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How Clay Helton’s firing affects Michigan on the recruiting trail

Can the Wolverines take advantage?

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Media Day Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

In case you have been living under a rock for the last 24 hours, let’s catch you up to speed on what’s been going on in the college football world. Jim Harbaugh mentioned Neil Armstrong and George S. Patton in the same breath, Ryan Day threw his defensive coordinator under a bus, and Clay Helton lost his job at USC.

As much as I’d love to talk about how bad Kerry Coombs and Ohio State’s defense has been, let’s chat about Helton. It’s been a longtime coming for the now-former USC head coach. A real bad loss to Stanford at home over the weekend was the final nail in his coffin. Cornerbacks coach Donte Williams has taken over on an interim basis as the athletic department begins its search for Helton’s permanent replacement.

As this current topic pertains to the Wolverines, they have a real opportunity on the recruiting trail to take advantage of Helton’s departure. Two players immediately came to mind for me when Helton got fired — five-star cornerback Domani Jackson and four-star cornerback Jaeden Gould.

Gould, a New Jersey native who was heavily recruited by Michigan before committing to USC back in June, said despite the change, he remains loyal to the Trojans.

“I mean, coach Helton was a great coach and great man I enjoyed the many talks we had, as well as getting to spend time with him while visiting. I wish him the best in his future endeavors but I’m still locked in 100%,” Gould told Maize n Brew. “I believe in what they have going on with coach Donte and I see a bright future for the program. I want to build something special over there and it’s not just about football for me — it’s about the other opportunities and education that USC brings.”

You can pretty much close the book on that one. But what about Jackson? He was just in town this past weekend on a visit for the Maize Out game against Washington. He told 247Sports’ Greg Biggins ($), “The game atmosphere blew me away,” and, “It’s just different out there in terms of how crazy the fans are and how much support they show.” He was also impressed with how the defensive backs played, especially Vincent Gray.

There are two obstacles standing in Michigan’s way of a potential flip — his mom being a huge Ohio State fan, and whether or not Williams will also be retained at USC.

He told Biggins his mom loved the trip “just as much (as me),” and that she even bought Michigan gear over the weekend.


The next step here is to play the waiting game and see what the Trojan athletic department does with the next head coach and if Williams stays on staff. That will play a large role in his recruitment moving forward. If Williams does not stay at USC, that opens the door in a big way for the Wolverines to come in and swoop him out of the West Coast.

Until then, hang on tight, be VERY cautiously optimistic and keep your expectations low.