The Michigan Wolverines football program entered national signing day 2016 with a highly rated class, and a few more pledges finalized the team's No. 5 haul.
Michigan also avoided any surprise decommitments. Though Dytarious Johnson was not officially announced as a signee, Duane Rankin of the Montgomery Advertiser reported the coaching staff is "sticking with" the 3-star linebacker.
All told, the Wolverines addressed their glaring immediate need, picked up some immediate-impact players and gathered a collection of talents who should contribute within a couple of years.
|Player||Star Rating||Position||Position Rank|
|Rashan Gary||5-star||Defensive Tackle||1|
|Ben Bredeson||4-star||Offensive Tackle||5|
|Devin Asiasi||4-star||Tight End||3|
|Michael Onenwu||4-star||Offensive Guard||4|
|Dylan Crawford||4-star||Wide Receiver||19|
|Brad Hawkins||4-star||Wide Receiver||54|
|Ron Johnson||4-star||Defensive End||23|
|Chris Evans||3-star||Running Back||9|
|Nick Eubanks||3-star||Tight End||15|
|Eddie McDoom||3-star||Wide Receiver||64|
|Nate Johnson||3-star||Wide Receiver||93|
|Joshua Uche||3-star||Defensive End||45|
|Stephen Spanellis||3-star||Offensive Guard||32|
|Michael Dwumfour||3-star||Defensive Tackle||58|
Two of Michigan's top offensive additions are considered the future at their position, and they both arrived on campus for the spring semester.
Quarterback Brandon Peters and running back Kareem Walker, a couple of 4-star talents, will participate in spring practice—as well as Ahmir Mitchell, Carlo Kemp, Devin Bush Jr., Kingston Davis and Sean McKeon.
Peters will compete with Wilton Speight, John O'Korn and others for the starting job, while De'Veon Smith and Drake Johnson must attempt to hold off Walker. At worst, Bush will provide depth at a position that dearly needs it, but the 4-star linebacker will probably occupy a significant role.
According to Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press, head coach Jim Harbaugh said all seven players will count toward the 2015 class.
Top Offensive Playmaker
The easy choice for this spot is Walker, especially because he's the most likely freshman to contribute next season. However, Michigan saw the importance of an offensive game-breaker last year in Jehu Chesson.
Dylan Crawford is that type of player.
A 6'1", 186-pound wideout, he's a long-strider with respectable speed and above-average route running. Crawford doesn't rely on his body to rein in passes, meaning the nation's No. 19 receiver won't unnecessarily sacrifice his body on a ball above his head.
What dazzles on tape, however, is how Crawford shakes defenders after the catch. While running back-like vision contributes to that prowess, he's also surprisingly tough to bring down considering his stature.
Crawford has enough straight-line speed to make opponents pay, but missing a tackle often leads to a larger problem for defenses.
Amara Darboh and Chesson will lead the Wolverines receiving corps in 2016, which will allow Crawford to add weight and prepare for the increased physicality of the college game. When the seniors head to the NFL, don't be surprised if Crawford steps in right away.
Keep an eye on: Walker, RB; Mitchell, WR; Chris Evans, All-Purpose Back
Top Defensive Playmaker
There's a reason Gary was the country's unanimous No. 1 overall recruit: He does everything well.
Gary has a remarkably explosive first step and shows an impressive balance of speed and power. Perhaps his best attribute is the combination of active and strong hands, something that keeps offensive linemen from getting a solid punch on Gary.
An impressive performance at the Under Armour All-America Game backed up the hype. Gary was a constant disruptive force and racked up a team-leading six tackles—including three sacks—per BlogAndTackle.net.
Michigan can use him as a 3-4 defensive end or 4-3 defensive tackle. That versatility will be useful immediately, though we'll discuss that later on.
Gary is initially an ideal complement to the Wolverines' established pieces and can develop into the undisputed star of the defensive line—and potentially the Big Ten.
Immediate-Impact Players, Contributors, Redshirt Candidates
Every recruiting class brings the hope of a brighter future, but not every freshman is ready to play. It takes a special talent to earn snaps, let alone start, immediately.
Gary is an obvious choice and will likely contribute as a defensive end because Michigan returns Ryan Glasgow and Chris Wormley. Taco Charlton is a leading candidate to be the "Buck" linebacker, but the other D-end role—where Ron Johnson has the potential to claim a few snaps—is wide open for Gary.
Three-star inside linebacker Elysee Mbem-Bosse could be thrust into the rotation purely out of necessity. The Wolverines must replace their top three tacklers at the position.
Mbem-Bosse has only played football for two years. Had 96 tackles and 3.5 sacks along with 19 TFL's in 2015. Lots of upside with him— Clint Brewster (@clintbrew247) January 25, 2016
Long, Hill and Khaleke Hudson are prime candidates to contribute on special teams and a handful of defensive snaps to be ready for 2017, when Michigan loses most—if not all—of its starters in the secondary.
Ben Bredeson should challenge for snaps, though the 4-star offensive tackle will battle four returning starters for that chance. Asiasi might break into the rotation if he establishes himself as a blocker Harbaugh can trust.
Should that happen, Asiasi may be sealing the edge for Walker, who doesn't expect to sit around and watch in 2016. Per MLive's Nick Baumgardner, Walker said:
Kareem Walker asked if he expects to play next year 'Oh I'm not riding that bench.'— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) February 3, 2016
Peters is already on campus, so he's not exactly a long shot to succeed Jake Rudock. However, the nation's No. 6 quarterback will probably observe from the sideline as a true freshman. If Peters doesn't fill the vacancy, he might even join fellow 2016 signees and take a redshirt.
Evans, Davis, Brad Hawkins, Eddie McDoom, Nate Johnson, Nick Eubanks, Stephen Spanellis, Michael Dwumfour, Josh Metellus, Devin Gil and Nordin are each entering depth-filled positions, so Michigan need not rush them into the lineup.
If Dytarious Johnson qualifies academically, the 6'1", 205-pounder still could use a year to develop physically. The same applies to McDoom, McKeon, Joshua Uche, Metellus and Gil, who will benefit from a year in the weight room.
Overall, the Wolverines signed a terrific mix of immediate-impact talent as well as role-playing and developmental prospects.
All recruiting information via 247Sports. Stats from cfbstats.com or B/R research. Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.