In the constant tug-of-war for the attention of high school student-athletes, Brian Kelly and Jim Harbaugh are currently deadlocked.
Brian Kelly and his staff have convinced 21 student-athletes with Michigan offers to commit to Notre Dame, while Jim Harbaugh and his group have persuaded the same number to forgo Notre Dame offers and come to Ann Arbor, according to Her Loyal Sons research.
Michigan and Notre Dame have historically battled for outstanding players in midwestern states, although the skirmish has also expanded to the East Coast and California in the past 20 years.
WOLVERINES GRAB HIGHER RATED TALENT
Michigan has swayed 3 five-stars with Notre Dame offers to join their team, while Notre Dame has landed zero. The Irish have grabbed 16 four-stars to Michigan’s 13, while the Wolverines have 1 more three-star than the Irish group.
The six best players, according to Scout’s recruiting rankings, have all headed north: defensive tackle Rashan Gary (#1 overall, class of 2016); wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones (#22, 2017); running back Kareem Walker (#28, 2016); offensive tackle Ben Bredeson (#36, 2016); cornerback David Long (#64, 2016) and tight end Devin Assisi (#67, 2016).
Bredeson made eight starts at left guard for the Wolverines last year and appeared in all of their games. He allowed five quarterback hurries, three hits and one sack in 256 pass blocking snaps, according to College Football Film Room. He was also given an honorable mention on the All-Big Ten team. Gary played in all of Michigan’s games as well, registering 26 tackles, nine tackles for loss, eight hurries, eight quarterback hits and just four missed tackles.
Asiasi played sparingly – being targeted just five times and catching 2 passes for 18 yards. Long appeared in four games, mostly on special teams. A quarterback never threw his way when he was in at cornerback, so he didn’t register any stats. Walker was a redshirt.
WHO HAS HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT SO FAR?
Besides Bredeson’s and Gary’s notable freshman seasons, the Irish have two players who have made equal or greater impacts on their team so far.
Dexter Williams was the first to spurn the Wolverines in favor of the Irish after Harbaugh’s hiring in Ann Arbor on Dec. 30, 2014. The running back has registered 281 yards rushing on 61 carries over two seasons. Williams has also found the end zone four times. At this point, he has proven himself a capable second back behind fellow rising junior Josh Adams.
Kevin Stepherson, a three-star unranked in Scout’s 300, had a surprisingly good freshman campaign, becoming quarterback DeShone Kizer’s third favorite target last year. Stepherson caught 25 balls for 474 yards, good for 14 first downs and five touchdowns.
Despite posting a 4-8 season, the Irish have grabbed as many highly-rated recruits for their forthcoming class as Michigan.
The two teams have split Scout’s top 100 that received offers from both schools. Besides Peoples-Jones, Michigan will be welcoming four-star wide receiver Tarik Black (#90, 2017) and four-star outside linebacker Drew Singleton (#93) in the summer. Notre Dame has four-star tight end Brock Wright (#76) and four-star inside linebacker David Adams (#88) coming to South Bend instead of heading farther north.
We cannot discount timing, however. The Wolverines, fresh off their Orange Bowl appearance, have the momentum of late, grabbing five of the last six commits. Those all came since the college football season started. Four-star offensive tackle Aaron Banks (#163) is the lone individual to choose the Irish over Michigan recently.
KELLY & HARBAUGH AREN’T IMMUNE TO DECOMMITS
Of course, nothing is final with 2017 or 2018 recruits until they fax or e-mail their national letters of intent. Both schools have already seen commits suddenly change their minds.
Leonard Taylor, a three-star defensive end, initially picked the Wolverines over the Irish, but then de-committed before the season started. (He’s currently undecided.) Three-star running back A.J. Dillon also picked Michigan over Notre Dame, but then committed to Boston College shortly before Christmas.
Four-star outside linebacker Pete Werner chose Ohio State after initially picking the Irish. Most recently, four-star cornerback Elijah Hicks enrolled in Cal instead of honoring his verbal commitment to Notre Dame. Hicks held a Michigan offer, among several others.
|Player||Position||Stars||Scout Rank||State||Signed||Shunned||Class of||Commit Date|
|Devin Bush Jr.||ILB||3||NR||FL||Michigan||ND||2016||12/16/15|