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Michigan football adds 5 new players to top-10 recruiting class on early signing day

Jim Harbaugh’s staff capitalizes on Big Ten championship season

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh celebrates with his team after the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game against Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Indianapolis. Michigan won 42-3. (AJ Mast, The Associated Press 2021)

ANN ARBOR, Mich.Michigan football received five new commitments in one day Wednesday, boosting its 2022 recruiting class into the top 10 during the early signing period.

Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff have been hitting the recruiting trail hard since beating Ohio State by 15 points and crushing Iowa to win the Big Ten championship. Those efforts reaped major rewards Wednesday, when three four-star players committed to the Wolverines and two three-stars flipped from other schools.

READ: Loss to Michigan still causing complete meltdown within Ohio State fan base

Derrick Moore

The top-rated player to join Michigan’s class Wednesday was four-star defensive lineman Derrick Moore, who is ranked the No. 79 player overall in the class.

Moore decommitted from Oklahoma when head coach Lincoln Riley left for USC a few weeks ago, and ultimately chose Michigan over the likes of Ole Miss, Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State and others.

The top-ranked player from the state of Maryland fills a major need for Michigan, as edge rusher Ethan Burke flipped his commitment to Texas earlier in the day and defensive lineman Kevonte Henry appears to be leaning toward flipping to Washington.

Keon Sabb

Moore was joined by fellow four-star defender Keon Sabb, who pledged to the Wolverines as the No. 94 player in the class and a top-10 safety.

After taking in the game against Ohio State last month, Sabb officially decommitted from Clemson when defensive coordinator Brent Venables departed to take the head coaching job at Oklahoma.

Sabb had scholarship offers from Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, LSU and dozens of other schools.

Darrius Clemons

The final four-star to join the class on early signing day was wide receiver Darrius Clemons, the No. 131 player in the 2022 class. Clemons is a top-20 wide receiver and the top-ranked player from the state of Oregon.

Clemons is listed at 6-foot-3 and says he can run a 40-yard dash in under 4.40. That combination of size and speed would make him a dangerous weapon in Michigan’s offense down the line.

He picked the Wolverines over offers from Auburn, Oregon, Alabama, Georgia, USC, Notre Dame and many other schools.

Amorion Walker

Michigan fans have been keeping an eye on this longtime Notre Dame commit since the fall, and he finally made the switch to Michigan official on Wednesday.

Walker is a three-star athlete who wants to play wide receiver in college, but he could also find a home at defensive back, eventually.

At 6-foot-4 with great speed, Walker’s upside is tremendous, and he was a priority for Michigan’s staff. Ron Bellamy, who left Louisiana to play at Michigan back in his playing days, proved key in convincing Walker to do the same.

Though he’s currently ranked outside the top 500 players in the class, Walker’s offer sheet tells a different story. He received scholarship offers from Alabama, LSU, Notre Dame and several other schools.

Alex Orji

While Michigan has long had Jayden Denegal committed as the quarterback of the 2022 class, Harbaugh decided last-minute to take a second.

Alex Orji was committed to Virginia Tech until Michigan came calling and invited him to campus over the weekend. The dual threat quarterback is touted for having mobility and a strong arm, though he will likely need a couple of years to polish his game.

That fits well into Michigan’s timeline, as Cade McNamara currently holds the starting job and J.J. McCarthy isn’t far behind. The Wolverines won’t need a new starter until 2024, at the very earliest.

Orji had offers from Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Baylor, Nebraska and a few other teams.

More good news

Michigan also managed to hold onto four commits who had reportedly been considering other schools within the last few weeks.

Kody Jones, a four-star athlete expected to play in the secondary, stuck with Michigan despite pushes from Tennessee and Illinois.

Mason Graham, another important defensive line commit and a four-star talent, signed with Michigan over a dozen offers on the West Coast.

Damani Dent and Deuce Spurlock -- two players from Florida and Georgia, respectively, ranked outside the top 900 in the class -- both stuck with their Michigan pledges despite late surges from the likes of Florida, Miami and Auburn. Their stock was obviously much higher than their actual ranking.

Assistant coaches

Harbaugh has built a staff that’s not only done a marvelous job coaching the Wolverines to the College Football Playoff -- they’re also extremely effective on the recruiting trail.

Bellamy, Sherrone Moore and Josh Gattis had an excellent cycle, but Steve Clinkscale, Jay Harbaugh, George Helow and Mike MacDonald were also crucial in putting together this class. Recruiting is a team effort, and Michigan was able to put together a master plan and execute it this week.

Right now, Jim Harbaugh deserves credit for putting together a staff that capitalized on Michigan’s on-field success by closing on the recruiting trail.

The Wolverines benefitted from coaching turnover at schools like Clemson, Miami, Oregon, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Wednesday was a perfect example of how the stability Harbaugh brings to Ann Arbor can pay off.

Bad news

There was only one true surprise that didn’t go Michigan’s way Wednesday, and that came when defensive lineman Deone Walker chose Kentucky over the Wolverines.

Walker was thought to be 50/50 between Michigan and Kentucky, but many experts believed in the week leading up to signing day that he would pick the Maize and Blue. Fortunately, landing Moore softened this blow considerably.

Michigan also lost Burke, as mentioned above, to the hometown Texas Longhorns. Even though Burke has only been committed to Michigan for a few weeks, there were signs of this flip before Wednesday.

Koen Entringer, a three-star athlete from Walled Lake Western, got a late push from Michigan, but eventually committed to Iowa, which had been recruiting him before the Wolverines got heavily involved. Entringer always felt like a long-shot for Michigan.

Henry hasn’t officially broken his commitment to Michigan, but he has a close relationship with Courtney Morgan, who left the Wolverines to become the director of recruiting at Washington, instead. When Henry announced he would delay his signing until February, it was an obvious sign that he’s looking elsewhere.

About the Author:

Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.