NCAA Football News

Michigan Football: The Biggest Offseason Storylines for the Wolverines

Michigan’s offseason drama has centered on who would replace Brady Hoke after the team’s disappointing 5-7 finish. The regular season was a disaster both on and off the field and ultimately claimed Hoke’s job.

Michigan was in the news for all the wrong reasons, from shocking losses to Big Ten newcomers Rutgers and Maryland to quarterback Shane Morris’ concussion injury, which resulted in the resignation of athletic director David Brandon.

But all was not lost for the Maize and Blue. Fans were rewarded after an excruciating month-long wait with the coach everyone wanted.


Jim Harbaugh Returns to Ann Arbor

“I have no other words to really describe how that feels except to tell you I have great excitement about the challenge of serving the University of Michigan as your football coach,” said Jim Harbaugh during his introduction, and so launched the next era of Michigan football.

Harbaugh confounded practically every national expert by choosing to take the Michigan job over NFL opportunities. Harbaugh, who grew up in Ann Arbor and played for Michigan under Bo Schembechler, has a track record of quick turnarounds but will compete in a Big Ten East Division dominated by Ohio State and Michigan State.

He refused to issue a time frame for success or make any guarantees, but expectations are sky-high that he will soon have the Wolverines back in the national spotlight.

 

Who Will Be on His Staff?

After Harbaugh’s announcement, conjecture quickly turned to his coaching staff. During his press conference, he said that that he wanted “the best” coaches to work with him at Michigan.

Here is the rundown of who might be headed to Ann Arbor:

247Sports reports that defensive coordinator Greg Mattison has told recruits he will be part of the staff in some capacity.

The Los Angeles Times has reported that USC offensive line coach Tim Drevno will be Harbaugh’s offensive coordinator.

The Austin American-Statesman reported that interim Florida coach D.J. Durkin was waiting for Harbaugh’s move to Michigan and is now expected to be his defensive coordinator.

Bruce Feldman has reported that Lance Anderson, currently Stanford's defensive coordinator, is also being pursued by Harbaugh.

The Sacramento Bee has reported 49ers wide receiver coach John Morton will also be joining the Michigan staff.

Sam Webb, WTKA's Michigan Insider, tweeted that Shannon Turley, who is currently with Stanford, will be Michigan’s new strength and conditioning coach.

Upheaval in Buffalo has led to speculation that running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley may be available, but there has been no confirmation that Harbaugh is pursuing him.

One coach who won't be joining Harbaugh is Vince Marrow (currently with Kentucky), according to Brian Eldridge.

There is no word on if longtime Michigan assistant coach Fred Jackson will be retained. Jackson has coached at Michigan since 1992. 


Who Will Play Quarterback?

After completing his staff, Harbaugh will need to use spring practice to evaluate his quarterbacks. Early enrollee Alex Malzone will battle with Shane Morris, Russell Bellomy and Wilton Speight for the chance to lead Michigan on the field next season.

With a few weeks left before signing day, there’s also the possibility that Harbaugh could woo another quarterback to Ann Arbor.

Whomever Harbaugh chooses to start will have the advantage of his years of experience playing quarterback at the pro and collegiate level.
 

(Interim) Athletic Director

After David Brandon's resignation, Michigan filled its void at athletic director with former corporate CEO Jim Hackett. Hackett is technically still the interim athletic director, but after landing Jim Harbaugh, he is the top candidate to fill the job permanently.


Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations obtained firsthand

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Bold Predictions for Jim Harbaugh's 1st Season as Michigan Head Coach

The hiring of Jim Harbaugh was the perfect remedy for Michigan football. After a seven-year downward spiral, things are finally looking up for the Wolverines, who haven’t won an outright Big Ten title since 2003—they last shared a piece of a league title in 2004.

And on top of that, they haven’t been truly relevant on the national stage since 2006.

Time for change was a long time ago.

Widely regarded as one of the best in the game, collegiate or pro, the former coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Stanford Cardinal and San Diego Toreros is known for rebuilding and winning—he’s done so at every stop.

He’ll likely do the same at Michigan.

However, even "His Highness" needs some time to get things moving.

In 2007, Harbaugh took the wheel from Walt Harris and steered a one-win team to a record of 4-8. He followed that by going 5-7 in 2008 and 8-5 in 2009. In 2010, he went 12-1 against the No. 13-ranked schedule in the nation, per Sports-Reference.com, and pounded Virginia Tech 40-12 in the Orange Bowl.

Needless to say, he did a wonderful job of setting the table for David Shaw, who’s won at least 11 games thrice since taking over in 2011.

Expect better for Michigan in 2015. Harbaugh’s presence should immediately change the overall mood within the confines of The Big House.

But don’t expect miracles from Harbaugh, who, contrary to popular belief, won’t be able to right the ship with a snap of a finger and a few phone calls. He’s a great coach who is capable of dusting off Michigan, but he’s not the “messiah” or “savior,” a point he clearly made during his introduction on Dec. 30, 2014.

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Texas Football: Ranking the 5 Best Redshirt Freshmen for the Longhorns

The Texas Longhorns are getting younger in 2015, bringing in 27 recruits after redshirting much of last year's haul. Just like the true freshmen, several members of that group are going to have to play a major role next season.

Thanks to a big weekend that saw them add three recruits, Charlie Strong and the Horns now sport a top-10 recruiting class according to 247Sports. And that's with several highly rated players still there for the taking.

While that represents a major step forward for a program that could easily lose ground on the trail because of performance, it guarantees nothing, especially in the immediate future.

Several of these freshmen will contribute, and even start. But with only seven early enrollees, Strong can only count on what he's got, which means current players will have to step up.

There's talent waiting in the redshirt ranks to help out in that area, ranked here based on their potential to be reliable contributors.

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Austin Joyner to Washington: Huskies Land 4-Star CB Prospect

Head coach Chris Petersen continued to add to his first real recruiting class at the University of Washington, securing the commitment of 4-star recruit Austin Joyner.

The Marysville Pilchuck (Marysville, WA) star announced his decision during Sunday night's Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, via Scout.com's Chris Fetters

Petersen sent along the now-recognizable confirmation tweet:

Joyner is the sixth-ranked all-purpose back in America and No. 2 prospect out of the state of Washington. An exciting, athletic player, he is also a candidate to play cornerback at the next level.

A former Washington State recruit—surely there will be no bad blood there—Joyner gives Petersen the top two recruits in the state of Washington, as well as five of the top eight.

FieldGulls.com's Jared Stranger gave his thoughts:

While the Cactus Bowl marked a disappointing finish to Petersen's first season with the Dawgs, he is showing success in the recruiting circles. Washington's class is now ranked No. 26 nationally, and the arrow is pointing up in Montlake.

 

Unless otherwise noted, recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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Dwayne Lawson to Virginia Tech: Hokies Land 4-Star QB Prospect

ACC secondaries better start worrying about Dwayne Lawson.

The 4-star high school quarterback announced that he's headed to Virginia Tech during Sunday night's Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.

Recruiting Insider Evan Watkins of 247Sports captured a quote from the newest Hokie, who said, "I decided to play ball at the University of Virgina Tech. All the players, they have the same thing in mind, they are hungry and they want to play young. We are on the rise."

According to 247Sports' composite rankings, Lawson is the 10th-best pro-style QB in the 2015 recruiting class and ranks 254th overall.

Lawson originally committed to the Miami Hurricanes back in May. However, he revealed on Dec. 18 that he decided to spurn the 'Canes and look elsewhere:

Zach Abolverdi of The Gainesville Sun felt the Florida Gators had a chance to try to woo Lawson but that Virginia Tech sat in pole position:

While listed as a pro-style quarterback, Lawson gained 867 yards and scored 17 touchdowns on the ground in 2014, according to 247Sports. He's not a run-first QB by any measure, but he has the speed and athleticism to do some damage outside of the pocket.

On Nov. 10, ESPN's Recruiting Nation (ESPN Insider subscription required) highlighted one of Lawson's performances in which he gained 268 total yards and scored on passing, rushing and receiving touchdowns:

On Friday night, Lawson showed why he is one of the more athletic quarterback prospects in the country. The No. 6 dual-threat quarterback in the ESPN 300 showed the ability to keep plays alive when in the shotgun spread throwing and running outside the pocket. His live arm was evident on a few deep passes that were placed perfectly over the top of coverage, and he also took what the defense gave him on several underneath throws, including a 22-yard scoring strike. As a runner he kept the defense honest. Lawson scored on a 15-yard scramble early in the second quarter where he was able to get outside and get to pay dirt.

Lawson possesses seemingly limitless upside because he has a great arm and great mobility for a pocket passer. His accuracy is a bit questionable, especially on deeper throws. With the right coaching staff, those problems can be solved.

The prep star still has a lot of room to grow, so it's unlikely he'll make an immediate impact in Blacksburg. Lawson's one of those QBs best served with a year or two on the bench so he can refine his skills before being thrown into the starting role.

This is a player who, over time, could blossom into an All-American quarterback.

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