Michigan Football Recruiting: Breaking Down the Top 2017 Target at Each Position

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistApril 20, 2016

Michigan Football Recruiting: Breaking Down the Top 2017 Target at Each Position

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    Can the Wolverines earn 5-star Donovan Peoples-Jones' commitment?
    Can the Wolverines earn 5-star Donovan Peoples-Jones' commitment?Tony Ding/Associated Press

    Recent success and future expectations have allowed the Michigan football program to chase—and already landseveral of the 2017 recruiting cycle's best prospects.

    Although head coach Jim Harbaugh and Co. aren't pursuing every highest-rated option, the Wolverines are in the picture for commitments from those players.

    Summer events like unofficial visits and camps will allow the coaching staff to get an up-close look at some of the talents. Those interactions might even lead to verbal pledges.

    While the Wolverines assuredly won't grab every top-ranked prospect, they'll likely keep contact until pen meets paper on signing day.

Quarterback: Dylan McCaffrey

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    The youngest standout in a family full of athletic successes, Dylan McCaffrey is 2017's top-rated pro-style quarterback prospect.

    McCaffrey committed to the Wolverines in mid-February. According to MaxPreps, the Valor Christian product threw 49 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions during the last two seasons.

    He's an ideal fit for Michigan's offense. McCaffrey spends much of his time under center, complemented by some work in shotgun. He stands tall and moves reasonably well in the pocket, two traits that Harbaugh can further improve.

    McCaffrey has a strong and accurate arm with a smooth release, something often showcased on deep passes. While not a dual-threat quarterback, he's mobile enough to evade pressure.

    A redshirt season will be necessary to fill out his frame, but McCaffrey has the makings of a terrific college quarterback.

Running Back: D'Andre Swift

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    Najee Harris is committed elsewhere, but D'Andre Swift certainly isn't a consolation prize. He's a stellar prospect.

    Aptly labeled an all-purpose back, the 4-star can make a difference as both a runner and receiver. Last season, he tallied 825 yards and 10 touchdowns as well as 439 receiving yards and five scores.

    Swift has breakaway speed, tremendous agility and excellent balance, which combined with great vision makes him a threat on every snap.

    Recently, he released a top-10 list that included Michigan.

    Swift would undoubtedly headline a group of O'Maury Samuels, A.J. DillonKurt Taylor and No. 1 fullback Chase Lasater, though the haul may change over the upcoming nine months.

Wide Receiver: Donovan Peoples-Jones

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    Every program wants to protect local recruiting turf. For Michigan, there's no bigger prize in 2017 than Donovan Peoples-Jones.

    The No. 1 receiver and fifth-best overall player, he basically could pick any school. Peoples-Jones lists offers from Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Florida State, Stanford, USC and many others.

    However, the 6'2", 192-pounder attends Cass Tech in Detroit, where he recorded 39 catches, 1,012 yards and 14 touchdowns last year.

    Peoples-Jones has outstanding speed, quick feet at the line of scrimmage, a ridiculous vertical leap, reliable hands and an advanced level of field awareness for a prospect.

    In short: He's really, really good, and a summer in a college weight room will lessen minor concerns about his stature.

Tight End: Matt Dotson

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    Matt Dotson
    Matt DotsonCredit: 247Sports

    Matt Dotson has taken trips to Ohio State, Florida State and Michigan State, but Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a possible landing spot.

    "I could definitely see myself there," he told Steve Lorenz of 247Sports. "The way they use the tight end and the many different ways they use guys at the position is really attractive."

    A 6'5", 235-pounder, the 4-star showcases above-average speed for his position. For now, Dotson is more of a pass-catcher than a complete tight end. His blocking must improve, especially if Dotson ultimately attends Michigan.

    But if the Wolverines have the opportunity to mold him, Dotson could be an all-conference weapon.

Offensive Line: Isaiah Wilson

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    Isaiah Wilson
    Isaiah WilsonCredit: 247Sports

    Tedarrell Slaton is just one spot behind in the positional rankings, but No. 18 overall prospect Isaiah Wilson is currently Michigan's highest-rated recruit on the offensive line.

    Size certainly won't be a problem. Wilson is listed at 6'7" and 322 pounds, though he displays good balance and is mobile enough to reach the second level.

    Like a majority of O-line prospects, his pad level and hand placement will need refining at the college level. But Wilson is a powerful blocker who packs a nasty punch.

    According to Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports, Wilson said his top five is composed of Alabama, Ohio State, LSU, Michigan and Georgia.

Defensive End: D.J. Johnson

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    Higher-rated names might be on the radar, but D.J. Johnson will probably soar up recruiting boards soon.

    The 4-star from California amassed 87 total tackles last season, including an absurd 32 for loss and 14.5 sacks. He also forced five fumbles and recovered three, returning each for a touchdown.

    Johnson has stellar speed for an edge-rusher, a trait so impressive he even contributes as a wide receiver. Granted, it's both a blessing and a curse right now, because Johnson can rely on pure athleticism to excel at the high school level.

    But the 6'5", 240-pounder's highlight reels suggests he never gives up on a play, often making tackles well downfield. That every-down commitment certainly isn't unnoticed by coaches.

Defensive Tackle: Marvin Wilson

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    The Wolverines are trying to land the No. 1 defensive tackle two straight years. In 2016, it was Rashan Gary. This time, it's Marvin Wilson.

    A 6'4", 329-pound beast, he's a force at the line of scrimmage. In college, Wilson projects more as a run-stuffer than a sack producer, but commanding double-teams to free teammates for big tackles is perhaps just as valuable.

    But you can't always get what you want.

    "Michigan continues to recruit five-star Marvin Wilson hard, but all indications are that he's staying south," according to Lorenz.

Outside Linebacker: Drew Singleton

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    Michigan has steadily established a pipeline at Paramus Catholic in New Jersey, partly thanks to hiring former head coach Chris Partridge.

    After reeling in Jabrill Peppers and Gary, the Wolverines will now focus on Drew Singleton. He's the No. 4 outside linebacker, second-best in the state and 72nd-rated overall prospect.

    Singleton's current playing style essentially reflects his 6'2" and 215 pounds. The 4-star seems to prefer attacking laterally rather than going downhill. Singleton has ample straight-line speed.

    He'll need to fine-tune tackling and coverage skills as well as maintaining gap control, but Singleton is an instinctive linebacker who can develop into a versatile and reliable weapon.

    Of 15 predictions on the 247Sports Crystal Ball, Michigan has 14. Whenever he decides, it's safe to guess a Wolverines hat will at least be on Singleton's table.

Inside Linebacker: Josh Ross

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    Josh Ross, on the other hand, is adept at attacking downhill.

    Committed to Michigan since late March, the 6'2", 225-pound linebacker possesses the combination of quickness and power every program seeks. His instincts are readily apparent on film.

    Of course, teams can use misdirection to take advantage of an aggressive player like Ross, who sometimes struggles to quickly disengage from blockers.

    But in a scheme built to utilize every player's best talents, Ross won't have trouble making an impact by 2018. His range and tackling ability atone for most of his current—but fixable—shortcomings.

Cornerback: Stanford Samuels

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    Like at Paramus Catholic, the Wolverines laid the foundation to attract Flanagan standouts. Devin Bush Jr., Josh Metellus and Devin Gil each signed in 2016.

    Michigan hopes Stanford Samuels is up next.

    Since he stands a slight 6'2" and 175 pounds, Samuels must add weight once he hits campus. Skill-wise, Samuels is the whole package. He's fast, changes direction quickly, has great ball skills and doesn't shy away from contact—something that isn't a given for corners.

    According to SEC Country, the 5-star said he's down to Alabama, Georgia, Florida State and the Wolverines. Samuels plans to visit Ann Arbor soon, per Lorenz.

Safety: Jeffrey Okudah

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    Measureables don't define a prospect. Jeffrey Okudah is a perfect example of someone who plays bigger than his size.

    At 6'1" and 190 pounds, the 5-star seems undersized. But when a defensive back can accelerate as quickly as Okudah, hit power isn't a problem.

    Plus, balance and footwork are obvious strengths. His combination of instincts, awareness and speed is among the best in the 2017 class.

    Okudah—who could be a safety, cornerback or even linebacker in collegeis looking into unofficially visiting Michigan, per Bleacher Report's Damon Sayles.


    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.

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