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2020 Recruiting Position Previews: Linebackers

The staff looks to reload at the position with several legitimate targets.

Maryland v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Welcome back to the 2020 recruiting previews. Today we’re moving on to another position that will have a new coach this season: Linebacker.

Commits

West Bloomfield (MI) 3-star ILB Cornell Wheeler

Wheeler is a tackling machine at inside linebacker for a talented West Bloomfield squad. He’s climbed almost 100 spots in the rankings since committing to the Wolverines in late September.

He’s also taken on the responsibility of recruiting his peers in Michigan to join him in Ann Arbor. Paired with Andre Seldon, these two have been excellent representatives for the Maize and Blue in Southeast Michigan. Both are on teams filled with FBS talent, which could pay dividends down the road.

Top Target

Milton Academy (MA) 4-star OLB Kalel Mullings

Michigan has been in on Mullings for a long time, and their hard work is paying off. An outside linebacker from Massachusetts, Don Brown is his primary recruiter, which mitigates the loss of Al Washington in this recruitment.

Mullings debuted as a 5-star, but has dropped to just outside of the top 100, still nothing to shake a stick at. Michigan is battling Notre Dame, Boston College, Clemson and Penn State for him, but look to be in the lead. His Crystal Balls are 57 percent Michigan, 29 percent Notre Dame and 14 percent Boston College, so there’s still a way to go to land the 4-star.

In the Mix

Cosby (VA) 4-star ILB Ethan West

Coming into the Wisconsin game, Michigan was in good standing with the 4-star West. After the blowout, Michigan seemed to grab a stranglehold on his recruitment. A couple Crystal Ball picks rolled in for West after the game.

When I interviewed West back in October after his visit, he said he was thinking of committing by the end of his junior season. While that didn’t happen, Michigan is still in excellent position here.

Princeton (OH) 4-star OLB Jaheim Thomas

Like his teammate Darrion Henry, who I talked about yesterday, Thomas witnessed Michigan’s three-game destruction of Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State this fall. Unlike Henry, Thomas looks to be more open in his recruitment. He still has a couple Crystal Ball picks for Ohio State, but he may not be a take for them right now.

Instead, several other Midwest schools have jumped in to make their case, like Michigan State, Notre Dame and Wisconsin. Michigan has as good of a shot, if not better, than any of those schools to land the 4-star.

St. Frances Academy (MD) 4-star OLB Osman Savage

Hey what do you know, another player from St. Frances. Savage may represent Michigan’s best shot at landing a player from the talent factory in this cycle. He’s an athlete who could play running back or linebacker at the next level, but most schools are recruiting him as the latter.

Michigan is his best offer on paper, beating out the likes of Georgia Tech, Maryland, Michigan State, Pitt, Syracuse and West Virginia. The Mountaineers are the school I believe are slightly ahead right now. The biggest battle, however, is between him and Demon Clowney for coolest name on their team.

Longshots

St. John’s (DC) 5-star OLB Mekhail Sherman

Oh look, another school everyone should be familiar with by now. Sherman is ranked 15th in the country and thus is being pursued by every major program in the country. Unfortunately it looks like Ohio State is the one he’s connecting with the most, with all three of his Crystal Balls to the Buckeyes.

Alabama, Georgia, Clemson and all the other usual suspects are involved as well. Michigan’s trying as well, but his primary recruiter was Greg Mattison and his secondary recruiter is Pep Hamilton, who may be gone soon too.

Carrollton (GA) 4-star OLB Kevin Swint

Michigan has a slightly better chance with Swint, considering they’ve been in contact with him for almost two years now. But, it’s the same story as Sherman, where they’re battling every program in the country for the Georgia prospect.

Swint’s Crystal Balls read 75 percent for Clemson and 25 percent for Georgia, with the Clemson ones coming in much more recently.

Under the Radar

St. Thomas Aquinas (FL) 4-star OLB Devon Betty

I haven’t put a 4-star in the Under the Radar category in these previews yet, but I’m making an exception for Betty. The reason is that Betty isn’t ranked low, he’s just outside the top 250 in the country, but that Michigan hasn’t been connected with him much so far.

This is pure speculation, but I think the staff could pick things up with Betty as part of what looks to be growing interest in targeting his school, St. Thomas Aquinas. Michigan landed Anthony Solomon out of the Florida powerhouse in the 2019 cycle, and in the process became familiar with several of his teammates. The staff also just offered 5-star wide receiver Marcus Rosemy out of the school. If Michigan keeps the pressure on the school, Betty could become more of a well-known target.

St. Thomas More (CT) 3-star OLB Kenny Mestidor

Mestidor has a few connections with the Michigan program that will help in his recruitment. Mestidor of course plays for the same school in Connecticut Charles Thomas did for his senior season.

Like Thomas, Mestidor transferred to St. Thomas More. He is from Canada, and was part of the same program that brought Luiji Vilain to America. Mestidor is still close with Vilain, who has been talking up the Wolverines in his ear. Those ties to the program, as well as playing in the Northeast, put Michigan in good standing with the 3-star.

Other than Michigan, Florida, Rutgers, Syracuse, UMass and Western Michigan have offered.

Southern Columbia (PA) unranked ILB Cal Haladay

Haladay is interesting because he is a teammate of No. 1 wide receiver in the country, Julian Fleming. Despite being named 1st-team all-state for his first three years on varsity, Haladay still doesn’t have a ranking on any recruiting sites.

He also is lacking on offers. UMass is the only other school besides Michigan to offer. Ohio State, Penn State, Northwestern and Syracuse are all shown to having interest, though. If he’s actually a take, Haladay would most likely choose Michigan. They were his first offer and his tweet announcing it is pinned to the top of his Twitter page. He could also be part of a plan to bring in Fleming.


Michigan has only taken three linebackers in the last two classes, and with Anthony Solomon being ticketed for Viper, it’s reduced to two true players at the position. That means linebacker will be an important position in this class.

Luckily, the staff is in great shape with some stud players, and already have one commit in the fold. Wrapping up the class with Wheeler, Mullings, and West would be a great haul. If they wanted to stretch to add a fourth, Thomas and Savage are great options.

This is also a position where losing Al Washington may not be a huge burden on recruiting. If Michigan puts Anthony Campanile at safeties where he’s usually coached and slide Chris Partridge back to linebackers, then it’s a recruiting upgrade. Either way, the position looks set for now.

Next in the previews we’ll be moving to the secondary to cover the cornerbacks.