With National Signing Day less than 24 hours away, Michigan's 2015 football recruiting class will soon be set in stone after a busy few weeks of Jim Harbaugh and staff scrambling on the trail to finish it out strong.
The Wolverines have quite a few noteworthy storylines heading in to Wednesday and we were able to get a third-party's take on what is going on in Ann Arbor.
Rival.com's National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell spoke to Maize n Brew on Tuesday to preview these narratives heading into National Signing Day. Perhaps the biggest of these is how the timing of the Harbaugh hire has affected their 2015 class.
“It’s been tough. He was up against it. I think people expected when Jim Harbaugh was hired that everyone would come running and that’s just not logical." Farrell said. "Most of the schools have been recruiting these kids for three years. He’s a guy that has a huge name obviously. He’s gotten involved with some good players.
"The (Zach) Gentry flip was extremely important because he wanted two quarterbacks in this class. I don’t think there has been enough time to do as much damage as I think he can do next year.”
Even though Michigan has been struggling a bit to fill the remaining spots in this cycle, they are still in on a number of elite prospects. Their biggest priority has been four-star tight end Chris Clark (Avon, Connecticut).
“I think he changes his mind a lot," he said. "I think right now he’s leaning towards UCLA, but distance is really a factor in his mind. It wouldn’t surprise me either way if he chose UCLA or Michigan. So we’re going to have to wait and see. He’s had an interesting recruitment with commitments and decommitments.
"I think he’s trying to make the right decision. If I had to pick right this moment I’d say UCLA, but he’s very hard to predict.”
Four-star running back Mike Weber (Detroit, Michigan) has also been a hot candidate to flip back to the Wolverines from Ohio State. Farrell sees this as one of the more interesting stories heading into Wednesday.
"This is a tough one. He hasn’t really talked to anybody, which makes it more difficult to figure out," he said. "There are conflicting reports out there that he is sticking with Ohio State and others that say that Michigan might have the lead heading into Wednesday, so we’re going to have to wait and see who he signs with. I think he’s going to be one of the more interesting decisions. If Harbaugh were in place last year this wouldn’t even be a question. He would have stuck with Michigan.
"But I think right now he’s in a tough situation. Urban Meyer is one of the best recruiters in the country. They are talking about Ezekiel Elliot being a three-and-out guy and they are promising a lot of playing time there. Michigan is obviously promising playing time right away, so we’ll see. Right now, I would lean to Ohio State, but it would not shock me at all if he chose Michigan.”
The icing on the cake for Harbaugh's 2015 class would be a commitment from five-star cornerback Iman Marshall (Long Beach, California), but Farrell says USC is still the favorite there.
“It’s going to be tough to pull him away from USC," Farrell said. "That's the school that has been the team to beat for a very long time. I think staying close to home is important to him even though he won’t say that. He visited a lot of schools out of state. He’s got a good feel for Michigan, Florida State and some others.
"If he did he didn’t pick USC it would be a surprise. Florida State is probably number-two, but Michigan number-three right now. But if he did pick Michigan, it would be one of the biggest surprises of the day.”
It's been well documented how the staff has labored to finish out the 2015 cycle, but Farrell expects big things from Harbaugh and company moving forward, starting with the 2016 class.
“I would expect a top ten class. I would expect a class that will be on par with Ohio State. I expect a class that makes a big national splash not only in the Midwest but in the Southeast," he said.
"They’ve already gotten two commitments, both four-star kids. That’s a good start. I think overall with his name and what he’s selling at Michigan, anything less than a top-ten or top-fifteen class would be a disappointment."