Over the past 50 years or so, Michigan’s football program has been successful in recruiting the best rookies for a multitude of reasons. Whether it’s because of the tradition and heritage of the program, or being sent to the NFL, the University of Michigan has had success with high-profile rookies entering the football program.
Since his return in December 2014, head coach Jim Harbaugh has been able to recruit some of these top rookies I was talking about. In seven classes in total – and six actual classes, if you don’t count the quickly put together 2015 class – he landed six five-star rookies and a plethora of four stars.
Today we’re going to take a trip down memory lane and recall the top candidates to engage and sign with the Wolverines since Harbaugh returned to town. For this list, I’m only counting players who were recruited by Harbaugh. Guys like Jabrill Peppers, for example, won’t be counted since they were already on campus.
N Â° 10: Caesar Ruiz, 4 OL stars, class of 2017
Ranking: No.1 OC, No.47 overall, composite score of 0.9786
Chris Partridge is known for helping acquire the No.1 player on this list, but he was also a major factor in Ruiz’s decision to travel to Michigan. Ruiz, from New Jersey, transferred to IMG Academy to play his senior season, but his close ties to Partridge ultimately earned the Wolverines this recruitment.
A two-year start at center Michigan and a first-round pick for the New Orleans Saints in the 2020 NFL Draft, Ruiz is arguably the best offensive lineman of the Harbaugh era.
N Â° 9: Zach Charbonnet, RB four stars, class 2019
Ranking: # 4 RB, # 46 overall, composite score of 0.9760
Despite his short stint in Ann Arbor, Charbonnet was a huge win on the recruiting trail for Jay Harbaugh. That recruiting was as quiet as it could have been for one of the nation’s top 50 players, but at the end of the day he picked the Wolverines over a ton of other highly regarded college football programs. He will now be spending the rest of his college time at UCLA, having transferred there in January.
No. 8: Donovan edwards, RB four stars, class 2021
Ranking: # 4 RB, # 41 overall, composite score of 0.9808
Maybe Edwards can make up for Charbonnet’s transfer. A member of the Michigan freshman class, it was a big win for Harbaugh and the Wolverines on the scouting track. He signed up at the start of the signing period in December 2020 outside of his school in West Bloomfield, choosing the Wolverines over other schools like Notre Dame, Michigan State, Georgia, Oklahoma and more.
Despite his early entry, Edwards was still able to play and win the High School State Championship with West Bloomfield in his senior year.
No. 7: Ben bredeson, 4 OL stars, class of 2016
Ranking: 5th OT, 39th overall, composite score of 0.9799
With offerings from across the country, including the Wisconsin Badgers, Bredeson made a commitment to the Wolverines in the summer of 2015. He locked things down and stayed true to his word throughout his high school career. A four-year left-guard starter and two-year captain, Bredeson is up there with Ruiz as one of the best offensive linemen of the Harbaugh era. He now plays for John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens.
Number 6: Christophe hinton, five stars DL, class 2019
Ranking: n Â° 4 DT, n Â° 31 in total, composite score of 0.9867
A five-star prospect from the state of Georgia hired in Michigan? In the era of bag men? Somehow, Harbaugh and the Wolverines were able to do it, one reason being the Hinton family’s great value to academics. Chris’ younger brother Myles was heavily recruited by Michigan before signing with Stanford.
Hinton has been a contributor since his first season at Ann Arbor and will look to continue this year.
No. 5: JJ McCarthy, Five-star QB, class 2021
Ranking: No. 4 QB, No. 24 overall, 0.9868 composite score
The highest-ranked signal caller of the Harbaugh era, the true freshman doesn’t yet have a costume for the Wolverines, but his potential is huge. McCarthy ended his recruiting fairly quickly in the spring of 2020, committing to Michigan and never straying from it. He’s helped recruit a ton of players into Michigan’s 2021 class and appears to have the potential to be a team captain someday.
Number 4: Aubrey salomon, five stars DL, class 2017
Ranking: n Â° 2 DT, n Â° 23 in total, 0.9879 composite score
If you follow recruiting closely, you are probably more familiar with Salomon to engage him in Michigan and then disengage after receiving a letter from college thanking him for attending an event he didn’t even know about. attended – and the letter had his name misspelled. And then there was a video on social media of him saying “F *** Michigan”. He later apologized for those words and then ended up signing with Michigan anyway. It was a wild recruitment to say the least.
Another âwhat could have beenâ at Ann Arbor, Solomon had a lot of potential before moving to Tennessee after two seasons at Michigan.
No. 3: Daxton Hill, five-star S, class 2019
Ranking: # 1S, # 14 overall, composite score of 0.9927
Perhaps Harbaugh’s biggest victory on the scouting trail, Hill moved from Alabama to Michigan on day one of the early signing period in December 2019. Sherrone Moore, originally from Oklahoma, where Hill also grown up, should get a ton of credit for rocking Hill.
Hill gained some playing time in his first season, but was a full-time starter in 2020. He and Brad Hawkins will once again manage the deep end of the Wolverines’ defensive field this season.
No. 2: Donovan Peoples-Jones, five stars WR, class 2017
Ranking: # 1 WR, # 12 overall, composite score of 0.9925
An absolutely deadly receiver from Cass Tech in Detroit, Peoples-Jones committed to the Wolverines over Ohio State, Michigan State, Florida and Florida State on ESPN2 in December 2016. DPJ racked up over 1,000 yards in his junior and senior seasons leading up to his career in Michigan, where he racked up just 1,327 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. Now he’s catching assists from Baker Mayfield on the Cleveland Browns.
He wasn’t a bust, but he certainly didn’t live up to his five-star billing.
No. 1: Rashan Gary, five stars DL, class 2016
Ranking: n Â° 1 DT, n Â° 1 in total, 1,000 composite score
The highest-rated rookie of the Harbaugh era, Gary was an athletic and physical specimen from Paramus Catholic in New Jersey. Deciding between Michigan and Clemson on ESPN on the traditional signing day in February 2016, Gary put on the Maize and Blue hat and made it official. Partridge, once again, played a huge role in this recruiting, as he coached Gary in high school.
The current Green Bay Packer has 119 tackles, 23 for losses, 9.5 sacks and a forced fumble in three seasons at Ann Arbor.