How Will English Exit Affect West Recruiting?

Positions are rarely permanent in the life of a college football coach. The Michigan team and fans were given a first-hand lesson in that fact when defensive backs coach Ron English, and offensive coordinator Terry Malone, left the Wolverines for positions in the NFL. With regards to English, who had strong ties to the talent-filled West Coast, how will his departure affect Michigan's ability to recruit in the West, particularly California?

When choosing a career as a football coach, one should not get accustomed to any particular area for too long, as changes occur like the seasons. U-M fans were reminded of this when one of their young coaching stars, defensive backs coach Ron English, was reported to have accepted a job with the Chicago Bears of the NFL. It was also reported that English turned down the position of co-defensive coordinator at Michigan when accepting the Bears' offer.

While everyone recruits the top kids, and it's nothing special to do so, one area in which English excelled was his ability to spot talent hiding under the radar. A native of Pomona, Calif., and a graduate of the University of California-Berkeley, English was the defensive backs coach at Arizona State before taking the same position at Michigan, and he knows the West. Defensive lineman Alan Branch was hidden away in the relative football-sparse state of New Mexico when he was offered a scholarship from Michigan, which he later accepted.

The two players that may define English's stay at U-M have yet to see the field. Defensive backs Johnny Sears and Chris Richards, both of California, weren't on anyone's list when English pounced on them during the 2005 recruiting season. Sears committed immediately, and Richards followed after his official visit to Michigan. While Richards briefly flirted with a change to Cal - his father's alma mater - English convinced him to stay with his Michigan pledge. One top aspect in landing both players was the relationship English had with those close to the players. He played at Cal with Richards's father, and has had a long friendship with Fresno Edison coach Tony Perry, who introduced English to Sears when the Michigan coach was on a visit to the school to see another player. Both players have impressed everyone who have seen them perform.

With recruiting being a major aspect of any college coaching endeavor, and English having substantial ties to the fertile West Coast region, particularly his talent-laden home state of California, he was a major contributor to Michigan's recruiting efforts in the region. How will his departure affect U-M's ability to lure top kids from the West?

For the recruiting class of 2007, California looks to be in its accustomed positon of having a plethora of top talent. Michigan will most certainly be looking to find a replacement for English with strong ties to California. It will remain to be seen how English's departure will affect Michigan's ability to get in with currect Edison defensive back Courtney Viney, the top defensive back at the recent U.S. Army All-American Bowl Junior Combine.

With the quarterback position a major need for the next recruiting class, two standout players at the position reside in the Golden State - Chris Forcier of St. Augustine High School in San Diego, and Jimmy Clausen of Oaks Chrisian High School in Westlake Village. Chris Forcier is the brother of current Michigan freshman quarterback Jason Forcier, and has attended the Michigan camp the last two years. However, Michigan hasn't been paying too much attention to the younger, and arguably more talented, Forcier. "We really haven't heard from Ron in a while," Mike Forcier, Chris and Jason's father, recently told "Right now it looks like USC, Stanford, and UCLA are really pursuing Chris, and it will be difficult to turn them down."

These are top players, with all three almost assured of a future five-star ranking. However, it is the ability of English to spot the diamonds in the rough that will be most missed.

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