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2023 Michigan recruiting position previews: Safeties

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Jay Harbaugh takes over a new position; can he repeat the success he had on offense?

Michigan v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

This series will break down Michigan’s targets at each position, categorized into different groups. The first group will list any commits Michigan has at the position so far. The next will identify the top overall target at the position, which considers both the coaches’ interest in the player and the likelihood he chooses Michigan.

Following “Top Target” will be “In the Mix”, which will include the group of players Michigan is in good standing with and would be takes if they wanted to commit today. Following that are the “Longshots”, who are elite players Michigan has work to do with but would make room for in the class. Finally we have “Under the Radar”, which are lower-rated prospects who may be Plan Bs if the guys above don’t work out.

Overview

Like cornerback, the Michigan Wolverines signed an excellent safety class last cycle with a mix of guys who can play different roles. It’s not a huge position of need, which is good as Jay Harbaugh transitions into coaching a defensive position for the first time. He’s shown the ability to recruit at a high level at both running back and tight end, so history says he’ll be able to adapt at safety. Harbaugh will also have the help of Ron Bellamy, who recruited the position last year and is still on staff to help with the transition.

Top Target

Coppell (TX) Braxton Myers - Four-star, No. 109 overall, No. 6 S

Michigan was pursuing Myers hard under Bellamy and that should continue under Harbaugh. Myers already visited Michigan for a game last fall and included the Wolverines in his top 12 schools list. He recently mentioned Michigan as a school he’s looking to visit again in the spring, which is a good sign. If the Wolverines get that spring visit and an official in the summer or fall, they have a real shot.

In the Mix

Westgate (LA) Derek Williams - Four-star, No. 56 overall, No. 3 S

Getting Williams out of Louisiana is going to be a tough ask, but if anyone can do it it’s Bellamy. Since Bellamy won’t be Williams’ position coach anymore it makes this a bit tougher, but he was already able to get him up on campus once in January so we’ll see.

Lakota West (OH) Malik Hartford - Four-star, No. 154 overall, No. 11 S

Michigan was included in Hartford’s list of top seven schools after offering him in late January. Hartford has blown up over the offseason, rising up the rankings and picking up offers from Ohio State and Notre Dame along with Michigan. Cincinnati and Ohio State are probably the top two right now, leaving Michigan with some work to do.

Imhotep Institute (PA) Rahmir Stewart - Four-star, No. 163 overall, No. 13 S

Stewart is a pretty quiet recruit who doesn’t make a ton of visits. He did include Michigan in a top 12 list last summer, but it’s hard to tell where the Wolverines stand in that list. Michigan is prioritizing him though, and he’s from the Midwest.

Selma (AL) DaKaari Nelson - Four-star, No. 187 overall, No. 18 S

Michigan was able to get Nelson up for a visit for the Ohio State game last season. He has recently picked up offers from Clemson, Texas A&M and Florida State, so Michigan will have to work to keep his mind on the program with all this new interest.

Dunbar (FL) Shawn Russ - Four-star, No. 301 overall, No. 28 S

Russ is a former Florida commit who heard from Michigan early and often after opening up his recruitment. He recently put Michigan in his top 10, so that communication from Steve Clinkscale is paying off. Getting him on campus for a visit is the next step.

Duncanville (TX) Deldrick Madison - Four-star, No. 319 overall, No. 29 S

Madison is a versatile defensive back who has played both cornerback and safety for his state-title winning team. Clinkscale has been in contact with him the most, which may indicate the Wolverines want him as a cornerback, but he’s listed as a safety for now.

Kankakee (IL) Jyaire Hill - Three-star, No. 415 overall, No. 34 ATH

Michigan is in a great spot with Hill, who visited Ann Arbor back in January. Following the visit he picked up a Crystal Ball for the Wolverines. Hill is another guy who could play either defensive back spot, but is probably leaning towards safety.

Longshots

St. John’s Prep (MA) Joenel Aguero - Four-star, No. 49 overall, No. 2 S

Michigan was in on Aguero early, but he moved down to IMG Academy and picked up national interest. Now he’s transferred back to the northeast and Michigan is picking up contact once again. While he was down at IMG Georgia emerged as a favorite, but a few other schools are trying to keep him away from going back down south like Notre Dame and Penn State.

Guyer (TX) Peyton Bowen - Four-star, No. 60 overall, No. 4 S

There are several Notre Dame commits Michigan is trying to flip with Mike Elston now on staff. Bowen seems open as he’s taken visits to Oklahoma and Ole Miss after committing to the Irish. With regard to Michigan, he seems like the toughest guy out of the Irish’s class to flip since he doesn’t play defensive line.

Temple (TX) Mikal Harrison-Pilot - Four-star, No. 104 overall, No. 10 ATH

Harrison-Pilot made it up to Ann Arbor for a visit last summer but his recruitment has had more of a southwestern flavor to it since then. He’s visited Oklahoma several times and a bunch of Texas schools. Michigan will have to get him up on campus again to have a shot.

Under the Radar

Kenwood Academy (IL) Kahlil Tate - Three-star, No. 500 overall, No. 44 ATH

Michigan has offered Tate but wasn’t going after him too hard under Bellamy. Harbaugh may push for him more once he reevaluates the options at the position. Being from the Midwest, the Wolverines would have a good shot at landing him if they end up making him a priority.

Carmel (IN) Winston Berglund - Three-star, No. 49 S

Berglund was one of Harbaugh’s first offers as safeties coach and is being rewarded with a visit this weekend. He’s unranked on the composite so far but holds offers from Iowa State, Minnesota, Missouri, Purdue, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.