When looking at Michigan’s recruiting classes as a whole, sometimes it’s able to discern a targeted strategy by the staff for what direction they want to take the program.
Last year’s class is a good example. After a season of their defensive backs getting beat over the top by slot fades, the staff clearly wanted to land longer, rangy athletes to shut that down. They ended up taking five defensive backs in the class of 2018, all of which were at least 6-foot-2.
This year’s theme has to be the versatile athletes Michigan is recruiting on offense. It looks like the staff has realized they need to update their offense, and to do that they need speedy guys who can run quick routes and get yards after the catch.
Michigan has three of those guys in the 2019 class. This isn’t even mentioning other guys they targeted, like Wandale Robinson, furthering showing their shift in mentality.
Making up the trio is 4-star Giles Jackson and 3-stars George Johnson and Mike Sainristil, who the program is listing as a wide receiver.
Jackson is one of the fastest players in the country, running a 4.43 40-yard dash and a 3.85 shuttle at the Opening Finals. He’s electric from the slot, where he mostly played as a senior. He can also take handoffs, rushing for over 1,500 yards as a junior.
This is Michigan’s Curtis Samuel or Parris Campbell, if the staff can use him correctly. The coaches wasted players like Eddie McDoom by just giving them a handoff on a sweep once or twice a game. They need to draw up some more creative ways to get him the ball if he is going to succeed at Michigan.
Johnson is another versatile athlete. He threw, ran and received for over 1,000 yards each in his high school career.
He’s been timed running a 4.55 40-yard dash, which is still outstanding. Don’t be fooled by his low ranking either, playing quarterback for his high school as a senior hasn’t given him the chance to be evaluated much as a receiver.
Given his receiving and rushing ability, Johnson is another player who could take a handoff on a jet sweep, but also should be used in other ways. He can also throw absolute bombs, so if there’s a trick play involving a throw off of a reverse, Johnson should be that man.
Lastly, Sainristil is quick enough to be considered on either side of the ball. He doesn’t have a listed 40 time, but looks plenty fast from his tape.
What makes him look even faster is his fluidity. His running motion is completely effortless and he appears to just glide down the field. That fluidity is also what made him an excellent defensive back.
Like Jackson and Johnson, Sainristil has played a variety of roles on offense, lining up outside, in the slot, and in the backfield.
Michigan is emphasizing speed across the board. The Wolverines have two safeties, Daxton Hill and Quinten Johnson, who run a 4.3 and 4.48 40-yard dash respectively. Defensive end David Ojabo runs a sub-11 second 100-yard dash.
The key will be utilizing the offensive weapons. On defense, that speed doesn’t have to be schemed in a certain way to be used, it’s inherent in every play. On offense, it will take some creativity.
Michigan used a few RPOs successfully during the season, and players like Jackson and Johnson would be perfect to be the receivers running slants across the middle. Bubble screens could be an automatic four or five yards. There’s a million possibilities, and now Michigan has the troops to deploy on the rest of the Big Ten.