After months of anticipation, prognostication and unknown player destinations, college football’s Signing Day finally arrived yesterday.

And despite a few ups and downs, the Wolverines’ class has taken form, and is once again one of the nation’s premiere groups.

The Michigan football team’s class of 2007 is headed by a pair of five-star recruits. Quarterback Ryan Mallett and cornerback Donovan Warren both chose the Wolverines over numerous other suitors.

Michigan coach Lloyd Carr presented these players, and 18 others, who signed National Letters of Intent yesterday to become the newest members of the Michigan football team at a press conference yesterday afternoon.

“I like their character, I like their potential and I look forward to the opportunity to coach them when they get here,” Carr said.

Rivals.com ranks the group as the nation’s 12th best and first among Big Ten teams.

Ohio State and Illinois followed Michigan in the Big Ten’s class rankings, according to Rivals.com.

“We’re trying to bring kids here who have outstanding character, who academically can compete, who have the athletic skills and the competitiveness it takes to survive in an environment like this,” Carr said.

The top-10 class could have been even better had a few breaks gone Michigan’s way.

Five-star cornerback/wide receiver recruit and one-time Michigan lean Ronald Johnson signed a letter of intent with Southern Cal yesterday. Earlier in the recruiting season, four-star safety Jerimy Finch committed to play at Michigan, but later reneged on his decision. He signed with Florida early Wednesday morning.

Despite the setbacks, Carr seems satisfied with his newest class, especially those at the top.

Mallett is slated as the nation’s No. 2 quarterback by both Rivals.com and Scout.com, and is listed by both websites as a top-five overall player. Notre Dame commit Jimmy Clausen is listed as the nation’s top quarterback by both recruiting services.

Mallett, a Texarkana, Texas, native, received numerous national honors following his senior year, including the Gatorade Player of the Year award for Texas’s top overall player. Mallett is currently enrolled in classes at Michigan.

Warren, Mallett’s teammate in the Army All-American game, chose Michigan over a number of interested West Coast schools, even recruiting juggernaut Southern Cal. The five-star cornerback drew rave reviews from Carr, including the honor of being called “the real deal.”

“When he visited last year during the season, he impressed me as a guy that was really goal-oriented, a guy that was not afraid of competition,” Carr said of Warren. “I think he has all the skills it takes.”

Carr doesn’t intend to redshirt Mallett, and said that a year of tutelage and preparation under quarterback Chad Henne as the team’s backup would be a great experience for the freshman. The loss of senior All-American cornerback Leon Hall from an already depleted secondary could mean immediate playing time for Warren as well.

The Wolverines also reeled in a handful of four-star recruits.

Toney Clemons (wide receiver), Martell Webb (tight end), Ryan VanBergen (defensive end), Michael Williams (defensive back) and Austin Panter (linebacker) will all enter the program this year with high hopes.

Three other prospects have joined Mallett as early-enrollees at Michigan. Fullback Vince Hellmuth, safety Artis Chambers and Panter, a junior college transfer, are all currently taking classes at the University.

“Certainly the weather has been colder than Ryan Mallett would have (liked),” Carr said. “We told him it never got less than 40 degrees here.”

Despite the inclement weather, this year marks the most early-enrollees that Michigan has ever had in a single term.

Last season, Justin Boren and Carlos Brown joined the team early, while two years ago, Kevin Grady did the same.

Carr cited the opportunity to go through winter workouts and meetings and the chance to participate in spring practice as advantages of coming early.

The members of Michigan’s incoming class hail from 10 different states. Just five players came from within the state of Michigan (none of which were in the state’s top nine according to Rivals.com), with California close behind, producing four new members of the Maize and Blue. Ohio, a traditional pipeline state for Michigan recruiting, produced no recruits for this year’s class.

“I don’t think a boundary line means much,” Carr said. “You find football players wherever you can. . The most important thing is that the guys that you take are guys that you have evaluated carefully and believe very strongly in.”

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