A brief recap of how 5-star Tulsa, Okla., safety Daxton Hill signed with Michigan football for the class of 2019.
Kirkland Crawford, Detroit Free Press
On Wednesday, Michigan football officially signed 25 of their 27 verbal commitments in the 2019 recruiting cycle and are in a good position to sign the top recruiting class in the Big Ten for the first time in recent memory.
Of the 27 verbal commitments or signees, U-M ended Wednesday’s early signing period with 16 prospects ranked four-stars or higher, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. They signed prospects from 11 different states with verbal commitments Quinten Johnson and Amauri Pesek-Hickson expected to sign in February.
U-M hits on positions of need
The two positions Jim Harbaugh’s staff had yet to find an elite prospect on the recruiting trail were running back and safety. Michigan signed the top targets on their board at each position on Wednesday with four-star back Zach Charbonnet and five-star safety Daxton Hill.
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Charbonnet and Hill are the best players U-M has signed at their respective positions in at least the last 10 years. Charbonnet is expected to enroll early in January and should make an impact as a freshman. Hill will not arrive on campus until June but may already be the favorite to take over at free safety for Tyree Kinnel in 2019. Michigan likely signed two starters at two pivotal positions.
Huge offensive upgrades
Two positions where Michigan got better in both numbers and talent were wide receiver and offensive line.
To no surprise, U-M listed 3-star athlete Mike Sainristil at wide receiver, but it’s significant since he could play either side of the ball in college. Add in George Johnson III and Giles Jackson and you have three players that are unlike any Michigan has on their roster. Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward 3-star Quintel Kent had a huge 2018, while Connecticut 4-star Cornelius Johnson was a top target for the coaching staff throughout the recruiting process.
On the offensive line, U-M signed six prospects that could eventually make an impact under Ed Warinner. Tackles Trevor Keegan and Jack Stewart were top targets, and Stewart held offers from Auburn and Texas A&M, among others. The Wolverines beat Clemson for 3-star guard Zach Carpenter and held the Tigers off for 4-star Trente Jones. Paw Paw native Karsen Barnhart may have the highest ceiling of anybody in the class while Akron 4-star Nolan Rumler may have the highest floor.
Until this season, Michigan’s offensive line has been a perpetual disappointment going back to the Rich Rodriguez era. With four returning starters and a strong young crop of backups, the future of U-M’s offensive line appears stronger than it has in years. The staff could very easily redshirt all six signees this season; a benefit that will pay off in the future.
• Watch how 4-star defensive end David Ojabo’s college career pans out compared to 5-star Zach Harrison, who chose Ohio State over the Wolverines on Wednesday. Both are elite edge athletes who need development. The staff would have loved to have both, but Ojabo has a chance to be every bit as good as Harrison.
• Quarterback Cade McNamara is an understated member of this class. A 4-star who held offers from Alabama, USC and Notre Dame, among others, he projects as a guy who can make plays on both his feet and with his arm.
• Don’t sleep on 4-star tight end Erick All. After signing Mustapha Muhammad and Luke Schoonmaker in the 2018 cycle, the staff was able to be picky at tight end for 2019. Enter All, who blew the coaching staff away after an amazing performance at their camp last June. U-M taking five wide receivers in the cycle indicate a clear shift in offensive philosophy, but tight end will remain a cog in any Harbaugh offense. All looks like a potentially elite player.
A look at 2020
Expect U-M to look for an interior lineman and probably one more running back prospect before the February Signing Day period. Assuming they sign one more player at each position, the two positions that jump out as needs in the 2020 recruiting cycle are linebacker and offensive tackle.
At linebacker, U-M has a verbal commitment from West Bloomfield 3-star Cornell Wheeler. They’re also heavily recruiting 5-stars Justin Flowe (Upland, Calif.) and Mekhail Sherman (Washington) along with 4-stars Ethan West (Midlothian, Va.), Kalel Mullings (Milton, Mass.) and Osman Savage (Baltimore).
Michigan’s top offensive tackle target in 2020 is almost certainly Atlanta 5-star Myles Hinton, the brother of 2019 signee Chris Hinton. The Wolverines are considered the favorite for him. Other names to watch at tackle include Littleton (Colo.) Columbine 4-star Andrew Gentry and Cambridge, Mass., 3-star Zak Zinter.