Early Signing Period Recap

The Michigan staff and fan base are feeling really good after the early signing period.
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The Michigan staff woke up hopeful on Wednesday morning. One massive target was considering the Wolverines, and a few other "soft" commits were deciding between the maize and blue and another school. A couple prospects did decide to go elsewhere but overall, the Michigan staff and fanbase is sleeping well on Wednesday night.

1. JJ McCarthy Is Officially A Wolverine

There was never really any drama with Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy pro-style quarterback JJ McCarthy, but Michigan fans are definitely happy that it's officially official. McCarthy had been committed for over a year and a half and never really wavered, but when the Wolverines struggled on the field and at quarterback specifically, fans couldn't help but worry a little bit. But those days are done. McCarthy put pen to paper, remains the face of the class and seems to have the physical tools and mental makeup to compete for the starting spot immediately.

2. Top Target Donovan Edwards Goes Blue

There definitely was some drama surrounding West Bloomfield (Mich.) High running back Donovan Edwards, but at the end of the day, on a snowy field at his high school, Edwards threw on a Michigan hat and made Wolverine nation very happy.

donovan edwards

It looked like Georgia might really come into The Mitten and steal Edwards out from under Jim Harbaugh's nose, but Edwards' family, support system and hometown pride was too much for the Dawgs to overcome. Edwards will now enroll early, along with McCarthy, and get right to work in Ann Arbor.

3. Trio Stays Blue

If the Edwards commitment wasn't the biggest news of the day, it was probably the fact that three prospects who all appeared to be wavering in a big way, decided to stick with Michigan.

First, it was Fresno (Calif.) Central East wide receiver Xavier Worthy. The speedster was choosing between Michigan, where he had been committed since July, and Alabama, where he recently visited and seemed to be leaning toward. Instead, his trip to Tuscaloosa did seem to be just for fun and now he's a Wolverine. 

Next, was what I would call the biggest surprise of the day, just because it didn't seem to be an option when the day began. Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas inside linebacker Jaydon Hood had been committed to Michigan since May, but wasn't planning to sign during the early window. There's usually a reason why a prospect won't sign early, and it's usually not good for the team currently clinging to a commitment. Out of nowhere, at 7:41 pm, Hood announced that he wasn't going to wait until February, and 20 minutes later he was signed to the Wolverines. He's a highly-ranked kid, so it was definitely a pleasant surprise for the U-M staff and faithful.

Finally, Hood's teammate, Ja'Den McBurrows, was set to make his decision at 8 pm and it really felt like he might stay closer to home and go with Miami. Instead, he threw on a maize and blue hat and signed with the Wolverines as well. He had been committed since April, but really felt like a guy who would stay in The Sunshine State. Now he'll have to bundle up as he heads to Ann Arbor.

When the day started, going 0-for-3 with this trio seemed like a real possibility but instead, the Wolverines batted 1.000 and inked all three fence sitters. 

4. Two Flip To Other Schools

Before Michigan got any unexpected good news, it had to deal with some expected bad news. 

Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood outside linebacker Branden Jennings hadn't been committed to Michigan for very long, and recently it started to sound like he'd look around. Ultimately, he flipped from the Wolverines to Maryland. Jennings' father reportedly has a great relationship with one of the assistants at Maryland and that was the main reason for the flip. It stands to reason that the uncertainty at Michigan involving Jim Harbaugh and some of his defensive assistants led to the change of heart as well.

Not long after Jennings made a switch, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro strongside defensive end Quinton Somerville did as well. The long-time Michigan pledged decided to flip his commitment to UCLA and he's now signed to the Bruins. Somerville looked like an absolute superstar as a sophomore, but topped out a bit. He's still a good player, and will likely see the field earlier rather than later at UCLA, but he's not viewed as the big loss that Jennings is.

5. Thin Position Groups

As good as the class is, especially on offense, it's noticeably thin at defensive tackle and cornerback. Luckily for Michigan, McBurrows stuck, because he's it at corner. As for defensive tackles — nada. And this isn't a one-time issue. Michigan has now failed to sign a defensive tackle in three of four classes — 2018, 2020 and now 2021. It did sign two pretty good ones in 2019 in Mazi Smith and Christopher Hinton, but that's simply not enough big, interior bodies.

Of course there is still time to find one or more players at each position with traditional signing day about a month and a half away, but the pool is obviously significantly smaller than it was just a day ago. Michigan will likely still be in pursuit of Westlake Village (Calif.) Westlake defensive tackle Victory Vaka, who recently decommitted from Texas A&M and didn't sign today, and Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peters Prep defensive tackle George Rooks, who is also still on the market but may be leaning towards Penn State. Finally, one of Michigan's former top targets, Oak Park (Mich.) High defensive tackle Rayshaun Benny, didn't sign with Michigan State, so there's something to keep an eye on there.

At cornerback Michigan is still in pursuit of Los Angeles Loyola's Ceyair Wright, but that ship appears to have sailed to USC. Wright is still on the market, but the Trojans are closing in.

There are other uncommitted guys out there, but really none that have been involved with Michigan up to this point. That makes it really tough to start the process now, especially during a pandemic where in-person contact and campus visits aren't allowed.

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All in all it was a very good day for Michigan. It landed Edwards and hung onto Worthy, giving U-M a pair of athletes who will likely be two of the more dynamic players in the entire class. It hung on to three others, but did lose two. Throw in a solid crop of offensive linemen, some intriguing pass rushers, a punter who might start from day one, a very solid wide receiver corps and some very versatile and movable guys, and you really do have a solid class.