Two of Michigan’s high-ceiling defensive players — linebacker Cameron McGrone and safety Daxton Hill — have new position coaches heading into the 2020 season, and those coaches have the potential to take those guys to the next level.
To offset the departures of Anthony Campanile (Miami Dolphins) and Chris Partridge (Ole Miss), head coach Jim Harbaugh brought in two pretty solid replacements — safeties coach Bob Shoop and linebackers coach Brian-Jean Mary. The move was made official Jan. 18, and the two have hit the ground running since.
Jean-Mary brings a lot of success on the recruiting trail to Ann Arbor. During his time at Texas under Charlie Strong from 2014-16, he helped reel in top 15 classes on three separate occasions. In those three classes, he was listed as either the primary or secondary recruiter for four top 100 players, including one five-star (Malik Jefferson in 2015). So far for the Wolverines, he has verbal commitments from 2021 four-star linebackers Junior Colson and Jaydon Hood.
As a Florida native, Jean-Mary has many ties to the Sunshine State and the football talent in it. He also has ties to the state of Texas from his time in Austin, so hopefully these connections pay off in the long run for Michigan on the recruiting trail.
Jean-Mary also spent six years as the linebackers coach at Georgia Tech (2004-09), assistant head coach/linebackers coach at Louisville (2010-13), and multiple coaching roles at USF (2017-19).
“That’s a fantastic hire for Michigan,” Hilton Head (S.C.) head coach B.J. Payne told Allen Trieu in a story for The Detroit News. “He is a phenomenal recruiter and a great coach. He does things differently, which pays off. Like in the spring when coaches come twice in the spring, I’ve seen him go back-to-back days, stay fresh in a kid’s mind, instead of here and back in two months.”
At the very least, Jean-Mary should be able to pick up where Partridge left off on the recruiting trail. We will see if he can have the same on-field coaching success as Partridge, but until then, I think this was a home run of a hire.
Meanwhile, Shoop comes to Ann Arbor with more than 30 years of coaching experience, including with Don Brown as the defensive backs coach at the UMass in 2006.
Most recently, from 2018-19, he was the defensive coordinator for Mississippi State. In 2018, he led Mississippi State’s defense to a top 10 finish in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and passing defense. During the 2019 season, Shoop’s defense had 14 fumble recoveries and 10 interceptions.
A two-time Broyles Award finalist, Shoop has had other defensive coordinator jobs over the past 10 years at Vanderbilt, Penn State and Tennessee.
Unlike Jean-Mary, Shoop is not known for his recruiting chops. He has one verbal commit in 2021 — three-star safety Rod Moore — but has Michigan in it for several top players in 2022, including five-star athlete Keon Sabb and four-star defensive back Isaac Thompson.
For all the experience Shoop has being a defensive coordinator, I believe he will lend a huge helping hand in game-planning with Brown. If there was one guy Harbaugh could have hired this offseason who gets 100 percent out of his players, it’s Shoop. We will see if his recruiting improves at all at Michigan, but this was a pretty high-floor hire for the program.
For as much turnover the coaching staff seems to have every offseason, Harbaugh has done a pretty good job replacing them. I think Jean-Mary and Shoop were both good hires, with the potential for them to end up being great hires.