A key strategy in college football recruiting is locking down local prospects. It is not a coincidence that, historically, the top football teams have been located near major producers of high school football talent.
Teams like LSU and USC have well known reputations of being able to take their pick of who they want in Louisiana and Southern California, respectively. Recruiting locally saves the coaching staff time and resources. Being nearby makes it much easier for players to visit campus as well. When teams have boatloads of talent nearby — and they can basically take who they please — it creates a recipe for success.
Michigan is no exception to this rule. There is no question the 2018 recruiting class was a disappointment to most fans. The coaching staff missed out on most of their priority targets, and there is a lack of top tier talent in this class. However, there is plenty of optimism for the 2019 class, as there are already three 100 prospects committed to Michigan in this class, something the Wolverines didn’t have any of in ‘18.
Another reason for hope is the 2019 crop of Michigan prospects is much more bountiful than 2018’s. There were only six four-star recruits in the state, and zero five-stars, in the 2018 class. The top player, Michigan signee Aidan Hutchinson, had a rating of .9498 and was ranked 112th in the country, per the 247 composite.
The 2019 class shows more elite talent and depth. The rankings for this class are in the early stages, but right now there are ten players that have received four-star or five-star ratings. This includes Devontae Dobbs, a five-star with a .9937 rating and the ninth overall player in the country. In fact, there are three players this year with higher ratings than Hutchinson had. The star power has increased considerably this time around.
There is also greater depth in the 2019 in-state class. The other two players Michigan signed that were top five in the state last year are Jalen Mayfield and Ryan Hayes. They rated as low four-star prospects, with ratings of .9062 and .8958, respectively. If they were included in the 2019 class, they would fall to 10th and 11th overall. This demonstrates how much talent there is for Michigan to pluck from nearby in 2019. These players will be essential in filling out the class with not only quality but quantity.
The 2019 crop stocks up much more favorably to the 2017 class, which should be welcome news to Michigan fans. That year featured the same amount of four and five-star prospects from the state as this one. If you remember, Michigan locked up seven of the top eight in-state recruits in ‘17. This provided an ample base on which the fifth-best class in the nation was built.
The staff still has a lot of work to do, since prospects like Dobbs and his teammate defensive back Julian Barnett are still slowly warming up to Michigan. However, if the Wolverines can do as good of a job signing the top talent this cycle as they did two years ago, another top 10 class can be an expectation.