021. Quarterback Stetson Bennett also helped bring national championships to Athens, along with the help of running back Kenny McIntosh and receiver George Pickens.
Still, there is no doubt this Michigan class out-performed its initial ranking. Imagine what Harbaugh can do if that continues as he brings in recruits like this 2024 promises to be made up of.