After adopting a team comprised of mostly Midwest players in 2015, Harbaugh has now assembled a roster of players from across North America and is ready to move the program into the future.
In his first two recruiting classes, Harbaugh found particular success in New Jersey — thank you, Rutgers — with the commitments of Kareem Walker, Brad Hawkins, Ron Johnson, and of course Rashan Gary.
Now the Wolverine commander has turned his sights south and has pin pointed the Peach State as the next potential Michigan pipeline. Since 2016, U-M has gained commitments from seven prospects out of the state of Georgia and looks to be a constant thorn in Kirby Smart’s side for the foreseeable future.
Why is this so important you may ask?
Well, a study done in 2015 showed Georgia had the fourth-highest number of players in the NFL with 114. Only Florida (204), California (203) and Texas (181) had more. According to the NCAA, Georgia ranks only behind Florida in percentage of high school players being recruited by a Division-1 school.
In the last 30 years, Michigan only landed three players from Georgia in Juaquin Feazell (1994), Jeff Backus (1996) and Carlos Brown (2006).
So what’s with the sudden change?
After the Wolverines scored their first Georgia commitment of the last decade with three-star linebacker Elysee Mbem-Bosse in 2016, 2017 running back Kurt Taylor quickly committed and began to recruit fellow players to join him in Ann Arbor. The 5-foot-9, 200-pound back from Covington, Georgia was an after-thought in the minds of SEC coaches, but bought in to what Harbaugh and the U-M coaches were selling.
With momentum already building, Michigan held two satellite camps in Georgia that summer and hundreds of players were exposed to Harbaugh and his message. One of them being five-star defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon from Leesburg, Georgia. Solomon gave his verbal commitment as well, before rescinding and eventually recommitting on National Signing Day.
Once Michigan landed Solomon over the likes of Georgia and Alabama, the farce that a northern school couldn’t land a top prospect in SEC territory was destroyed. Even Paul Finebaum had to be a little impressed with the absolute robbery Harbaugh pulled off.
If Solomon wasn’t good enough, Harbaugh possibly pulled off his best trick and biggest surprise yet when five-star defensive end Chris Hinton committed on Aug. 5. The No. 15 overall player in the 2019 class from Norcross, Georgia was expected to wait until his senior season to commit and made SEC fans even angrier by joining the Wolverines.
Hinton’s younger brother, Myles, is a rising sophomore, and is figured to be a five-star offensive tackle prospect next year. Myles has also expressed his love for Michigan and playing alongside his brother could be too much to pass up.
Michigan has three Georgia prospects committed in the 2018 class. Four-star cornerback Myles Sims, four-star linebacker Otis Reese and three-star running back Christian Turner are all a part of the Wolverine’s smaller 2018 class.
Sims, who committed back in April, said the coaching staff’s relentless approach and family attitude have made an impression on the kids of Georgia and have opened their eyes to a program they would otherwise never look at.
“They’re coming out of their comfort zones, picking talent from different regions, instead of staying in the north to help better their program,” Sims told the Detroit Free Press. “When they first did their satellite camp down here in Georgia last summer and coach Harbaugh came, it really opened up eyes to the younger kids and the older kids about what the program was about.”
As Harbaugh continues to build his program and win big games, his recruiting victories in the south should come more frequently. At this point, however, there is nothing the man can do on the recruiting trail that would surprise me.