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U-M Football starts filling holes with star-studded class

Associated Press • Feb 2, 2017 at 12:55 AM

Michigan's large recruiting class was engineered to help replace the gaping vacancies at so many positions, and head coach Jim Harbaugh and staff landed not only quantity but quality with a top-five group that will be officially unveiled today, on National Signing Day.

The staff went after players to build the program, coming off consecutive 10-3 season, for the future. The Wolverines focused a great deal on in-state players this year and landed eight from Michigan.

"They're losing a lot of experience, a lot of snaps on the defensive side of the football, particularly within the defensive font seven," Tom Luginbill, ESPN's director of national recruiting, said this week. "There are going to be, in the next two years here, significant losses in the offensive line, as well. That's where they've made their strides, in my opinion.

"They've got the No. 1 center in Cesar Ruiz. We've got our 13th-ranked offensive tackle, our 19th-ranked offensive tackle, and when you look at them offensively, what have they lost? They've lost weapons on the perimeter, so the focus has been bringing in more guys like (receivers) Brad Hawkins, Donovan Peoples-Jones."

Michigan will host its second "Signing of the Stars," a two-hour celebration of the signing class beginning at noon Wednesday at the Crisler Center. All the free tickets have been distributed.

While last year's "Signing of the Stars" featured a number of celebrities such as Tom Brady, Derek Jeter, Ric Flair and Lou Holtz, among others, this year's event is expected to have a more distinct Michigan flair with a number of former players scheduled to participate, along with Michigan's 11 early enrollee players.

The former players who have been announced for the program are: Jon Jansen, Jake Rudock, Brandon Graham, LaMarr Woodley, Marlin Jackson, Devin Funchess, Graham Glasgow, Braylon Edwards and Ian Gold.

Michigan could make some significant additions to its class Wednesday. Among those Harbaugh and his staff are waiting on decisions from are five-star defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon, the No. 3 player in Georgia; four-star receiver Nico Collins, the No. 5 player in Alabama; and three-star Mekhi Becton, a big offensive lineman from Virginia.

The class got a boost Monday night when four-star receiver Oliver Martin, the No. 1 player in Iowa, committed after the Wolverines made a splash with him during a recent official visit. Martin, Harbaugh and pass-game coordinator Pep Hamilton were shown on video celebrating his commitment by jumping in the Canham Natatorium pool.

There are incoming freshmen, such as Peoples-Jones, the No. 1 player in Michigan and the nation's No. 1 receiver, who are expected to make an immediate impact this fall. He is one of the 11 early enrollees who will get a jump on the fall by participating in spring practice. But not all will play right away.

"When we look at a class we try to dissect the numbers, where is this team's roster, where are they maybe depleted in terms of talent or numbers," Luginbill said. "They, have they addressed those areas, not necessarily with a guy who's going to come in right way. You're going to have that happen with some guys who play right away, but guys that can be developed as a long-term solution for your over the course of their career. I don't think there's any question that has been accomplished here in Michigan's program."

For example, Luginbill mentioned four-star quarterback Dylan McCaffrey, of Colorado. He likely will redshirt this fall.

"The most important thing to note about quarterback Dylan McCaffrey is he's not ready to play college football yet, and he doesn't have to," Luginbill said. "Preferably for Jim Harbaugh, he would prefer to hold off until they'd at least redshirt him and have him around the program two to three years. I think they're going to be afforded (the ability) to do that with McCaffrey. In my opinion it's the absolute right approach to take the best for the program and best for the kid."

Michigan's 2017 recruiting class

Player Pos. Ht./Wt. School

Jordan Anthony LB 6-1/225 IMG Academy,Bradenton, Fla.

Tarik Black WR 6-3/205 Cheshire (Conn.) Academy

Chuck Filiaga OT 6-6/335 Aledo (Texas) High

JaRaymond Hall OT 6-5/280 Oak Park

Brad Hawkins WR 6-2/210 Suffield (Conn.) Academy

Joel Honigford OT 6-6/270 Garaway High,Sugarcreek, Ohio

James Hudson DT 6-5/280 Toledo Central Catholic

Deron Irving-Bey DE 6-5/275 Flint Southwestern

Donovan Jeter DE 6-6/260 Beaver Falls (Pa.) High

Jaylen Kelly-Powell S 6-0/180 Detroit Cass Tech

Corey Malone-Hatcher DE 6-3/250 St. Joseph (Mich.) High

Oliver Martin WR 6-1/185 Iowa City (Iowa) West High

Ben Mason DE 6-3/240 Newtown High, Sandy Hook, Conn.

Dylan McCaffrey QB 6-4/195 Highlands Ranch, Colo.

Kwity Paye DE 6-3/220 Warwick, R.I.

Phil Paea DE 6-4/270 Berrien Springs (Mich.) High

Donovan Peoples-Jones WR 6-2/190 Detroit Cass Tech

Josh Ross LB 6-2/225 Orchard Lake St. Mary's

Cesar Ruiz C 6-3/320 IMG Academy,Bradenton, Fla.

Benjamin St. Juste CB 6-3/190 Cegep du Vieux Montreal

O'Maury Samuels RB 5-10/190 Los Lunas (N.M.) High

Drew Singleton OL 6-2/215 Paramus (N.J.) Catholic High

Andrew Stueber OT 6-6/290 Darien (Conn.) High

Kurt Taylor RB 5-8/195 Grayson High, Loganville, Ga.

Ambry Thomas CB 5-11/170 Detroit King

Luiji Vilain DE 6-4/240 Episcopal High, Alexandria, Va.

J'Marick Woods S 6-4/200 Florence (Ala.) High

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