When Jim Harbaugh arrived in Ann Arbor and started to assemble his coaching staff, the goal was to put together the group that would best give the Wolverines a chance to succeed in the Big Ten and national scene. While it remains to be seen just how the product on the field will demonstrate the wisdom of his hires, early returns are strong.
A big area in which the staff will need to succeed in order to find those triumphs between the white lines is recruiting. In that phase of the coaching world, the known hires pass on all counts.
Defensive coordinator DJ Durkin comes from a four-year tenure in the same position at Florida. He put together excellent defenses in each of his four seasons in Gainesville, but was known just as much for his prowess on the recruiting trail. He was named Rivals.com’s 2012 recruiter of the year, landing two of the nation’s top six prospects in the nation (No. 2, offensive lineman DJ Humphries, and No. 6, defensive end Jonathan Bullard), along with serving as primary recruiter for four other Gators signees.
One of the runners-up for the 2012 honor? Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, who will be retained on the new staff as the defensive line coach. Harbaugh has two known, proven recruiters on the staff already. The ability to bring assistant coaches from the NFL should be a boost to Wolverines’ recruiting as well. U-M fans have seen it before, when Mattison came from the Baltimore Ravens and was immediately a draw for recruits.
High school prospects are increasingly choosing the school that they believe will best help them get to the NFL, and there’s nobody better than a recent NFL assistant to show them how to improve their game to get there. On that end, offensive coordinator Tim Drevno (most recently of USC, but for three years prior the offensive line coach for the San Francisco 49ers), running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley (most recently of the Buffalo Bills), and Harbaugh himself all help make Michigan a means to that end.
Michigan fans are ready to win, and win big. In order to give them that, Harbaugh and his staff will need to recruit, and recruit well. With the staff he’s putting together in Ann Arbor, there’s every indication they’ll be able to do just that.
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.