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‘I like the way Michigan is trending’

247Sports national recruiting analyst Steve Wiltfong joined TMI’s Sam Webb on The Michigan Insider morning show on Sports Talk 1050 WTKA earlier this week to share his thoughts on the Wolverines’ early signing period haul.

Sam Webb: From a national analyst’s perspective when you look at Michigan’s finish to the season, how big of a deal do you think the loss to Ohio State was?

Steve Wiltfong: “We’ll just jump right into the end of the season. Michigan didn’t play well at Ohio State – dropped passes, under-thrown balls and then really playing from behind from there on out.”

“I actually agreed with Chase Winovich’s statement. Ohio State was not 62-39 better than Michigan. But, when you compound it with the losing streak, right now… I get it. And I think it cost them one major recruitment. But Michigan football is still in a good place. It’s a football team that’s 10-2 with a chance to win a big bowl game and get to 11-2. And they have a chance to sign the #1 recruiting class in the Big Ten this cycle, and keep moving forward as a program under Jim Harbaugh and his staff. So, I still think the arrow’s up in Ann Arbor right now.”

Sam Webb: (Setting aside the signing day additions of Daxton Hill and Cornelius Johnson), who are your standouts? The guys that you look at that really make you say, ‘ok, this is going to be a guy for Michigan.’

Steve Wiltfong: “Well it begins with Zach Charbonnet, the running back from Westlake Village, Oaks Christian. A multi-sport standout who’s arguably the top running back in this class. I know they think he’s the no. 1 running back in this cycle up at Michigan. He’s going to be a star in Ann Arbor. I think he has got a chance to be a Heisman candidate and a guy that’s going to come in with a lot of expectations.”

Trente Jones, Loganville Grayson… hear nothing but great things about this young man and his intangibles, his work ethic. A 6-6, 282 pound offensive tackle that analytics say has a chance to really blossom into a high end prospect.”

David Ojabo is like the guy that’s boom or bust in my opinion. 6-4.5, 233 lb. pass rusher that runs sub-11 in the 100 meter dash. You like him even more because he’s going to play for Greg Mattison and Don Brown.”

“And as I scroll through the class, another young man that I’m very intrigued by – another Don Brown recruit – Mike Sainristil, out of Everett Massachusetts. The state’s Gatorade player of the year, a two-way standout up there, going to play in the secondary for Michigan. Him and George Johnson III are my sleepers in this class. George Johnson III is going to bring some dynamic ability. And I was told (on signing day eve) that Don Brown stood on the table for George Johnson as well.”

“And look here, Don Brown had a hell of a recruiting year for Michigan. Chris Partridge is in our top five in our national recruiters right now. Sherrone Moore and Al Washington have shown, this cycle that they’re going to be outstanding recruiters. So, I think Michigan upgraded there by adding them to their staff.”

“Again, I really like the way Michigan’s trending right now. And I think that they’re going to have a football team that’s going to have a chance to continue to be in the hunt, year-in and year-out.”

Sam Webb: One of the things that you often say is Michigan does a great job on official visits. Why is a Michigan official visit experience different from official visit experiences that you hear about on other campuses?

Steve Wiltfong: “I just think the comfort level that the staff brings to these visitors, and how in-sync they are. From the off-field football staff, to the professors to the deans of each academic building, its just a well-oiled machine. When parents and kids come to campus, they immediately feel comfortable.”

“I think Coach Harbaugh doesn’t get enough credit for just being a normal guy that enjoys good conversation. And I think that puts parents and kids at ease, right away. Believe it or not, even for the most high-profile prospects, sometimes its uncomfortable for them to engage with a high-profile head coach. And I think Coach Harbaugh puts those guys at ease. I think Michigan’s just got a lot of normal guys on the staff.”

“And from a defensive standpoint, the proof’s in the pudding. They’ve been a top-five defense every year, under Don Brown. These defensive prospects that come in, they understand what kind of opportunity they have on that side of the ball. And the on the offensive side, Coach Harbaugh, that opportunity to play for a guy that’s played at the highest level, coached at the highest level, all that combination makes Michigan tough to beat when they get a young man on campus.”

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