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Michigan football 2021 target board: Linebackers

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After taking a big linebacker class last year, see who the top guys the coaches have set their sights on.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 19 Michigan at Penn State Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Linebacker is not going to be a huge focus for the Wolverines in the 2021 class after taking between four and six players in 2020, depending on how you classify Jaylen Harrell and William Mohan.

Still, there are a handful of quality prospects the staff is targeting. As the offseason continues, it will be interesting to see how new linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary performs on the trail, with his addition already making an impact on a few players featured in here.

Top Target

Ravenwood (TN) Junior Colson - Four-star, No. 127 overall, No. 10 OLB

One player Michigan was doing well with before Jean-Mary’s arrival was Colson, a four-star from Tennessee who has visited campus twice already. Since then, Colson has made plans to visit Ann Arbor at least twice more, once to watch spring practice and the other for an official at some point.

With that type of interest, it’s clear Michigan is firmly in his group of top schools. Other schools probably up there include Texas A&M, where many of his family members attended, and Tennessee, which is the local team.

In the Mix

St. Thomas Aquinas (FL) Dallas Turner - Four-star, No. 165 overall, No. 14 OLB

Turner was one of Jean-Mary’s first offers after being hired, which stood out to Turner. The four-star visited Michigan for a game when he was a sophomore, so he was familiar with the school already. Now he is trying to make it up to campus sometime in March. He’s said Georgia and Alabama are leading for him right now, so this one will be a fight.

Belleville (MI) Jamari Buddin - Four-star, No. 259 overall, No. 21 OLB

The player most likely to commit to Michigan on this list is unsurprisingly the in-state star at Belleville. Buddin has been to campus numerous times and is likely always getting an earful from his former teammate Andre Seldon. He’s a terror off the edge and could project to Viper at Michigan.

IMG Academy (FL) Sam Ofurie - Four-star, No. 319 overall, No. ILB

Ofurie is originally from Massachusetts, which basically automatically makes Michigan one of the leaders in his recruitment. However, he recently transferred to IMG Academy in Florida, which will expose him to much more national attention. He still has his offer from Michigan, which he received more than a year ago, pinned at the top of his Twitter feed, so it clearly meant a lot to him.

St. Lucie West Centennial (FL) Deshauwn Alleyne - Four-star, No. 324 overall, No. 12 ILB

While he hails from Florida, Jim Harbaugh and Don Brown have been the coaches Alleyne says are keeping in frequent contact with him. Alleyne has a handful of other offers, including Auburn, Kentucky, Nebraska, Penn State, Pitt, South Carolina and Tennessee. He seems pretty open, but I bet an offer from an in-state school would shake things up here.

Long Shots

Oaks Christian (CA) Ethan Calvert - Four-star, No. 91 overall, No. 3 ILB

Early on, Michigan appeared to be a top choice for Calvert, who attends the same school that running back Zach Charbonnet did. Recently, though, Calvert hasn’t been bringing up the Wolverines when talking about his top schools and will probably stay out west.

St. Frances Academy (MD) Aaron Willis - Four-star, No. 109 overall, No. 9 OLB

Michigan will always have a good shot with anyone from St. Frances Academy given Harbaugh’s strong relationship with head coach Biff Poggi. Willis received his offer from Michigan more than two years ago and has been up to campus a couple times since. But right now it looks like he’s going to head down south, whether it be to Alabama, Clemson, Georgia or another school of that ilk.

Duncanville (TX) Kendrick Blackshire - Four-star, No. 150 overall, No. 6 ILB

Like many of the defensive ends discussed yesterday, Michigan made a loose group of top schools, in this case 13, but there’s probably not much traction here. Blackshire’s crystal balls are split between Alabama, LSU and Oklahoma.

West Lafayette (IN) Yanni Karlaftis - Four-star, No. 198 overall, No. 17 OLB

While Michigan was heavily recruiting George Karlaftis in the 2019 class, his younger brother Yanni often tagged along on visits. At that point it seemed Michigan had a good chance at landing him because he was more likely to leave the state than his older brother. But since then other schools have entered the picture and Purdue is still a strong option.

Under the Radar

Bolingbrook (IL) Tyler McLaurin - Three-star, No. 404 overall, No. 30 OLB

When the Wolverines offered McLaurin at the end of January, they immediately became the best school on his list, which will definitely help them stand out. Until McLaurin visits campus, though, it’s hard to say where they will find themselves in his recruitment. I do expect him to eventually make a trip to campus this offseason, however.

Timpview (UT) Logan Fano - Three-star, No. 413 overall, No. 32 OLB

The Michigan coaches really liked Fano, who used to be committed to BYU. In fact, they even got him to visit campus after he announced his commitment. Since he re-opened his recruitment at the end of January, there hasn’t been much news about Michigan and Fano, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the coaches got back in contact.

Shelby (NC) Jack Hollifield - Three-star, No. 417 overall, No. 17 ILB

Once rated as a four-star, Hollifield has taken quite a large tumble in the rankings in these latest updates. Before that even happened, Michigan’s chances with Hollifield were waning because of Chris Partridge’s departure. I’m not sure Michigan will try to reconnect since Jean-Mary has some other targets he likes personally.

Cass Tech (MI) Kobe King - Three-star, No. 444 overall, No. 19 ILB

King is the twin brother of four-star cornerback target Kalen King, also a Michigan target. Kobe is slightly lower regarded as a prospect, and it is yet to be seen if the twins are a package deal. Considering Michigan 247Sports reporter Steve Lorenz put in a crystal ball for Kalen but not Kobe, they may not be set on attending the same school. Wisconsin is a school to look out for here that would take both in a heartbeat.

Avon Old Farms (CT) James Wilborn Jr. - Three-star, No. 635 overall, No. 44 OLB

Another linebacker from the Northeast, Wilborn has only two reported offers, Michigan and Rutgers. While he is not too highly ranked, he’s still a prospect who should have more interest from schools. He has visited Notre Dame before and the coaches do like him there.

Class Prediction

There aren’t going to be many open spots for linebackers in the 2021 class, allowing the coaches to narrow their focus on a couple of top targets. Junior Colson has said the coaches told him he’s No. 1 on their board, and I think that’s reasonable given how often he’s planning to visit.

I think those visits will eventually lead Colson to commit to Michigan. I don’t think Jamari Buddin would be offended reading that Colson is the top guy at linebacker, because he’ll probably end up at Viper when he gets to campus. Those two would make a great pair at the position for 2021. If Turner, Ofurie or Alleyne end up making the trip up from Florida for visits, their chances of joining the class can be re-evaluated then.

Offer Board

Tomorrow’s preview will cover a much more critical position for 2021 — cornerback.