National Signing Day is in the rear view mirror, and Michigan football signed 30 new commits in the No. 5 class in the country.
Despite the overall strength of the class, there's one position that appears to have a weakness: offensive tackle.
The Wolverines missed out on their top tackle prospect when Isaiah Wilson chose to attend Georgia over Michigan. The enormous five-star talent would have been a welcome addition to a class that head coach Jim Harbaugh expected to be offensive line-heavy.
To make matters worse, longtime tackle commit Kai-Leon Herbert, who was part of the class since June 6, decommitted to attend in-state Miami. The No. 26 offensive tackle in the country was a four-star recruit and one of the top offensive lineman committed to the Wolverines.
Even though Michigan only landed three offensive tackles in 2017 -- JaRaymond Hall, Chuck Filiaga and Andrew Stueber -- help could come from another area.
Cal left tackle Aaron Cochran announced Feb. 2 that he will be pursuing a graduate transfer for his final year after spending four seasons at Cal. Why does a West Coast lineman affect Michigan football? Because Cochran, on the surface, could be a nice fit for Michigan's needs.
Cochran started 10 games at left tackle in 2016, leading an offensive line that anchors one of the top offenses in the nation. He's 6 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 350 pounds, which matches the type of frame Michigan was looking for in targets like Wilson and three-star Louisville commit Mekhi Becton.
Cochran is also a veteran who knows the college game, and with three fifth-year seniors -- Graham Glasgow, Erik Magnuson and Ben Braden -- graduating from the offensive line, this is a rare opportunity for Michigan to replace some of that experience right away.
Harbaugh could also use Cochran's eligibility situation to his advantage. After signing back-to-back enormous recruiting classes totaling 56 players, Michigan's 2018 group figures to be much smaller. With Cochran having only one year remaining in college, he could step in for the Wolverines next season to give the young talent another year of growth. Then, when it's time to sign another class, he'll graduate and free up a scholarship.
Grant Newsome could also benefit from Cochran coming to Ann Arbor. Newsome was one of Michigan's best offensive linemen as a first-year starter at left tackle last season before injuring his right knee against Wisconsin. If Cochran could fill in at left tackle and give Newsome the better part of two years to fully heal, Newsome could battle to regain his starting spot with two or three years of eligibility remaining before the 2018 season.
Cochran would essentially be a talented one-year rental at an extreme position of need for Michigan.
The offensive line's inconsistency doomed Michigan in its three losses last season, struggling to produce lanes for running backs and allowing pressure on first-year starting quarterback Wilton Speight. The Orange Bowl was a prime example of the line's struggles, as the offense struggled to make plays downfield due to the consistent pressure in the backfield.
Harbaugh hasn't been afraid to pursue transfers in his short Michigan tenure. Quarterback Jake Rudock was in a similar position as Cochran when he decided to leave Iowa, and his addition helped Michigan win 10 games in Harbaugh's first season. Quarterback John O'Korn, running back Ty Isaac and cornerback Wayne Lyons also transferred to Michigan under Harbaugh, though they didn't earn starting spots.
Cochran was recruited by Michigan in 2013 as a three-star tackle out of Buhach Colony High School in California, but they didn't offer him a scholarship. It's possible the staff will see him as a strong alternative option this off-season, and make a pitch for him to come to Ann Arbor.
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