In his first three months on the job, Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett has made quite a splash in Michigan football circles. After a 5-7 season, it was determined that Brady Hoke would not return as the Wolverines’ coach in 2015. It was then, however, that Hackett truly made his mark in the Michigan community. Using his well-established business acumen, Hackett was able to draw perhaps the hottest coaching commodity on the market to Ann Arbor in Jim Harbaugh.
Returning to familiar stomping grounds in his alma mater, Harbaugh will be tasked with the challenge of completing Michigan’s 2015 recruiting class with one month to spare. As of right now, Michigan has seven players committed for the ’15 class and three recruits committed in 2016 as well.
The Harbaugh Effect will truly be felt once Harbaugh has one full year to pull in a recruiting class at Michigan, rather than just one month.
Many of the recruits who hope to be recruited by Harbaugh have chimed in, and the returns are overwhelmingly positive thus far. For Huntersville (N.C.) Southlake Christian four-star running back Robert Washington, hiring Harbaugh is nothing short of great for UM.
“I think it’s a great move personally,” Washington told GoBlueWolverine.com. “I think he’s a great coach. He’s known for developing NFL talent and I think he’s the best for the players with developing them as better men and better players.
“I was at my house with my family when the news came about, we were all watching the College Football Bowl Game Week and everybody was saying it’s a great move for Michigan.”
During his four unofficial visits to Ann Arbor, Washington had developed a strong relationship with the previous Michigan coaching staff. With a new staff in town, Washington looks to take another trip up to Michigan to acclimate himself with Harbaugh.
“I definitely want to take a visit up there and definitely see him and talk to him,” said Washington.
This potential visit could be impactful for Michigan, who is competing for Washington’s pledge among nearly 40 other schools that have offered up to this point. Still, the Wolverines have maintained a strong position in Washington’s recruitment for quite some time, and the standout junior running back thinks favorably of the Maize & Blue despite a tumultuous 2014 season.
“They still sit high,” said Washington. “I always loved Michigan and I knew they were going to make a great choice for the next head coach so they didn’t drop off when [Hoke was fired]. They still sit pretty high with me.”
Washington’s primary recruiter at Michigan has been Roy Manning, who may be a carryover with the new Wolverines’ staff after interviewing for a position earlier in the week.
The hiring of Jim Harbaugh was highly notable not just to players who had been actively recruited by Michigan for over a year, but even players that were rising on the Wolverines’ target board. Listed as a four-star cornerback, Etiawanda (Calif.) junior Treyjohn Butler was astounded upon hearing the news of Harbaugh-to-Michigan. ?
“I was at a loss of words actually,” said Butler. “It’s a very big move to add him and allowing him to come back to Michigan and possibly changing that whole program around is very big. His whole status as a coach and everything he has done, even getting the San Francisco 49ers to the point they were in his career and having that possibly and opportunity to do that at Michigan as well is a very big thing.”
Butler, who holds five offers, had been in contact with Dan Ferrigno on the previous staff. Butler mentioned that he would reach out to Ferrigno to find out more regarding the Harbaugh hire.
For others who are looking to forge a relationship with Michigan, this move came at a pivotal time as many top juniors begin to trim their list of potential schools. Rated as the No. 17 wide receiver in the 2016 class and a four-star prospect overall, Binjimen Victor is now considering UM more seriously than he had in the past.
“My reaction is kinda excited because Michigan can probably have a better season because of coach Harbaugh,” said Victor. “[It] gives me enough time to think about Michigan as an option.”
Victor, who holds an offer from the Wolverines, cites that the fashion in which Michigan uses the wide receiver position in the future would be an important factor were he to commit to UM down the road. Victor listed Louisville, Ole Miss, Ohio State, Tennessee, Michigan, Notre Dame, Alabama, Florida State, Miami, Auburn, Indiana and NC State among the teams he is focusing on the most. With over twenty offers at this juncture, Victor will have many schools to choose from later in the process.
Another big time junior prospect who may find himself in a similar situation is Mundelein (Ill.) Carmel Catholic offensive tackle Sean Foster. Holding twelve offers right now, Foster, who is 6-foot-8, 270 pounds, is one of the Midwest’s top offensive linemen. This high-profile recruit was quite impressed to see Michigan reel in a high-profile coach.
“My reaction to that move is that now Michigan has a head coach that has a great winning percentage and he creates a great atmosphere,” said Foster. “He can compete with all the other great coaches in the Big Ten like Urban Meyer or coach Dantonio. Michigan to get a big name like him is unbelievable.”
What is equally unbelievable, depending on who is asked, is what Harbaugh was able to accomplish at his previous two coaching stops, Stanford and San Francisco. Both teams suffered disappointing seasons before Harbaugh was able to rehabilitate the state of each program. This track record, along with his ability to develop an offense, is enticing according to Foster.
“Yeah, I’ve seen the type of offenses that he has run through like Stanford and San Francisco,” said Foster. “I’m a huge Andrew Luck fan and to see what coach did with Andrew Luck is unreal and to see his up-tempo pace and how he’s more of a player person than anything else is really cool to see in a coach.”
While Foster does not yet hold an offer from Michigan, another highly touted junior recruit who is excited about the Harbaugh hiring does.
Philadelphia (Penn.) Imhotep Charter four-star tight end Naseir Upshur has been a high target on Michigan’s radar for over a year, and the 6-foot-3, 227-pound prospect thinks highly of Michigan’s new head coach.
“He’s a great coach,” said Upshur. “I went and looked everything up once I heard. He is a great coach in the NFL and he played at Michigan. I feel like that’s good.”
Upshur says that while a visit to Ann Arbor is not currently set, he plans to return to Michigan sooner rather than later.
Falling in line with the consensus of most recruits, 2016 Bollingbrook (Ill.) linebacker Tuf Borland, who has visited Michigan several times in the past year, shared his positive feelings about the Harbaugh hire.
“I thought it was a good hire for them,” said Borland. “Anytime you hire a coach with the caliber of coach Harbaugh, that’s big. I’m sure everyone in Michigan was real excited about that.”
The four-star linebacker will be looking to hear from Harbaugh in the future.