College football fans and recruits themselves are enamored over stars and how highly their class is ranked. Quite frankly these ranking “experts” are far from 100 percent at predicting high school football players’ transition to college.
There is not a staff in America that might be less concerned about rankings than Michigan. Their ability to take high school players and develop them into NFL prospects is commendable.
With all that being said, we will look at the star rankings and compare Michigan’s 2023 recruiting class to past Harbaugh groups.
Note: All rankings are being pulled from 247Sports’ Composite Rankings
Michigan’s 2020 class finished No. 10 overall. The Wolverines made splash signings with sixth-ranked running back Blake Corum, fifth-ranked defensive end Braiden McGregor, 10th-ranked guard Zak Zinter and 60th-ranked wide receiver Roman Wilson. Return specialist AJ Henning and safety RJ Moten have also been great contributors from this class.
A few underrated prospects were a part of Michigan’s 2020 class. Kris Jenkins, the nation’s 513th-ranked player, has become a critical part of Michigan’s defense line and was one of the lowest ranked commits.
The main thing that sticks out from Michigan’s 2020 recruiting haul is a slew of transfers that left the program. The Wolverines lost quarterback Dan Villari (Syracuse), linebacker William Mohan (Tennessee), linebacker Cornell Wheeler (Kansas), defensive end Aaron Lewis (Rutgers), linebacker Osman Savage (Alabama A&M), cornerback Andre Seldon (New Mexico State) and safety Jordan Morant (Mississippi State) to the transfer portal.
Much of Michigan’s 2021 class has yet to have the opportunity to prove themselves on the field. With that being said, Michigan signed two of their best offensive players in 2021 in the nation’s fifth-best quarterback J.J. McCarthy and fourth-best running back Donavon Edwards. In addition, top-100 players linebacker Junior Colson and offensive lineman Giovanni El-Hadi have been impacting players alongside underrated three-star safety Rod Moore.
The Wolverines hope to get more productivity out of East Lansing native and three-star wide receiver Andrel Anthony. Also, the nation’s second-ranked punter Tommy Doman might be next in line to Brad Robbins.
There is still much unknown with the 2021 class, but Michigan will look to develop a class that includes a five-star and 11 four-star recruits. The class as a whole finished as the 13th-best in the country.
Players who could make a jump include 177th prospect defensive lineman Rayshaun Benny, 215th-ranked prospect center Raheem Anderson, and four-star wide receiver Christian Dixon, among others.
Top-300 players defensive lineman George Rooks and tight end Louis Hansen are the only players to enter the transfer portal from this class thus far.
Again, you typically don’t see many freshmen make an immediate impact at the college level. Five-star cornerback Will Johnson, four-star tight end Colston Loveland, and four-star defensive tackle Mason Graham were exceptions to that fact. The provided quality snaps for Michigan throughout the season.
The 2022 class finished ninth-overall in the country with a five-star and nine four-star recruits. Michigan had several freshmen get reps this season and almost everyone from this class has potential to be impact starters down the road.
At the three-star level, running back CJ Stokes, wide receiver Amorion Walker, quarterback Alex Orji, and defensive lineman Kenneth Grant will all be names to watch as they progress in their Michigan careers. Four-stars linebacker Jimmy Rolder, wide receiver Darrius Clemons, and safety Keon Sabb will be future stars within the Michigan program.
There was much criticism surrounding Michigan’s 2023 recruiting class. Jim Harbaugh found a way to finish strong with the late additions of four-stars wide receiver Kamello English and cornerback Jyaire Hill. This put Michigan at 17th in team recruiting rankings with a few more prospects still on the board. They also bolstered their roster with the addition of seven high-level transfer portal prospects.
It’s difficult to predict instant impact players from this class, but given Michigan’s development success, top recruits defensive lineman Enow Etta, offensive lineman Evan Link, offensive lineman Amir Herring, cornerback Cameron Calhoun and wide receiver Semaj Morgan should all be dependable starters down the road.
Intriguing prospects come in the form of Cincinnati native Breeon Ishmail, Kendrick Bell, Aymeric Koumba and Jason Hewlett. A France native, Koumba will need to develop on the edge, as will Ishmail. Hewlett is an athlete that played just about every position at the high school level. He will start in the defensive backfield, but there’s no question he can play in other facets. Bell, brother of current Michigan wide receiver Ronnie Bell, is coming in as a quarterback, but I would expect the athlete to find a spot at wide receiver or defensive back.
The 2023 class may not be the most glamorous on paper, but as a developmental program, Michigan fans should not worry. In fact, despite a “down year” the Wolverines still rank eight spots higher than Michigan State — for those that are into those comparisons.