The Wolverine

August 2019

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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60 THE WOLVERINE AUGUST 2019 BY BRANDON BROWN S ometime over the last two years, Jim Harbaugh came up with an idea to capitalize on the end of the early official visit window and it seems to be working to perfection. He had his recruiting staffers and coaches identify legitimate targets that had Michigan in their top two or three and wanted to make a decision before their senior seasons kick off. Once identified, those targets were invited to take official visits to Michi- gan during the last eligible week- end in June, essentially giving the Wolverines the last crack at landing them. In 2019, the strategy resulted in seven commitments. This year, 18 uncommitted prospects officially visited Ann Arbor and 10 of them ended up pledging to Harbaugh and company within a week and a half of the visit. That kind of success is relatively unprecedented across the country, and definitely is for U-M since Harbaugh took over. The weekend was a giant boost to Michigan's recruiting efforts with the July dead period, fall camp and the season all drawing closer. When conducting a huge recruit- ing weekend like the one U-M did in late June, it is imperative that every- one is on the same page, especially the coaches and current players. They are usually the biggest influ- ences on whether or not a prospect picks a school, so it is absolutely nec- essary that they are prepared and ready for every element over that 48- hour period. It can be difficult with so many visitors on campus, but the pros definitely seem to outweigh the cons. By all accounts, the players and coaches worked well together, with many visitors noting the family at- mosphere and their comfort level with the players and staff. It can be a huge advantage to bring so many families together. That's exactly what happened on this particular weekend for U-M, which helped demonstrate the fam- ily environment coaches are always trying to establish and recruits talk so much about. It didn't hurt that there isn't a much better time to be in Ann Arbor than June, and the weather perfectly cooperated. The hot stretch rocketed the Wol- verines up to No. 6 overall in Rivals' 2020 team recruiting rankings as of July 23. RIVALS ANALYSTS GIVE THEIR OPINIONS ON THE SUCCESSFUL WEEKEND Rivals Midwest recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt covered Michigan recruiting for eight years before mov- ing up to being a regional analyst, so he has been on top of a lot of re- cruiting cycles in Ann Arbor. He has never really seen U-M have a double- digit haul like they recently did, but he has seen it take place elsewhere. "Back when I started covering col- lege football recruiting the summer camp season was the big commit- ment time," Helmholdt said. "It usu- ally kicked off the commitment pa- rade because the recruiting process started so much later back then. "I remember when Roger Allison and his teammate Will Johnson, and several other guys, committed to- gether over a short period of time. I feel like there were several times where Michigan would grab five or six guys from their summer camps, but getting 10 during one visit week- end is pretty impressive for Michigan these days. "It actually reminds me of what Texas used to do during their Febru- ary junior day. That was kind of their big kick off to the new cycle a couple of weeks after National Signing Day. They'd bring in all of the top kids from the entire state and hand out of-   FOOTBALL RECRUITING Late-June Official Visit Weekend Was A Massive Success For U-M Frankfort (Ill.) Lincoln Way East four-star all-purpose back and U-M commit AJ Henning enjoyed being a part of the big official visit weekend June 21-23, and used that time to con- nect and build friendships with future teammates. PHOTO BY BRANDON BROWN

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