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Michigan’s five biggest recruiting hits of the Harbaugh era

These are the five best hits on the recruiting trail over the last six years.

Michigan v Michigan State Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Jim Harbaugh has been able to reel in top notch talent all across the country during his time in Ann Arbor. Some of those elite level players, like Rashan Gary and Nico Collins, panned out, while others like Aubrey Solomon and Zach Charbonnet ended up transferring out before reaching their full potential.

But other guys on the team have made up for that. Whether it was a highly-ranked player or a low three-star, there are guys up and down Michigan’s roster that have been big recruiting hits. Guys like Hassan Haskins, who was barely a top 1,000 player in the 2018 class.

In order of the year they were recruited, these are my top five biggest recruiting hits for the Wolverines over the last six recruiting cycles.

Ben Bredeson, four-star (No. 39 overall, No. 5 OT) 2016 class

Bredeson was a staple for the Wolverines along the offensive line. The four-year starter and two-time team captain played in 50 games for Michigan, starting 46 of them at left guard. He was an All-American player during his senior year in 2019, and a three-time All-Big Ten player during his time in Ann Arbor.

During his time as a high school player, Bredeson was being recruited by the best of the best. He had other offers from Alabama, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee and more. He was also an Under Armour All-American.

Needless to say, Bredeson is one of the big hits so far on the recruiting trail for Harbaugh.

Devin Bush, four-star (No. 312 overall, No. 11 ILB) 2016 class

One of the most dynamic defenders of the Harbaugh era, Bush was a borderline three-star prospect coming out of high school. You’d be stunned to find that out had you not followed recruiting back then, but saw his play on the field.

Bush was a team captain, consensus All-American and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year during his junior season in 2018. That year, he compiled 80 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and six passes deflected.

Despite his lower ranking, he did hold other offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Florida, Georgia, Notre Dame, LSU and more.

Whether it was his sideline-to-sideline speed, his toughness on and off the field, or tearing up the Spartan logo at Spartan Stadium in 2018, Bush was loved by Wolverine fans all over. And he was a huge hit on the recruiting trail because of all that.

Josh Uche, three-star (No. 707 overall, No. 43 WDE) 2016 class

If you haven’t noticed yet, Michigan’s 2016 class was insanely good, and Uche was a big reason for that.

It took Uche a bit to break out, but when he did, he was one of the more dominant defensive players in the Big Ten. He made his name known in 2018 when he had 15 tackles, eight of those being for loss, and seven sacks. He followed that up with a successful 2019 campaign with 35 tackles, 11.5 for loss and 8.5 sacks.

Much like Bush, Uche also held other great offers despite a lower ranking, including from Alabama, Florida, Miami, South Carolina and more.

Uche was a problem for opposing teams. From rushing the passer to covering KJ Hamler deep down the field, Uche could do it all. All things considered, this could be the biggest recruiting hit during the Harbaugh era.

Kwity Paye, three-star (No. 486 overall, No. 29 WDE) 2017 class

The “pepper” to Aidan Hutchinson’s “salt,” Paye has been outstanding on the edge of Michigan’s defensive line the last couple seasons.

He made 20 starts in 38 total games during his time at U-M. He played in all 13 games as a sophomore, but broke out his junior year in 2019 with 50 tackles, 12.5 for loss, 6.5 sacks, three quarterback hurries and one fumble recovery.

He didn’t play a ton in 2020 due to injury, but he made the most of his time on the field, racking up 16 tackles, four for loss and two sacks and four quarterback hurries in four games. He was also a team captain this past year.

Paye held only four other offers besides Michigan — Syracuse, Boston College, Toledo and Rutgers. Needless to say, Paye was a diamond in the rough for Don Brown and was an absolute steal in the recruiting game.

Ronnie Bell, three-star (No. 1,473 overall, No. 212 WR) 2018 class

Bell has been a starter for the Wolverines the last two years and is now the leader in the wide receiver room. In 13 games in 2019, he had 48 catches, 758 yards and one touchdown. In the shortened 2020 season, he had 26 receptions, 401 yards and a touchdown.

No college football coach knew who Bell was when he was in high school. That is, except for Pep Hamilton, who pulled the trigger and offered Bell a scholarship to play wide receiver at Michigan on Dec. 16, 2017. Before that offer, Bell was committed to Missouri State to play basketball.

Just two days later on Dec. 18, Bell committed to the Wolverines and put his basketball career in the rearview.

Given the recruiting ranking and the success on the field, this is the biggest hit on the recruiting trail for Michigan during Harbaugh’s time as head coach.