Jim Harbaugh Introduces 1st Class

Jim Harbaugh addressed the media this afternoon to introduce his 14-member 2015 recruiting class, his first as Michigan's head football coach.

Opening statement ... "Thank you. It is good to see everybody. Thanks for coming out today. Exciting day for us as a football program, for the families and for the youngsters who have worked so hard to earn a football scholarship. To see that hard work come to fruition today is a very exciting day. We are very pleased with our class; very proud, really. I think everyone who loves Michigan is going to be very proud to call these youngsters their own."

?On the difficulty of getting involved late in the recruiting process ... ?"It was not difficult. It was a real joy. It was a real pleasure. Just the things that I learned about some of the players that were already committed under Coach Hoke and his regime, and they did a tremendous job. Talk about some of those guys. Andrew Paul David, and his confirmation name is John if you were wondering. Andrew Paul John David. We pretty much have the gospel covered right there. He grew up a Michigan fan; a great love for Michigan. Tyree Kinnel, somebody who was handed a Michigan football at birth. Also, Jon Runyan Jr. I was told he wore a Michigan onesie when he was a year old. People have a love and passion for Michigan football. Grant Perry is another who recently committed here and signed today. I grew up with his dad. I grew up with Grant's dad (Mark). As you know, Mark has been a record-setting receiver in the state of Michigan. He grew up like me, Grant did, in the shadow of Michigan Stadium. Getting autographs from football players and basketball players, his dad was a coach. Mark was telling me that he would bring Grant to practice and as a seven-year-old he always found a way to get a helmet, be running routes and doing amazing things catching the football at every practice he went to. (He is) a winner. That is what I am really excited about in this class. Those two things: a lot of youngsters that have a real deep desire to be at Michigan and have won. In Grant's case he has won at everything he has ever done, going back to little league baseball, basketball and football, including three state championships at Brother Rice, along with Alex Malzone, who is also in our class. Did I tell you Andrew David was a really good shortstop? Heck of a baseball player, too."

?On if it was difficult to switch back to college recruiting ... ?"Somebody just asked me the question, did I just go right into it and pick up right where I left off at Stanford? No I did not. I picked up two days after an NFL season and had to familiarize (myself) with who the players are, high school coaches again. (I) had not spent the whole fall evaluating tape. I had been coaching the San Francisco 49ers. It took some time."

?On if the recruiting process has changed in his five-year absence ... ?"There are some things, some small things that have changed, but I do not think the process has changed at all. The great thing about being able to go recruiting, you go north, you go south, you go east, you go west, and you meet families that care about family, have a love for family, and they have faith, good genuine people, and what they want is what is best for their son in this process. Parents that want to see their son have the best of a chance and the best opportunity that they can possibly have, and that has not changed a bit. That is what this process is materially."

?On quarterbacks Alex Malzone and Zach Gentry ...? "I will start with Alex. As I have said, another example of somebody who has been a winner. Everything he does, he wins. Excellent thrower of the football. He has a real savvy in the pocket. I think his accuracy is outstanding. It jumps out on tape where he is able to scan the field and go from a receiver to a secondary receive, and move his feet. The last thing I would say is that he has been here. He has been here for three weeks, so we have been around him since week one when the students came back to school. He does not seem like a freshman. I do not know if he has an older soul to him, but he has fit right in. He has been very serious about football; I like that about him. He has been serious about school, and he has been really good. Zach Gentry, really similar demeanor. Zach is also very talented. He is very fast, he has some real physical attributes that not every quarterback has, and he is somebody that works extremely hard at the game -- especially during the offseason -- on his technique, on his throwing. I am excited about both Alex and Zach. The two things common to them with everybody in this class that really has been fantastic to see, is a desire to compete in the classroom and on the football field. I really like those guys, those kind of people the most, that compete in both of those areas to the highest level."

?On trying to recruit players who have already committed to other schools ... ?"There were recommendations, and we watched tape, and we called people to see if they were interested. We were trying to build a recruiting base and that is kind of the way the pickle squirted this year. I do not see that happening going forward."

?On having a philosophy on recruiting players committed elsewhere ... ?"I do not have a philosophy. I have a hard time spelling philosophy, let alone saying that I have a philosophy."

??On late recruiting pushes ... ?"You make a call and ask someone if they are interested in talking about Michigan, and certainly if someone says no, it is no, but if someone says yes, then I want to show them Michigan. Karan Higdon (is) a great example. There was time enough to make a decision, and it was about a week that he flew up here for an official visit and did not make it on the first day. He did not make it through security but came back the next morning and caught a 5:20 flight to come up to Ann Arbor, and that was the night we had the five, six, seven inches of snow. He had to get up at two in the morning, and that spoke volumes to me that he got up here, and he was here for one day on an official visit, and now he is a Wolverine. He is an excellent example of somebody who competes at the highest level in the classroom and on the football field. He wants to go to medical school and Michigan -- I found this interesting stat -- sends the most undergraduate students to medical school out of any university in the country."

?On what to pitch to recruits during crunch time ... ?"In Karan's case right there as I mentioned, he wants to be a medical student and play football at the highest level, and Michigan sends the most undergraduate students to med school out of any school in the country. That was a big deciding factor. I would not call that a pitch, I would call that a fact, and facts are stubborn things. Like I said before, people want what is best for their youngsters, for their children. The other thing, too, I noticed. Everybody that we dealt with, that I dealt with personally, when talking to families I really thought the student-athletes did an incredible job making their decisions on what was best for them and doing it the right way; studying the facts, looking at criteria, praying about it, talking about it as a family. Not only the ones that chose Michigan but chose other schools where I could witness that they were making decisions that way. Those decisions are hard to make. Those decisions are hard to make for a 51-year-old, let alone a 17-, 18-year-old. This is landmark day, signature day, and I am very happy for a lot of people, including ourselves."

?On if players from this class are expected to have an immediate impact ... ?"I always like to think of it as they have the license and the ability to do that. All things will be earned on the field. There are no guarantees, only opportunities, and they will have a great opportunity here at the University of Michigan to compete at the highest level academically and at the highest level athletically."

?On if he plans on holding any scholarships for 2016 ... ?"We do not know exactly if we will have any from this year to use next year. There are a few things still to be determined, still to shake out."

?On if other players are expected to join this class ... ?"It is possible."

?On how to identify toughness in recruits ... ?"There are several ways to gauge that. How do you gauge somebody's toughness? I mean, what does their contact courage look like? A back that will lower their pads going through a hole, a defender that cannot wait to get from point A to point B and go hit somebody. Keith Washington, who I would just like to talk about for a little bit, one of my very favorite players in this class, from Prattville, Alabama. He hurt his MCL in the first round of the playoffs and took his team to the state championship. He his a very humble person, but a winner, another theme I think with this entire recruiting class that we have. He went to Prattville only one year, but when he showed up he told them he was going to take them to the state championship, and he did just that on an MCL that he hurt in the first round of the playoffs. He was a quarterback in high school and played corner in high school, but he is going to concentrate on corner when he comes to the University of Michigan. So, those are just a few of the ways you can tell toughness on the football field."

On finding the rest of the coaching staff ... "I thought our staff did a tremendous job and worked very hard to get U-M graduates. It's what we were looking for. We wanted guys who are serious about football. I thought we did a tremendous job with that, and most of the credit goes to the staff on that."

On if NFL coaching experience makes a difference ... "Yeah, I think it does. When you put together a staff, you're looking for great teachers first of all, men that have high character and who understand their specific area of expertise in football. I think it does help that there has been NFL experience in our coaches' background. A lot of our players, that's one of their goals, to make it to the NFL. We don't discourage that, in fact, we try to teach it."

On finding Nolan Ulizio and Keith Washington late in the process ... "When we first took the job, we were waiting during the dead period. Basically in a three-point stance, couldn't wait to hit the road. In that time, we were watching tape and going through lists, and Nolan -- we popped in his tape and watched him and really liked it. We kept watching it and liked it a lot more. We called him and asked if he was interested in coming to Michigan, and he was. With Keith -- I'm kind of Keith's recruiting coach and positioning coach. I really liked Keith right away, the way he plays. When I went down and visited him, along with coach DJ Durkin, we were there with his father, Big Keith, and he's got a great mother Candice. The four of us were sitting there (Big Keith, Keith, Durkin, and I) and I asked him (Keith) how fast he was. He said, 'I'm a 4.3, coach.' Come on, a 4.3? Nobody's a 4.3. Everybody thinks they're a 4.3, but come on. So he said, 'I'll go out in the parking lot and show you right now.' And he was serious, dead serious. I liked him even more, and I knew he'd go out; I knew he was a competitor. I got a great feel. You're going to like him."

On who will be the starting quarterback ... "Well, it's got to take a lot. You have to be determined on the field. There are five quarterbacks that are here right now. They're all training, they're all lifting, conditioning themselves and readying themselves for spring ball. This will be a lot of fun, we'll throw the ball around, and the guys will compete. There will be scrimmages, there'll be seven-on-seven, team drills, and the 11-on-11 football will be the most important. Who moves the team the best? Who turns it over less? Who takes care of the football? Who can rally his team? All that will be played out on the football field. It's a meritocracy at its best."

On if it's easier or harder to coach athletes whose fathers played with Jim ... "I suppose it would vary with each one of those youngsters, but you can't be around two better guys than the Wangler sons (Jack and Jared). The branch doesn't fall too fall from the tree. Nobody was better than John Wangler. I remember coming through this program and John -- a senior, a great player. The sons are very similar. They're just great at the highest level. I guess, it probably makes it a lot easier when you're dealing with guys like that."

On what he's most excited for in the spring game ... "I'm excited about all the youngsters we have. I'm excited about our entire team too. I've been spending time with them, and I recognize most of their faces and a lot more names now. I haven't studied a lot of tape on the current team, because I want to put a fresh eye on it. I want them to make a first impression on me. You don't know how they've been coached or what they've been told. I think it's better to go in with a fresh eye and let everyone know they're starting the same. They all have the same chance to make a great first impression. What I'm looking most forward to is a great meeting tonight. We have an offensive and defensive meeting with the team, and we have high expectations for that."

On Brian Cole's role ... "We don't mandate what position the student-athletes start at. They can compete and start at whatever position they're most passionate about. Brian wants to be at receiver, and he's been tremendous at that. One of the very favorite players in this class; he has a special gift of personality and class and humility, and he is a real winner with great parents. This is a class with great families and great parents. We talked about the branch not falling too far from the tree; we have some incredible youngsters. There are great stories to be done on him, and I look forward to you writing them. This is a giving, caring individual, and he's special."

On recruiting and moving forward this year ... "We'll make some improvements in all areas of our organization. I look at it that way and always be striving to get a percent better, a mile an hour faster, better today than we were yesterday, better tomorrow than we were today in all areas in everything that we do. We'll take a look at how we're doing it, start with why and attack, even a .01-percent improvement if we can find it."

On returning players recovering from injuries ... "Drake Johnson's doing okay. He has to wear his knee brace more. He's not allowed to be out of it, and we had to get on him about it. He's coming along fine and seems to be a fast healer. The same thing can be said for Jake Butt."

The Michigan Insider Top Stories