Jim Harbaugh The Program Rebuilder

University of Michigan football head coach Jim Harbaugh has the Wolverines on the right path.

The Michigan Wolverines’ first year under new head coach Jim Harbaugh has concluded. With a crushing defeat over the Florida Gators in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, the Wolverines capped an impressive 2015-16 campaign with double-digit victories (10-3). Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock threw for 278 yards and three scores in the 41-7 blowout of Florida, showing his development under Harbaugh. Looking for proof of Harbaugh’s ability to develop quarterbacks? Look no further than the fifth-year Wolverines signal caller this past season.

Rudock began the season with an atrocious road performance against Utes in Utah, throwing three picks, including an interception that was returned for the game-winning touchdown. In the 12 games following the 24-17 loss to Utah, Rudock threw 18 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions. The Wolverines quarterback finished the season with more than 3,000 yards through the air, completing nearly 65 percent of his passes.

Harbaugh’s first year in Ann Arbor, Mich. was nothing short of spectacular, especially considering it followed the Wolverines’ disappointing 5-7 campaign in 2014. However, former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke’s recruiting job shouldn’t be overlooked. Skill position players such as wide receiver Jehu Chesson, All-American tight end Jake Butt and Big Ten Freshman of the Year Jabrill Peppers were all members of the Maize and Blue before Harbaugh’s return to his alma mater. Despite Hoke’s ability to bring in top-tier talent, the former Michigan coach wasn’t able to utilize that talent to its fullest potential. Harbaugh did exactly that in his debut season for the Wolverines.

Michigan’s 10-3 season likely satisfied the Wolverine faithful’s burning desire for the team to return to legitimacy and become the powerhouse program it once was. For Harbaugh, the Wolverines 10-win season serves as a convincing campaign that will give him the credibility needed to rebuild the state of Michigan football. The work Harbaugh has done on the recruiting trail is already beginning to show itself as the Wolverines currently have the third-best incoming 2016 class, just behind the LSU Tigers, according to 247Sports.

Per 247Sports, Michigan has commitments from 14 four-star prospects, most notably the top running back in the class, Kareem Walker. In addition to Walker, the Wolverines will add the 11th-best linebacker in the class, Devin Bush Jr. Bush Jr. could see his fair share of playing time in his first season due to Michigan’s departing talent at linebacker. Seniors Joe Bolden and Desmond Morgan served as the veteran leaders for a resurgent Wolverines defense under former defensive coordinator and current Maryland Terrapins head coach D.J. Durkin. Heading into the offseason, Michigan has a glaring gap at linebacker. However, junior linebacker Ben Gedeon will return for his senior season after recording 34 tackles for the Wolverines last season.

Harbaugh is not one to shy away from publicity. The Wolverines’ head coach maintains a constant, unique voice on social media. After Michigan’s Citrus Bowl victory over Florida, rapper Wale tweeted the following:

Harbaugh’s response did not disappoint as he tweeted:

This is a perfect example of Harbaugh discretely selling Michigan football through social media. While Harbaugh’s commentary on social media can seem somewhat odd at times, his recent actions while recruiting the No. 1 ranked kicker in the 2016 class, Quinn Nordin, showed that Harbaugh will do just about anything to bring talent to the program. The Michigan head coach planned a sleepover with Nordin, a current Penn State Nittany Lions commit.

Currently in a rebuilding process, Harbaugh knows that recruiting is vital. It’s recruiting tactics like the ones Harbaugh uses on Twitter and his actions with Nordin that put the coach, his players and the program in the limelight. The publicity Harbaugh generates will bring top-tier talent to Ann Arbor, Mich., and the Wolverines’ new head coach knows it.

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