The initial Rivals100 for the 2015 class was released this afternoon, and there was plenty of good news for Michigan fans. Fully half of the Wolverines' junior pledges reside in the nation's best 100 players, two of them already earning five-star status.
Here's a look at the list from Michigan's perspective. You can see the full list HERE
The CommitsMichigan's 2014 class has 16 pledges, and only one of them is a top-100 player. Paramus (N.J.) Catholic cornerback Jabrill Peppers is the lone holdout in his class, but that's not the case in 2015. The Wolverines have already landed two of the best seven players in the land. Berea (Ky.) Madison Southern running back Damien Harris is the country's No. 5 player, and Tarpon Springs (Fla.) East Lake wide receiver George Campbell is No. 7 overall.
A third teammate, Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward defensive back Shaun Crawford, makes the tail end of the top-100 at No. 96. While his 5-9, 165-pound size is limiting him for now, Crawford's unreal ability displayed on film could see him continue to climb closer to his future teammates.
Three of the Wolverines' current pledges do not make the list. Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne safety Tyree Kinnel was given early four-star status, and he'll likely wait just one more day to see where he stacks up nationally. The Rivals250 will be released at noon tomorrow, and Kinnel should be in it.
Philadelphia St. Joseph's Prep offensive lineman Jon Runyan Jr. is a lower-profile player among Michigan commits, and three-star status is likely. Unless he makes the Rivals250, he'll likely have to wait until Thursday to find out his ranking. Massillon (Ohio) Washington kicker Andrew David, by virtue of his position, will likely end up as a two-star player.
The ProspectsMichigan is heavily in the mix for a number of the other members of the Rivals100. Should U-M seal the deal on the members, it could set up a class for the ages - even if the overall ranking will be limited by the number of openings.
Just a few targets with Michigan offers - and at least some degree of serious Michigan interest - are on the list, as well.
2. Josh Rosen
6-4/205 • Quarterback
Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco
Although he seems likely to stay on the West Coast, Rosen has made recent statements that he'll consider a Michigan visit.
25. Jerome Baker
6-1/202 • Athlete
Cleveland (Ohio) Benedictine
Baker has canceled a number of visits to Michigan in recent months, but is still hopeful that he'll make it to campus in Ann Arbor eventually.
28. Sterling Jenkins
6-8/300 • Offensive line
Jenkins is very high on Michigan, and there's an added bonus in his friendship with 2014 pledge Chase Winovich. Both visited for the Ohio State game just over a week ago.
39. Jacques Patrick
6-2/225 • Running back
Orlando (Fla.) Timber Creek
Michigan may not be in the market for a second running back, but Patrick is an exception athlete who could change their mind. He has family in the Detroit area.
45. Justin Hilliard
6-2/225 • Linebacker
Cincinnati St. Xavier
A pure inside 'backer, Hilliard has taken more visits to Michigan than any other school. Ohio State, Iowa, and Notre Dame are among his other favorites.
49. Osa Masina
6-4/205 • Athlete
Salt Lake City Brighton
Masina visited Michigan for the Barbecue at the Big House back in June, and U-M is one program that has stayed close to his mind.
52. Tim Settle
6-2/305 • Defensive tackle
Manassas (Va.) Stonewall Jackson
Many U-M fans were clamoring for the Maize and Blue to offer the close friend of 2014 prospect Da'Shawn Hand, and that finally came to fruition over the weekend.
74. Jashon Cornell
6-3/235 • Defensive end
St. Paul (Minn.) Cretin-Derham Hall
Cornell has visited Michigan a couple times already in the process, and has built up a friendship with some of U-M's top pledges and prospects.
90. Brian Cole
6-2/190 • Athlete
Saginaw (Mich.) Heritage
Cole is the top prospect in Michigan for the 2015 class, and holds offers from both in-state schools and several others nationally.
The Wolverines are also in the mix for a number of other top-100 players, though they haven't yet offered. There are also some top-100 prospects holding U-M offers who don't look likely to consider the Maize and Blue.
Projected RankingMichigan's 2014 class on the whole averages 105.2 Rivals team ranking points per pledge. The 2015 class is off to an even stronger start, thanks to the three highly rated players in the fold. Even if Michigan's three as-yet unranked 2015 commits are worth zero points a piece (which won't be the case - at the very least, Kinnel should be a four-star inside the Rivals250), the 2015 Wolverines would be averaging 101.3 points per pledge.
Assuming a 5.8 four-star ranking for Kinnel, a 5.6 three-star for Runyan, and a 5.2 two-star for David (the lowest ranking possible, again simply a product of the position he plays), Michigan's first six pledges will be in the 131.3 points-per-pledge range. While the average will eventually be brought down as the class fills out (unless Michigan does the unprecedented and lands nearly all of their top-100 targets listed above), the current mark still eclipses the per-commit average of Alabama's unbelievable 2014 class.
While Michigan struggled on the field this fall, it's clear that the coaching staff is beginning to amass the talent to not only have better seasons, but compete for Big Ten and national titles.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the next phase of the 2015 Rivals Rankings.