ANN ARBOR, Michigan — Jim Harbaugh's first recruiting class at Michigan received tepid reviews.
The Wolverines confirmed 14 members of their 2015 class Wednesday, their first since Harbaugh took over as coach in late December amid considerable fanfare. Michigan's small class was ranked well outside the top 25 by both Scout and Rivals, underscoring the challenge Harbaugh faced in securing recruits after being hired just over a month before signing day.
Harbaugh took over at Michigan after four seasons in the NFL. He was previously a coach at Stanford, so the recruiting process was by no means foreign to him.
"Somebody just asked me the question, did I just go right into it and pick up right where I left off at Stanford? No, I did not," he said. "I picked up two days after an NFL season and had to familiarize yourself with who the players are, high school coaches again. Had not spent the whole fall evaluating tape. I had been coaching the San Francisco 49ers. It took some time."
The Wolverines did land quarterback Zach Gentry of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Tight end Tyrone Wheatley Jr. also signed with Michigan, and quarterback Alex Malzone of Bloomfield Hills joins the Wolverines after being named The Associated Press player of the year in Michigan in Division 1-2.
Wide receiver Brian Cole of Saginaw is another solid prospect Michigan landed from inside the state, where the Wolverines face increasing competition from Michigan State and others.
"One of the very favorite players in this class," Harbaugh said of Cole. "He has a special gift of personality and class and humility, and he is a real winner with great parents. This is a class with great families and great parents. We talked about the branch not falling too far from the tree — we have some incredible youngsters."
Although this class isn't turning too many heads nationally, the cupboard shouldn't be bare this season in Ann Arbor by any means. Harbaugh's predecessor, Brady Hoke, landed the nation's fourth-ranked recruiting class in 2012 and the second-ranked class in 2013, according to Scout.
Michigan does need to resolve its quarterback situation after losing senior Devin Gardner. Gentry and Malzone may have bright futures.
"I will start with Alex. As I have said, another example of somebody who has been a winner. Everything he does, he wins. Excellent thrower of the football. He has a real savvy in the pocket. I think his accuracy is outstanding," Harbaugh said. "Zach is also very talented. He is very fast, he has some real physical attributes that not every quarterback has, and he is somebody that works extremely hard at the game — especially during the offseason — on his technique, on his throwing. I am excited about both Alex and Zach."
Top 25 Class: No
Best in class: Brian Cole, WR, Saginaw, Michigan
Best of the rest: Tyree Kinnel, DB, Huber Heights, Ohio
Late addition: Tyrone Wheatley Jr., TE, Buffalo, New York
One that got away: Mike Weber, RB, Detroit (Ohio State)
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