But the recruiting landscape facing Demens’ 15-year-old brother, Kolin, has changed quite a bit since Kenny committed to play for Lloyd Carr’s Wolverines in 2007. Kolin, a Class of 2018 linebacker at Birmingham Detroit Country Day, picked up an offer from Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh last month.
Former U-M linebacker Kenny Demens is watching his own college recruiting process being replayed before his eyes, 10 years after the fact.
Since Kenny Demens signed, U-M has experienced three coaching changes. The last of those put Harbaugh at the helm, and Michigan’s second-year coach is set to embark next month on a “satellite camp” tour around the country, just as he did last summer.
Everybody has an opinion on the camps, which were recently banned by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors before that decision was overturned two weeks ago.
Demens wants himself counted firmly among the ranks of Harbaugh supporters.
“He’s trendsetting,” Demens said on Saturday at a Mother’s Day event sponsored by his charity foundation. “What he’s doing is what every other college coach wishes they would’ve done first.”
Given Kolin’s ongoing recruitment, Kenny has more of a vested interest than the typical 26-year-old NFL player. After playing at Michigan from 2008 to 2012, Demens joined the Arizona Cardinals in 2013 as an undrafted free agent, and with a few years of professional experience under his belt, Demens sees the landscape shift as a positive.
“I don’t think it’s wrong at all,” Demens said. “I think what (Harbaugh is) doing is innovative, and the next step for football. This game is changing — NFL level, college level — and I feel like he’s the guy who’s taking it to the next level.”
Demens also cited Michigan’s new partnership with Nike’s Jordan Brand as an attractive selling point for any recruit around the country, emphasizing that Harbaugh is pushing the envelope in ways that extend beyond the satellite camps.
While Kolin hasn’t yet attended one of the camps, he’s still at the center of the population the NCAA’s ruling affected most: high-school football players. As a result, Kolin has witnessed firsthand the impact satellite camps can have.
“I know a lot of people who have been to camps, and had a lot of exposure at these camps,” Kolin said. “It made a difference for them. They’re getting offers now, and before they weren’t. To have the opportunity to have coaches see them do what they do, you don’t get that a lot. I’m happy the NCAA changed that.”
For now, the Demens family is simply enjoying the ride. Kolin and Kenny’s mother, Tammy Demens, said Saturday that she cried when Michigan called her younger son to offer him a scholarship. The family was expecting an offer from Michigan State and Mark Dantonio, and to hear Harbaugh on the other end of the phone was overwhelming.
“It’s pretty sweet knowing that Harbaugh is just out here, offering a lot of people, making things happen with Michigan,” Kolin said. “I like that. It’s kind of crazy that he’s looking at me.”
Kolin, a rising junior, says his plan is to wait until his senior year before deciding, adding that while U-M is a strong contender, those following his recruitment shouldn’t jump to conclusions.
“People are telling me it’s a legacy thing,” Kolin said. “They think I’m going there. They just think that’s already set. It’s not.”