Earlier this week, Michigan announced that Chris Partridge was returning to the football program after a three-year stint at Ole Miss. While his role with the team has not been specified yet, it’s a strong possibility he will be on the field as a position coach given that he was Ole Miss’ co-defensive coordinator.
Being an on-field coach for the Wolverines is significant since they’ll be able to utilize Patridge’s recruiting chops much more. And he has plenty of recruiting chops as Michigan fans learned during his first tenure in Ann Arbor. Let’s recap some of his greatest recruiting victories as a college coach.
Rashan Gary - 2016
One could argue Rashan Gary was the reason Partridge was hired to Michigan in the first place. Before making the jump to college, Partridge was the head coach at Paramus Catholic in New Jersey, where Gary happened to play.
Michigan hired Partridge first as the Director of Player Personnel in 2015, when Gary was still a junior in high school. After the completion of the 2015 season, Partridge was elevated to linebackers coach, allowing him to become the primary recruiter for Gary which helped push the No. 1 player in the country to the Wolverines.
While many thought Partridge was hired just for his connection to Gary, he quickly proved he could recruit well in any part of the country.
Aubrey Solomon - 2017
The next cycle, Partridge landed another five-star defensive lineman in Solomon. Partridge did not have a previous connection to Solomon like he did with Gary, though. Solomon did not end up panning out for Michigan, but Partridge navigated one of the strangest recruitments in Michigan football history.
Solomon was from Georgia, an area of the country where it is extremely hard to convince players to come up north to play. This is especially true for a five-star defensive lineman when there are SEC schools knocking at his door all the time.
But Michigan was still in its renaissance after Jim Harbaugh was hired, and Patridge utilized that to get Solomon to commit in June 2016. However, Solomon decommitted a couple of months later in August.
In the winter, Solomon was filmed using an expletive towards Michigan that made it seem like the Wolverines’ chances of getting him back were slim to none. Partridge persisted, though, and ended up getting Solomon to commit once again to Michigan on National Signing Day.
Tywone Malone - 2021
At Ole Miss, Partridge continued his recruiting success, again with a defensive lineman. Malone was Partridge’s highest-ranked commit during his time there, finishing at No. 63 overall in the country.
Malone is from New Jersey, allowing Partridge to leverage his heavy connections in the state to bring the big man down south. Partridge beat Malone’s other finalists, which included Florida State, Tennessee, USC, Texas A&M and Rutgers.
As a two-sport athlete, Partridge also had to work with the baseball team to recruit Malone to Ole Miss. He was able to leverage both sports’ pitches to get Malone during a cycle when he was not able to visit campuses for an extended period of time.
Davison Igbinosun - 2022
Partridge recruited Igbinosun to Ole Miss, but he is a familiar name to Michigan fans after he became a hot transfer portal name this offseason. The four-star cornerback chose Ole Miss over Tennessee, Kentucky, Pitt and Duke out of high school also because of Partridge’s connections in New Jersey.
After a strong freshman season at Ole Miss, Igbinosun entered the transfer portal right after Partridge left. His finalists were Michigan and Ohio State, with the Wolverines in a good spot largely because of the rumors that Partridge would be returning to Ann Arbor.
While Igbinosun ended up choosing the Buckeyes, just the rumored presence of Partridge on Michigan’s staff was almost enough to pull him to Ann Arbor.
Other big recruiting wins for Partridge at Michigan and Ole Miss include five-star defensive lineman Christopher Hinton, four-star center Cesar Ruiz, four-star offensive lineman Trente Jones, four-star linebacker Cam McGrone, four-star edge Jaron Willis, four-star edge David Ojabo, and four-star linebacker Devin Bush Jr.