We are a little over two weeks away from the second and final signing day of the 2018 recruiting cycle, and as you might expect, Ohio State and Michigan are right at the top of the Big Ten standings in recruiting rankings.
Well, that’s not entirely true. The Buckeyes are at the top and the Wolverines are No. 3 behind Penn State.
Still, first and third are pretty close, right?
The Buckeyes have the No. 1 class in the conference (and No. 2 in the nation) so far with 309.90 points. The points come from 247’s own particular formulas based on where commits/signees are ranked in the composite scores of all of the major recruiting services. Michigan comes in third in the B1G with 235.79 points, which isn’t bad. It’s also good for No. 14 in the nation.
The difference, however, comes not from the separation in the Big Ten rankings, but in the points that determine those rankings. Michigan is closer to the worst recruiting class in the conference (Northwestern at 174.03) than they are to Ohio State’s recruiting class.
Even more amazingly, Michigan is closer to the No. 64 class in the nation (Houston) than they are to the Buckeyes.
Maybe globe-trotting during the spring wasn’t the recruiting boon that we all thought it was.
Now this is the part of the show where we put the disclaimer saying that recruiting rankings are not the end-all, be-all. That being said, recruiting absolutely is the end-all, be-all, and right now Michigan isn’t doing it nearly as well as Ohio State.
This isn’t new, of course. The Buckeyes have finished ahead of the Wolverines in the last eight recruiting classes, assuming it is safe enough to call the 2018 recruiting cycle won.
So, no, recruiting rankings won’t guarantee you anything, but considering that Ohio State has won six in a row on the field, it’s about as close as you can get to a sure thing.
And it is that “sure thing” that is so jarring when looking at Michigan’s current recruiting class compared to Ohio State.
OSU currently has 23 commits/signees compared to UM’s 20, and that’s about as close as things get between these two classes.
For instance, 12 members of Ohio State’s recruiting class are ranked in the Top 100 of the Composite, and that’s not even counting defensive tackle Antwuan Jackson who is ranked as the No. 1 junior college prospect in the nation. Compare that to just one member of Michigan’s class — Georgia linebacker Otis Reese (No. 77) — in the Top 100.
Reese would be the 12th-highest rated recruit in Ohio State’s class. And again, that’s not including Antwuan Jackson. In other words, Michigan’s “best” recruit would be in the bottom half of Ohio State’s recruiting class right now.
If you are interested in another measuring stick, 17 members of OSU’s recruiting class rank in the Top 10 of their respective positions. That’s 74% of the class, and they’re still working on a few other prospects who could increase that percentage. Five of Michigan’s commits/signees (25%) are ranked in the Top 10 of their respective positions, which is pretty good. It also happens to be the same number of Buckeyes ranked No. 1 overall at their respective positions.
Michigan has 10 commits/signees ranked in the 500s or lower. That’s half of their class. Half of Ohio State’s class, meanwhile, is ranked in the Top 76. Michigan has gone to Missouri and Texas and Connecticut and Florida for some of these players. For a comparison, two of OSU’s signees are ranked in the 500s or lower. One is from Columbus and the other is the brother of former OSU All-American safety Malik Hooker.
Ohio State is competing with Alabama and Clemson and Georgia for recruits. Michigan is competing with Missouri, Georgia Tech, and Connecticut.
If you’re not competing against the nation’s best on the recruiting trail, it’s gonna be hard as hell to compete against them on the football field.
I understand what Jim Harbaugh was able to do at Stanford, but he also had Andrew Luck — a Top 50 player — at quarterback. Maybe Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson can be that for him this time around, maybe not. Patterson will come and go, but it will be the 2018 recruiting class that is tasked with leading this program into the future after Patterson is gone.
The lack of player development under Jim Harbaugh has been one of the most disappointing aspects of his tenure so far. I expected him to get everything out of his players, and he hasn’t done that yet. The worrisome thing for Michigan, however, is that if he does get everything out of the 2018 class, what will it even mean?
I don’t want to demean any members of Michigan’s class, because any one of them could go on to have a great career. In fact, the only guarantees when it comes to recruiting is that great players emerge from places that you would never expect. Every school and every coach has stories of the under-the-radar player who hit it big, but an under-the-radar recruiting class is a risky proposition.
Here’s hoping that Jim Harbaugh is finding the perfect fits for his program because it is obvious that something has been missing.
The good news is that the 2019 recruiting class is off to a terrific start with four commits — all of whom are in the Top 10 of their respective positions. The bad news, however, is that if the 2018 class doesn’t pan out, there is going to be a sizable void that can’t be fixed in just one recruiting cycle, no matter how good it is.