Top Commit: Athlete Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic) is one of the best high school players in the country and one of the best overall prospects this cycle. The only question is where will he play? Is he a big cornerback? Is he a safety? Will Michigan try him at running back? Will he play both sides of the ball like Charles Woodson, who he compares to? The answer is probably anywhere he wants to play or the staff puts him. Peppers is the No. 1 “athlete” in the 2014 class and the No. 3 overall prospect according to 247Sports Composite rankings. The Wolverines beat the entire country for his services.
Class Strength: Linebacker. Michael Ferns (Saint Clairsville, Ohio) is the most highly-regarded of this bunch and the 6-foot-3, 238-pounder already enrolled (one of seven early enrollees). Chase Winovich (Clariton, Pa./Thomas Jefferson) is a 6-foot-4, 215-pound, rangy ‘backer with a high upside that is likely undervalued and Noah Furbush (Kenton, Ohio) is also in the 6-foot-4 range. He could end up growing into an end as safety Jared Wrangler (Warren, Mich./De La Salle), who flipped from Penn State midway through the process could grow into a linebacker (he's already 6-foot-1, 218 pounds).
Sleeper: Wide receiver Maurice Ways (Franklin, Mich./Detroit County Day) has a high upside. The 6-foot-4, 195-pounder showed glimpses of greatness on the camp circuit during the offseason and backs that up on the gridiron. Michigan likely got an in-state steal here (that's when a program that recruits nationally like Michigan takes a prospect from its state that may not be that highly-regarded across the country but it turns out, he's a great player) and as long as he develops, there's a good chance fans in the Big Ten and perhaps across the country will know his name in the near future.
Top Remaining Target: All eyes in the state are on five-star defensive end/defensive tackle Malik McDowell of Southfield, Mich. Once considered a near lock for the Wolverines, in-state rival and B1G champions Michigan State surged to the top in January with Ohio State also in the mix. 247Sports National Recruiting Insider Steve Wiltfong reported Wednesday that McDowell will officially visit East Lansing this weekend and 247Sports Crystal Ball, which measures recruiting prediction trends from analysts and reporters across the country, is trending green at 59 percent currently. Michigan is still firmly in the picture, but may have some ground to make up between now and signing day.
Remaining Needs: This is a smaller class and needs were met, but Michigan still is “flirting” with a pair of running back prospects and that is a need. Four-star running back Jeff Jones (Minneapolis, Minn./Washburn) would be quite a get, but the Under Armour All-America Game standout is still committed to Minnesota and may not switch. There's also some other questions surrounding his recruitment at this stage. The Wolverines also have identified Marlon Mack (Sarasota, Fla./Booker) as a prospect that they are interested in, but to date, no official visit has been scheduled. It's unknown how things will progress in either of these situations.
Top Recruiter: Wide receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski is either the primary or secondary recruiter-of-record for nearly half (seven) of the current 16-man class. His highly-regarded primaries include four-star tight end Ian Bunting (Hinsdale, Ill./Central) and four-star offensive lineman Mason Cole (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake). Hecklinski is currently ranked as the No. 43 recruiter nationally and No. 7 in the Big Ten according to 247Sports Recruiter Rankings for the 2014 cycle.