Sam Webb: Give me an idea of all the duties that are in your purview as director of player personnel?
Sean Magee: “Sure. Sam, first off, it is a pleasure to be here and be able to talk to you and really the connection to the Michigan fan base. It is just an unbelievable opportunity to be a part of this family of the university and the program. Really within the scope of my job here and the role of director of player personnel, first and foremost is running and managing our recruiting efforts. Our nationwide net that we’re casting to identify, evaluate, recruit and sign prospective student-athletes to the University of Michigan football team.”
Sam Webb: You come over from Navy. Obviously we look at Michigan and the ability to go anywhere in the country to recruit. I imagine you could do the same thing at Navy, but the difference is now you’re talking about the All-Americans across the country. Give me from the outside looking in, what you see? What are the big steps up, the big leaps forward from that role that you played there to the role that you have to play here?
Sean Magee: “Obviously, it is a much bigger recruiting market. The challenge that we face and I faced at the Naval Academy, putting you in a small pocket of prospective student-athletes across the country, but the good part about that is it was ‘across the country.’ It was literally all 50 states, casting an extremely wide net trying to find the right fit. Really what I would like to do in my vision and Coach Harbaugh’s vision, as we are a nationwide program, searching to identify the top talent both on and off the field. This is a fit, not fill environment. We could fill this team with just certain types of athletes and certain kind of players, but we’re looking for the right fit to be a Michigan Wolverine and that is a special, special fraternity that we’re looking around the country trying to find that. So in terms of my challenges and terms of taking this step of being involved in a program like this, certainly like you said, the caliber of athlete, the caliber of student-athlete is incredible that we’re in the market for. Like any profession, any job, there are certain challenges, certain things when you change in a role like this. Here, where the previous market I was looking at, maybe wasn’t as in terms of profile of recruitable athlete, here it is still the same challenge. It is finding the right fit. Once you find that right fit, how do you best sell and spread the gospel of Michigan football.”
Sam Webb: Take me through the process of getting with Coach Harbaugh, of getting the job. Was this (a result of) you knowing someone on the staff? How did it all come together for you?
Sean Magee: “Sure. Coach Biff Poggi is someone that I’ve had a relationship with in the past. I’ve been in his past being in Baltimore, Maryland and being the head coach at Gilman High School. So obviously, prior to coming here on Michigan’s staff, a nationally prominent program that he ran. I had a long relationship with him. He had contacted me and said hey, the staff here was looking to make a change, the previous director of player personnel had departed. They were looking across the country for someone. He said, hey I’ve had a long relationship with you, I know your abilities, I know who you are, I think you are a phenomenal fit to come on board here and do you have interest?”
Sam Webb: And you were like, ‘sure?’ (Laughter)
Sean Magee: “It is interesting, I attended the naval academy. I graduated in 2004. I was an active duty naval officer for eight years prior to coming back on the football staff. I have a vested interest in success of that program and institution, but this is Michigan and this is a special, special place. Certainly, it was absolutely something that I wanted to take a look at and Coach Harbaugh got in contact with me and we had an opportunity to talk a little bit. The unbelievable class effort that even before talking with me, he called Kenny Niumatalolo, the head coach at Navy. That goes to tell you a lot, especially this day and age in this business, as the turnover of staff members from one institution program to another. It is not often that a coach makes that call saying hey I’ve got interest in one of your guys. That told me a lot right away too and had a good conversation. Started the process with Coach Harbaugh, came out and was able to see it in person and realized this was something that I certainly wanted to do. I think like any competitor in life, you look at an opportunity and you see a challenge, you want that challenge, you want to have the ball when the clock shot is going down you want the ball in your hands, you want to do things that way and that is certainly my personality. That is certainly who I am. I’m looking forward to embracing this role and this responsibility of helping to shape the roster here.”
Sam Webb: Let’s talk strategy and philosophy. When you were at Navy I don’t know what the game plan was, but a lot of programs (recruit) by breaking up coaches by region. Some other schools recruit by position, do you have an idea right now heading in, which way you want to go, is it a melding of the two?
Sean Magee: “Absolutely, I think it is a hybrid of that. You look at especially the early identification now of elite prospects at a younger and younger age. Obviously, this is a market that we can identify top tier national prospects early. There is a combination of deep relationships that you can make in a geographic territory. Coaches that we have on this staff have a long valuable relationships with folks in certain areas and you can never take that lightly. There is absolutely a geographical component of this, but also it is extremely valuable for the position coach, coordinator for where that individual is going to spend the most significant time with any other individual during their college experience. It is important for that person to be heavily involved in that recruiting process.”
Sam Webb: Logistically, do you stagger it as far as when you do that. Do you start out with the recruiting cycle for a year, hey, recruit the region and then you progress and then you start specializing. Is that how it works?
Sean Magee: “Sure, I think the biggest thing is how to accomplish the end goal, those special fits. This is a team effort, a staff effort to recruit someone. It is my personal belief that it is not just one person all the time that is recruiting. It has got to be a combined effort, especially for folks that we want to be here and we want them to matriculate to this program. It has got to be multiple fronts hitting them.”
Stay tuned to The Michigan Insider for part 2 during which Magee goes in-depth on his recruiting strategy.