Typically, the Michigan Wolverines don’t get many recruits in junior recruiting cycles to commit while they are still juniors. But this isn’t a typical year for Michigan on the gridiron, which is one of the major reasons they are securing commitments early in the 2023 cycle.
Four-star linebacker and top-100 overall prospect Raylen Wilson joined the Wolverines’ 2023 class earlier this afternoon, putting them now at four commitments in the cycle. Wilson joins four-star defensive lineman Joel Starlings, three-star in-state wide receiver Semaj Morgan and in-state kicker Adam Samaha as a part of Michigan’s class, which now ranks in the top 10 overall in the country.
This time last year, Michigan had just one player committed to the junior class — three-star tight end Marlin Klein. After the addition of three-star offensive lineman Connor Jones on Christmas Eve, Michigan didn’t acquire another commitment in the 2022 class until February. You could draw this up to the uncertainty around Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff, the bad product they put on the field in the 2020 season, or a combination of the two, but the junior class last year wasn’t off to the start it is now.
Our own Jon Simmons is whipping up an early 2023 top targets list — which will be posted next week after the 2022 early signing period — but I would venture to say a lot of those top targets are going to be highly-ranked players following Michigan’s Big Ten Championship season and appearance in the College Football Playoff.
Speaking of the CFP, with the Wolverines in it for the first time ever, the exposure to recruits out of the midwest region is only going to go up, especially with them taking on an SEC opponent in the Georgia Bulldogs. Historically, Michigan hasn’t pulled a ton of kids away from SEC territory, but when it does it is typically in the state of Florida. There are exceptions to that, but generally speaking, Michigan does most of its recruiting in its backyard in the midwest. This CFP appearance will only do the Wolverines good on the recruiting trail, and perhaps put them in contention for some of the top-ranked kids in the south in states like Alabama and Georgia.
You can also attribute Michigan’s hot start in the 2023 class to the way Harbaugh revamped his recruiting staff last offseason. Courtney Morgan — who unfortunately has since departed for the same role at Washington — took over for Matt Dudek when he left for Mississippi State. Morgan, and the rest of his staff in Aashon Larkins (Director of Recruiting) and Christina DeRuyter (Director of On-Campus Recruiting and Operations), hit the ground running on identifying talent, making sure that talent knows they are wanted and needed at Michigan, getting them to visit campus and knocking those visits out of the park.
Now, we will see if Morgan’s departure has any affect on how the development of the 2023 class is moving forward, but the recruiting staff is night and day compared to what it was with the previous staff, so the work going on behind the scenes with them is crucial to the success they have had so far.