Michigan’s 10-2 season was a popular one in and around Ann Arbor. Coach Jim Harbaugh and his Wolverines were in the playoff talk right up to the final day of the season.
On top of that, Michigan found ways to hit the national landscape, not only aiding to its current success, but its future success as well.
Here are three ways the Wolverines improved its recruiting efforts in 2016.
1. By staying in the top 10 all season
Michigan never exited the top 10 in the rankings all season, and staying relevant like that is best thing for recruiting. Winning is always good.
You can sell a kid on the future of the program, the early playing time he can have, etc. But nothing gives you a head start more than when you can tell a recruit your team won 10 games again in Coach Harbaugh’s second season.
In the early stages of the Harbaugh era, the staff was selling hope. It was coming off of a 5-7 season under Brady Hoke, and hadn’t won double-digit games since 2011.
In Harbaugh’s first season, the team went 10-3, and with a bowl game left, the Wolverines can bring home win No. 11.
Winning doesn’t make a kid commit, but he’ll definitely listen a lot closer to a national-title contender than a team that might not be bowl eligible.
2. Making the visits count
Michigan hosted some big names for official visits this season, from 5-stars Alex Leatherwood, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Isaiah Wilson to flipping commitments like 4-star DT Donovan Jeter and 3-star DE Kwity Paye.
It’s always good to have these visitors on campus, especially for a game, but it’s all about what the staff can do during the visit that counts.
While you can’t beat the Big House’s atmosphere, the visit goes far beyond just watching the game.
It’s what happens before and after. Like when Jim Harbaugh brought Alex Leatherwood and 4-stars Cesar Ruiz, Jedrick Wills and Jordan Anthony to a food truck before the game for pizza and ice cream. It doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but a coach as personable and as “cool” as Harbaugh is goes the extra mile during visits.
Assistants Tony Tuioti — hired from the Clevekand Browns — and Bam Richards hosted the big-name visitors this season. And it was easy to tell they did one heck of a job.
3. Good or bad … the exposure
Michigan, or Jim Harbaugh, found its way to ESPN practically every day, it seemed.
Whether Harbaugh said something at a press conference, or whether Michigan highlights replayed from when it blew out the first eight opponents, the Wolverines were always on television.
And when kids tune in to watch, and all they hear about is Michigan … well, that helps.
These prospects want to play for a school that has that national exposure, and that light shining brightly on the program, especially the big-name 5-star recruits that are being chased by the likes of Alabama and Ohio State.
And again, this is an instance where Michigan used to be all over the television hyping up Harbaugh’s return. It benefited from the highlights all season as well, even the bad ones like the constant replay of the muffed punt against Michigan State in 2015.
Michigan, in two seasons under Harbaugh, has entered the elite national level once again. Not just on the field, but off it, too. With multiple recruiting battles with Alabama and Ohio State still occurring, the Wolverines are, again, a national power on the recruiting trail.