While Mo Linguist left Michigan before he was able to make an impact on the field, he endeared himself to Wolverine fans quickly because of his relentless effort on the recruiting trail. He got two four stars in Kody Jones and Taylor Groves to commit within weeks of receiving their offers and secured five-star Will Johnson as well.
With Linguist leaving, Michigan needed to make a home run hire to keep Johnson and Jones in the fold and continue the recruitments with the several blue-chip recruits he had cultivated.
By hiring Steve Clinkscale only four days after Linguist left, it appears that Jim Harbaugh has made the best possible hire under the circumstances to keep the recruiting train rolling.
Let’s start with the current class. Keeping Will Johnson on board should be the priority for Clinkscale and it looks like that shouldn’t be an issue. The two have an existing relationship and Clinkscale was Johnson’s priority recruiter for Kentucky.
Clinkscale also has experience recruiting in Tennessee, which should help keep Kody Jones in the fold. However, Kentucky didn’t offer Jones, so there probably will have to be a relationship built there.
With the additions of Mike Hart and Ron Bellamy to the staff this off-season, Michigan had already boosted their in-state recruiting efforts. But by adding Clinkscale, they’ve solidified their efforts even more.
While at Kentucky, Clinkscale was able to land Justin Rogers in 2020, the state’s top player that cycle and a defensive tackle, which Michigan desperately needed at the time. He was also the primary for Marquan McCall, a four-star offensive lineman who was teammates with Rogers at Oak Park.
This cycle, Clinkscale landed a commitment from three-star cornerback Jeremiah Caldwell out of Belleville, who Linguist offered after he gave his pledge to the Wildcats.
Michigan has struggled to get players out of Oak Park and Belleville during Jim Harbaugh’s tenure. Bringing on a respected coach like Clinkscale who has built good relationships with both of these major talent producers will go a long way in repairing that bridge.
Clinkscale is also very familiar with recruiting the state of Ohio. While former Michigan assistant coach target Vince Marrow handled most of the Buckeye State recruiting for Kentucky, Clinkscale grew up in Youngstown and played and coached at Ashland University for almost a decade. After that, he had had three-year stints at both Toledo and Cincinnati.
He should immediately become the staff’s primary recruiter for Ohio, given that there aren’t many other coaches with those extensive ties. The pros and cons of recruiting Ohio under Ohio State’s current dominance have been discussed greatly, but Clinkscale should be able to grab the top tier of guys that the Buckeyes don’t want and at least make them work harder for the ones they do.
As referenced above, Clinkscale recently started dipping his toes in Tennessee. This is significant because that’s the area that Linguist had the biggest impact. Clinkscale secured the commitments of four-star brothers Keaten and Destin Wade for Kentucky this cycle. Keaten Wade was a top target for Michigan at linebacker, but they weren’t recruiting Destin at quarterback. Clinkscale could convince them to make Destin a take and get both brothers as a package deal.
One of Michigan’s top targets at cornerback also happens to live in Tennessee in three-star Myles Pollard. Kentucky was surging with Pollard lately because of his love for Clinkscale. Pollard’s thoughts on the move to The Michigan Insider’s Steve Lorenz sum it up pretty clearly:
“(Clinkscale) is one of my favorite coaches, if not my favorite to be honest.”
If Michigan wasn’t the favorite already, they should easily be now.
We do have to talk about the downsides of Linguist leaving, though. He had deep ties to the state of Texas that Clinkscale can’t replicate. His hire got Michigan into the top group with top-100 safeties Chace Biddle and Bryce Anderson, as well as high interest from some blue-chip cornerbacks.
Michigan wasn’t able to capitalize on any of these Texas prospects in the time Linguist was in Ann Arbor, but it was only a matter of time. With so much talent in the state, Michigan will still have to assign someone to recruit there, but it may not make sense for Clinkscale to have that role.
Overall, this is a promising hire that should be equal if not better for Michigan on the recruiting trail. It will further solidify Michigan’s in-state recruiting and could get them back into the state of Ohio. Clinkscale already has relationships with most of Michigan’s targets at defensive back, so he should be able to hit the ground running.