Before 7 a.m. Thursday, Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh tweeted: “Attacking this day with Enthusiasm Unknown to Mankind.”
On the first allowed contact day of recruiting since Harbaugh was hired Dec. 30, he intended to make an impression. With his U-M staff nearly complete — even if not officially announced — recruiting was the program’s focus.
It had begun over the previous two weeks with allowable phone calls, including an offer Wednesday night to St. Petersburg, Fla., four-star receiver Ryan Davis.
On Thursday, it was clear his staff would try to make up for lost time.
Photos began appearing on Twitter of Harbaugh hitting the most prominent local football programs, whether they had a top 2015 recruit or not.
He was at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s taking a photo with coach George Porritt, then at Novi Detroit Catholic Central with coach Tom Mach. Then Farmington Hills Harrison, where he visited with one of the state’s top players in the 2016 class, defensive end Khalid Kareem, and later Farmington High receiver Dez Fitzpatrick, a 2016 receiver who is committed to Louisville.
The first day he was allowed on the road, Harbaugh made himself visible (with more than a few photos at CC).
While he built the local relationships mostly for the future, his assistants were aggressively pursuing this year’s class.
Tyrone Wheatley, who has yet to be formally announced as running backs coach, was at Detroit Cass Tech, where one of U-M’s top targets, tailback Mike Weber, attends school. Weber is a former U-M commit now committed to Ohio State, which also had an assistant at Cass Tech.
According to reports, defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin was working the Florida angle — which makes sense given he is coming off a five-year stint with the Gators — connecting with Rutgers commit cornerback Jarius Adams, from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and uncommitted Delray Beach defensive end Shelton Johnson.
In California, five-star defensive end/outside linebacker Keisean Lucier-South tweeted in the morning that Michigan came by to visit.
“There’s going to be a rush to fill the class as quickly as they can,” said recruiting analyst Steve Lorenz of 247Wolverine. “I think there’s about 12 (noncommitted) spots open, and I don’t necessarily think they’re talking about filling all the spots. They’re already focusing on the 2016 class with a couple scholarships. They’re going to cast a wide net to an extent. … There’s definitely a smaller group of guys they’re going to work on first and then work their way down the board.”
Harbaugh might have announced some of his top priorities with his Twitter follows Wednesday night when he followed six prospects: Davis; Lucier-South; Huber Heights, Ohio, defensive back Tyree Kinnel, who is committed to U-M; Connecticut tight end Chris Clark; Gainesville, Ga., receiver Chris Williamson and Las Vegas tight end Alize Jones, who flipped his commitment from UCLA to Notre Dame on Thursday.
Oak Park athlete John Kelly, California five-star cornerback Iman Marshall and Lakeland, Fla., three-star defensive end Reuben Jones (committed to Nebraska) also are in the mix as 2015 targets.
As for positions U-M is recruiting, Lorenz pointed to an offensive lineman, receiver, outside linebacker/defensive end (a hybrid favored by Durkin) and “maybe trying to take a second quarterback.”
Here’s a look at Michigan’s 2015 recruiting class, starting with Jon Runyan Jr., above, a three-star guard from Philadelphia St. Joseph’s.
Notes: A few Michigan hires were confirmed. New special-teams coordinator John Baxter is on the program to speak at the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association clinic today and changed his Twitter bio to reflect working in Ann Arbor. Wheatley was tweeted Thursday night: “Glad to be back in the Maize and Blue #GoBlue #Michigan.” Baxter is listed in the U-M directory as a staff member. Expected tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh’s Twitter profile confirmed his hiring as well, listing “University of Michigan/The New Tight End U.” … Former U-M offensive lineman Kyle Bosch has enrolled at West Virginia.
Contact Mark Snyder: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @mark__snyder.