Looking ahead: Michigan recruiting needs in 2018

Jim Harbaugh and his staff reeled in the consensus No. 5 recruiting class int he nation in 2017, and Michigan coaches now are fully focused on the 2018 recruiting class.

On the heels of two massive classes, Michigan will look to be more selective as there will be 17 to 20 potential spots open in the 2018 recruiting cycle. Because the Wolverines have loaded up the roster with 56 players in the past two cycles, they can afford to swing for the fences with this class.

The three main areas of need for Michigan are running back, offensive line and tight end.

1. Offensive line: Michigan missed on “big-body” tackles in 2017, so it is a need for the class of 2018. Michigan will lose Patrick Kugler and Mason Cole following the 2017 season, so expect the Wolverines to take up to six offensive linemen in 2018. Top targets include 6-9, 390-pound OT Daniel Faalele, whom the Wolverines discovered at their satellite camp in Australia. In-state targets include four-star G Marquan McCall (Oak Park), the state’s top-ranked prospect, and three-star OT Antwan Reed (Muskegon).

2. Running back: Michigan is loaded at running back for the time being, but the Wolverines need to add at least one high-level running back in 2018. Michigan loses only Ty Issac to graduation after the 2017 season, but that won’t stop Harbaugh and Co. from swinging for the fences as they have set five-star prospect T.J. Pledger as their top target. Pledger is from the Los Angeles area, but will play his senior season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

3. Tight end: The Wolverines signed zero tight ends in the 2017 cycle, so look for the Wolverines to add two or three in 2018. Losing Jake Butt to graduation and a potential transfer of Devin Asiasi makes this a big area of need for the Wolverines. Top targets include four-star prospect Will Mallory of Jacksonville Providence School (his dad, Mike, was a Michigan defensive tackle) and four-star recruit Brevin Jordan of powerhouse Las Vegas Bishop Gorman. Jordan could be a package deal with another top Michigan target, QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson. And four-star TE Jeremy Ruckert of Lindenhurst (N.J.) High is shaping up as a Harbaugh vs. Urban Meyer cage match.