ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Mark Shooshanian still calls Michigan assistant Dan Enos by his childhood nickname, “Danny.”
Nearly 35 years after Shooshanian coached Enos as a ninth-grade quarterback at Edsel Ford High School in Dearborn, Mich., he remembers Enos’ penchant for the sport.
When Enos was a freshman on the junior varsity team, he approached Shooshanian and the Edsel Ford coaching staff with a notebook. Inside, Enos had diagrammed plays that he wanted his team to run for its upcoming game that weekend.
“Danny was drawing them up, as a ninth grader!” said Shooshanian, who lived two doors down from the Enos family in Dearborn. “The plays were really good, more than just X’s and O’s or lines and circles. He knew what he was talking about.”
The notebook provided a glimpse of Enos’ future in football. And football, Shooshanian said, was Enos’ life.
A quarterback at Michigan State from 1987-90, Enos rose through the coaching ranks shortly after his college playing days ended — first as an assistant who coached quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs, then as head coach at Central Michigan from 2010-14 and most recently as the offensive coordinator at Arkansas for the last three seasons.
Now, as Michigan’s wide receivers coach, Enos has the charge of helping revamp the Wolverines’ passing offense after a season of struggles because of injured quarterbacks and inexperienced wide receivers.
Michigan’s passing productivity dipped in 2017, from 2,756 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2016 to 2,226 yards and 9 touchdowns. Its leading receiver in terms of yards, Grant Perry, finished with 307 yards and 1 touchdown.
Enos has coached with 10 college programs since 1991. In his first of two seasons as Cincinnati’s quarterbacks coach in 2004, he worked with Gino Guidugli, who set several Bearcats passing records. Guidugli also went into coaching, at Enos’ insistence.
As Michigan State’s quarterbacks coach in 2006, Enos worked with Drew Stanton, who just completed his 10th season in the NFL.
During Enos’ tenure as Central Michigan’s head coach, quarterback Ryan Radcliff passed for 9,807 yards and 65 touchdowns in three seasons. When wide receiver Titus Davis finished his career in 2014, he did so as Central Michigan’s all-time leader in career receiving yards (3,700), career touchdown receptions (37) and touchdown catches in a season (13).
Enos had two quarterbacks throw for more than 3,000 yards at Arkansas: Brandon Allen in 2015 (3,440) and Austin Allen in 2016 (3,430). Both years, Arkansas was third in the SEC in passing offense.
“Dan’s offensive philosophy is that of a pro-style offense,’ Shooshanian said. “You’re not throwing the ball 80 percent of the time. You’re mixing the pass and the run, and I consider that a good thing, especially in the Big Ten and the SEC, where you’re going to run the ball first. Danny’s developed that, and he’s developed quarterbacks along the way.”
‘The complete package’
When Gerry DiNardo was an assistant at Colorado in the mid-1980s, he went to Southeast Michigan with a mission. Get a commitment from a lanky quarterback at Edsel Ford High School.
Enos didn’t go to Colorado. Instead, he graduated from Michigan State in 1991 and went directly into coaching. As Enos progressed through the ranks, DiNardo made sure to follow his coaching career.
“As I watched Dan work, I really thought he had a great rapport with the players,” said DiNardo, a college football analyst with the Big Ten Network. “High school coaches really liked him, and he really connected with them. And they all knew him. He had the complete package.”
As a head coach at Vanderbilt, LSU and Indiana, DiNardo became familiar with Enos’ coaching style. DiNardo believes Enos will rely on his coaching and playing experience to help revitalize Michigan’s offense.
What’s made Enos successful as a coach, DiNardo said, is that Enos is a continuing student of the game.
“I learned a long time ago, with Bill McCartney at Colorado, that before you can coach someone or have leadership, you have to know the game,” DiNardo said. “Dan starts with knowledge of the game. Former quarterbacks usually are students of the game. They understand it.”