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Best recruiting evaluations under Jim Harbaugh

These are some of Harbaugh’s most notable recruiting diamonds in the rough.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Recruiting has always been more of an art than a science and in the SEC — according to Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher — it’s been more about the art of the deal. Whichever style you employ, the results may vary and nothing is certain.

When recruiting players such as Aidan Hutchinson, Dax Hill, Rashan Gary and J.J. McCarthy, evaluations and projections are easier and the success hit-rate is higher. However, when evaluating lower-tier players, a plethora of other variables (tangible and intangible) must be considered, and the hit-rate is vastly lower.

Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh has had his fair share of hits on each side of the recruiting rankings, but today we are looking at five of his biggest hits since 2015.

This list excludes transfers and walk-ons, and only features players ranked >.86 on 247Sports’ composite.

Linebacker Josh Uche (247 Avg .8558) - Class of 2016

Josh Uche was a productive edge rushing recruit coming out of Florida, but at 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds, questions surrounded his potential the next level. But by the end of 2019, he was up to 250 pounds and named Michigan’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Uche finished his Michigan career with 20.5 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks, good enough for No. 10 on the all-time program list.

Notable classmates ranked above Uche: Quinn Nordin, Ron Johnson, Elysee Mbem-Bosse

Running Back Hassan Haskins (247 Avg .853) - Class of 2018

Coming out of Missouri, the question wasn’t “IF” Hassan Haskins can play the next level, but “WHERE?”

Haskins possessed the raw power and physicality, but initially lacked the vision and change of direction required for Big Ten running backs. He was switched to linebacker in 2018, but then switched back to running back in 2019 where he began the season as the fifth-stringer

By honing in on his weaknesses, and capitalizing on every on-the-field opportunity (pass protection, special teams, short-yardage, mop-up-duty), Haskins became a star at Michigan. His historic 2021 season set a program record for most rushing touchdowns in a season (20) and his style of play and determination went on to personify Harbaugh’s personality.

Even more so than Haskins’s electric hurdle compilation, no fan will ever forget his five-touchdown performance against Ohio State.

Notable classmates ranked above Haskins: Christian Turner, Ben VanSumeren, Joe Milton

Offensive Tackle Jon Runyan Jr. (247 Avg .8402) - Class of 2015

While it took longer for legacy commit Jon Runyan Jr. to figure out the college game, when he hit, he hit BIG.

Runyan was twice named First-Team All-Conference in 2018 and 2019, and also twice named the team’s top offensive lineman the same two years. With the latter award, Runyan Jr. and Runyan Sr. became the first father-son duo to accomplish this at Michigan.

Notable classmates ranked above Runyan Jr: Grant Perry, Alex Malzone

Wide Receiver Ronnie Bell (247 Avg .8349) - Class of 2018

Before his break-out senior season, Ronnie Bell was going to Missouri play basketball. Harbaugh only heard about Bell because his brother-in-law — a coach in the area — was tipped off in the midst of his aforementioned break-out year.

Bell had zero other football offers besides Michigan, but that did not stop him from immediately making an impact. As a freshman, Bell was voted the team’s Rookie of the Year and as a sophomore, he was named the Offensive Skill Player of the Year.

Despite a pandemic shortened 2020 and an injury-shortened 2021, Bell is only 867 yards away from Michigan’s top 10 leaders in career receiving yards.

Notable classmates ranked above Bell: Everyone NOT named Jake Moody

Kicker Jake Moody - NR - Class of 2018

Jake Moody went from being unranked and unheralded, to battling Quinn Nordin for kicking opportunities, to arguably being the greatest kicker in the history of the program.

In 2021, “Money” Moody became the first Michigan kicker to win the Lou Groza Award and with a solid 2022 season, you can remove the “arguably” in the previous sentence.

Notable classmates ranked above Moody: Everyone.