Michigan football recruiting: Raylen Wilson and other storylines to follow through June

Michigan football recruiting: Raylen Wilson and other storylines to follow through June


ANN ARBOR, Mich. — More than two dozen prospects from the Class of 2023 are expected to pass through Michigan’s campus on official visits in June. The list includes a five-star cornerback, two five-star wide receivers, several of Michigan’s top defensive line targets and the top commit in the Wolverines’ class, linebacker Raylen Wilson.

For anyone trying to chart Michigan’s path to another top-10 recruiting class, that list provides plenty of hopeful possibilities. Getting players on campus is one thing; securing their commitments is another. The Wolverines added one Sunday with a commitment from Deakon Tonielli, a three-star tight end from Oswego, Ill. They will need a few more to move the 2023 class from its spot at No. 35 to familiar top-10 territory.

Here are five storylines to follow as a busy month of June approaches its conclusion.

Can Michigan hang on to Wilson?

Wilson, a four-star linebacker and the No. 74 player in the 247Sports Composite rankings, committed to the Wolverines in December. Landing a player of his caliber out of Tallahassee, Fla., was a big early boost for Michigan’s class, but this recruitment can’t be put on autopilot.

Wilson took an official visit to Georgia on the first weekend of June and visited Florida the next week. With those SEC schools in pursuit, Wilson’s trip to Ann Arbor this past weekend was a chance to solidify his commitment. Michigan will have to hope that’s enough to keep him committed, even as schools closer to home come knocking.

At 6-foot-2 and 213 pounds, Wilson is an athletic inside linebacker who adds a whole lot of defensive speed to Michigan’s class. The Wolverines aren’t recruiting a large number of players at his position, and it would be tough to find a prospect of his caliber to fill the spot if he goes elsewhere. That makes it even more important for Michigan to close the deal.

Michigan’s 2023 commitments

Player Position Ranking Height Weight School

Brooks Bahr

DL

3-star

6-6

270

Loyola Academy (Wilmette, Ill.)

Cole Cabana

RB

3-star

6-0

180

Dexter (Dexter, Mich.)

Benjamin Hall

RB

3-star

5-10

225

North Cobb (Kennesaw, Ga.)

Semaj Morgan

WR

3-star

5-10

175

West Bloomfield (West Bloomfield, Mich.)

Adam Samaha

K

3-star

6-0

170

Huron (Ann Arbor, Mich.)

Deakon Tonielli

TE

3-star

6-6

215

Oswego (Oswego, Ill.)

Raylen Wilson

LB

4-star

6-2

213

Lincoln (Tallahassee, Fla.)

Michigan zeroes in on DL targets

It couldn’t have been pure coincidence that Michigan had some of its top edge targets on campus the same weekend Aidan Hutchinson, David Ojabo and the rest of the 2021 team returned to collect Big Ten championship rings.

Four-star defensive ends Enow Etta and Jaxon Howard were among the players who posed for pictures with Hutchinson at the ceremony, which surely wasn’t a bad recruiting pitch. If there’s a position that could ignite momentum for Michigan’s 2023 class, this is the one. The Wolverines have had several of their top targets on campus, including Etta (No. 124 in the 247 Sports Composite), Howard (No. 96), Collins Acheampong (No. 298) and Jason Moore (No. 52). A commitment or two from that group could be what Michigan needs to get the ball rolling.

Michigan won’t have to wait long for an answer from Howard, who is set to announce his commitment July 1. Ranked as the No. 1 prospect in Minnesota, Howard has the Golden Gophers as one of his finalists, along with Michigan, LSU and Miami. He is scheduled to visit all four schools before announcing his commitment.

Who are the building blocks on the offensive line?

It has been a little tricky to pin down Michigan’s options on the offensive line. The Wolverines were recruiting Kadyn Proctor and Cayden Green, top-100 prospects from the Midwest, but Proctor has narrowed his list to Iowa and Alabama, and Green appears to be focused on Oklahoma and Nebraska. Tackle Charles Jagusah, the No. 55 player in his class out of Rock Island, Ill., visited Michigan this past weekend and remains a possibility. Amir Herring, a four-star prospect from West Bloomfield, Mich., made his official visit this past weekend and will announce his commitment July 7.

It’s a bit puzzling that Michigan hasn’t had more luck with elite offensive line prospects. The Wolverines won the Joe Moore Award last season and have a strong success rate with sending offensive linemen to the NFL. Offensive line coach Sherrone Moore is regarded as one of Michigan’s top recruiters, too. After signing a big haul of offensive linemen in the 2021 class, Michigan signed three in 2022, including one who technically belonged to the Class of 2020. There’s still time for the 2023 class, but right now it’s a work in progress.

There’s good reason to be confident that Michigan can sign offensive linemen ranked in the 400-600 range and develop them into NFL prospects. If the Wolverines end up going that route — with, say, a prospect like Paul Mubenga, a three-star tackle from Georgia who visited earlier this month — it doesn’t mean this class is a failure. Eventually, Michigan should be due to win a recruiting battle for a blue-chip offensive line prospect.

Quarterback waiting game continues

While the Wolverines were busy entertaining a large group of official visitors this past weekend, their top (and thus far, only) quarterback target for 2023 was making an unofficial visit to Texas A&M. Time will tell whether that trip to College Station alters anything with the recruitment of five-star quarterback Dante Moore, but it’s another indication Moore is keeping his options open as his senior season approaches.

The waiting will be worthwhile if Moore ends up picking Michigan in the end. If he doesn’t, the Wolverines will have to live with losing two elite quarterback recruits — Moore and 2024 prospect CJ Carr — from their home state in successive classes.

That could end up being a moot point if the Wolverines land Jadyn Davis, the five-star quarterback from Charlotte, NC, who made an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor this month. Michigan has been the school generating the most early buzz for Davis, a top-15 prospect in the 2024 class, but there’s a long way to go.

If Davis decides to make an early commitment, he could be a cornerstone for the 2024 class, in the same way JJ McCarthy created the foundation for Michigan’s 2021 class. That wouldn’t necessarily be the case with Moore, who seems to be in no rush to select a school.

Can Michigan finish June on a high note?

Michigan’s final group of visitors is a bit smaller in numbers but not lacking in star power. The reported visitors include five-star cornerback Javien Toviano from Texas, five-star wide receivers Jalen Brown and Johntay Cook and four-star athlete Malachi Coleman from Lincoln, Neb.

Michigan isn’t perceived as the favorite for any of those players, but sometimes that can change after an official visit. Generating positive buzz with this last group of visitors could carry the Wolverines into July, a month when the commitments typically start rolling in.

It’s worth remembering that the bulk of Michigan’s 2022 recruiting class came together in the five or six months leading up to signing day. That will be the case for the 2023 class as well. The start hasn’t been overwhelming, but the finish is what counts.

(Photo of Jim Harbaugh: Dylan Buell / Getty Images)

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