Updated look at 2018 scholarships and needs
Written by Matt Pargoff   

Signing at least 29 players in each of the last two recruiting classes, Michigan’s next group of players for 2018 will look very different. In fact, with eight players verbally committed so far, the Wolverines are already running into a numbers crunch. We take a look at where things stand at present in terms of scholarship numbers and distribution.

The chart below shows the composition of the team as it will look a year and a half down the road, when the 2018 class enters as freshmen.

2018 Scholarship Distribution

RS freshmen or sophomore Sophomres
Dylan McCaffrey (1)
Brandon Peters (31)
Alex Malzone (36)
Wilton Speight (64)*
O'Maury Samuels (2)
Kurt Taylor (3)
Kareem Walker (32)

Chris Evans (37) Karan Higdon (65)
Tarik Black (4)
Nico Collins (5)
Brad Hawkins (6)
Oliver Martin (7)

Donovan Peoples-Jones (8)

Dylan Crawford (38)
Nate Johnson (39)

Eddie McDoom (40)
Drake Harris (66)*
Grant Perry (67)
Maurice Ways (68)*

Nick Eubanks (41)
Zach Gentry (42)
Sean McKeon (43)
Tyrone Wheatley Jr. (44)
Ian Bunting (69)*
Chuck Filiaga (9)
Ja'Raymond Hall (10)
Joel Honigford (11)
Cesar Ruiz (12)
Andrew Stueber (13)
Stephen Spanellis (33)
Ben Bredeson (45)
Michael Onwenu (46)
Jon Runyan Jr. (47)
Nolan Ulizio (48)
J. Bushell-Beatty (70)*
Grant Newsome (71)
Benjamin St-Juste (14)
Ambry Thomas (15)

David Long (49)
Lavert Hill (50)
Keith Washington (51)
Brandon Watson (72)*
Jaylen Kelly-Powell (16)
J'Marick Woods (17)

\Josh Metellus (52) Tyree Kinnel (73)
Jordan Anthony (18)
Ben Mason (19)
Joshua Ross (20)
Drew Singleton (21)
  Devin Bush Jr. (53)
Devin Gil (54)
Khaleke Hudson (55)
Elysee Mbem-Bosse (56)

Joshua Uche (57)

Noah Furbush (74)*
Jared Wangler (75)*

Deron Irvin-Bey (22)
James Hudson (23)
Donovan Jeter (24)
Corey Malone-Hatcher (25)
Kwity Paye (26)
Luiji Vilain (27)
Ron Johnson (34)
Rashan Gary (58)
Shelton Johnson (59)
Reuben Jones (60)
Carlo Kemp (61)
Chase Winovich (76)*
Phillip Paea (28)
Aubrey Solomon (29)
  Michael Dwumfour (62) Lawrence Marshall (77)*
Bryan Mone (78)*
Brad Robbins (30)
Quinn Nordin (35)
Andrew David (63)

With 78 players scheduled to return, Michigan currently has only seven scholarships to give in the 2018 class under the NCAA limit of 85. That number will of course change over time as more scholarships open up, and recent years have seen particularly high attrition rates, but it should be expected that the Wolverines will sign a smaller class than the last two.

Numbers Wiggle Room

Two names on the chart above were italicized because their futures as players with the program remain uncertain at this time. Those two were Grant Newsome, who suffered a catastrophic knee injury during the season, and Grant Perry, who remains suspended pending the outcome of legal proceedings on fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and resisting arrest charges.

Both remain as part of the team, but neither practiced in the spring. If Newsome is unable to return to playing form, he will remain on scholarship and Michigan will receive a medical exemption from the NCAA on the 85-scholarship limit.

It is also worth noting that from the list of 2018 seniors above, the two Grants, along with Tyree Kinnel and Karan Higdon, would be the only fourth-year players. So it is possible that some of the remaining 11 players in that right-hand column (marked with *) will not be invited back for a fifth year.

Finally, there is always some unexpected losses along the way through injuries and player departures. So the number will go up from just seven scholarships and it is just a waiting game to see where that will come from.

Greatest Remaining Needs

Safety: The Wolverines have some concerns at the safety position in both the short- and long-term. This fall, they will be breaking in a new group of starters, and the list of likely options includes two veterans that played mostly on special teams, two incoming freshmen, and a walk-on that saw work special teams.

So even in the near future, the development of that spot will be worth watching closely. Maybe a player like Benjamin St-Juste moves there, or learns both safety and corner, to improve depth. Strong-side linebacker Khaleke Hudson worked at safety last year, so he could also move in a pinch. But the bottom line is, Michigan doesn’t have great depth at that spot.

It is possible that the Wolverines could get around this issue with a lot of multi-position, hybrid type players. They may already have that in the 2018 class, with Otis Reese likely destined for VIPER spot, but also having the body type to play safety, as well as cornerback commits Gemon Green and Myles Sims at least having the height to work deeper in the secondary.

Right now though, with only German Green slated for the safety spot in the 2018 class, it would likely be a position that could use more depth.

Tight End: It seems odd to point to this position after the strong group that signed in 2016, but a series of factors have made it a significant need for the 2018 class.

Obviously a big one of those is that Devin Asiasi has transferred to UCLA. He was freshman that contributed the most last fall, and now he is out of the mix. The fact that Sean McKeon and Nick Eubanks saw the field last year, also makes this a greater need, as they will now have junior eligibility in 2018.

It’s unclear if Eubanks would have reason to petition for an extra year. Unlike McKeon, he did not continue to play for the full season after seeing action early. So if there was an injury that caused that, it would help to spread the depth out over different classes.

But the state of the fullback position, as we’ll discuss below, could also affect the tight end spot, as it may draw away some of the depth.

Tight end is not an area where a 2018 recruit is needed for immediate impact, but the opportunity is there for a player in the class to redshirt, then become a three-year starter.

Fullback: The Wolverines are in a solid spot for the upcoming season at fullback with Khalid Hill and Henry Poggi returning, but after those two, the pool of options is made up entirely of walk-ons. That isn’t necessarily a problem, as Michigan has found walk-on fullbacks in the past who can contribute. Joe Kerridge very recently took that path to playing time, and was even a team captain in 2015. But looking over the options in that group, even the walk-ons are starting to get older.

Joe Beneducci, Michael Hirsch, Brian Chu and Nick Volk will all be entering their fourth years this fall, so they could still be back in 2018, but the future list after that includes Spencer Dickow, who is a year behind that group, incoming walk-ons this fall, and anyone else that gets recruited.

This is a spot where a player could move into the position. Both Hill and Poggi started out elsewhere. Maybe a player like McKeon or Eubanks could move into fullback down the road in a similar type of tight end to fullback shift. That may be the most likely scenario, but they would still be juniors when the 2018 class enters. As a result, it would not be a surprise to see a player sign on for the position next year. While Jim Harbaugh has not signed a fullback in his first three classes, it is a position that carries an important role in the offense.


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