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New coach spotlight: Mike Hart

A return to his alma mater. A talented running back room to coach up.

Capital One Bowl - Michigan v Florida Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

Mike Hart was a great halfback at Michigan a little over a decade ago. Since Hart’s days of running all over Michigan Stadium ended he has bolstered his resume as a coach, and now he looks to add onto his legacy in Ann Arbor as their running backs coach.

“Mike walks in the door day one really respected as a coach, as a teacher,” head coach Jim Harbaugh said.

Hart has earned respect due to ascension in his profession.

  • 2011: Eastern Michigan- Offensive quality control
  • 2012-13: Eastern Michigan- Running backs coach
  • 2014-15: Western Michigan- Running backs coach
  • 2016: Syracuse- Running backs coach
  • 2017–2019: Indiana -Running backs coach
  • 2020: Indiana- Running backs coach/Associate head coach
  • 2021-present: Michigan- Running backs coach

Hart has shown the ability to coach and recruit throughout his decade of experience. Hart has produced four 1,000 yards running backs, and has turned freshmen backs into day one contributors (two Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year).

Michigan has three talented backs in Hassan Haskins, Blake Corum, and true freshman Donovan Edwards — Hart’s track record with freshmen RBs will bode well for Edwards. At Western Michigan, Jamauri Bogan rushed for 1,051 yards and 16 TDs in 2015 as a true freshman. In 2014, true freshman Jarvion Franklin, who Hart recruited, had 1,551 yards rushing and a highly impressive 24 rushing TDs.

When Hart made the jump to Indiana, it paid dividends. Hart recruited one of the best IU running backs of all time in three-star Stevie Scott, who now plays for the New Orleans Saints. Scott rushed for over 2,500 yards at IU with 30 TDs. Hart showed he could compete with Ohio State for recruits — in 2018 he flipped four-star RB Sampson James from OSU to IU. Hart’s prowess as a coach and recruiter at Indiana made him a Broyles Award finalist in 2018, which goes to the best assistant coach in college football. Hart’s success during his first three years at IU earned him the additional title of associate head coach in 2020.

Hart is the definition of what folks in these parts call a Michigan Man, for better and worse, he’s going to take this chapter of his career very seriously. The good news for Hart is he has a talented running back room to work with, a group that already is enjoying his mentorship. Coach Hart, he’s a great dude to get along with. He brings a lot of energy to the room,” Hassan Haskins said. “He’s a great guy to talk with and learn from as well. He’s been in my shoes. He knows the game and how it goes.”

The fact that Hart is a young coach at the age of 35 appears to be a positive. It wasn’t that long ago in a lifespan that Hart was a two-time Doak Walker Award finalist, three-time All-Big Ten first team selection, on the cover of Sports Illustrated in a Michigan uniform. The fact that Hart rushed for 5,040 yards and 41 TDs wearing maize and blue gives credence to what he’s trying to teach his pupils.

By all accounts, Michigan hired a running backs coach who gets things done on the sidelines and on the recruiting trail — he just so happens to be a familiar name and face in Mike Hart.