Michigan Football: Analyzing Wolverines' Top Five 2015 Recruiting Targets
Shaun Crawford's decommitment from Team 134 was the latest blow to strike Michigan's 2015 recruiting class. Jumping ship has been a mini-trend, and the 4-star cornerback was the third to do so since winter.
Three of the worst break-ups ever happened this year. George Campbell, Damien Harris and Shaun Crawford breaking up with Michigan.— Wolverine Connection (@Michigander21) May 25, 2014
Despite three losses, the now six-man class remains sturdy. Wolverines coach Brady Hoke has an array of options when it comes to available prospects. As it stands, Michigan has roughly 10 scholarships to distribute. Expect about 16 recruits come national signing day.
Starting with No. 1, this slideshow will take a good look at the top five prospects based on need, fit and interest.
Getting Justin Hilliard
Justin Hilliard is widely becoming the name at outside linebacker. According to 247Sports, the St. Xavier (Cincinnati) standout is the No. 2-ranked OLB of 2015. But, for all intents and purposes, he might as well be No. 1.
He's trimmed his list, and the top five finalists are left to wait patiently for his verbal.
With Alabama and Ohio State among the contenders, it's difficult to cast a favorable prediction for the Wolverines. But they've made the cut. At 6'2" and 230 pounds, Hilliard would be a fantastically gifted addition to Greg Mattison's defense, which already boasts a deep pool of linebackers.
Why not add another to the roster?
Win over Brian Cole
Brian Cole is the No. 1-ranked athlete in Michigan...enough said. If history holds true, the Wolverines will fight it out until the end with Michigan State, with the winner gaining a verbal from Saginaw Heritage's 4-star athlete/cornerback.
According to Rivals' Josh Helmholdt, Cole, who plans to graduate in December, has a strong interest in the Spartans. But he's keeping his options open.
"I think I will fit in well wherever, I just want to have the best opportunity to play," Cole said, per Helmholdt (subscription required).
Michigan could use him on both sides of the ball. At 6'2" and 190 pounds, he appears equally comfortable as a receiver or defensive back.
If he were to choose the Wolverines, he'd complement a secondary that is stuffed with playmakers such as Jourdan Lewis, Channing Stribling, Jabrill Peppers and Dymonte Thomas—not to mention fellow 4-star classmates Tyree Kinnel and Garrett Taylor.
If Hoke chose to utilize Cole's two-way talents, the 2015 recruit would run alongside the likes of Drake Harris, Freddy Canteen and Da'Mario Jones, to name a few. Again, pretty good company. A team can never have too much talent or depth.
Cole is a sensible target who would slide right into the mix.
What's It Going to Be, Damien Harris?
As the nation's No. 1-ranked running back, Damien Harris has every school on his tail. In an effort to take care of business early, he committed to the Wolverines in 2013. However, after Team 134's 7-6 slide, the Berea Madison Southern (Ky.) sensation opted out of his verbal and reopened his recruitment.
Upon accepting the position of offensive coordinator, Doug Nussmeier immediately paid an in-home visit to the Harris family. The Bluegrass State's No. 1-ranked recruit is definitely of high priority for the Wolverines.
According to 247Sports, Harris has "warm" interest in Michigan, which recently deployed veteran running backs coach Fred Jackson to the scene.
Lately, news about Harris to Michigan has been sparse, but Jackson's visit should serve as some sort of reassurance. It's never over until it's over.
Keep an Eye out for Jacques Patrick
Jacques Patrick is flying under the radar.
According to 247Sports, he's the No. 2-ranked running back of 2015 and has "warmer" interest in Florida and Florida State. That, of course, makes sense; he's from Orlando.
At 6'1" and 220 pounds, he would deliver in the need and fit department. Michigan needs power backs, and the Timber Creek bulldozer is of such breed. He blocks, catches and runs. He's difficult to tackle and has a long stride that's perfect for sideline trots.
Establishing a continuous flow of big-bodied, athletically superior runners gets Alabama by each year. Duplicating such feats in Ann Arbor this year would be a challenge for Nussmeier. But with another year of recruiting and development of current players, Nussmeier should have the backfield in great shape.
Get Keisean Lucier-South to the Midwest
Keisean Lucier-South, who was visited May 15, offers the typical services of a 5-star defensive end. At 6'5" and 225 pounds, he has the ideal frame for the position, though he'll have to put on a few pounds to excel at the collegiate level. He also boasts top-tier athleticism that's well-suited for the pass rush that Michigan needs to establish.
According to 247Sports, the Orange Lutheran (Calif.) junior has "warm" interest in the Wolverines, who are competing with UCLA, Notre Dame, USC and Texas for his pledge.
The benefits are clear, and Lucier-South is a big-time force in the making. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, a great recruiter, is on the beat. Given his success on the trail, he'll give Michigan a glimmer of hope come national signing day.
Unless otherwise noted, player information comes via 247Sports.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81