- Tom VanHaaren, ESPN Staff Writer
Since 2006, Michigan has not landed multiple top-10 recruits in the same signing class, a feat that has happened 12 times with other programs. In fact, Michigan hasn’t even signed one top-10 prospect in the same time period.
The closest the Wolverines have come to signing even one top player was in 2007 with quarterback Ryan Mallett. That, however, could change with the 2014 class.
Michigan has already gained the commitment of Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic), the No. 2 prospect in the nation. Peppers gives Michigan the highest-ranked prospect it has landed since 2006, but the coaching staff might not be done there.
Michigan is in on three of the remaining uncommitted top-10 prospects, and it’s not unrealistic to think a few could end up in Ann Arbor on signing day.
Defensive end Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge), the No. 4 prospect, has Michigan among his top three with Alabama and Florida. The Wolverines have remained in Hand’s top group throughout, and it looks as though Michigan could come out on top.
Outside of Hand, Michigan is still very much in the mix for athlete Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra), who is ranked No. 5 in the country. Jackson is originally from Illinois, so it might not be too much of a stretch to think the Wolverines could pull him back to the Midwest.
The new addition to this list for Michigan is a No. 1 prospect, running back Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine). He is relatively quiet in his recruitment, but Peppers has been recruiting Fournette to Michigan and trying to get him to visit.
It’s no secret that most of the Michigan commits have been recruiting other prospects, and that has been a big factor in Michigan’s 2014 success.
“It makes a huge difference in recruiting,” QB commit Wilton Speight (Richmond, Va./Collegiate School) said. “We all have a lot of pride in what we have together and feel great about years to come on the field.”
On the field is how the coaches hope it translates, and by landing top prospects, it increases the odds of winning. That aspect is something recruits notice and why it’s appealing for other top prospects with their decision.
“It does two things, makes you afraid or makes you excited. For me, it’s exciting,” Adoree’ Jackson said. “It’s exciting because you know you will compete with each other day in and day out. It also means you will have a good chance to win some bowl games.”
If Michigan were able to land multiple top-10 prospects in this class, it also means it could impact other targets the Wolverines are hoping to land.
Linebacker Dwight Williams, Jackson’s teammate, is one of those prospects. While Williams isn’t in the top 10, he is a highly coveted prospect within the ESPN 300, and he believes in the hype surrounding a top-ranked class.
“Of course it makes a difference, especially if you love to win,” Williams said. “The best always want to play with the best and stay competitive. If you’re a part of that type of class, then that’s possibly a national championship team in a few years.”
It is difficult to make it to the BCS National Championship game, but Williams’ thought process isn’t too far off. Landing better players is a good start to getting to that final game.
LSU and Alabama have landed multiple top-10 prospects three times since 2006 and have made appearances in four BCS National Championship games in the same time span. The two even squared off in the 2011 title game.
There are no guarantees with college football, but if Michigan could land one or two more top 10 prospects in 2014, it could help ignite something big.