ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- When Michigan’s coaching staff hit the road recruiting there was one member still back at Schembechler Hall manning the ship.
Meet John Baxter.
Baxter is Michigan’s new special teams coordinator, brought in by Jim Harbaugh after spending four years at USC ending in 2013.
While Baxter will have his hands on the field piecing together Michigan’s special teams, his time off the field will be dedicated to the other half of the term student-athlete.
“One of the things that’s been kind of the subject and topic of my life’s work is helping young people be effective students,” Baxter said.
“That’s been Coach Harbaugh’s mantra since he got here; we have student-athletes,” added Baxter. “It’s one thing to say you have student-athletes and it’s another thing to live it.”
Baxter developed his own program called “Academic Gameplan,” used across the country beginning with middle school students, all designed to enhance and improve study skills.
In Baxter’s 13 seasons at Fresno State, the Bulldogs were able to produce 141 Academic All Wac players along with posting an NCAA APR score just shy of 20-percent over the national average.
Now in Ann Arbor, Baxter is in the process of building the same success for the Wolverines.
“I was here every night with our players and we installed our academic game plan we call the champions program and we began laying the foundation of being effective students,” Baxter said.
“One of the things that I’ve learned over time is never sell yourself short as a teacher so if we can get guys to know all the complexities of our defense, of our offense and our pass protections and all those kinds of things; if I can get a guy to run 60-yards, full speed into another guy and like it, we can teach them how to take notes.”