Meet Michigan football’s top-10 2022 early signing class

There was no shortage of fireworks for Michigan’s football program on early signing day.

The Wolverines lost one commit -- three-star edge defender Ethan Burke -- to Texas, but they also added five new recruits to their 2022 class, including three top-150 prospects.

After a slow start to this cycle, Jim Harbaugh’s program picked up steam late as the team is in the midst of its best season in decades. Overall, Michigan signed 22 recruits in the 2022 class on Wednesday and currently owns the ninth-ranked class in the country, according to the 247Sports Composite.

Two of the Wolverines’ commits -- Lawndale (Calif.) Leuzinger four-star linebacker Kevonte Henry and Belleville three-star linebacker Aaron Alexander -- did not sign their letters of intent on Wednesday.

While four-star offensive lineman Andrew Gentry is not technically considered a class of 2022 signee, Michigan officially announced his addition to the program on Wednesday. The 6-foot-8, 310-pounder from Littleton, Colorado originally signed an LOI to Virginia in December 2019 before beginning a two-year mission in Orem, Utah through his church.

But with Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall stepping down early this month, Michigan was able to secure a commitment from Gentry, a former top-100 prospect, and it had to overcome some unique obstacles to do so.

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With that said, here is a look at the 22 recruits in the 2022 class who put pen to paper Wednesday. Remember, unsigned prospects will have another chance to so during the traditional February signing period.

Overall, Michigan signed one five-star, nine four-stars and 12 three-star recruits. Three are ranked among the top-100 prospects nationally while four others are top-300 players.

“It’s just one of those kind of days that lives in memory, and to see another class go through that, it’s heartwarming,” Harbaugh said of the 2022 class on the “Inside Michigan Football” podcast. It’s such a beautiful thing.”

5-star cornerback Will Johnson (Grosse Pointe South)

National rank (per 247Sports Composite): 20

Position rank: 4

Johnson is the headliner of the class, boasting elite cover skills and great size at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds. He is the third top-20 recruit Jim Harbaugh has landed since taking over at Michigan in 2015. This season, he registered 45 tackles, one sack, one interception and 12 pass breakups. He also was a go-to player on offense, catching 69 passes for 666 receiving yards and five touchdowns. He also rushed for 201 yards and three scores.

Johnson, the son of former Michigan defensive back Deon Johnson, committed to Michigan in February over other elite programs such as Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

“Everything you want in a corner in terms of length and movement skills, traits,” Harbaugh said. “Fantastic. I’ll also say that Will’s a signature guy in the class.”

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4-star defensive lineman Derrick Moore (St. Frances Academy, Baltimore)

National rank: 79

Position rank: 12

Moore was one of five new recruits added on Wednesday. He played for current Michigan associate head coach Biff Poggi at St. Frances and is one of the most intriguing prospects in the class. At 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, Moore is likely suited to play at one of the end spots or as a standup outside linebacker but he could potentially bulk up and play inside. St. Frances didn’t play football in 2020 because of COVID-19, but Moore had a strong senior season, recording 55 tackles and 12 sacks.

4-star safety Keon Sabb (IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.)

National rank: 94

Position rank: 9

Sabb also is one of the new additions. The hard-hitting 6-foot-2, 200-pound safety decommitted from Clemson following the departure of defensive coordinator Brent Venables, and the Wolverines were able to take advantage, beating out other notable programs such as Georgia, Ohio State and LSU. IMG Academy is one of the top college feeder programs in the country, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Sabb push for playing time early on.

4-star receiver Tyler Morris (Nazareth Academy, La Grange Park, Illi.)

National rank: 115

Position rank: 16

Morris’ health is the biggest question mark heading into college. He suffered a torn ACL during Nazareth Academy’s truncated spring season and missed the entire fall season. But when he was healthy as a sophomore, he dominated opposing competition, totaling 1,700 all-purpose yards and 24 touchdowns in 2019 while catching passes from current Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy.

Morris isn’t the biggest wideout at 6-foot, 175 pounds, but he is shifty and has great hands.

STORY: What Michigan football is getting in new WR commit Tyler Morris

4-star receiver Darrius Clemons (Westview, Portland, Ore.)

National rank: 131

Position rank: 19

Clemons didn’t even list Michigan among his top three schools when he released the list in August, but the Wolverines’ bounce-back season in 2021 helped opened the door once again. He announced his commitment Wednesday, choosing Michigan over other finalists Oregon, Auburn, Penn State and Miami. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder, who caught 37 passes for 780 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior, gives the Wolverines some much-needed size on the outside.

“If I could make a comparison for you right now, it would be Nico Collins,” Harbaugh said. “Tall, physical, great big catch radius. Runs all the routes well. Physical — he’s gonna be able to do it all.”

4-star safety Zeke Berry (De La Salle, Concord, Calif.)

National rank: 181

Position rank: 14

The 6-foot, 195-pounder was originally committed to Arizona and former Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown before reopening his recruitment in October. Berry was one of dozens of recruits in attendance for Michigan’s win over Ohio State, and the talented safety pulled the trigger on his commitment Dec. 3.

In seven games as a senior, Berry had 25 tackles, three sacks and one interception. He also played on offense for De La Salle, carrying 31 times for 268 yards and one touchdown.

4-star linebacker Jimmy Rolder (Marist, Chicago)

National rank: 277

Position rank: 28

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound inside linebacker is one of the fastest-rising prospects this cycle. He held just one Division I football offer before his senior season but saw the total grow to 11, including from notable programs such as Ohio State, Florida, LSU and Wisconsin. Michigan offered him in October, and he verbally pledged Nov. 17.

Rolder, a former Illinois baseball commit, was the leader of Marist’s defense, registering 115 tackles, including 13 for loss, four sacks, three interceptions and two forced fumbles.

STORY: Why Michigan commit Jimmy Rolder is a fast-rising prospect in 2022 class

4-star athlete Kody Jones (Germantown, Tenn.)

National rank: 330

Position rank: 14

Jones projects to play nickel at Michigan, but the versatile defensive back could also slot in at cornerback or safety. The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder committed to Michigan in February, but Tennessee and other programs continued to push to flip him. The Wolverines were able to hold on and keep him, bolstering their secondary.

4-star tight end Colston Loveland (Gooding, Idaho)

National rank: 343

Position rank: 17

At 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, Loveland doesn’t look like a high school senior.

“He is a rock-hard muscle guy,” Gooding coach Cameron Andersen told MLive. “He’s got a great big frame and is very chiseled. We’ve got a great strength and conditioning program. He’ll go into Michigan’s weight room right away and be right up there with the other tight ends as far as weights go.”

Loveland was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Idaho this year after catching 62 passes for 968 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also had 33 carries for 352 yards and four touchdowns rushing. On defense, he recorded 66 tackles, 5 1/2 sacks and two interceptions. Loveland also moved from a three to a four-star prospect this fall.

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4-star defensive lineman Mason Graham (Servite, Anaheim, Calif.)

National rank: 353

Position rank: 45

Graham is another big riser in the 2022 class, earning a fourth star during his senior season that saw him rack up 60 tackles, including 22 for loss and 14 sacks. The 6-foot-4, 295-pounder committed in September.

“You flick on the film of Mason Graham and you see this relentless motor,” Harbaugh said. “Then the next thing you really notice is, ‘Man, he’s playing offensive tackle, he’s playing defensive end. Which is he better at?’ He’s really a heck of a great defensive end. He’s so athletic and stout in there.”

3-star quarterback Alex Orji (Sachse, Texas)

National rank: 424

Position rank: 28

Michigan flipped Orji from Virginia Tech on Wednesday. He visited Ann Arbor last week after Hokies head coach Justin Fuente stepped down, and the Wolverines were able to close on signing day. The 6-foot-2, 226-pounder threw for 2,056 yards with 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions as a senior. He also rushed for 1,187 yards and 23 scores.

“He plays at the highest level of football in Texas,” Harbaugh said. “Runs for 1,200 yards, which is — you can watch the tape and say this guy’s a great runner. He’s a really good running quarterback. And don’t get the thought in your head that he can’t throw the ball -- he throws it really well.”

3-star defensive lineman Kenneth Grant (Merrillville, Ind.)

National rank: 442

Position rank: 58

The 6-foot-4, 335-pounder could end up being one of the most underrated prospects in the class. The four-year starter moves well for his size and turned in another productive season in 2021: 38 tackles, 14 1/2 for loss, 6 1/2 sacks, forced four fumbles with two recoveries and eight blocked kicks. He was a major reason why Merrillville had one of its most successful seasons in program history, finishing 12-1. Grant is an ideal fit for the nose position in Michigan’s 3-4 defense.

STORY: What Michigan is getting in 6-4, 335-pound DT commit Kenneth Grant

3-star quarterback Jayden Denegal (Apple Valley, Calif.)

National rank: 452

Position rank: 30

Denegal is more of a pocket passer than Orji. He stands 6-foot-4, 215 pounds and has been committed since June. In nine games this season, he completed 121 of 175 passes for 1,545 yards, 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also rushed 47 times for 281 yards and eights scores.

“He’s been raised great,” Harbaugh said. “Great head on his shoulders, great stature as a quarterback. Lean and throws the ball extremely well. Pretty darn athletic. It’s a great feeling having two great quarterbacks coming in in the same class. We haven’t had that here for a very long time, and it’s gonna be fun to watch.”

STORY: What Michigan football is getting in QB commit Jayden Denegal

3-star athlete Amorion Walker (Ponchatoula, La.)

National rank: 518

Position rank: 14

Walker had been committed to Notre Dame since March but flipped to Michigan on Wednesday. The 6-foot-4, 175-pound speedster should give the Wolverines a viable deep threat.

“Just had a really great connection with Amorion in the recruiting process,” Harbaugh said. “Very Andrel Anthony-like in build and catch radius.”

3-star tight end Marlin Klein (Rabun Gap Nacoochee, Ga.)

National rank: 535

Position rank: 29

The German-born Klein caught 22 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns in 2021. He was Michigan’s first commit in the class, verbally pledging in September 2020.

STORY: What Michigan is getting in tight end commit Marlin Klein

3-star cornerback Myles Pollard (Ravenwood, Brentwood, Tenn.)

National rank: 585

Position rank: 53

Like Johnson, the 6-foot-2 Pollard has great length for a cornerback. He was a highly recruited prospect despite having a three-star rating, receiving 41 total offers, including from notable programs such as Alabama, Oklahoma and Auburn.

3-star offensive tackle Alessandro Lorenzetti (Loomis Chaffee School, Windsor, Conn.)

National rank: 655

Position rank: 55

Lorenzetti’s recruitment burgeoned once college coaches were finally able to get eyes on him after the dead period was lifted in June. The 6-foot-6, 285-pound Canadian picked up offers from Penn State, Michigan State, Georgia and Baylor before committing to the Wolverines in June.

“Alessandro came and knocked the socks off of (Michigan offensive line coach) Sherrone Moore, and the recruiting process was really turned up with Alessandro,” Harbaugh said. “Great kid, great guy, great parents.”

STORY: Michigan OL commit Alessandro Lorenzetti a ‘meticulous technician’

3-star linebacker Micah Pollard (Bartram Trail, Jacksonville, Fla.)

National rank: 700

Position rank: 71

The nephew of former Michigan receiver Braylon Edwards can be a versatile piece of Michigan’s front seven. He committed to Michigan in July over 27 other offers, including Penn State, Ole Miss and Auburn.

Harbaugh played with Pollard’s father, Marcus Pollard, with the Indianapolis Colts.

“Micah’s a heck of a football player,” Harbaugh said. “Whether he’s gonna be an edge linebacker for us or an inside the box, MIKE, WILL, remains to be seen. He’s got a real pass-rush ability, but he also has a nose for the football, which makes you think he could be a MIKE backer, and he’d be a stout one.”

3-star running back CJ Stokes (Hammond School, Columbia, S.C.)

National rank: 757

Position rank: 59

Stokes isn’t highly ranked, but his production can’t be ignored. He has eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark in three straight seasons. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder features a similar running style to Hassan Haskins.

“Big, physical back,” Harbaugh said of Stokes. “Very mature. Got shoulders that look like they’re pretty good size, comes from a great program. Really well-trained, really genetically gifted. Just looks great -- muscles everywhere. But also very fast. He’s gonna be a physical-type back.”

Stokes committed to Michigan in June over 15 other offers, including Missouri, Penn State and South Carolina.

3-star safety Damani Dent (Terry Parker, Jacksonville, Fla.)

National rank: 919

Position rank: 74

Dent, who had 12 reported offers, had 63 tackles, four interceptions and four pass breakups in 2021. The 6-foot, 190-pounder committed to the Wolverines in October.

“Great personality, that’s Damani Dent,” Harbaugh said. “It’s kind of like looking in the mirror -- the enthusiasm, the love of football. He just really stands out to me that way. Tough as you’d ever want a defensive back to be. Loves to work out.”

3-star linebacker Deuce Spurlock (Madison Academy, Madison, Ala.)

National rank: 969

Position rank: 93

Spurlock was a tackling machine this season, racking up a whopping 186 in 14 games this season, including 27 for loss and eight sacks. Auburn made a strong push to flip Spurlock after he committed in October, but the Wolverines were able to hang on. He stands 6-foot-2, 200 pounds.

STORY: ‘Sky is the limit’ for Michigan commit Deuce Spurlock

3-star offensive tackle Connor Jones (Palmer Ridge, Monument, Col.)

National rank: 981

Position rank: 83

Jones was one of the early pledges in the 2022 class, committing in December 2020. He is 6-foot-7, 285 pounds.

“Tall, long, just what you want your tackles to look like,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a heck of a good player and really good student.”

STORY: Michigan a ‘dream school’ for OL commit Connor Jones

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