For several of Michigan’s football commitments, the last several months have been agonizing.
The Wolverines struggled to a 5-7 finish on the field, the coach they originally gave a verbal commitment to in Brady Hoke, was fired, prompting a month of uncertainty as a new coach was sought in Ann Arbor.
Now Jan. 3, the wait appears to have been worth it for several as Jim Harbaugh was officially introduced as Michigan’s football coach Tuesday.
2015 Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne defensive back Tyree Kinnel is one of those commitments that decided to remain patient and will now be rewarded with the opportunity to play for one of the nation’s most highly regarded football coaches.
“I got the phone call (from Coach Harbaugh) about three or four hours after the press conference,” Kinnel said. “He just wanted to thank me for staying loyal to the University and staying committed through the rough season and the time period where we didn’t have a coach.
“We just talked about school and helping him recruit this class together. We’ve got to start off good. Just knowing what he’s done in coaching kind of helped me stay on board.”
It appears there won’t be 100-percent turnover on Michigan’s coaching staff. While definitive word hasn't yet been given it's likely that defensive coordinator Greg Mattison will on the Wolverines’ staff in some capacity.
Despite not knowing exactly what role Mattison would have on the coaching staff, Kinnel believes that move would be big for him personally if it comes to fruition.
“This was the next day when I found out Coach Mattison was going to be on the staff,” Kinnel said. “I don’t know what position but on the defense; probably linebackers but, just having him around is big cause I have a great relationship with him.”
Kinnel plans to visit Ann Arbor following the dead period to officially meet his next head coach at Michigan. Over the next few weeks, leading up to signing day, Kinnel and others will do their best to ensure others join them as Wolverines.
“I talked to all the commits and we’re pretty excited,” Kinnel said. “We’ve reached out to several guys that we think would be interested in Michigan and just trying to get them on board.
“We’re just trying to hurry this thing up before signing day and get a couple more players to our class.”
Although the Buckeyes will be Kinnel’s main rival at the next level, he has an appreciation for what’s been accomplished.
“I hear everything about Ohio State cause of living here,” Kinnel said. “The whole playoff is exciting and I want to play in it one day so just watching it for the first time was very exciting and it’s good for the Big Ten too for Ohio State to get there.
“No one had them winning, especially against Alabama and no one really even had them in the playoffs.”
One of Kinnel’s friends is Huber Heights Wayne alum Braxton Miller, forced to miss the entire season after injuring his throwing shoulder in the preseason.
Despite the setback, Kinnel says Miller remains positive about his return.
“I’m pretty close to Braxton,” Kinnel said. “He’s doing good. He understood things happen in the beginning of the year and he’s going to redshirt and comeback next year.
“He’s pretty good, he’s just worried about starting to throw again and his rehab with the shoulder but he’s in good shape and I think he’ll be fine.”
With Harbaugh now setting up shop inside Schembechler Hall, and given Michigan’s struggles at the quarterback position in recent years, it appears the Wolverines have interest in pursuing a graduate transfer at the position, similar to a player like Miller who has one year of eligibility remaining.
Would Miller listen to Michigan should the Wolverines come calling?
“No, he’s not interested,” Kinnel said. “I already talked to him.”
Not interested in Michigan or not interested in leaving Ohio State after the season. With J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones both returning to Columbus next year Miller's future will continue to be a hot topic.
That's why there's a good chance Kinnel will explore that line of questioning again once the Buckeyes season is officially over.