Michigan’s 2016 recruiting class may seem like it’s stagnated since picking up four-star wide receiver Ahmir Mitchell Aug. 27, but that’s far from the case. The Wolverines are simply in pursuit of several highly regarded players, most of whom have established commitment timelines that extend beyond the football season. That includes a handful of five-star prospects, potential program-changers thanks to their physical skills.
The Maize and Blue remain in the hunt for a quintet of high school standouts with five stars next to their names, according to Rivals.com: Paramus (N.J.) Catholic defensive tackle Rashan Gary (the No. 2 player in the nation), Bowman (Ga.) athlete Mecole Hardman Jr., Fresno (Calif.) Clovis West linebacker Caleb Kelly, Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy tight end Isaac Nauta (Nos. 16-18), and Wayne (N.J.) De Paul Catholic running back Kareem Walker (No. 21 overall prospect). While it’s unrealistic to expect U-M to land all five, there’s a good chance that at least one of them ends up in Ann Arbor.
“Michigan is cool, you know,” Gary said. “With Jabrill Peppers and the other guys I know there, it’s a plus for sure. I have a good connection there and all that. I feel like home around them.”
“Everything speaks for itself,” Nauta said on the heels of his Oct. 17 official visit to Ann Arbor. “As far as what a Michigan degree can do for you and as well as all the history of Michigan football and where it’s going right now… the Michigan visit definitely helped for sure. I have no favorites at this point, but Michigan definitely made a big impression.”
Hardman is the only member of the group yet to take his official visit to Ann Arbor – the other four, in fact, have been to U-M multiple times, with official visits this fall the most recent trip for each – and though many peg him to nearby Georgia or another nearby favorite in Tennessee, an outstanding first trip to U-M could be big in his recruitment.
While stars aren’t everything in the recruiting process, landing established elite talents can be the difference between competing for conference championships and national championships.
The Wolverines boast just a few five-star prospects on the current roster in offensive lineman Kyle Kalis (redshirt junior), running back Derrick Green (true junior) and Peppers (redshirt freshman).
Tim Sullivan is the Football Recruiting Editor of The Wolverine magazine and TheWolverine.com. He is also a contributor to national football recruiting coverage on the Rivals.com network. You can follow him on Twitter @TimS_Wolverine.