Michigan will have an opportunity to woo one of America's top defenders this weekend, according to 247Sports reporter Steve Lorenz. The Wolverines plan to host 5-star linebacker Justin Hilliard for an unofficial visit, setting the stage for an important sales pitch from head coach Brady Hoke and his staff.
The 6'2", 230-pound prospect spent time in Ann Arbor last season. He attended Michigan's regular season finale, a loss to Ohio State.
Hilliard, a Cincinnati standout, received an offer from the Wolverines last summer while participating in a camp run by the program. He finished his junior campaign at St. Xavier High School with 80 tackles and five sacks, according to GoUpstate.com.
The rangy prospect picks apart offensive game plans with a wide variety of skills.
Hilliard dominates along the line of scrimmage, exhibiting impressive strength and block-shedding moves. He prowls the perimeter with authority and adds a dynamic dimension to pass coverage.
His efforts have earned him dozens of opportunities at the next level. Aside from Michigan, Big Ten Conference foes Ohio State, Iowa, Penn State and Michigan State are among his suitors.
The Hawkeyes signed his older brother, C.J., in February. Hilliard knows the team would like to make it a package deal.
"Iowa has probably been recruiting me the hardest," he told 247Sports.
Hilliard traveled to Notre Dame and Oklahoma for junior day events in recent weeks. He collected offers from USC and Stanford in February.
Alabama, Florida and Arkansas top a lengthy list of SEC squads in pursuit.
Hilliard is rated the nation's No. 2 outside linebacker and Ohio's No. 1 overall recruit in 247Sports' composite rankings. Hoke has another opportunity to make inroads toward a commitment this weekend.
The Wolverines currently claim four pledges in the 2015 class, headlined by fellow Ohio star Shaun Crawford (cornerback, Lakewood). After losing 5-star commits George Campbell and Damien Harris this winter, Hilliard presents a pivotal target for the Wolverines.