We are just one day away from the commitment of the #1 player in the 2025 recruiting class, Bryce Underwood. Underwood is a Michigan native and seems down to a top three of Michigan football, Alabama, and LSU.
Of those three, Michigan and LSU seem to be the top contenders. Bryce visited Alabama in December, but that was really the first time he showed true interest in the Tide. Underwood's recruitment has actually been pretty quiet. It's hard to know where he really stands.
On the one hand, Michigan football is playing for a national championship and JJ McCarthy is looking like a first round pick. On the other hand, Jim Harbaugh may leave, LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels just won the Heisman, the Tigers are doing excellent recruiting wise, and NIL is much better in the south.
From an on the field perspective, there is nothing more that Michigan can do to impress Underwood. They beat the SEC giant in Alabama, are favorites heading into the title and have produced a great quarterback. No, they haven't necessarily been an air raid offense, but they've showcased McCarthy's talent in numerous ways, modeling an NFL offense.
With the commitment approaching, how do I see this playing out? I see Underwood siding with the LSU Tigers. This is what most insiders are predicting, and I don't think there has been enough movement for anything to change. Had Underwood visited the Wolverines in December I would be a bit more skeptical, but I just don't think there's enough to predict anything besides LSU.
What does this mean for Michigan football? Well, a number of things. First off, fans should not be freaking out. Yes, it's ridiculous that Michigan, a national title contender, cannot secure the best prospects in its state. But the Wolverines have an excellent quarterback already committed in 2025 in Carter Smith.
Smith just won the Gatorade Player of the Year award in Florida, a state full of talent, including this years #1 recruit, Ohio State wide receiver signee Jeremiah Smith. The future is still bright for Michigan.
Why isn't Michigan football recruiting at a higher level?
However, the Wolverines definitely should be recruiting at a much higher level. So why aren't they? Two reasons. NIL and NFL. Jim Harbaugh keeps flirting with the NFL, which will continue to hurt recruiting. Players love Jim Harbaugh and commit to Michigan because of him. They want to know that he'll stick around.
Secondly, NIL. Michigan still lacks any sort of organized NIL program. The school itself has chosen not to embrace NIL, and they refuse to give guarantees to players. I understand that, but until that changes they're going to continue to lose on top players.
Michigan football should be one of the best programs in the country in terms of NIL. The Wolverines aren't lacking funding or powerful donors. This is a leadership issue that needs to be resolved, and fast.
I will say, however, that in today's game it is much easier to have success without getting all the top recruits out of high school. How many former five stars enter the transfer portal every year? Michigan will continue to be a great landing spot for transfers and the home of a tremendous culture. Go Blue!