Jim Harbaugh has just a few short weeks to salvage his first Michigan recruiting class after leaving the NFL to lead the Wolverines. This year’s class was always going to be small, but Michigan’s late-season collapse and the dismissal of Brady Hoke took a toll on what had been shaping up to be a quality group.
|Grant Newsome||Offensive Tackle||4-Star|
|Jon Runyan Jr.||Offensive Tackle||3-Star|
Harbaugh has retained the team’s top two remaining commitments, 4-star recruits Alex Malzone and Brian Cole, who both enrolled early. He can now focus on filling out the rest of his inaugural class that currently has six solid commitments. Michigan will look to gather about a dozen more before signing day.
Michigan's offense collapsed last season and took Hoke along with it—Harbaugh needs to focus on developing a squad that struggled with consistency under its two previous offensive coordinators.
He greeted the first day of recruiting with his typical optimism and set off a firestorm of speculation by following a number of top recruits on Twitter.
With the graduation of quarterback Devin Gardner, Harbaugh's top priority is finding a new signal-caller. Despite Malzone being safely in the fold, Harbaugh has continued to pursue other players for the position.
Angelique Chengelis of The Detroit News reports that Harbaugh will meet with McLane Carter later this week:
Carter, an accurate left-hander who has flown under the recruiting services radar and, so far, is unranked, but has drawn the attention of new Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who plans to visit the listed 6-foot-3, 190-pound 2015 quarterback recruit this week.
Speculation that quarterback Kevin Hogan, who as a graduate student would have been immediately available, would jump to Michigan proved unfounded as he decided to remain at Stanford.
Harbaugh has a history of developing talent, which bodes well for the current players on the roster, but don’t be surprised if he brings in more to compete on signing day. His extensive playing and coaching experience give him special insight into identifying players who can succeed at the quarterback position.
Another top target is tight end Chris Clark, who decommitted late during the season. Clark could help energize the offense and support the offensive line as an extra blocker. According to The Detroit News, Michigan is back in the mix:
Tight end Chris Clark, a five-star prospect on Scout, was once committed to the Wolverines, then decommitted, but since then has put Michigan in his final two along with UCLA. A large part of the Connecticut native's renewed interest is Harbaugh's history of success with the tight end position.
Wooing Clark back from UCLA would be a major coup for Harbaugh and his staff. With Michigan being thin at the receiver position, there’s a big opportunity for tight ends to play a major role in the offense next season.
Tight end Tyrone Wheatley Jr., a 4-star recruit, is also being targeted by Michigan. Besides being a top recruit, his recruitment is symbolic not only because he’s a legacy but also because his father is a member of Harbaugh’s staff. Harbaugh’s return should resonate with Wheatley, who grew up hearing about his father’s storied Wolverine career.
If Harbaugh can convince these players to join his rebuilding effort, Michigan will be well on its way to contending again.
Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.
Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations were obtained firsthand.