Michigan football recruiting is in a holding pattern

One reason Michigan football needs some clarity from Jim Harbaugh is that recruiting seems to be at a standstill.
Dec 2, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; The helmet of Michigan Wolverines running back Blake Corum (2)
Dec 2, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; The helmet of Michigan Wolverines running back Blake Corum (2) / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

A common complaint you hear from Michigan football fans is the lack of recruiting success for the Wolverines following three straight Big Ten titles and now a national championship.

Jim Harbaugh has every right to explore being a head coach in the NFL. But every time he does this, it hurts Michigan fooball on the recruiting trail. The Wolverines finally beat Ohio State. That was supposed to unlock more recruiting success but it hasn't. Not even close.

Michigan football didn't sign a top-10 class in 2023 or 2024. And with the way things are going early in the 2025 recruiting class, the Wolverines are about to make it three cycles in a row.

Michigan football recruiting is at a standstil

Yes, Michigan football knows how to evaluate and develop talent. But you still need star players like J.J. McCarthy, Donovan Edwards, and Will Johnson. They were all five-stars by one recruiting service or another but in this day and age, Michigan football wouldn't get those guys with its lack of NIL.

We keep hearing that the NIL issue is getting fixed. I hope so and if Michigan football isn't going to pay-for-play, it needs some other kind of solution whether it be a based salary or something else, but the current NIL model the Wolverines are using isn't working. The proof is in the pudding in terms of recruiting. The bottom line is that Michigan football wasn't even a factor for Bryce Underwood.

They had zero shot because of their NIL stance. That was clear as day. It was the same thing that essentially cost them CJ Carr and Dante Moore. A lack of NIL and a lack of a clear plan for Jim Harbaugh has really damaged recruiting.

It's not too late for the Wolverines to take advantage of the national title. But as an example, Nebraska had over 30 2025/2026 recruits on campus this past weekend. Michigan football didn't have any. And they don't have any visits scheduled for next weekend either.

Maybe it's part of some self-imposed penalty. But you're kidding yourself if you think the Jim Harbaugh saga isn't having a huge impact. Just like with the last 2024 target for Michigan football, Gatlin Bair. It's down to Oregon and Michigan but he told Chad Simmons of On3.com that the Harbaugh situation is a factor. Here's what Bair said about Michigan and Oregon, the top contenders for the wideout that runs the 100-meter dash in sub 10.2.

“It’s the two most prestigious universities in the country, it’s unbelievable being recruited by those guys. The biggest thing is — they both develop really well, I guess the way they develop is really different,” Bair said. “I think Michigan develops their players better than anyone in the weight room and I think that shows — their just dominant physically at every position. Oregon does a phenomenal job with their receivers. Their offensive style is a little different, they throw the ball a little more.”

Jim Harbaugh's dalliance is hurting recruiting. It is what it is, but it would be nice to see the Wolverines take advantage of their success on the field for once.