On January 10, 2017, ESPN published their “Way Too Early Top 25” rankings for college football. This was just after Clemson defeated Alabama for the College Football Playoff National Championship. You can check out the original list here.
At that time, the experts over at ESPN had the Michigan Wolverines ranked at No. 12 with many key losses including all but one starter on defense.
Outlook: The Wolverines are losing 10 starters on defense, their top two receivers, an All-American tight end and a starting tailback. Therefore, it would be an understatement to say Jim Harbaugh is facing a massive rebuilding job in his third season as coach of his alma mater. But Ohio State’s Urban Meyer faced a similar reboot this past season and still guided the Buckeyes to a spot in the CFP. The good news for the Wolverines: Quarterback Wilton Speight was better than expected in his first season as a starter. On defense, linebacker Mike McCray and end Rashan Gary will lead what figures to be a very young unit. The Wolverines open the season against Florida in Arlington, Texas, and will play Big Ten road games at Penn State and Wisconsin (Ohio State travels to Michigan).
Next season, Harbaugh and the Wolverines will be in a similar situation that Ohio State was in 2016. They will be rebuilding and starting a lot of young and inexperienced talent. The good news is, Michigan’s recruiting class on National Signing Day was very highly thought of. The Orlando Sentinal compiled the final rankings for the Class of 2017 from four major recruiting websites. The results for Michigan were as follows:
- 247Sports.com: No. 5
- Rivals.com: No. 4
- Scout.com: No. 3
- ESPN.com: No. 6
The experts agree: the Maize and Blue have hauled in another stellar recruiting class. You can read our recap of NSD 2017 for the Wolverines right here.
So, what does this recruiting class have on the outlook for 2017? ESPN gratefully obliged with another “Way Too Early Top 25” rankings list. This time they factored in the impact of the Class of 2017 and Michigan has fallen two spots in the rankings. Here’s what ESPN had to say now that NSD is over.
Outlook: Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh’s second signing day wasn’t as celebrated as his first, but the Wolverines’ class was just as good. And it’s a good thing, because Michigan faces a major rebuilding job after losing a boatload of players to the NFL draft. The Wolverines signed a top-10 class, led by No. 4 receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, No. 1 center Cesar Ruiz, No. 6 defensive end Luiji Vilain and No. 6 pocket passer Dylan McCaffrey, the younger brother of former Stanford star Christian McCaffrey. Michigan had some turnover on its coaching staff after former passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch left for UCLA. Harbaugh hired Cleveland Browns assistant head coach Pep Hamilton to replace Fisch, and Indiana’s Greg Frey was hired to coach offensive tackles and tight ends.
What do you think, Nation? Is this ranking too high for the Wolverines? Did they deserve a 2-spot drop in the rankings after their star-studded Signing of the Stars event?
Winners (NSD only):
– Florida State
– Mississippi State
— Stone (@Stone_InSpace) February 2, 2017
— HAILTOTHEVICTORS (@fatchman21) February 1, 2017
Michigan put together a fantastic recruiting class. Calling it now, Chip in 2018. #NSD
— Jtog (@Jtogx) February 1, 2017
My 4 playoff teams (2017) after NSD:
— Adam Ghabour (@Qb9Adam) February 2, 2017