Each week leading up to the Spring Game, I’ll take a look at each position Michigan will be recruiting and which recruit could possibly fill the needed spots. This week, I’ll be taking a look at a position Michigan has had multiple playmakers at the past few years- Linebacker.
Who is Michigan Targeting at Linebacker in 2016?
Heading into the 2015 season, Michigan has solid depth among the linebacker corp. Most of the linebackers listed on their depth chart are currently upperclassmen and once the 2016 season rolls around, many of the positions will be up for the taking. In the 2015 recruiting class, Michigan did not take any linebackers, and the new coaching staff has made the position a priority for 2016. The Wolverines are in good standing with many recruits and could see multiple commitments from the position this year. Michigan will likely take 2-3 linebackers in this year’s class, and with Dele Harding already committed, who else is likely to commit?
1) OLB Jonathan Jones (Orlando, FL)
Jonathan is a recruit who was offered at the beginning of February, and has seen a steady gain in interest for the Wolverines.
Jonathan is a stout defender for his Oak Ridge Varsity Football squad. He’s got good size (6’1, 220), to go along with a good blend of speed, vision, and agility. Jonathan is as good at identifying the play before the snap as I’ve seen from a linebacker in 2016. Excellent on guarding the rush, Jonathan breaks towards the line of scrimmage once the ball is snapped, and is able to shed blocks and make the tackle. Possesses a very strong body frame and it shows when he makes tackles as he is constantly stopping the ball carrier in his footsteps. Has a very quick first step and good straight line speed. Plays very mobile, and can stop the run either to the outside or up the middle. Sheds blocks extremely well and can cause distruption in the backfield.
Jonathan is ranked as a 3* recruit and the #23 ILB according to Rivals. He holds scholarship offers from; Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, Miami, LSU, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. As a junior, Jonathan has 115 tackles, to go along with 7 sacks. Jonathan has already schedules his official visit to Michigan for September 25th. I fully expect him to be in Michigan’s 2016 recruiting class by National Signing Day.
2) OLB Devin Bush Jr. (Holywood,FL)
Devin is a dominant force at linebacker for his Charles W Flanagan High School squad. He has the ability to either line up either as a middle linebacker and stop the run or lineup as an outside linebacker and blitz the quarterback. He’s a little shorter than a prototypical linebacker (6’0), but does have a good frame standing at 220 lbs. Has a very good burst off the snap and can blitz up the middle or to the outside. Possesses above average speed for a linebacker and gets to the ball carrier in a hurry. Sheds blocks with relative ease, and is a very good tackler. Devin does a good job of getting low, extending forward and wrapping up with ball carrier. In my opinion, Devin would be better suited off as a 3-4 linebacker, as is he excellent at stopping the run.
Devin is currently ranked as the #4 Inside Linebacker and #136 overall according to Rivals. Devin has an impressive offer sheet including; Georgia, Florida State, Florida, Miami, TCU, and UCLA. As a junior, Devin had 67 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Devin was one of many recruits that visited Ann Arbor last weekend.
3) OLB Caleb Kelly (Fresno, CA)
Caleb is ranked as one of the top linebackers in the class of 2016, and for good reason. His highlight film proves how valuable Caleb can be on the field. He has the prototypical frame to play linebacker at the next level, with room to add weight to his frame. Kelly is constantly finding himself in the thick of plays, due to Caleb speed and agility. He’s able to drop back into pass coverage and guard wide receivers with relative ease, and is also able to get behind the offensive line and cause pressure on the quarterback. One of the many reasons that Kelly is so effective is his ability to shed blocks. When he’s in pass coverage, Kelly is able to shed his block and get a clear pathway to the ball carrier. He plays very instinctive and is rarely caught out of position. Caleb does an excellent job of getting low on the ball carrier and wrapping up. Above average lateral mobility and can play sideline-to-sideline. After watching his highlight film, it’s easy to see why Caleb is one of the most sought after linebackers in this year’s class.
Caleb is ranked as a 5* recruit and the #2 OLB in 2016 according to Rivals. He holds scholarship offers from many high profiled schools such as; Alabama, USC, UCLA, Stanford, Oregon, Notre Dame, LSU, and Florida State.
4) ILB Dontavious Jackson (Houston, TX)
Dontavious is as physical of a linebacker as I've watched on film. He’s a bruiser, who never shys away from contact. Like fellow LB target, Caleb Kelly, Dontavious’s highlight film just jumps off the screen. He’s extremely strong and agile. Dontavious will stand in the box and wait for the play to develop before breaking off into pass coverage or rushing the ball carrier. He has good speed for his size, and can get into the backfield with relative ease. Has the prototypical frame to play outside linebacker at the college level. Does an excellent job of getting low and extending his legs to take down the ball carrier.
Dontavious is ranked as a 4* recruit according to Rivals and is ranked as the #229 overall prospect. He holds scholarship offers from; Texas, Texas A&M, Oregon, Oklahoma, UCLA, Alabama, Florida, and Baylor. As a junior, Dontavious racked up 165 tackles, with 27 coming for a loss, 1 interception, and 4 forced fumbles. Dontavious will be in attendance this weekend for Michigan’s spring game.
5) OLB Camilo Eifler (Oakland, CA)
Michigan has made the linebacker position a priority for 2016, and Camilo Eifler fits the bill as to what the coaching staff is looking for.
Eifler, who is ranked as a 3* recruit according to 24/7 has scholarship offers from mostly Pac-12 schools including; California, Washington and Colorado. He’s got good size at 6’2, 210 lbs., and moves very well for a linebacker. In my opinion, Camilo is more effective as an outside linebacker, due to his speed and field vision. Camilo is a very effective at blitzing, and has no problem lining up in the box, or outside the defensive line. Is a hard tackler that possesses a high motor and is constantly in the thick of the play. Eifler is a “do it all” linebacker, who can line drop back into pass coverage, or guard the rush. Very effective tackler, and does an excellent job of wrapping up the ball carrier.
Camilo is rated as the #19th OLB and #190th overall prospect according to Rivals. He has a short offer sheet, which mostly consists of Pac-12 schools such as; Washington, Utah, UCLA, Oregon State, California, and Colorado. Camilo will visit Ann Arbor this weekend for the first time.
Note- List is in order of likeliness to commit to Michigan, not based upon rankings.