Jim Harbaugh may or may not pull in one of the Big Ten’s top recruiting classes — it’ll more than likely the latter — when it’s all said and done, but what he and his staff are doing now is setting the football program up for the next year’s class.
Exactly one week away from National Signing Day, UM’s 2015 class ranks 75th nationally and dead last in the Big Ten (Purdue is the closest at 60th). That’s quite an improvement from two weeks ago when, two weeks into his tenure, Harbaugh’s Wolverines were 97th in the country. That bump was triggered by a trio of flips, including a four-star quarterback who had been a Texas commit.
UM, along with UCLA, is also in play for the No. 1 tight end in the country, Chris Clark, a target that could push the class ranking closer to midpack. Five-star cornerback Iman Marshall, the No. 3 player in the nation according to Rivals.com, took an official visit to Ann Arbor earlier this month and came away giving UM serious consideration, although USC is still widely considered the favorite (maybe). A handful of three- and four-star recruits are still in play as well.
The program hopes to add 15 players from this year’s class, and are currently sitting at nine commitments with signing day seven days away.
Given the tight time frame in which Harbaugh’s been forced to operate, and despite attacking this day with Enthusiasm Unknown to Mankind, the 2015 recruiting cycle is essentially serving as a gateway to next year’s class.
“You may not see a huge bump in 2015, in part because of the timing of Jim Harbaugh’s hire,” Brandon Huffman, the national director of recruiting for Scout.com, told the Toledo Blade recently. “But you’ll see that momentum carry into the spring when coaches go on the road to begin evaluating the 2016 class.”
Harbaugh & Company could still make a late push this year, but circle 2016 as the year they begin to challenger Urban Meyer and Ohio State, currently seventh nationally, for Big Ten recruiting supremacy.