Sources have told Peegs.com that Mike Hart has been hired as the new running backs coach at Indiana. Hart will be replacing Deland McCullough, who left the IU program last week to be the running backs coach at USC.
Hart spent the 2016 season at Syracuse University as the running backs coach for the Orangemen. Prior to that, the former Michigan great was an assistant coach in the Mid-American Conference on the staffs at both Eastern Michigan (2011-13) and Western Michigan (2014-15). During his time in the MAC the New York native coached three 1,000-yard rushers, two Freshman of the Year award winners, and the 2014 Offensive Player of the Year.
Hart began his coaching career at Eastern Michigan in 2011 as an offensive quality control coach before coaching the running backs for the Eagles during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. In the two years Hart was the running backs coach at EMU the Eagles rushing attack totaled nearly 4,000 yards on the ground.
Hart was a member of the Western Michigan staff for the 2014 and 2015 seasons as the running backs coach. In the two years that Hart was on the WMU staff the Broncos had two backs rush for 1,000-yards on their way to earning MAC Freshman of the Year honors. Under Hart’s tutelage, Jamauri Bogan was named MAC Freshman of the Year following the 2015 season. In 2014 Jarvion Franklin was named the Freshman of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year in the MAC, while also being named as a USA Today Freshman All-American. Franklin ran for 1,551 yards, which was the second-highest freshman total in the nation, and he also set single-season records at Western Michigan for points with 150 and for rushing touchdowns with 24.
Prior to entering the coaching ranks, Hart spent three seasons in the NFL as a running back for the Indianapolis Colts. A sixth-round draft choice in 2008, Hart carried the ball a total of 71 times for 264 yards in his 21-game NFL career.
As a member of the Michigan football program Hart set school records for most career carries with 1,105 and most rushing yards with 5.040. He was a four-year starter for the Wolverines, and he finished his college career with 41 touchdowns which is the third-most in Michigan history. Hart ranks fourth in Big Ten Conference history in career rushing attempts and fifth in rushing yards.
Hart was a two-time finalist for the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back and he finished fifth in the 2006 Heisman Trophy voting.
Indiana offensive coordinator Mike DeBord was an assistant coach at Michigan when Hart was a player for the Wolverines. Both DeBord and Hart were in Ann Arbor from 2004-07, with DeBord serving as the offensive coordinator for the 2006 and 2007 seasons. Hart was also a teammate of current Indiana quarterbacks coach Nick Sheridan for two seasons at Michigan (2006-07).
Scout.com recruiting analyst Allen Trieu is based in Michigan so he has gotten an up-close look at Hart as both a player and a coach, and Trieu believes the Hoosiers have made a great hire by adding Hart to their staff.
"Mike Hart recruits the way he played, which is a good thing," Trieu said. "He works and competes on the recruiting trail and he is also brutally honest with kids and that resonates. He has proven himself to be a great evaluator on the trail. At Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan he found a good number of backs under the radar who became top backs in the MAC, including D'Wayne Eskridge, an Indiana native who played as a true freshman. Not only has he found those guys, he developed them. He is a young coach who I think will do really well at IU as a recruiter."
Trieu also said that Hart was able to develop strong ties to the state of Indiana when it comes to recruiting, and those connections should be very beneficial as a member of the IU staff.
"He's also recruited Indianapolis, so he has good relationships there," Trieu said about Hart's connections in the state of Indiana. "If you look at some of the Indiana guys on WMU's roster, he was responsible for building the in-roads with those guys."