Ranking the top-10 three-star recruits of the Harbaugh era: 10-6 (2024)

The Michigan football program had plenty of success on the field during the Jim Harbaugh era, particularly the last three seasons. However, if there’s one area rival fans have often criticized, it’s the lack of success on the recruiting trail relative to wins on the field. This is certainly a valid argument, considering Michigan ranks as the No. 14 team in 247Sports’ recruiting talent metric since 2015. So what gives?

The answer lies in talent development, an area the Wolverines are consistently one of the best teams in the country. Michigan has consistently done an excellent job finding diamonds in the rough and turning them into contributors who can succeed in college and become NFL draft picks.

While their arrivals on campus might not result in much fanfare, three-star prospects have been a fixture on Michigan’s rosters the last several years, and they are even responsible for some of the biggest moments in the program’s recent history.

Today, we will begin taking a look at some of the biggest development successes in Michigan’s recent history by counting down the top-10 three-star prospects of the Harbaugh era, starting with No.’s 10-6.

Star ratings are based on the 247Sports composite.

10. DT Kenneth Grant (2022)

It’s a little tough to rank Kenneth Grant given his somewhat limited body of work, but his performance in 2023 was enough to put him on the list over some pretty deserving candidates. After playing mostly in a depth role as a freshman, Grant burst onto the scene as a sophom*ore en route to All-Big Ten honors.

Playing alongside Kris Jenkins and Mason Graham, Grant compiled 29 tackles, including five for a loss, to go along with 3.5 sacks in 2023. He also made some pretty memorable plays, like his chasedown touchdown-saving tackle against Penn State and his sack of Michael Penix in the National Championship.

While Grant only has one season of big production, he is likely to have another in 2024 and is already considered one of the best defensive tackles in the country. He could play himself into the first- or second-round of the 2025 NFL Draft as well, potentially making this ranking look too low.

9. S Josh Mettelus (2016)

A high school teammate of linebacker Devin Bush, Josh Mettelus committed to Michigan as the No. 719 ranked player in the country, but showed some potential early on. Although playing mostly in a depth role and on special teams, Mettelus appeared in eight games, registering 15 tackles and one sack as a true freshman.

Mettelus broke out as a sophom*ore, starting all 13 games en route to All-Big Ten honorable mentions in 2017. He would start every game his junior and senior seasons as well, earning All-Big Ten honors as a junior. He was eventually selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2020 NFL Draft.

While he never really grew to be a true superstar on the back end of Michigan’s defense, his presence was consistently felt. He was a testament to Michigan’s ability to develop defensive players, as he improved each year as a member of the secondary and became known for his hard-hitting style of play.

8. RB Hassan Haskins (2018)

Haskins’ performance against Ohio State in 2021 alone is enough to put him on this list. That afternoon, he bludgeoned the Buckeyes to the tune of 169 yards and five touchdowns, leading Michigan to its first win over Ohio State in a decade.

Haskins came to Michigan in 2018 and was initially a linebacker before switching to running back full-time and breaking out with 622 yards as a sophom*ore in 2019.

Aside from his performance in “The Game,” Haskins earned All-Big Ten and All-American honors in 2021 before being selected by the Tennesee Titans in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. He was Michigan’s leading rusher in 2021, going for 1,327 yards and 20 touchdowns.

7. DE Kwity Paye (2017)

In recent years, Michigan has been known for producing standouts along the defensive line. Names like Aidan Hutchinson and Rashan Gary might be the first to come to mind, but Kwity Paye was also highly productive during his time in Ann Arbor.

Paye was an unheralded recruit out of Rhode Island, but grew up in a refugee camp in Guinea before coming to the United States. Michigan saw his potential and won his services, reaping the benefits of his physical tools and size. As the heir apparent to Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich, Paye earned All-Big Ten honorable mentions in 2018 and was a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches in 2019.

During the COVID-shortened 2020 season, Paye recorded two sacks and 16 tackles, including four for a loss. Despite the low production, he was selected No. 21 overall by the Indianapolis Colts.

6. S Rod Moore (2021)

Much like Haskins, Rod Moore has a huge play against Ohio State. What makes it so much sweeter is the fact Moore, a Calyton, Ohio native, was an under-the-radar recruit that was plucked right out of the Buckeyes’ backyard.

Despite his status as a recruit, Moore made an impact right away, playing in 11 games as a freshman (four starts) and shared Michigan’s defensive rookie of the year honors. He started 14 games over the last two seasons and earned All-Big Ten honors both years. His biggest moment came in the 2023 edition of “The Game,” where he intercepted a Kyle McCord pass to seal the win.

Moore opted to return to Michigan instead of going to the NFL Draft after the 2023 season, and unfortunately suffered a knee injury during the spring that is likely to sideline him for the 2024 season. It’s unclear if Moore has played his last game at Michigan, but either way, the Ohio kid has left a nice legacy for himself.

Check out Part 2 of this series on Friday!

Ranking the top-10 three-star recruits of the Harbaugh era: 10-6 (2024)
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