College coaches will go to extraordinary lengths to recruit players whom they think will help their program win championships. Some go a little too far, crossing the NCAA line.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has never crossed those lines, but he’s certainly drawn some new ones.
Like sleeping over at a potential recruit’s house.
You do what you have to do, especially when that potential recruit turns into a kicker who two years later leads your team in scoring and has been a savior to a struggling offense.
Yes, a kicker. That’s how serious recruiting gets.
Harbaugh showed up at the door of Quinn Nordin’s house in Belmont, Mich., the first minute he was allowed by NCAA regulations. The Michigan head coach came over determined to make an impression on Nordin and make him re-think the commitment he had given to Penn State six months previously.
It worked, and now Nordin is in the midst of a fantastic redshirt freshman season. He is 14 of 16 on field-goal attempts, including making his past 10. He has twice been named Big Ten Specialist of the Week.
Nordin made his first four collegiate attempts from 25, 55, 30 and 50 yards against Florida in the season opener. He missed consecutive kicks from 52 and 32 yards in the fourth quarter of that game, but hasn’t missed since. Nordin equaled a program record by making five field goals against Air Force, and he’s the only kicker in Michigan history to make multiple field goals of 50 or more yards in the same game.
Though Michigan has scored just 6 touchdowns in 18 red-zone possessions, Nordin and the field goal unit salvaged at least 3 points out of the drives on 11 occasions.
So, it was a well-timed sleepover.
“A kicker sometimes, if they’re a top recruit, will get five, maybe 10 offers at the most,” said Brandon Kornblue, who runs Kornblue Kicking and was a private coach for Nordin. “It normally stops there, but everybody regardless of what their situation was, whether they had a senior or a freshman kicker, they were going after Quinn as far as they could.”
Kornblue is a Michigan alum and was part of the 1997 national championship team. He started his coaching and recruiting service for special teams in 2007. Michigan freshman punter Brad Robbins is another former Kornblue student.
“It was a crazy process,” Kornblue said about Nordin’s recruitment that included 23 Division I offers. “Harbaugh felt ‘I’ve got to get creative here’ and he certainly did.”
Nordin didn’t immediately flip his choice or even over breakfast the next morning, but he did go the Michigan for an official visit as well as to Southern California. He made his final decision on National Signing Day.
“Coach Harbaugh has my back, and he did whatever was possible to get me to go there,” said Nordin to MLive.com’s Steve Kaminski. “He slept over, which was awesome. But yeah, he’s got my back and he had my back since Day One. I’m going to Michigan.”
Nordin announced his original commitment to Penn State with a video that included showing him in Penn State gear and getting off a small commuter plane.
Penn State coach James Franklin has won plenty of recruiting battles in rebuilding the Nittany Lions into a team that won the Big Ten title last season and is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation. This is one he lost.
“I’m happy for [Nordin] and his family,” Franklin said this week. “He’s doing a great job.”