Just another day at the office for Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh. The coach showcased his second edition of ‘Signing with the Stars’ on Wednesday in Ann Arbor to help celebrate National Signing Day.
And as expected, Harbaugh and the Wolverines cleaned up very well this go-round. They answered their top-10 Class of 2016 with a Class of 2017 that should end up in the top 5, according to 247Sports. This year’s crop of players was headlined by none other than Cass Tech wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, one of two 5-star commit from the list of 30 pledges.
Here are some things to take away from how the Wolverines did on Wednesday:
SOLOMON AND COLLINS SET TO MAKE IMMEDIATE IMPACT
Michigan was still being considered by a number of high-profile, undecided players across the country entering Wednesday. They missed out on some early targets like offensive lineman Mekhi Becton (committed to Louisville) and defensive back Willie Gay (Mississippi State), but as the day progressed, their fortune came to fruition.
It all started with a pledge from 5-star defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon (Leesburg, GA) in the late morning. Solomon of course was originally committed to Michigan since June of 2016, only to reopen he commitment process months later. He had received offers from the likes of Georgia and Alabama, and even considered the Tide to be a favorite. But he re-upped his decision in Wednesday to attend the University of Michigan.
The second notable commit and sign came from a 4-star Alabama wide receiver in Nico Collins (Pinson, AL). Like Solomon in a number of ways, his interest in the Wolverines dates back a significant amount of time. The school formally offered him a scholarship when he was a junior in October of 2015. And not surprisingly, Michigan had competition from the power programs of the southeast. But in the end, Collins will be donning the maize and blue.
Having these two is big enough, but just as important if not more are the positions they will be playing at. Solomon is joining a defensive line that, not only has strong talent already, but has incoming talent joining him. The same goes for Collins, who is one of five wide receiver commits for the Wolverines, four of which are 4-stars or better. Expect some star power for years to come in Ann Arbor.
DAVIS AND FITZGERALD JOINING PROGRAM AS WALK-ONS
Michigan also got a pair of commits on Wednesday from some in-state programs. The first came courtesy of an offensive lineman from Mount Pleasant by the name of Sea Fitzgerald.
The 6-foot-3, 285-pound Fitzgerald reportedly had his eyes set on attending the Air Force Academy come next fall, but it was hard to pass up a chance to play for the team he had life-long allegiance for.
“It had to be Michigan,” Fitzgerald said. “I was honestly looking forward to the Air Force and boot camp and all of that. I was ready to embrace it. But then Michigan came along with a preferred walk-on offer.
“There’s a big ol’ M hanging in my bedroom. My favorite player is Taylor Lewan. I’ve been a Michigan fan for as long as I can remember.”
It was hours into the late afternoon when Michigan got a hard commit and signed letter from Frankenmuth quarterback/defensive back Jared Davis. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Davis explored options at Division II Michigan-based schools like Saginaw Valley State and Northwood, but ultimately followed a path laid out by a former Frankenmuth quarterback, current Michigan fullback and former walk-on Nick Volk.
“Ever since high school, he’s always been a role model to me,” Davis said. “He’s taught me the ropes. As far as Michigan contacts, he’s helped me out a lot. He’s kind of guided me through this, paving the way for another Frankenmuth kid.”
“Coach Harbaugh calls him Nick Hulk, because he’s huge and it rhymes I guess,” Davis said. “He’s got a reputation as a hard-working, determined kid. They’re going to think I’m the same way, so it’s my job to be hard-working and determined.”
Congratulations to both Davis and Fitzgerald for making a huge step in their young careers towards their future.
A CLASS FLOODED WITH TOP-LEVEL TALENT
It should not come as a surprise to Michigan fans by now that Jim Harbaugh can recruit, he has a knack for reeling in and working with some of the nation’s premier high school talents. It’s basically why National Signing Day has become a de facto holiday for Wolverines fans nationwide.
But just how good did they clean up this year? There’s 30 total commits – 11 of which are enrolled, 12 signed their national letter of intent on Wednesday, and seven still committed hard to the program. Of the 30 they swept up, 23 were ranked in the top 10 for their respective state. This includes seven players that were ranked No. 1 from that particular state:
- D. Peoples-Jones, WR (Michigan)
- Tarik Black, WR (Connecticut)
- Benjamin St-Juste, CB (Quebec, CA)
- Kwtiy Paye, WDE (Rhode Island)
- Drew Singleton, OLB (New Jersey)
- Oliver Martin, WR (Iowa)
- O’Maury Samuels, RB (New Mexico)