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What Mike Hart brings to Michigan on the recruiting trail

There’s no one better to sell Michigan on the trail than the former great.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 25 Indiana at Purdue Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Michigan’s newest assistant coach hire is one of the program’s greatest players, and could soon turn into one of its best recruiters. At only 34 years old, running backs coach Mike Hart brings the energy and passion recruiting in college football requires, along with the track record to back it up.

The first and most obvious recruiting benefit for hiring Hart is his status as a Wolverine legend. Being a school alumnus of the college and football team gives his pitch extra weight when sitting in the living room of a recruit and their family (when he’s allowed to make in-home visits again).

Not only has Hart had great success in the winged helmet, he loves the school enough to be back coaching with the program, where his passion should shine through.

Besides his intangibles, Hart also has proven results in talent identification and development that should appeal to recruits. At Western Michigan, Hart recruited Jarvion Franklin, who turned into a 1,500 yard rusher for the Broncos, and D’Wayne Eskridge, who has over 2,000 receiving yards in his career.

Making the step up to Indiana, Hart also increased the caliber of player he was recruiting. His biggest win came in the 2019 recruiting class, when he flipped four-star Sampson James from Ohio State to keep him in-state. The year before, he recruited high three-star Ronnie Walker out of Virginia.

His best back has been Stevie Scott, though, who was a low three-star from his (and your author’s) neck of the woods in upstate New York. Scott became Hart’s fourth 1,000-yard rusher as a freshman.

Hart broke basically every New York high school record, and will do well recruiting the state. However, that doesn’t mean much given how little Power 5 talent the state produces. Hart’s real contributions will come in the Midwest.

Hart should be able to make great strides in-state. He’s part of the Michigan football alumni fraternity, which will help a ton with fellow former Wolverines like Ron Bellamy and Thomas Wilcher, who coach at West Bloomfield and Cass Tech, respectively.

Even without being a Michigan legend, Hart has spent years developing relationships with coaches in Michigan after coaching for two years each at Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan.

When Hart was at Indiana, he was still responsible for the Mitten State. He was the secondary recruiter for four-star wide receiver Rashawn Williams, out of Detroit King. He was the primary recruiter for the other four players from Michigan that Indiana signed during Hart’s tenure.

Of course, Hart also has plenty of experience recruiting the Hoosier State. For 2022, Michigan’s main targets in the state are Caden Curry and Joe Strickland, who are both defensive linemen. Hart will be a good secondary recruiter for them behind their position coach, but he should also help in states like Ohio and Illinois, and wherever good running backs live.

The final point about bringing Hart on staff is it doesn’t come at the expense of losing Jay Harbaugh. Harbaugh has done an excellent job recruiting the position, loading his room with Zach Charbonnet, Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, top 150 talents all.

Moving Harbaugh to a sole special teams role and bringing in Hart for running backs gives them a former player at the position and adds another young, energetic recruiter to the staff. Hart also won’t have to restart his relationships with 2022 prospects and can tag-team them with Harbaugh.

One notable guy to look out for is Ohio four-star Gi’Bran Payne, who included Michigan in his top seven this fall and was one of the few running backs Indiana offered for the cycle. Other targets for Michigan at running back this cycle include Colorado five-star Gavin Sawchuk, Michigan four-star Dillon Tatum, and Mississippi three-star Branson Robinson.