U-M Finishes With A Top-2 Class In The Big Ten For 15th Time In 20 Years
The dust has finally settled on the Michigan Wolverines' 2021 football recruiting class, with Jim Harbaugh's crew concluding the cycle with a Signing Day bang. The haul was already in solid shape prior to this week, but strengthened itself in a big way with the additions of Oak Park (Mich.) High four-star defensive tackle Rayshaun Benny and Garland (Tex.) Lakeview Centennial three-star defensive tackle Ike Iwunnah yesterday.
Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep four-star defensive end George Rooks' commitment also enhanced Michigan's class, with the versatile lineman pledging Jan. 27 and then signing with Benny and Iwunnah yesterday.
"This [Benny's flip] was equally important to both the Wolverines and Spartans," Rivals.com National Director of Recruiting Mike Farrell wrote today. "Michigan picked up an important in-state defensive playmaker, and for Michigan State it was a big loss after feeling very confident with Benny until the last week.
"Benny had said he was delaying signing so he could do so with his team, but the changes made on the Michigan staff between December and now flipped him.
"Iwunnah, [meanwhile], had just committed to the Buffaloes a few weeks ago, but soon after Michigan began to put the full-court press on the defensive lineman from Texas. After a few online visits with the coaching staff, the Wolverines became a serious threat and made it official, adding another key defensive element.
"This was as strong a close as could be expected for Jim Harbaugh, and this new staff is set to do something big in 2022."
Rivals.com's prospect rankings are finalized and the ratings will not be updated again, nor are the Maize and Blue likely to add anyone to their 2021 class. This means the final stats, numbers, etc. are all but set in stone, in regards to where this year's class ranks from a historical standpoint.
The Michigan coaches did a marvelous job on the recruiting trail this cycle, especially when considering the catastrophe that took place on the gridiron in the fall. The horrendous campaign had a minimal impact with recruits, and no defections were suffered solely because of it.
The most impressive aspect surrounding U-M's class was the amount of top-end talent it signed, or in other words, Rivals100 prospects. Harbaugh inked seven recruits who were rated inside the nation's top 100, which tied the 2017, 2006 and 2005 classes as Michigan's most since Rivals.com began rating recruits way back in 2002.
Michigan's four-star barrage continued well beyond the Rivals100, however. The outlet numerically ranks the 250 best players in the nation, and then awards four stars to about 140 or so (there is no set number) more players outside the Rivals250.
Harbaugh reeled in five more four-stars who were ranked outside the top 100 but inside the nation's top 250, in Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy offensive guard Greg Crippen (No. 162), Detroit Cass Tech center Raheem Anderson (No. 166), Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei wide receiver Cristian Dixon (No. 201), Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas linebacker Jaydon Hood (No. 225) and Rooks (No. 227).
The Maize and Blue's 12 total players inside the Rivals250 tied their 2008 class as the fifth most of the Rivals.com era. U-M's only four hauls that reeled in more were in 2017 (15), 2016 (13), 2013 (13) and 2009 (13).
Additionally, the 14 total four-stars Michigan inked were also its fifth most of the Rivals era, and tied with Clemson as the seventh most in the nation. All of this equates out to a Michigan class that finished No. 9 in the country and second in the Big Ten behind Ohio State.
Finishing with the conference's second best recruiting class has become like clockwork in recent years, with this 2021 cycle marking the ninth time in the last 14 years (since 2008) Michigan has wound up there.
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