Michigan has experienced unprecedented success on the recruiting trail in Georgia over the past couple of years. Before landing five-star All-American Aubrey Solomon on signing day earlier this year, any Peach State commitment secured by the Wolverines was an anomaly. Now after adding pledges from three more heralded Georgians for the 2018 class, the Maize & Blue has officially established itself as a factor in one of the country’s most fertile talent hotbeds. Achieving that without a single coach with pre-existing ties to the state renders the feat even impressive. Which begs the question, what’s behind the overnight success?
According to the family of Michigan’s most recent Georgia commit, Atlanta Westlake cornerback Myles Sims, it boils down to Partridge, perseverance, and people.
Michigan’s courtship efforts in Georgia begin with the Wolverines’ primary recruiter there, Chris Partridge. Now entering his third year with the Wolverines, and second as an assistant coach the Director of Player Personnel has established himself as one of the country’s top recruiters. Sims has firsthand knowledge of the reason for that.
“Coach Partridge is young,” said Sims. “He is a young coach and knows how to interact with kids. Me and him over time, we just became tight knit. Our bond has been getting stronger. We’ve just been able to talk about whatever we want to.”
“He is the one that recruits our area. If his job isn’t right, then he is not going to get me. I think job well done for him.”
Identifying talent early and being extremely persistent in pursuing it have been recurring themes in a state where Southern powers typical battle for supremacy. Those were clearly ingredients in Michigan’s effectiveness with Sims.
"Georgia had an opportunity to build that relationship with Spider early,”Sims’ father Merrick explained. “As a matter of fact, Georgia did a satellite camp with I Dare U Academy and Spider had a great camp, and they were all over him. We thought he was going to get the offer that summer before his junior year. Georgia kind of waited for a longer period. They didn't establish that relationship with him, and along came Michigan. And Michigan, like Spider said, they were consistent, built the relationship with him and I think Georgia probably took it for granted because he was a Georgia boy and from the south. Michigan did a great job with establishing that relationship and I think a relationship means a lot. I think that's what separated Michigan.”
“I did not want to like Michigan. I said, ‘man, this is too far. I wish he was somewhere close to home where we could drive and see it.’ I thought it was just enough to give Michigan a shot because of their persistence with my son, to come and see it. But man, I swear I didn't want to like it. But when I got here it blew me out of the water. We knew the academics were good, but we were like, ‘it's too far.’ When we got to campus, they rolled out their red carpet. We felt like we were needed and not just wanted. They showed that from top to bottom all the way to the receptionist."
That final statement highlights what served as the final piece to the recruiting puzzle. The clincher for Sims, as well as for Michigan’s other Georgia commits, was an outstanding visit that showcased all the other people that will help lay the foundation for success on and off the field.
“When you get on campus you can’t really hide anything because you’re really there,” said Sims. “That’s what’s real. When I got to meet all of the other coaches, they were player’s coaches. They’re friendly, you can interact with them, (and) you can have conversations about stuff other than football. I just like the coaching staff. They made me feel like I was at home.”
“We knew that Michigan was known for its academics, especially with the Ross School of Business, being the No. 4 school in the country and No. 1 for management,” Sims’ mother Katrina added. “We had done the research on the academic programs for the top 12 on his list. But what put the icing on the cake was the time we spent with Coach Harbaugh and his father in his office. We knew a coach of family values would nurture him and continue his development. He wasn't just concerned about football, it was about the entire student-athlete, a scholar athlete, concerned about life after football as well, so that just put the icing on the cake."