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The early top targets for Michigan in the 2022 class

Get to know the names you’ll need to know for the next recruiting cycle.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 16 Michigan State at Michigan Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Now that the early signing period is all said and done, it’s a good time to look ahead to the 2022 class.

Throughout the recruiting dead period that took up most of this year, the coaches made an effort to connect with more 2022 prospects than most cycles, putting them in a good position for a lot of top players. But the turmoil from this season caused the coaches to have to re-recruit a lot of the 2021 commits, putting the 2022 class on the back burner.

In the next few months we’ll see how far behind the eight ball Michigan has fallen with this class, or if too much ground hasn’t been ceded. Here are some of the top-of-the-board guys for the 2022 cycle.

Mater Dei (CA) Five-star CB Domani Jackson, No. 3 overall, No. 1 CB

You should know about Jackson if you’ve followed recruiting coverage on here at all, who could go a long way in correcting Michigan’s problems in the secondary. While pulling the top cornerback in the country from Southern California seems daunting on the surface, and it is, Michigan does have some advantages.

Jackson is not originally from SoCal. He grew up all over the country since his dad was in the military. His father also is a huge Michigan who raised Jackson as a Wolverine fan himself. While the “dream school” remark by recruits is usually meaningless, it does seem to have some weight here. Jackson was supposed to visit Ann Arbor back in March, but when visits were prohibited, he had to wait until the Wisconsin game in November to see campus for the first time.

Ohio State and USC are split on the crystal ball right now and are likely the other two schools at the top for Jackson.

Grosse Pointe South (MI) Five-star CB Will Johnson, No. 8 overall, No. 4 CB

Take the first sentence from the Jackson’s section and copy it down here. Now add even more strength to Johnson’s pull to the program since his dad is not just a fan, but a former player for the Wolverines.

Jackson and Johnson have talked extensively about wanting to play together in college and have taken all the steps to do so this far. Their top lists are virtually identical and they visited Michigan at the same time this fall.

Given his proximity, Johnson was able to visit Ohio State a couple of weeks ago, but reports from the visit were about as positive as they could be with regards to Michigan’s chances. Johnson wants to decide soon and 100 percent of the crystal balls are on Michigan.

St. Rita (IL) Four-star WR Kaleb Brown, No. 50 overall, No. 7 WR

Another top prospect with 100 percent crystal balls to Michigan is Brown, an exciting wide receiver/running back hybrid who would add another weapon to the offense.

Sherrone Moore has done excellent work in Illinois and would like to continue it with Brown, who has still yet to visit Michigan to my knowledge. He was invited up for the Wisconsin game with everyone else, but wasn’t able to make it.

Michigan’s biggest competition for Brown was Ohio State, but it looks like they have bigger fish to fry at the position. The Wolverines will have to reassure him the program is in good shape, but if they do that, he’s theirs for the taking.

Nazareth Academy (IL) Four-star WR Tyler Morris, No. 75 overall, No. 11 WR

Like how Domani Jackson and William Johnson are talked about in a pair, so are Kaleb Brown and Tyler Morris. Both are top-100 wide receivers from Illinois with 100 percent crystal balls to Michigan.

Morris popped up on the radar earlier, since he was teammates with J.J. McCarthy before he transferred. That relationship put Michigan in a very strong position with Morris, who was also considering Notre Dame strongly. Since then, the Wolverines have pulled away, but the two program’s respective seasons could make this more of a fight than before.

Traverse City Central (MI) Four-star LB Joshua Burnham, No. 114 overall, No. 9 OLB

The second-ranked player in the state of Michigan is Burnham, a do-it-all linebacker from Traverse City. Burnham also grew up in a big family of Wolverines, which led to a bunch of crystal balls rolling in when he received his offer.

He hasn’t jumped on the offer yet, since his family wanted to do their due diligence before committing. But since the pandemic prevented them from taking visits, he’s had to extend his timeline. Burnham wants to visit schools like Alabama and Clemson, but he’s likely to stay in the Midwest.

Bergen Catholic (NJ) Four-star CB Jaeden Gould, No. 141 overall, No. 16 CB

With all the talk surrounding the two five-star cornerbacks covered above, it’s easy to forget that Michigan is also leading on the crystal ball for another top-150 target. Gould hails from familiar recruiting territory in New Jersey and was very high on Michigan at one point, even talking like he was already committed while trying to get some fellow targets to take a visit with him to campus.

That visit never materialized as his high school football schedule got in the way, but Michigan still looks to be strong with Gould. He’s also strongly considering USC and Texas, who are in similar positions with their head coaches as Michigan. All that uncertainty may cause Gould to wait a while before he decides.

Chaparral (AZ) Four-star DT Anthony Lucas, No. 164 overall, No. 11 DT

By now, I’m sure you’ve been asking yourself where the dang defensive tackles are in this list. Well, Lucas is probably the highest-ranked player at the position who Michigan has a good shot of landing.

Lucas visited Ann Arbor back in February, and like fellow Arizonian and former U-M commit Quintin Somerville in the class before him, had plenty of great things to say about the program. Not much has been said about him since then, and an offer from UCLA this fall seems to have gotten his attention. It’s unclear if Shuan Nua will be sticking around much longer, but Michigan has laid the groundwork here.

Brebeuf Jesuit (IN) Four-star DE Joe Strickland, No. 202 overall, No. 11 SDE

Like so many others on this list, Michigan jumped out to a good lead for Strickland this summer and fall before the football season started. He took a self-guided visit just before the season started and it looked to put Michigan in an extremely strong position.

Now, in-state Indiana’s big season has risen their stock, and Penn State and Purdue are also in the mix. Don’t pay attention to the Notre Dame crystal ball, as the Irish haven’t even offered. He clearly has interest in the program, though, and will be one of the top names at defensive end to keep an eye on.

This is just a sampling of the recruits Michigan is targeting early on in the 2022 cycle. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for new offer board updates and positional previews that will go more in-depth on the class as a whole.