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Michigan Football: Wolverines Need to Make Another Splash in 2014 Recruit Pool

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Michigan Football: Wolverines Need to Make Another Splash in 2014 Recruit Pool
St. Augustine 5-star Leonard Fournette would provide the splash Michigan is looking for. (Photo: Bleacher Report)

The Michigan Wolverines have landed three of the biggest names in the 2014 prospect pool—and they’re due to get another.

Jabrill Peppers, Paramus Catholic’s (N.J.) 5-star mega-talented athlete, committed May 26, becoming the highest-rated recruit of the star era in Wolverines history. After pledging to Michigan State, Grand Rapids Christian’s Drake Harris, the No. 4 wideout, chose Michigan over Ohio State and Alabama.

In May, Southfield’s Lawrence Marshall, a 4-star rated defensive end who is No. 12 at his position, gave his word to Hoke.

It seemed as if the Wolverines were snatching the best of the best every other week.

When will Michigan land next big-time 4- or 5-star?

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Michigan's recruiting hasn’t slowed down—but it’s not providing the frenzied buzz from a month ago. At one point, ESPN had the Wolverines' class ranked at No. 1. However, after slipping as low as No. 7, Michigan now sits No. 4 on 247Sports' board.

Recently, commitments from a few modestly rated recruits have added depth to Michigan’s efforts. Rankings aren’t the be-all, end-all, but Michigan followers surely want to see more commitments from 4- and 5-stars recruits.

However, recruiting sites don't always evaluate a prospect the same way.

Take Freddy Canteen, one of Michigan’s latest commits, for example. According to 247Sports, he is the 103th-ranked wideout of 2014 and has a 3-star rank. But according to Rivals.com, the 6’1”, 170-pound Elkton Eastern Christian senior is the No. 43 receiver and has a 4-star rank.

Despite such variations in the evaluation process, it's still important to attract top-50 talent. Such players tend to attract other players of a similar rank. 

Michigan remains in the running for three such players.

 

Which recruit should UM pursue most?

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Adoree’ Jackson (Junipero Serra, Gardenia, Calif.)

Michigan’s secondary has greatly improved under defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. Already with Peppers, the top-rated corner of 2014, the secondary will be improved. But it could be historically good if Jackson, the No. 3-ranked corner, joins the fold.

According to 247Sports, Jackson appears headed to USC.

But that doesn’t mean that Michigan should give up pursuit. Talented corners are always in demand. If the Wolverines don’t get Jackson, they’ll likely offer next year’s top-tier defensive backs—but there aren’t as many clear 5-star talents like Jackson.

The No. 1 corner of 2015, Kevin Toliver II, is No. 32 nationally. Jackson is No. 17. That may not seem like a huge gap in talent, but this year’s class, on paper, seems superior in talent.

Jackson just may be the true star Michigan needs. He’s a record-setting track athlete with a rare combination of speed and agility. Michigan can fill its cupboards with stock guys, but getting Jackson is a must.

 

Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va.)

The 5-star defensive end didn’t seem like a must-have just few months ago when Michigan was in the race for Andrew Brown, a 5-star defensive tackle with jackknife versatility. However, the Chesapeake Oscar Smith (Va.) star chose to stay home, opting for Virginia.

Now that he’s no longer available, Mattison needs to find another dominant presence for the defensive line, and that’s Hand, the No. 1 player of 2014.

Mattison has a commitment from Bryan Mone, a 4-star defensive tackle, and he’s after Malik McDowell, the No. 2-ranked defensive end of 2014. Terry Beckner, one of the top defensive ends of 2015, has an offer. But neither is Hand, who has a 100 composite rating from 247Sports.

 

Leonard Fournette, (St. Augustine, New Orleans, La.)Joe Mixon (Freedom, Oakley, Calif.)

Michigan is on the prowl for another high-profile runner to complement Derrick Green, one of the top backs of the 2013 class, and Joe Mixon of Freedom High School in Oakley, Calif., could fit that mold.

However, concentrating on Leonard Fournette, the No. 1 back of the 2014 class, would be the wisest decision.

The 5-star recruit from New Orleans St. Augustine is obviously looking for a talented team to join. He has offers from several powerhouses, but he told Tim Sullivan of the Detroit Free Press that he is surveying the recruitment landscape before choosing, and that includes Michigan.

You could say that we (top prospects) pay attention to where other guys go. To me, [Jabrill] Peppers was a surprise. He surprised everyone. We say we could make a great team. We talk about things in school, how you feel about certain schools, that’s all.

He’s told me that whatever school I decide and choose, it’s up to me. I would like to take a visit up there [Ann Arbor]. It would be during the fall, for an official visit

This news minimizes the need for Mixon. At 6'1" and 225 pounds, Fournttte has the ideal size for offensive coordinator Al Borges’ style.

Soso Jambo and Larry Scott, both top-10 backs, are 2015 targets who would fit in well with Borges’ scheme. However, Jambo’s 247Sports profile shows cool interest in Michigan. The Plano, Texas, native could end up with the Texas Longhorns.

At 6’0” and 205 pounds, Scott, an Ohio native, has warmer interest in the Buckeyes. At the moment, Fournette looks like the most talented back with interest in Michigan, making it more important for Hoke to make a move.

 

Recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports, unless noted otherwise.

 

Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

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