Highlighting the Recruits Michigan Has Already Signed Ahead of NSD

Adam Biggers@@AdamBiggers81Senior Analyst IIJanuary 20, 2014

Mason Cole has begun what should be a fruitful career at Michigan.
Mason Cole has begun what should be a fruitful career at Michigan.247Sports

Maybe Mason Cole is the next Taylor Lewan, maybe he isn’t.

His future with Michigan remains to be seen, but he is one of the Wolverines’ top-rated 2014 recruits.

By adding a few pounds and working on pass-rush defense technique, the former Tarpon Springs East Lake (Fla.) phenom could very well be the next great left tackle in Ann Arbor.

Now that Lewan is gone, coach Brady Hoke has an enormous gap to fill on the line.

At 6’4” and 285 pounds, Cole isn’t Lewan, Hoke’s former 6’8,” 315-pound blindside protection.

But give him another year or two, and he could add 25 pounds and grow another inch. In that case, the added mass, height and potential increase in reach would complement an already respectable skill set.


Hoke has them when it comes to Cole, the No. 9-ranked guard of his class. And judging by Erik Magnuson's recent tweet, the young frosh isn't afraid of work. 

...But what about the other early enrollees?

Freddy Canteen

Canteen Can
Ht./Wt.Position247Sports RankingPosition RankingState Ranking
6'1/175WR299414 (Maryland)

Freddy Canteen enters Michigan with a pair of receivers in Maurice Ways and Drake Harris. But it just so happens that an opening awaits at the slot, a position vacated by Jeremy Gallon. 

Up for grabs, Dennis Norfleet could land there. Jehu Chesson, although tall for a slot receiver, could earn the role as well. 

Or it could be Canteen, a 4-star rated prospect out of Elkton Eastern Christian (Md.). Possessing great hands, a good burst after the catch and decent speed, he's well suited to take on Gallon's old post. 

Due to at least a 10-man field, depth could actually keep Canteen off the field in 2014. However, he's talented enough to make a few waves come spring.

Don't underestimate the power of early enrollment. 

Wilton Speight

Special Speight?
Ht./Wt.Position247Sports RankingPosition RankingState Ranking
6'6"/220PRO4582317 (Virginia)

In terms of size, the 6'6", 220-pound frosh is ready. 

In terms of development, well, let's wait until spring ball—so far, though, the former Richmond Collegiate (Va.) star quarterback appears to be on the primrose path after standing out during the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game. 

Projecting a three-way quarterback scuffle may be a bit much. But Wilton Speight could find a quick home within Doug Nussmeier's offense.

As the new offensive coordinator, Nussmeier may choose to start from scratch, rather than focusing solely on Shane Morris and Devin Gardner—Team 135's likely go-to tandem. 

Beneficial either way, a year on the sidelines and on the scout team will only further refine Speight's overall comprehension of Hoke Ball. This fall is Gardner's final year, and for the sake of experience, Hoke and Nussmeier may throw in Speight during the waning minutes of blowouts. 

Brandon Watson

Bet on Brandon?
Ht./Wt.Position247Sports RankingPosition RankingState Ranking
6'0/185CB8015420 (Maryland)

Familiarity may help Brandon Watson transition into college life. Joining Canteen as a member of Team 135, Watson may be pushed by his former high school teammate, who also happens to be a receiver. 

If only for pure personal bragging rights, Watson vs. Canteen could end up being a must-see battle come spring. 

At 6'0" and 185 pounds, Watson's a bit bigger—by about an inch or two and 15 pounds—than the standard college corner.

He's physical when he needs to be, but he's also able to decipher coverage and routes on the fly, which is what a good corner should do. 

Michael Ferns

Brush up on Ferns
Ht./Wt.Position247Sports RankingPosition RankingState Ranking
6'3"/238ILB15865 (Ohio)

He's a linebacker from Ohio, so that already says a little something about Michael Ferns—he comes from the solid stock that's fed Wolverines football for decades. 

College size? 


He's 6'3" and 238 pounds. 

Menacing pass-rushing, run-stopping and quarterback-rattling abilities? 

Yeah, he has all of that covered.

In short, Ferns is the real deal. Hype him all you want, because in the long run, you'll end up feeling like Nostradamus.

Look for Ferns to immediately embrace his role as the successor of Jake Ryan, another Ohioan who cemented a great reputation in Ann Arbor. 

Bryan Mone

Will Mone make Michigan?
Ht./Wt.Position247Sports RankingPosition RankingState Ranking
6'4"/338DT9171 (Utah)

Michigan's defensive line never really got replenished after the dreaded RichRod era. That's not an excuse; it's a lukewarm fact that kind of gives Greg Mattison another year to really ramp up efforts.

Under the former Baltimore Ravens coordinator, the Wolverines defense has made great strides against the run and pass. Mattison coached Haloti Ngata, who went to Salt Lake City Highland (Utah), the same school as Bryan Mone. 

It's a loose connection, sure.

But it's a start for Mattison, who is revered for his youthful exuberance and ability to relate to his players.

Mone is set to enter a nurturing environment. Whether or not he enters the starting rotation won't be clear until he hits the practice field. 

At 6'4" and 338 pounds, strength and conditioning should be the name of the game for Mone, who has an NFL frame—and a mean streak that must be seen to believe (seriously, watch the video). 

Drake Harris

Drake Time?
Ht./Wt.Position247Sports RankingPosition RankingState Ranking
6'4"/180WR6573 (Michigan)

A state champion with Grand Rapids Christian, Harris knows what it takes to win at the highest of (his current) levels.

The type of mentality and drive that piggybacks titles bodes well for Michigan, which returns three receivers who had 15 or more catches in 2013. 

Early competition for a prominent role, not necessarily a No. 1 job, should be expected when following Harris' progress. Improvement on the physical side is needed, but he has the finesse and skill to evolve into a true threat. 

As the No. 3 recruit in the Great Lakes State, Harris has the hometown flair and name recognition that makes him an immediate fan favorite—good thing he's talented enough not to disappoint. 

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


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