Thursday, February 19, 2015

Stepping on the gas: Recruiting for 2016 and beyond

During Coach Harbaugh's National Signing Day Press Conference (2/4/2015), he addressed questions regarding potential modifications/upgrades to the recruiting department of the football program:

On whether Michigan will set up a department focused solely on recruiting:
“We’ll make some improvements in all areas of our organization. I look at it that way. Always be striving to get a percent better, a mile an hour faster, better today than we were yesterday, better tomorrow than we were today in all areas, in everything that we do so yeah, we’ll take a look at how we’re doing it and start with why and attack even a .01 percent improvement if we can find it. Just like the NASCAR boys, see if we can’t get a mile an hour faster.”
Will there be a specific department for recruiting?
“We’ll look at it and attack it just- how are we going to approach it? We’ll continue to attack all areas in how we do things.”

Coach Harbaugh's comment that he would look at the existing structure and "attack even a .01 improvement if we can find it" suggested he did not want to criticize the structure the former regime had in place.  However, if anyone believed he was simply going to tweak Michigan's recruiting process, that person would have been quickly disabused of such a notion by three key hires made within days of 2015 National Signing Day (NSD). Coach Harbaugh's hires signal that there is a radical shift in how Michigan will conduct recruiting going forward.
Under the old regime, Chris Singletary held the title of Director of Player Personnel.  Per the online media guide, Singletary is in his sixth season as the recruiting coordinator with the Michigan football program. He has handled all of the team's recruiting efforts, both on-campus and out in the community.  He was a three-year letterman at Michigan (1996-98) who played linebacker, Singletary graduated in May 1999 with a degree in sports management and communications.
Under Singletary were just two support staff- Caitlin Aoki (Recruiting Asst.) and Mary Passink (Admin. Asst. to the Head Coach for Recruiting).  Within one week after 2015 NSD, the addition of 3 people to the Michigan Football recruiting department were announced and all with remarkably similar titles:  Gwendolyn Bush (Director of Player Development), Matt Doherty (Recruiting Coordinator) and Chris Partridge (Recruiting Operations Coordinator).  Each of the three new hires bring something special to the program.

Gwendolyn Bush ( was hired as Director of Player Development. She is the mother of Stanford fifth-year graduate transfer Wayne Lyons who is coming to Michigan in 2015 after having started 7 games at CB last year for the Cardinal.  Before college, Lyons played for a high powered 7-on-7 team called South Florida Express (SFE) that also boasts of Teddy Bridgewater and Geno Smith as former players. Ms. Bush was known as the "team mom" for SFE. Coach Harbaugh was apparently impressed with Ms. Bush when he recruited Lyons to Stanford and Coach Harbaugh has now added her to his staff at Michigan. Ms. Bush's 50 question recruiting questionaire for coaches has become legendary.

Matt Doherty was the Director of Player Personnel at the U (Univ. of Miami) when he was hired by Coach Harbaugh. Because Chris Singletary already held that title at Michigan, Doherty is taking the title of Recruiting Coordinator. The addition of Doherty will give Michigan a foothold in talent rich Florida.

From the high school ranks comes (Coach) Chris Partridge who will be the Recruiting Operations Coordinator.  The job was posted on U-M's website Jan. 27 and states "Responsible for the planning, coordination, execution and assessment of recruiting operations. Directly responsible for the coordination and liaison of high school coaches and talent stakeholders in the college football prospect market."  Partridge coached current U-M players Jabrill Peppers and Juwann Bushell-Beatty at Paramus (N.J.) Catholic High School.  


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