Michigan Football: Ranking the Wolverines' Top 10 Recruiting Targets for 2015

Adam BiggersSenior Analyst IIMarch 9, 2014

Michigan Football: Ranking the Wolverines' Top 10 Recruiting Targets for 2015

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    As of early March 2014, Michigan's 2015 class was ranked No. 22 by 247Sports. The 10 players in this slideshow would easily bump that rating to top-10 status.
    As of early March 2014, Michigan's 2015 class was ranked No. 22 by 247Sports. The 10 players in this slideshow would easily bump that rating to top-10 status.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Once the dust settles and Team 135 takes shape, Michigan coach Brady Hoke should have roughly 10 to 15 scholarships to disperse among recruiting class of 2015 prospects. 

    Doug Nussmeier, the new offensive coordinator and quarterback specialist, will likely have Michigan in the mix for the nation's top arms on an annual basis.

    Michigan took just one in 2014, so filling that void is a goal for next year. However, quarterbacks are exempt from this countdown for a couple of reasons:

    1. Of four potential suitors, thre are committed, leaving Josh Rosen as the 2015 target to watch at the moment.
    2. Shane Morris and Wilton Speight aren't going anywhere any time soon. 

    Getting a quarterback is urgent, but Michigan is adjusting its game plan in that regard. Expect more action on that front as the months progress. 

    Building an offensive line is of high priority, and the same goes for stocking the cabinets with superbly talented running backs, wide receivers and utilitarians. 

    Greg Mattison, the defensive coordinator, is known for connecting with recruits. His Baltimore Ravens resume could serve as the golden ticket for preps looking forward to a career in the NFL. Mattison has aided the quest for the best and will continue doing so as long as he calls shots in Ann Arbor. 

    Target the prospect, analyze his potential role within the team, offer a scholly and hope he signs—that's the process. 

    Taking into account needs, strengths and weaknesses, this slideshow will rank and analyze the Wolverines' top 10 targets for Team 136. 

    Note: Unless otherwise noted, all recruit information comes by way of 247Sports

1. George Campbell

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    At one time, Hoke had a solid verbal from George Campbell, the No. 1 athlete of next year's class. 

    At 6'3" and 184 pounds, the Tarpon Springs East Lake (Fla.) standout is actually a bit smaller than some of the recent receiver recruits. However, his elite speed, versatility and set of hands are far above ordinary.

    In terms of outsmarting the opponent, possessing the ability to play safety and wideout is a definite plus—he has that. As a receiver, he would be an excellent complement to Drake Harris, Devin Funchess and Jehu Chesson.

    But while in the secondary, he'd be with Jabrill Peppers, giving receivers nightmares. 

    Think about the possibilities. 

    Considering his "cool" status, per 247Sports, getting the 5-star to revisit his commitment seems like a daunting challenge that has a small chance of ending in a favorable result. 

    But Hoke must fight the good fight. Giving up on Campbell would be a grave mistake. There is still plenty of time, despite Campbell's apparent lack of interest in the Wolverines. 

    Five-star WR George Campbell opens up about Michigan decommittment in report, now has 11 SEC offers http://t.co/nyJ47X8gVI

    — Wolverines News (@WolverinesMLive) January 25, 2014

2. Damien Harris

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    Damien Harris was also once committed to Michigan. 

    However, during the aftermath of Al Borges' firing, he decided to reopen his recruitment, despite a visit from Nussmeier. 

    That, of course, happened during the first week of Nussmeier's tenure.

    Harris' tune has since changed, and the 5'11," 205-pound Berea Madison Southern (Ky.) junior now has "warmer" interest in Michigan, per 247Sports. 

    Ohio State is hot on his trail, but the nation's No. 1 running back is quite attainable. In fact, don't be shocked to see him recommit in the coming months.

    If not for up-and-coming talent in the backfield, plus other offers to ball-carriers, Harris would be at the top of this list. 

    RT @ScoutMichigan 2015: Midwest Top 30 - Damien Harris still #1. Shaun Crawford checks in at #6 - http://t.co/8npVbkmSHP

    — Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) March 6, 2014

3. Brian Cole

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    The in-state tug of war between Michigan State's Mark Dantonio and Hoke won't endlet's make that clear. 

    Clearly ahead, the Spartans will need more than a short-term burst to completely eclipse the Wolverines in the Great Lakes State. By all accounts, Dantonio's recent success seems to be a glimpse into the future, not a passing fad.

    Losing out on Malik McDowell was a momentary setback, but Hoke was successful in flipping Drake Harris and securing Lawrence Marshall. 

    That being said, keeping the state's elite interested in Michigan is Hoke's job—landing Saginaw Heritage's Brian Cole is the other. 

    At 6'2" and 190 pounds, the 5-star talent is the country's No. 5-ranked athlete.

    Again, the dual threats (not talking quarterbacks) are key to well-rounded classes. Specialists are staples of the game plan, but having a dynamic guy who can return kicks, pick passes and catch touchdown tosses promotes winning. 

    The Coles of the world won't replace good, old-fashioned A-1 defensive ends and the like, but the variety types surely help the overall effort.

    #Michigan's M-PACT program was a big hit with top target Brian Cole and his father on their visit this weekend (VIP): http://t.co/Uraq7IvQvg

    — Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) February 26, 2014 

4. Sterling Jenkins

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    The Wolverines offensive line needs torquing, and Sterling Jenkins could twist himself into the position of starting left tackle, despite playing right as a junior at Pittsburgh Baldwin.

    At 6'8" and 305 pounds, the 5-star is considered to be the No. 4 offensive tackle of 2015. Size makes up for a developing blocking skill set, but he's most certainly the type of lineman Nussmeier and Hoke should heavily recruit. 

    According to 247Sports, Jenkins has "warm" interest in Michigan. 

    But other information suggests a slightly different outlook.

    Is Michigan fading for Sterling Jenkins? http://t.co/z0UzsYaz8E via @MnBRecruiting

    — SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) March 5, 2014

5. Mitch Hyatt

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    Hoke will have to wish upon a star if he wants to separate Mitch Hyatt from Clemson. 

    Hyatt, the No. 1-ranked offensive tackle, has given the Tigers a firm pledge, but national signing day 2015 is a year away. Michigan needs time...

    ...and a lot of luck. 

    At 6'6" and 271 pounds, North Gwinnett's (Ga.) 5-star shows a polished skill set...and everything else that anyone would want to see out of a left tackle. 

    Aggressive, consistent and big, Hyatt deserves "head of the class" accolades. His domination on the O-line led to being ranked No. 3 overall by 247Sports. 

    Hoke offered long ago, and he's still waiting for word from Hyatt.

    #Michigan offers Georgia OT Mitch Hyatt - Touch the Banner: 2015 Offer Board http://t.co/l6ys8NHa38

    — TouchTheBanner (@TouchTheBanner) June 7, 2013

6. Minkah Fitzpatrick

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    Minkah Fitzpatrick would be more of a luxury, not a necessity. 

    The Wolverines have recruited secondary members quite well during the past three years, and the recent additions of Channing Stribling and Jourdan Lewis, among others, have yet to bare fruit. 

    That being said, Michigan's hoarding nature will produce a beyond-cocky pass defense (cocky in a good way).

    Ranked as the No. 4 corner of 2015, the Jersey City St. Peter's Prep junior carries a 5-star rating and 4.45-second 40-yard dash that would essentially place a bow on Curt Mallory's current stock of defensive backs.

    5-star DB recaps southern swing: Five-star Minkah Fitzpatrick has stayed relatively quiet since the season end... http://t.co/CLbCvwLfRY

    — TheWolverine.com (@TheWolverineMag) March 7, 2014

    Fitzpatrick is another versatile player.

    Top #Michigan target "@minkfitz_21: 2015 DB/RB/ATH Minkah Fitzpatrick 2013 season highlight remix: http://t.co/EGHqLiK5U7 via @youtube"

    — Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) February 8, 2014

7. Keisean Lucier-South

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    Great defenses need pass-rushing and run-stopping defensive ends who can sack the quarterback and disrupt short passing routes. 

    There. That about does it—not too much to expect, right? 

    Keisean Lucier-South is of that ilk, just take a look at his highlight tape. 

    At 6'5" and 215 pounds, he lacks bulk but has the long frame that should allow for great leverage.

    With impressive speed and instinct, the Orange County Lutheran (Calif.) standout is absolutely worthy of his No. 5 weak-side defensive end distinction from 247Sports, which indicates "warm" interest from/in Texas, Notre Dame, UCLA and USC, among others. 

    Michigan is just another school in the conversation.

    #CrystalBall for 4-star DE Keisean Lucier-South @KLSouth16 - 54% #Michigan 46% #UCLA http://t.co/T64TTDgAKm

    — Justin Hopkins (@JHopkins247) February 19, 2014

8. Justin Hilliard

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    Cincinnati has sent several solid linebackers north, but some of them have ended up in East Lansing, not Ann Arbor. 

    Hoke can get in on the action by landing Justin Hilliard of St. Xavier, the No. 1-ranked outside linebacker, per 247Sports. Despite a recent trip to Notre Dame's junior day, the 5-star linebacker's interest in Michigan remains steady.

    Again, this is a position with depth...but it could use every morsel of Hilliard's 6'2," 230-pound self in the future; he's capable in coverage and a natural get-to-the-quarterback pass-rusher. 

    Joe Bolden, Michael Ferns and Noah Furbush, just to name a few, will round out a solid collection of linebackers.

    With Mattison's focus now on that position group, strength in numbers and rapid development could be around the bend. 

    Updated five-star Justin Hilliard's status for tomorrow's group of visitors (VIP): http://t.co/aQy3gs3ncz

    — Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) February 22, 2014

9. Michael Weber

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    Michigan's relationship with Detroit Cass Tech is a decades-old connection. 

    That being said, the Wolverines stand a chance to get Michael Weber, the No. 11-ranked running back of 2015, per 247Sports. 

    Maintaining a deep stable of runners ensures a quality rushing attack for years to come. Nussmeier's influence, a multiback set, makes it necessary to heavily recruit the position. 

    It may seem odd to place the 5'10", 205-pound junior at No. 9 on this list. Given Michigan's current group of ball-carriers, needs and aforementioned talent on this list, the fact that he's on this countdown speaks volumes as to the level of player Michigan seeks. 

    He catches, uses space well, returns and is difficult to tackle. 

    The 4-star has interest in/from Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Tennessee, among others.

    #Michigan remains "warm" for Top75 RB Mike Weber, who visits #Vols this weekend: http://t.co/NIMrt9bPmx

    — Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) February 25, 2014

10. Jashon Cornell

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    At 6'4" and 270 pounds, Jashon Cornell is the No. 3-ranked weak-side defensive end, per 247Sports. 

    Touting a 5-star ranking, the Saint Paul (Minn.) Cretin Derham Hall talent is viewed as one of the best pass-rushers in the nation. 

    Evident by Team 134's efforts, pass rushing is an area of concern. Reinforcements are on deck, so signing Cornell isn't a must. 

    But Michigan missed on Da'Shawn Hand, and Cornell could make up for that shortcoming. The Wolverines remain near the top of his list.

    Four-star DE Jashon Cornell talks #Michigan #ND and others at #RivalsCamp in New Orleans http://t.co/nM891r1pjp

    — Adam Gorney (@adamgorney) February 22, 2014

     

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