A coaching change at any college football program inevitably shakes up recruiting, and Michigan’s decision to fire Brady Hoke is no different. Though some of the news is positive — there are several national prospects who eliminated the Wolverines because they didn’t think Hoke’s staff could get it done — the majority of news, at least in the short term, will be negative. The first shoe to drop came within hours of the official news, when Michigan’s top pledge, Avon (Conn.) Old Farms tight end Chris Clark, re-opened his recruitment. The 6-foot-5, 253-pounder is the No. 67 player in the nation and will consider multiple suitors.
“I had unbelievable relationships with Coach Hoke and his staff, so I am very sad to see them go,” he said. “That is why I am making this decision and believe it is the best thing to do so I can look at all of my options.”
Clark was the first to decommit following Hoke’s dismissal, but he’s hardly alone in leaving the U-M class. He is the eighth prospect to decommit since January, leaving the Maize and Blue with just six remaining committed players. That is the fewest of any BCS-conference program in the nation, with only Florida’s nine commitments even coming close.
The end of the Hoke era will begin a new chapter in U-M football, though nobody knows yet which coach will be the author of the next phase. That extends to recruits, who are anxious to see what the next several weeks have in store for a Wolverine coaching search.
“We’re confident that a top-notch hire will be made,” said Orlando Malone, whose son Corey Malone-Hatcher is a 2017 defensive end already in possession of a Michigan offer. “When that person is named, we’ll have to start building that rapport.”
The top 2016 running back in the nation, Wayne (N.J.) DePaul Catholic five-star Kareem Walker, is similarly curious. Luckily, a childhood friend already in Ann Arbor should be able to keep him in the loop.
“I’m sorry to hear he’s fired now,” Walker said. “I want to see who they bring in now. I’ll be talking to Jabrill (Peppers, freshman cornerback) to see how it’s going.”
Regardless of whom Michigan hires as its next coach, recruits across the nation are interested in the results.
Tim Sullivan is the Football Recruiting Editor of The Wolverine magazine and TheWolverine.com. He is also a contributor to national football recruiting coverage on the Rivals.com network. You can follow him on Twitter @TimS_Wolverine.