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Comparing Michigan’s 2022 class to recent recruiting classes

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The early signing period drastically changed this year’s class for the better.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 04 Big Ten Championship Game - Michigan v Iowa Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Michigan Wolverines had about as good of an early signing day as could be expected. Jim Harbaugh and company were able to flip QB Alex Orji from Virginia Tech, WR Amorion Walker from Notre Dame, and S Keon Sabb from Clemson. In addition, they were able to sign DE Derrick Moore out of Baltimore and WR Darrius Clemons out of Portland. All in all, it was a great day to be a Michigan Wolverine. Now that the 2022 recruiting class is mostly complete (we’re still waiting on Kevonte Henry and a few uncommitted prospects that appear to be long shots at this point), it’s fascinating to compare this class to the previous few years. For this exercise, we’ll be using the ratings provided by 247Sports.

Quarterback

2022: Alex Orji (National No. 428), Jayden Denegal (456)
2021: JJ McCarthy (25)
2020: Dan Villari (NR)
2019: Cade McNamara (268)

Harbaugh surprised a few people on Wednesday by flipping Alex Orji from Virginia Tech, despite having quite a bit of competition already on the roster. With McNamara, McCarthy, or some combination of the two of them presumably locking down the position for the next 3+ years, it’s okay that Michigan took two developmental players.

Running Back

2022: CJ Stokes (757)
2021: Donovan Edwards (42), Tavierre Dunlap (409)
2020: Blake Corum (129)
2019: Zach Charbonnet (46)

Stokes may be significantly less hyped than those that came before him, but he is no slouch. Mike Hart has such a track record of discovering hidden gems at the running back position that he’s earned the benefit of the doubt. With Corum and Edwards returning next year, the running back room will be loaded yet again.

Wide Receiver

2022: Tyler Morris (115), Darrius Clemons (131), Amorion Walker (522)
2021: Cristian Dixon (227), Andrel Anthony (528)
2020: AJ Henning (102), Roman Wilson (354)
2019: Cornelius Johnson (175), Giles Jackson (303), Mike Sainristil (595), Quintel Kent (958)

Prior to Wednesday, wide receiver was looking like a weak spot in this year’s class. You can’t blame recruits for not wanting to sit behind the log jam depth chart in Ann Arbor with virtually every receiver returning next year. Early Signing Day completely changed the narrative, though. 2022 just might be the best class in recent years with Morris, Clemons, and Walker all oozing with potential in different ways. Take a bow, Josh Gattis.

Tight End

2022: Colston Loveland (344), Marlin Klein (539)
2021: Louis Hansen (276)
2020: Matthew Hibner (400)
2019: Erick All (346)

Michigan has historically swung for the fences at tight end and usually missed. However, its scouting of less highly-touted recruits has been spectacular so the “fall-back options” turn out to be pretty good. Erick All will likely go down as the best of this bunch, but Colston Loveland is my pick for Sleeper of the Year in the class of 2022.

Offensive Line

2022: Alessandro Lorenzetti (660), Connor Jones (981), Andrew Gentry* (N/A)
2021: Giovanni El-Hadi (88), Raheem Anderson (211), Greg Crippen (275), Tristan Bounds (420)
2020: Zak Zinter (265), Jeffrey Persi (322), Reece Atteberry (438)
2019: Trente Jones (108), Nolan Rumler (174), Trevor Keegan (176), Karsen Barnhart (266), Zach Carpenter (554), Jack Stewart (573)

*Is technically a 2020 recruit, was on a mission.

By taking a look at that class of 2019 you can begin to understand why Michigan was able to score all six touchdowns on the ground against Ohio State this year. That’s an incredibly impressive start from a class that’s just getting started. 2022’s class is certainly taking some under-the-radar type of players as Lorenzetti and Jones aren’t highly rated by the recruiting services. However, the Michigan staff seems very high on all three of them. I expect to see more of the class of 2020 on the field next year as well as a large incoming class next year in 2023.

Defensive Line

2022: Derrick Moore (79), Mason Graham (355), Kenneth Grant (446), Kevonte Henry* (379)
2021: Rayshaun Benny (198), George Rooks (263), Kechaun Bennett (354), TJ Guy (937), Ikechukwu Iwunnah (NR), Dominick Giudice (NR)
2020: Braiden McGregor (123), Jaylen Harrell (294), Aaron Lewis (464), Kris Jenkins (513)
2019: Chris Hinton (31), Mazi Smith (105), David Ojabo (314), Mike Morris (396), Gabe Newburg (773)

*Has not signed yet

We haven’t seen much out of the classes of 2020 and 2021 yet. What we have seen is the class of 2019 lead Michigan to a Big Ten Championship. This year’s class is anchored by Derrick Moore, an end/tackle tweener who has drawn comparisons to Chase Young. I don’t expect 2022 to be as good as 2019, but if they can be the second best class on this list, Michigan will be in for great things.

Linebacker

2022: Jimmy Rolder (278), Micah Pollard (700), Deuce Spurlock (969)
2021: Junior Colson (90), Jaydon Hood (251), Tyler McLaurin (504)
2020: Kalel Mullings (152), Osman Savage (300), Nikhai Hill-Green (393), Cornell Wheeler (471)
2019: Anthony Solomon (223), Charles Thomas (507), Joey Velazquez (NR)

It feels to me like the linebacker spot has been hit by the most attrition based on this list. That shouldn’t come as a surprise given the switch from Don Brown’s scheme to Mike Macdonald’s. Rolder comes to Ann Arbor as an old-school, Big Ten, thumping linebacker who could fill a Josh Ross-type role. None of these classes really stick out to me as exceptionally good or exceptionally bad.

Secondary

2022: Will Johnson (20), Keon Sabb (94), Zeke Berry (181), Kody Jones (331), Myles Pollard (585), Damani Dent (919)
2021: Rod Moore (510), Ja’Den McBurrows (555)
2020: Andre Seldon (161), Jordan Morant (165), Darion Green-Warren (190), Makari Paige (245), RJ Moten (256), William Mohan (461), Eamonn Dennis (484)
2019: Daxton Hill (14), Jalen Perry (200), Quinten Johnson (316), DJ Turner II (400), George Johnson III (876)

The crowned jewel of the 2022 class is right here. This is easily the best class we’ve seen in the last four years at Michigan. That is saying something as 2019 included both Daxton Hill and DJ Turner, both of which were anchors for this year’s Big Ten Championship team. Will Johnson could be the best Michigan corner we’ve seen since Jourdan Lewis. Keon Sabb and Zeke Berry are both freak athletes who can play multiple positions in the secondary. The consensus also appears to be that Jones, Pollard, and Dent are all underrated. This could be a program-altering class in the secondary that can lock down opposing passing games.

Specialists

2022:
2021: Tommy Doman (NA)
2020:
2019:

Nothing to see here. Quinn Nordin, Jake Moody, and Brad Robbins have had the Michigan special teams humming for quite some time now. Doman will take over one (or more) of those roles moving forward.


Overall, it’s very apparent what the positions of need were (WR, TE, DL, DB) and where Michigan could afford to potentially strike out chasing five-stars (QB, RB, OL, LB). Of course, there will be surprises both in the positive and in the negative. All things considered, Jim Harbaugh and his staff have to be pleased with bringing in a top-10 class in a year following a 2-4 campaign in which Harbaugh’s seat was flaming hot headed into 2021. The fruits of this year’s Big Ten Championship will likely be seen in the class of 2023, but the 2022 class is definitely solid across the board.