Now that every 2018 letter of intent has been signed, sealed and delivered to Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines, the focus for the team is now set on spring practices, heading into the summer and preparing for the season-opener at Notre Dame on Sept. 1.
But if you are really into recruiting, you may already be looking ahead into the 2019 class to see who is already committed to the Wolverines and what they bring to the table.
Let’s jump right in and evaluate the four verbal commits:
- 5-star defensive end Chris Hinton
- 4-star offensive lineman Nolan Rumler
- 4-star defensive end Stephen Herron Jr.
- 3-star linebacker Charles Thomas
We’ll begin with the defensive ends, specifically Hinton, who is a highly sought after prospect from Norcross, Georgia. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 265 pounds, Hinton has offers from the best of the best — Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame, USC, Florida State, Georgia, and so on. He is a beast on the D-line, and versatile, too, as he has lined up at defensive tackle and defensive end.
Hinton’s commitment is also huge because his brother, Myles Hinton, is a highly regarded offensive line prospect in the 2020 class. He will likely be a 5-star when it’s all said and done, so ensuring Chris Hinton stays committed will only help the Wolverines’ chances of landing a commitment from Myles in 2020.
Herron Jr. is almost as big as Hinton (6-foot-3.5, 235 pounds), is the 68th nationally ranked recruit and fifth ranked recruit at weak-side defensive end in the 2019 class.
The Louisville, Kentucky native is a natural pass rusher, but is also a really solid run defender. He is quick to the ball and uses his hands well to get off blockers, as evidenced in the video below.
Having Hinton and Herron Jr. locked in right now is good for the sake of how the rest of the class stacks up, but also because the defensive end position will be a position of need come 2019. Chase Winovich will be gone after next season, and Rashan Gary could declare for the NFL one season early. That leaves a huge void at defensive end, and having a 5-star and a high-4-star like Hinton and Herron Jr. would be nice to pair up with the likes of Luiji Vilain, Kwity Paye and Carlo Kemp.
In my humble opinion, offensive line is the one position you can never have too many of. And I think that proved itself this past season for Michigan. Grant Newsome suffered a serious leg injury in 2016 and missed all of 2017. Right guard Michael Onwenu missed some time this season, as did right tackle Juwann Bushell-Beatty, after taking over for the underwhelming Nolan Ulizio at right tackle. Left guard Ben Bredeson also missed the bowl game, so your only linemen that played all 13 games were left tackle Mason Cole and center Patrick Kugler.
And even when all the starters played together, the product was still not good enough. The Wolverines needs more offensive linemen in this class since they only took one in 2018 (two if you count Ryan Hayes, but he’s listed at tight end right now).
With all that said, Michigan NEEDS Nolan Rumler to stay committed throughout this entire process. He is an absolute mauler at 6-foot-4 and 290 pounds. Just check out this highlight tape of him during the 2017 OHSAA Division II State Championship.
Rumler’s offensive line did a lot of pulling to establish blocks in the run game, and he is stellar at it. He holds his blocks well and has a pretty high motor. Harbaugh has to do everything he can to keep this guy committed to Michigan, because he has the potential to be an All-American.
As for Thomas, he reminds me a lot of a guy we all know and love — Devin Bush.
Thomas is a very solid blitzer (especially because of his awareness of when the snap is coming). He is also a great tackler and a physical beast at 6-foot and 222 pounds. If Thomas holds true to his commitment, he will more than likely be Devin Bush’s replacement when his career is over.
He is listed as a 3-star right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he shoots up in the recruiting rankings during his senior season. He plays for IMG Academy in Florida, so he is going to be a guy that gets more attention than others just because of that.
So even though Michigan’s 2018 class was viewed by most fans as a disappointment, there is a lot to look forward to in 2019. With three top 100 recruits and a guy that is a Devin Bush clone already verbally committed to Michigan, the 2019 class has a chance to be just as good as 2016 or 2017’s class. The key to that, like it always has, is to finish the job on the recruiting trail.