Michigan Football Recruiting: Breaking Down the Top 2015 Targets

Adam BiggersSenior Analyst IIApril 21, 2014

Michigan Football Recruiting: Breaking Down the Top 2015 Targets

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    Brady Hoke lures some of the best talent to the Big Ten.
    Brady Hoke lures some of the best talent to the Big Ten.USA TODAY Sports

    The winged helmet does the recruiting; Michigan waits for players to sign. 

    Well, that's how it used to be. Today, it's a little different. It's not always a slam dunk. However, despite recent struggles in Ann Arbor, athletes from each corner of the country still want to suit up for the "leaders and the best." 

    That bodes well for Wolverines coach Brady Hoke, who is known for his ways on the recruiting trail. The first two classes didn't disappoint. His 2014 grab, highlighted by the one and only Jabrill Peppers, doesn't rank as highly as past classes, but it's solid from tire to tire as well. 

    With that being said, it's time to shift focus to the next group. This slideshow will highlight the top-rated and most interested targets of 2015, per 247Sports. Committed players won't be included. 

5-Star WR George Campbell (East Lake Tarpon Springs, Fla.)

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    His interest in the team is cool, but Michigan remains hot for George Campbell, a decorated wideout who'd fit perfectly in just about any pro-style offense. 

    Brady Hoke and Doug Nussmeier hope it's theirs. 

    At one time, the 6'3", 184-pound junior was committed to the Wolverines. Then, during the offseason, he changed his mind and reopened his recruitment. 

    Nonetheless, he's a big-time target and a must-get for the Wolverines, who already have quite the stockpile of receivers growing in Ann Arbor. Campbell would top it off nicely. 

    For the record, 247Sports lists him as a receiver, safety and athlete. Michigan wants him as a receiver. 

    Wouldn't hold your breath waiting for that one. RT @GOBLUEORGOHOME2: Will Michigan be able to land George Campbell?

    — The Big House Report (@TBHReport) April 15, 2014

5-Star OLB Justin Hilliard (St. Xavier, Cincinnati)

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    Justin Hilliard, a 6'2", 230-pound junior, is the No. 21-ranked prospect of 2015, per 247Sports. 

    And he's a linebacker, so that's saying something.

    Oftentimes, the skilled positions—the running backs, receivers and quarterbacksget the most hype in the top 25. But Hilliard has special talent and deserves to be viewed among the elite of his class. 

    On March 15, he took an unofficial visit to Michigan. Since then, he's taken the same looks at Ohio State, Alabama and Notre Dame. Michigan is deep at linebacker. Adding Hilliard would almost be unfair to the rest of the Big Ten. 

    Picture him running alongside Michael Ferns, Noah Furbush and Ben Gedeon, three of Hoke's rising linebackers. That would be a mean rotation. 

    According to 247Sports, Hilliard has warm interest in the Wolverines. 

    ESPN is predicting #Michigan to land 5* OLB Justin Hilliard, 4* DE Jashon Cornell, and 4* RB Damien Harris. http://t.co/0OEBR1i6CQ

    — MGoFish (@MGoFish) April 17, 2014

5-Star RB Damien Harris (Madison Southern, Berea, Ky.)

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    Damien Harris was once committed to Michigan. 

    Now he is not. 

    That could change, especially since Doug Nussmeier has been on the case. As the new offensive coordinator, he made Harris a No. 1 priority. Apparently Michigan's interest in Harris had to be reinforced after Al Borges left the team. 

    Harris reportedly liked Borges, who was a great recruiter and deserves credit for the Wolverines' position in the Harris sweepstakes. 

    The following cryptic tweet comes courtesy of Tom VanHaaren, who's stuck on Wolverines recruiting all day, every day. 

    Scenario: Hoke seeks two big-name backs. Will both come to town? 

    Interesting dynamic building with Michigan and Mike Weber and Damien Harris. Room for two in this class but how it plays out is intriguing

    — Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) March 9, 2014

5-Star WDE Keisean Lucier-South (Orange County Lutheran, Calif.)

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    The Wolverines are in need of pass-rushers. 

    Need proof? 

    Look at their 2015 offers.

    Hoke has his eyes set on the best quarterback-getters of the class, and it's not by accident. In all likelihood, he's grown tired of his hit-or-miss pressure. Quarterbacks have been far too comfortable against the Wolverines. 

    Hoke and Greg Mattison, the defensive coordinator, have to land at least one of their targeted defensive ends. Keisean Lucier-South would be a match. At 6'5", he has the wingspan to disrupt passes, pickpocket running backs and long-arm whoever is throwing the ball. 

    However, at 215 pounds, he won't be doing that in the Big Ten. Weight gain is essential.

    According to 247Sports, he has warm interest in Michigan. Texas, UCLA, Notre Dame and USC are also candidates. 

    2015 #Michigan target Keisean Lucier-South up 18 spots in latest Top247. http://t.co/exqpNGYSvY via @247Sports

    — Clint Brewster (@clintbrew247) March 19, 2014

4-Star WDE Jashon Cornell (Cretin Derham Hall, St. Paul, Minn.)

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    Jashon Cornell is the No. 3 weak-side defensive end of 2015, per 247Sports. He's 6'4" and 270 pounds of college-ready. He can get to the quarterback, get to the ball-carrier and even dictate flows of the opposing offense. 

    He's really that skilled. 

    Some people consider him to be the No. 1 overall player of 2015, namely the good folks at ESPN (see above video). According to 247Sports, he has warm interest in Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ole Miss and Penn State. 

    Getting to know Jashon Cornell http://t.co/wWIHRfuyWP

    — ESPN Michigan (@ESPNMichigan) April 18, 2014

4-Star OT Sterling Jenkins (Baldwin, Pittsburgh)

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    Penn State's recruiting is going into high gear with James Franklin in control. That being said, expect the Nittany Lions to be in the mix for several high-end Michigan targets. 

    Case in point: Sterling Jenkins, a 6'5", 308-pound tackle who's quite high on Happy Valley, per 247Sports. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the same type of feeling for the Wolverines, at least not right now. 

    He took an unofficial visit on Nov. 30, and that was it. Nothing more since. 

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

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

4-Star CB/ATH Brian Cole (Saginaw Heritage, Mich.)

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    Brian Cole's in-state status instantly makes him a prime candidate for the Wolverines, who have routinely signed some of the best in The Mitten during Hoke's reign as coach. In fact, it's kind of been an ongoing thing throughout Michigan football history. 

    Anyhow, getting Cole, the No. 1-ranked prospect in Michigan, would be a win on a couple of levels for Hoke, who snagged Drake Harris and Lawrence Marshall in the 2014 class. Harris was tops on the west side of the state, while Marshall dominated southeastern Michigan. 

    According to 247Sports, Cole has warm interest in Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State. He's going to pay a visit to the Spartans this weekend, per The D Zone. 

    Saginaw Heritage 2015 WR/DB Brian Cole is visiting Michigan State University this weekend / @Dream_Big26.

    — The D Zone (@TheD_Zone) April 21, 2014

4-Star RB/OLB Osa Masina (Brighton, Salt Lake City)

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    At 6'4" and 218 pounds, Osa Masina has a bright future as a bruising running back and run-stopping linebacker. 

    Imagine him doing both at Michigan, where he has warm interest. However, 247Sports sees him committing to Utah, his home state program.

    Either way, he'd be marvelous for Nussmeier and Mattison

    Masina could be a dual-threat star for the Wolverines, who also have Jabrill Peppers waiting to play every position possible. 

    The latest on #Michigan LB target Osa Masina #Bolt (VIP): http://t.co/6Sse436bUO

    — Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) April 14, 2014

4-Star RB Mike Weber (Cass Tech, Detroit)

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    Here's another homegrown superstar who would d fit well in a maize-and-blue uniform. 

    At 5'10" and 205 pounds, Mike Weber, the No. 12-ranked running back of 2015, is built for the Big Ten. Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin, just to name a few, want his services in two years. 

    He has long been considered more than attainable for Michigan. Saying he's a "lock" would be an overstatement, but saying he's "comfortably close" is about right. 

    Cass Tech 2015 RB Mike Weber was visited by the University of Michigan today. #TheDZone

    — The D Zone (@TheD_Zone) April 16, 2014

4-Star SDE Darian Roseboro (Lincolnton, N.C.)

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    247Sports expects Darian Roseboro to commit to NC State.
    247Sports expects Darian Roseboro to commit to NC State.Credit: 247Sports

    Darian Roseboro is just outside 247Sports' top 100, but don't let that fool you: He's one of the most slept-on defensive ends of his class. 

    At 6'4" and 265 pounds, he's just about ripe for Mattison's defense. Ranked as the No. 8 overall strong-side defensive end, Roseboro is the type to make runners think twice—and the type to make quarterbacks perfect the quick release or suffer the consequences. 

    Like Cornell and Lucier-South, Roseboro is a get-at-it-defender. It's doubtful that Hoke will get all of them, but two of three wouldn't be bad. 

    Queue the Meatloaf. 

    However, Roseboro is expected to commit to NC State, per 247Sports. But he has warm interest in Michigan. 

    From last night, #Michigan to host elite 2015 DE Darian Roseboro for a four day visit next week (VIP): http://t.co/2rtvXwnG2d

    — Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) April 19, 2014

4-Star TE/SDE Tyrone Wheatley Jr. (Canisius, Manlius, N.Y.)

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    Tyrone Wheatley Jr. isn't a powerful running back like his father was. However, the young junior is a 6'6", 260-pound tight end/defensive end. 

    And that would fit just fine within Michigan's plans, wouldn't it?

    Getting the legacy commit would be a sign of support from former players. Wheatley Sr. was arguably the best runner to ever romp The Big House. If Hoke can't get his son, then what? 

    According to 247Sports, Junior has warmer interest in the Wolverines, but he's also looking at Alabama and Penn State. Kentucky and Miami (Fla.) have all but fallen out of the picture. 

Notables

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    Recruiting changes by the minute, so this list probably won't be the same come summertime. Just keep that in mind. Players lose interest, while others pop up out of nowhere—that's just how these things operate. 

    That being said, keep an eye out for Alex Malzone, a 3-star quarterback out of Birmingham Brother Rice (Mich.). He's not a blue-chipper, but the 6'3", 200-pounder could be an option since the Wolverines fell out of the race for David Sills, Josh Rosen and Jarrett Stidham. 

    Others with warm interest include, per 247Sports: Terry Beckner Jr. (5-star SDE), Tim Settle (5-star DT), Josh McMillon (4-star OLB) and Jacques Patrick (4-star RB).

    Damien Harris sees Patrick:

    @TremendousUM: Top #Michigan RB target Jacques Patrick looking to narrow things down soon (VIP): http://t.co/lUcfjopK8s

    — Damien Harris (@Damien_D1Harris) March 16, 2014

    Looks like Patrick can see himself in Ann Arbor?! Just maybe? 

    What y'all Michigan fans think about this ? #GoBlue pic.twitter.com/mE8IYuAvIP

    — The Boy Nino (@jacques_patrick) March 26, 2014

     

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