- Tom VanHaaren, ESPN Staff Writer
Since Michigan is tearing up the recruiting trail, it’s only natural to think that some of the commitments and targets will have the opportunity to play early. Top ranked prospects want to get on the field as soon as possible, and some of them might have that chance.
Here is a look at 10 commits and targets for the Wolverines who could see the field early if they sign with Michigan.
1. Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic)
6-foot-1, 205 pounds
ESPN 300 Rank: No. 2
Michigan doesn’t have anyone on the roster who compares to Peppers. He has good size and great speed that should help him see the field early in some capacity. Whether he earns time as a cornerback or helps out on special teams, his talents can help the Wolverines immediately.
2. Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine)
ESPN 300 Rank: No. 1
Michigan landed running back Derrick Green in the 2013 class, but landing Fournette would be a huge deal. It’s easier for running backs to see the field early, and the No. 1 ranked prospect in the country would have every opportunity to do just that. Fournette and Green would be a ridiculous one-two punch for Michigan, but he does seem like a long shot at this time.
3. Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge)
ESPN 300 Rank: No. 4
Hand is an outstanding defensive lineman who could give a boost to Michigan’s front four. The coaching staff likes to rotate the linemen in and Hand could be a guy who sees the field early. If he can put on some good weight and keep his speed he would help make the defense faster in all aspects.
4. Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra)
ESPN 300 Rank: No. 5
Much like Peppers, Jackson brings a lot of athleticism to the table that Michigan doesn’t currently have. He is a guy who could play cornerback, wide receiver or help on special teams. His film shows why so many schools are after him, because of his explosiveness and knack for making plays. Jackson could be very versatile in Ann Arbor and would be an excellent complement to Peppers on defense.
5. Artavis Scott (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake)
ESPN 300 Rank: 89
Scott could be a dynamic playmaker in Michigan’s offense. He would be an excellent complement to Drake Harris (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian) and Maurice Ways (Beverly Hills, Mich./Detroit Country Day). Michigan could line him up in the slot and let him do work against the defense. He could also add a boost to Michigan’s return game with his speed and shiftiness. Scott is a big piece of what Michigan wants in this class.
6. John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Polytechnic)
ESPN 300 Rank: No. 60
Smith is another versatile guy whom Michigan is after, and he could help out at a few positions. He could play offense or defense for Michigan and would be the type of recruit you bring on and find out later where he fits best. He would make an excellent safety for this defense.
7. Malik McDowell (Detroit/Loyola)
ESPN 300 Rank: No. 68
McDowell would be an outstanding fit for what defensive coordinator Greg Mattison likes to see in his linemen. McDowell could play at the 5-technique end spot and then move inside to defensive tackle on passing situations. For as big as he is, McDowell moves very well and has good strength that would allow him to play inside. If he were to choose Michigan he would have an opportunity to see the field early.
8. Bryan Mone (Salt Lake City/Highland)
ESPN 300 Rank: No. 73
Mone is a freak of nature. The combination of size, speed and strength that he possesses will translate well to the next level. He will be a welcomed addition to the interior of Michigan’s defensive line. There won’t be a ton of depth at his spot once he gets to Ann Arbor, so the opportunity is there for Mone if he can adjust early on.
9. Michael Ferns (St. Clairsville, Ohio/St. Clairsville)
ESPN 300 Rank: No. 122
Ferns, physically, will be one of the bigger linebackers Michigan will have on the roster once he sets foot on campus. Michigan likes to rotate linebackers, so Ferns might get the chance to play early. He won’t have to do too much work in the weight room to catch up, so he will need to adapt and learn the defense quickly if he wants to get on the field quickly.
10. Drake Harris (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian)
ESPN 300 Rank: No. 71
Harris is an outstanding wide receiver, but he will need to add weight if he wants to get on the field early. He has the height and the ability that could get him some playing time, but it will ultimately be up to him. He will have a few receivers ahead of him, but none really possess the type of talent and potential Harris displays.