Jim Harbaugh made a splash on the recruiting scene during the summer of 2015, when he launched satellite camps in different parts of the country in an attempt to build momentum for Michigan football.
While things have changed since then, in some cases drastically, Harbaugh and his coaching staff will be back out on the road again this week — signaling a return to normalcy for college football.
The NCAA officially lifted the dead period for recruiting beginning today, June 1, paving the way for in-person recruiting for the first time since March 2020.
For the next four weeks, coaches have the opportunity to host recruits on campus and travel across the country to evaluate high-school prospects. And Michigan will be busy on both fronts.
Harbaugh’s staff is expected to host a number of high-profile prospects on campus this week — some recruits have posted graphics about a Michigan-hosted “Detroit Day” on Wednesday, June 2 — while they also spread across the state to see others in-person.
Before the visits really pick up, Michigan’s staff is heading south to attend a football camp at Mercer College in Georgia, a hotbed for college football talent and familiar recruiting area for Harbaugh. First-year defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald has ties to the state; it’s where he attended college and helped coach high school football — and figures to be a good place to start. The Wolverines haven’t shied away from recruiting the state, landing three-star tight end Marlin Klein as part of the 2022 recruiting class.
Meanwhile, Michigan also plans to have a presence Tuesday evening at Eastern Michigan’s camp in Ypsilanti — a stone’s throw from the Big House. It’s an opportunity for the Michigan staff to reconnect with the local Division I school and reintroduce itself to area talent.
In addition to Macdonald, the Wolverines also break in new defensive assistants Steve Clinkscale (defensive backs), George Helow (linebackers) and Ron Bellamy (safeties) after Harbaugh made a wholesale change to his staff this offseason. Shuffling took place at key positions on the offensive side, while Mike Hart (running backs) and Matt Weiss (quarterbacks) were also added. While some of these coaches are familiar with the landscape, it will be a brand new experience for others.
Things really pick up later this week, with Ferris State hosting the massive Sound Mind Sound Body-affiliated “Michigan football showcase” camp on Thursday in Big Rapids. Reports say five-star defensive back Will Johnson, a Michigan commit, is expected to attend — and so will the Michigan staff.
Michigan will host the first of its two scheduled exposure camps next Sunday, June 6, in Ann Arbor before hitting the road again next week for camps June 7 at Wayne State in Detroit and Florida International. Florida has been a key area in football recruiting for years, with Michigan landing linebacker Jaydon Hood and cornerback Ja’Den McBurrows both from south Florida.
Later this month, Michigan is on the schedule to attend camps in Redlands, Calif., on June 16 and Tacoma, Wash., on June 27. It will put the Wolverines’ staff in both southern California and the pacific northwest, where new director of player personnel, Courtney Morgan, has significant ties.
Of course, this all ties in to the 2021 football season and beyond — a key timeline for Harbaugh after signing a four-year contract extension in January that keeps him at Michigan through the 2025 season. Both the Wolverines and Harbaugh are coming off a tenuous 2-4 record in 2020, a season flipped upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic, player opt-outs and mounting injuries. Harbaugh made significant changes to his coaching staff and recruiting arm this offseason, expanding the latter to help beef up Michigan’s ability to land high-profile prospects.
While it remains to be seen whether much changes, things begin in earnest this week. It’s an opportunity for Harbaugh to continue the reset of a Michigan football program stuck in neutral.
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