The Michigan Wolverines signed 23 high school seniors yesterday during the opening day of the Early Signing Period for the 2023 class. They originally had 21 players committed before the day began, but gained four-star wide receiver Karmello English and four-star cornerback Jyaire Hill before the day was done.
As he does every year, head coach Jim Harbaugh joined Jon Jansen on the In The Trenches podcast to discuss the class. Here is everything he had to say.
“He’s the brother of two-time captain Ronnie Bell. Great athlete who loves to compete, and he’s told me he’s willing to play any position. Could be quarterback, could be wide receiver, could be corner. He’s got the skillset to play all those. We’ll start him out at QB and roll from there. Extremely productive football player who’s very versatile.”
“As soon as you meet all three of these offensive linemen, you know Jon, being a Michigan Man and an offensive lineman yourself, you’re gonna be excited. Great guys. They’re gonna fit right in with our offensive line. They love to work — they’re not every really looking for accolades, it’s all about working hard and being the best they can be. That’s what I love about each, Nathan (Efobi), Amir (Herring) and Evan (Link).
“Nathan’s family, very close to the Ojabo family. The mothers are very, very good friends. Tip of the cap to David Ojabo for recommending Michigan to the Efobi family. Nathan is one of those athletes who’s a real athlete who’s an offensive lineman. Super high ceiling. Can play both sides of the ball, he rarely comes off the field, and his dream school has been Michigan thanks in part to the great David Ojabo and the Ojabo family.
“Amir’s been great, another great Michigan family. Amir has been somebody that’s been in this class — we talk about recruiting for a year, we’ve been recruiting Amir for what seems like two or three years. And he’s been one of our best recruiters for the 23 class all along with his teammates and his teammate, Semaj Morgan. Both played for Ron Bellamy at West Bloomfield. Amir’s been a four-year starter at West Bloom — Day 1 starter as a freshman. Super hard-worker, been All-State twice. Another really great student, wants to go into medicine.”
“Each one of these players come from solid, solid upbringings, families, parents. Evan Link comes from a military family, both mom and dad. Attended a big time high school that played against elite competition, so he’s no stranger to competition. He’s shown the ability to be a dominant player. Great frame, very athletic, smart, intelligent, he wants to go into engineering or business. It’s a really fantastic offensive line class.”
“Cole Cabana! Growing up in Ann Arbor, Dexter is a part of us, you’re a local guy. The Cabana’s pretty much all live within an hour of Michigan. He was one of our earliest commits. Been a great guy to help us recruit the class. Explosive player, he’s a track guy, 10.6 in the 100 meters — that’s fast. He helped turn Dexter’s program into a winning program. First division title since 1963, first ever Districts this year. Gained almost 6,000 all-purpose yards and scored 79 touchdowns.
“You know I love the multi-sport athletes. (Benjamin Hall) is the starting point guard on the basketball team, he’s a coach’s kid, his father has been a longtime basketball coach. Very smart, very intelligent young man. Another guy that likes to work, got a great work ethic — that’s been important to him from his parents. On his official visit, he ran to Schembechler Hall to get his workout in before breakfast. Motivated guy who’s willing to work, and that’s what I see in just about every recruit in this class, but he’s at the highest level of that work ethic.”
“Two very smart guys, two really great workers. Zack (Marshall) lights up the room with personality. He has developed into a really good tight end after playing wide receiver his first three years of high school, and he won the tight end award at the Elite 11 camp. He transferred schools and from the time he stepped up to the bigger school, he blew up nationally. Led the state of California in receiving yards as a junior with 1,100 yards and had nine touchdowns. And he’s younger for his class, he’s one of those 17-year-olds — he’s got another year of man growth. You know when a t 17-year-old is as good as an 18- or 19-year old — he’s gonna get better and it’s gonna happen fast. Rod Moore would be a terrific example of that. Zack is a multi-sport guy, family is very athletic. Terrific family.
“Deakon Tonielli — wait till he walks through the door and you’ll go, “okay, that looks a lot like Colston Loveland to me.” Darn near identical. Really good basketball player. Multi-year starter in basketball. Hard-working, we like to say blue-collar guy. And he loves Michigan, loved it from the first day he stepped on campus. Great size, smooth athlete, really incredible ball skills, super excited about both those tight ends.”
“Karmello (English) was the signing day decision, and we’ve known for a little bit this was the decision he was gonna make. Extremely successful in high school in an extremely successful high school program. One of the top players in the state of Alabama, one of the best receivers in the country. He’s another kinda guy that just lights up the room with their personality, very contagious.
“Fredrick Moore — he was one of my favorite guys. You just bond with some guys and Fredrick’s all about work, all about business. Eye-popping, 28 touchdowns, he scored 28 touchdowns as a senior. Very explosive, very talented player with great ball skills. Love that we’re getting a guy from St. Louis, breaking into that area, lot of great receivers have come from there. He’s a fun, super guy.
“Semaj (Morgan). Another great family, they have raised an incredible child in Semaj. Another one of Ron Bellamy’s players, he’s known Semaj since he was six years old. Here’s a guy who plays all over the field — wide receiver, quarterback, safety DB, QB, great athlete. Did a heck of a job at the U.S. Army bowl game, catching three passes and also had an interception that was called back, but still a heck of a play by Semaj. He’s been a die-hard Michigan guy that last couple years and also helped recruit the class as well.”
The DL/edge rushers
“Brooks (Bahr). State champion, defensive lineman of the year in the Catholic League in Chicago. Very versatile player — can play end or tackle. Super smart, wants to major in business.
“Enow Etta, very bright, smart young man, wants to be an engineer. Three-sport athlete — football, basketball, track. Had over 100 tackles, 34 TFLs and 20 sacks. I think he had over 60 sacks in his four years in high school. Athletic and really strong and super bright, great combination.
“Trey Pierce, phenomenal student. Another Chicago lad. He’s a great guy, very serious about being good and accomplishing his goals. He might be a coach someday, we talked quite a bit about that and I think he’s someone who will play as long as he can and then coach. Great length, great explosiveness at a position you always need — not just big, not just strong but also athletic and explosive.
“Breeon Ishmail is a long, athletic, versatile. Moving to linebacker after moving wide receiver. He’s become a really good edge rusher, as many good edge rushers were wide receivers, he’s cut from that cloth. Comes from another really great program, Princeton of Hamilton, Ohio. Very impactful. Been a tremendous leader there. He’s a high motor kid, very productive over the final two years of his high school career. Very good basketball player — received all conference and all county honors. Athletic, smooth, fluid. Really excited about Breeon.
“We discovered (Aymeric Koumba) at a satellite camp in Georgia and got to work with him, also at the TCU camp. Very under the radar talent, raw football player with a very high ceiling, lots of potential. Brandon Collier, who does a tremendous job with some of the foreign players, he’s been a tremendous ally to a lot of the foreign players, and we know him well. Aymeric is one of their premier international players.”
“Jason Hewlett is one of the best overall athletes in the state of Ohio, multi-sport player. Missed his entire junior year but came back with a very productive senior season. He’ll only continue to get better. When he walks through the door, you see him in person, “he plays linebacker for sure.” He would not be out of place in any locker room, just a great, great looking athlete. His brother is a linebacker at Youngstown State. One of the better lookin’ football players you’re ever gonna see as a true freshman.
“Semaj Bridgeman — same kinda lookin’, Big Ten linebackers that can fill a gap, take on an offensive lineman but also have the athleticism to run sideline to sideline and put that pressure on the quarterback. Big, long, physical, athletic and can run. Came to our camps and was evaluated and we saw a great quality individual as a person, comes from a very hard-working family. He’s quiet, but has a great confidence in his ability, a genuine confidence. Super excited about Semaj — versatile, can be a pass rusher, can be a linebacker, Day 1 looks like a Big Ten linebacker.
“These are three linebackers that look almost identical in length and athleticism. Hayden (Moore) grew up playing basketball, can imagine was a very aggressive rebounder. Also a pitcher who throws 90 miles and hour plus. Jimmy Rolder, all three of these linebackers are going to remind you a lot of Jimmy Rolder and they’re all multi-sport athletes who play very hard, tremendous motor, all have great measureables. Hayden, great measureables. Grew up did some catching for Josh Allen, the family knows a lot of people in Wyoming. Another smart kid — Hayden Moore is gonna be another Ross School of Business student.”
“Really talented, super talented. He’s been raised as a Michigan Wolverine. His father is a very successful basketball coach, was a member of the Michigan basketball staff. Mom worked for University of Michigan All around athlete, he’s probably one of the most athletic kickers we’ve had. Adam was actually a very good basketball player. Competitor, someone who likes the pressure. He hit a buzzer-beater in basketball a year ago, I think that bodes really well. Every kicker I’ve known that’s played basketball — there’s been quite a few that have hit buzzer-beaters that I’ve known throughout my career and they were always good kickers. One of the first players to commit in the class as well. Great to have an Ann Arbor kid, from Huron High School. You just know what it’s like growing up in the area, in this area where you know that everybody you know is gonna be following your progress on a weekly, monthly, yearly basis. I can tell you, that puts a lot of pressure on you. There are some people that are scared of that and some people that aren’t. I love that about Adam and Cole, they’re not batting an eye.”
“Cam Calhoun — he’s one of the top cornerbacks in the state of Ohio. His parents, very influential in the decision, academics and football were the major priority to Cam and his family. Very productive player in high school. Always seems to be around the football, over 50 tackles as a junior. Had nine interceptions as a junior and five as a senior. One of these guys that loves to recruit, lot of conversations with him over text and on the phone. He just strikes you as someone who’s gonna be a good teammate and a good fit in our defensive backfield.
“Jyaire Hill — great athlete. Game-breaker type guy as a kick returner and as a defensive back. Unique player. Really high ceiling as a defensive back. Great ball skills. Very unique, creative individual, super competitive, played for a state title in football. Elite at track and field, state champion in the relays, all state performer in the long jump. Helped his track team win its first ever state title. He’s another one of those kinda guys that has a personality that lights up the room. A true, genuine confidence about him.
“I think one thing Will Johnson shows, long, athletic, tall corners are so good. This is unique size with DJ. He’s close to 6-foot-4 tall. Has a great skillset that is rare for his size. You get tall guys and the question becomes what’s their change of direction, can they flip their hips? He’s got unique athleticism for his size. You just think under coach Clink’s mentorship that DJ’s gonna have a long career at the corner position. High school teammate of Jason Hewlett. Really great basketball player, he can dribble between his legs, around his back, dunk. Can’t wait for everybody to get to know DJ and all the recruits here. They’re humble, they’re hungry, they’re very talented, super smart group. These are not “me, my” guys. They have pride in how they perform and they have big dreams and goals, but the willingness that the team is gonna be high on their priorities is one of the huge factors that attracts us to each and every one of these guys and why they’re gonna be such a great fit here at Michigan.”