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2023 Michigan recruiting position previews: Linebacker

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With a top-100 player already in the fold, Michigan is keeping its list short here so far.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 04 Big Ten Championship Game - Michigan v Iowa Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via 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

Linebacker is going through a transition with several young players battling it out for starting positions. With such a young group, the Michigan Wolverines probably only need to take a couple in this 2023 class. They already have a top-100 prospect committed but are going to have to recruit him like he’s uncommitted. Other than that, the board is pretty compact at this point.

Commits

Lincoln (FL) Raylen Wilson - Four-star, No. 68 overall, No. 7 LB

Wilson committed to Michigan over Georgia in the aftermath of the Big Ten Championship last December. However, Michigan will have to work to keep Wilson in the fold with Georgia not giving up the pursuit and other schools like Florida also trying to poach him. Wilson is slated to visit Florida next week, so this is far from over.

Top Target

Many (LA) Tackett Curtis - Four-star, No. 62 overall, No. 6 LB

Curtis looks like the rare player from Louisiana who is looking to leave the region. Michigan has been going hard after Curtis using its connections to the state with Ron Bellamy and got him up on campus twice so far. Wisconsin actually seems to be the leader here, with Notre Dame and Ohio State also in the mix.

In the Mix

Timpview (UT) Siale Esera - Four-star, No. 176 overall, No. 12 LB

Shaun Nua was the primary recruiter for Esera, so losing him and Macdonald will be a tough obstacle to overcome. Michigan is very high on Esera though so it will likely try to keep the communication open with him. BYU has the lone Crystal Ball pick, which can be a tough school to overcome.

Kahuku (HI) Liona Lefau - Four-star, No. 225 overall, No. 20 LB

Lefau is another prospect offered by Nua but should still be recruited by the new staff. Michigan has been able to recruit Hawaii before, landing Roman Wilson from the state in 2020. Lefau has most of the West Coast offering him, along with Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin.

Hattiesburg (MS) Tabias Hinton - Four-star, No. 341 overall, No. 31 LB

Standing 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Hinton could play either linebacker or edge at the next level. Ron Bellamy is actually Hinton’s primary recruiter given his proximity to Louisiana. Hinton recently said Michigan, Mississippi State and West Virginia were the three schools standing out to him. He’s already visited Ann Arbor, but Michigan will have to stay on him like any prospect from Mississippi.

Pennridge (PA) Phil Picciotti - Four-star, No. 356 overall, No. 33 LB

While they’re probably outside of Picciotti’s top group of schools now, the Wolverines the chance to make a move next weekend when he takes a visit to witness their spring practice in person. Unsurprisingly, Penn State has the two Crystal Ball predictions, with Notre Dame and Oklahoma also looking good with Picciotti.

Longshots

Jesuit (FL) Troy Bowles - Four-star, No. 46 overall, No. 4 LB

On paper, Michigan would have a great shot with Bowles. He’s from Jacksonville, where his potential position coach George Helow has great connections. Bowles’ dad is Todd Bowles, the defensive coordinator for the Buccaneers. Michigan has some of the most extensive NFL connections thanks to Jim Harbaugh and former Wolverine standout Larry Foote works with Bowles as his linebacker coach.

However, it looks like Bowles has his sights set on the perennial playoff contenders like Clemson, Georgia and Ohio State. The Buckeyes looked really good for Bowles a while ago, but momentum has recently swung to the Bulldogs.

University Lab (LA) Jaiden Ausberry - Four-star, No. 47 overall, No. 5 LB

Michigan recruited Auseberry’s older brother Austin last cycle and got both of them up for a game last season. While Ausberry isn’t a lock to LSU thanks to some drama with his father and the school, it still looks likely he’ll stay south. Austin chose Auburn last year and basically the entire SEC has offered Jaiden.

Under the Radar

Mount Juliet (TN) Ethan Crisp - Three-star, No. 521 overall, No. 43 LB

Crisp included Michigan in his top group of schools back in January. The list also included Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Missouri, Cincinnati and Virginia Tech. The first two schools look to be in the best spot for the Tennessee native at this point, but he has yet to visit Ann Arbor.