In spite of all the issues on the field this season, the Michigan football program is still recruiting at a high level. Outside of a near-perfect record at home, luring some of the nation's top prospects to Ann Arbor has been a staple of head coach Brady Hoke's tenure.
The Wolverines' 2014 haul features 16 recruits and is ranked No. 17 nationally, according to Rivals.com. Next year's class is shaping up to be the best one yet for Hoke. A pair of elite prospects are already verbally committed and countless others are still considering the Maize and Blue.
When it comes to recruiting, though, nothing is official until the national letter of intent comes in. Time and time again, commitments are broken.
Outside of one recruit, there is not any chatter about seeing other schools or a possible decommitment from anyone in the upcoming crops.
There are three prospects in particular Hoke and Co. cannot afford to lose between now and signing day for the 2014 and 2015 classes.
Jabrill Peppers, Cornerback
On Nov. 13, the nation's No. 2 overall prospect had Michigan fans approaching cliffs when he tweeted out he would take official visits elsewhere once his senior season concluded. Since then, things have calmed down a bit, and the only trip on tap for Peppers is to see Ann Arbor again this weekend.
This recent tweet also helped ease the minds of the Maize and Blue faithful:
Still, Hoke and Co. have to make sure they seal the deal with Peppers. The Wolverines do not have a lockdown cornerback or a hard-hitting safety capable of consistently being an absolute ball hawk. The 5-star prospect will fill one of those two voids next year.
He has everything you would want in a shutdown defensive back: size, speed and the physicality to come up in run support. This recent highlight put one of those attributes on display. See if you can guess which one.
Losing Peppers would be a huge blow to Michigan's secondary for the next three seasons.
George Campbell, Wide Receiver
Not too many wide receivers have the combination of length and speed George Campbell possesses. The 6'5", 198-pounder has been clocked at 4.40 seconds in the 40-yard dash and boasts a 38-inch vertical jump. Those ridiculous numbers are why he is the No. 7 overall prospect and No. 1 wideout for the class of 2015.
With the Wolverines still looking for a dynamic vertical threat to play opposite of Devin Funchess, Campbell could make an instant impact. The only things he has to shore up in order to do that are to improve his catching consistency and route running.
The Tarpon Springs, Fla., product has the potential to be a game-changer for whomever is starting at quarterback by the time he arrives on campus. Sure, Michigan has a bit of depth at the position with Jehu Chesson coming along and Amara Darboh coming back from injury, but Campbell has a much wider array of skills than those two.
Hoke needs to make sure the crown jewel of next year's group remains in the fold.
Shaun Crawford, Cornerback
The one recruit possibly wavering on his commitment in either one of Michigan's next two classes is 4-star cornerback Shaun Crawford. It seemed as though an offer from Ohio State may have been behind the sudden change, but Josh Helmholdt of Rivals said this was not a new development.
Weeks before Ohio State offered, Crawford told me he was not 100 percent committed to the Wolverines and it was possible he could take visits to other schools. Lately he's been deflecting questions about his future recruiting plans, citing his team's state title run as his sole focus. When his junior season is finished, though, I think it is likely we see him down in Columbus for a basketball game or junior day.
The Wolverines will not be short defensive backs over the next few years with rising stars in Channing Stribling, Dymonte Thomas and Jourdan Lewis primed for major roles in 2014. The reason Crawford makes this list, though, is because losing him to the Buckeyes would be disastrous.
Over the next couple of weeks, we should find out much more about his intentions and how serious he is about other schools.
Want to talk more Michigan football? Follow me on Twitter @Zach_Dirlam.
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