football Edit

Harbaugh, Meyer enjoying similar results despite different styles

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SAN ANTONIO - Urban Meyer has never coached in the NFL but that did not matter to five-star offensive lineman Wyatt Davis when he committed to Ohio State over basically every other school in the country.

Meyer’s reputation of developing players and Ohio State’s recent success putting players in the league convinced Davis, from Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco, that traveling across the country to play college ball was the best decision.

“There’s obviously a reason why they had so many guys go in the first two rounds the last draft,” Davis said at U.S. Army All-American Bowl practice. “They just develop players really well there and the tradition and all that ties in well. That is what really ultimately brought my true interest.”

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh not only played in the NFL but he also coached the San Francisco 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII. That professional experience – both on the field and on the sidelines – is paying huge dividends in Michigan’s recruiting efforts.

Top prospects want to play in the league. Harbaugh’s experience at the NFL level, coupled with the Wolverines’ tremendous history and tradition were major selling points for three-star Michigan commit Jaylen Kelly-Powell and four-star pledge Luiji Vilain.

They’ve both watched Michigan go from laughingstock to title contender in just a couple years. Why? They believe it’s because of Harbaugh.

“I wanted to play for a coach who was going to develop me for (the NFL) and who has coached at that level,” Vilain said. “He’s the best person to do it. You can see where the defense has gone from being one of the worst to being the best in the country.”

Kelly-Powell said: “Really, he came in there and changed the program around with the same players. That says a lot about a coach.”

Recruiting could not be going much better for either Big Ten power, two schools that look destined to clash for conference titles for many years to come.

Ohio State sits third in the team recruiting rankings. Michigan is fourth. The Buckeyes have five five-star prospects while the Wolverines have two. Michigan has four more four-star commits and eight more three-star pledges.

Both schools are doing fantastically well with only Alabama and Georgia ahead in the rankings with weeks before National Signing Day.

Tate Martell
Tate Martell

For four-star Ohio State quarterback commit Tate Martell, who had previously been committed to Washington and Texas A&M, the answer to why he’d want to play for Meyer is shockingly simple.

“Look at what he’s done,” Martell said. “Why wouldn’t you want to play for a guy that wins games and that all he’s known for? Everywhere he’s gone, he’s won games.

“This year was supposed to be a rebuilding year technically and look where we finished. Everybody says, ‘Oh, you got blown out by Clemson.’ Yeah, it was a bad game, we played bad but still finished third in the country when it was supposed to be our rebuilding year.”

Michigan and Ohio State commits love that both programs are successful. They are also of the opinion that Harbaugh and Meyer don’t blow smoke. That should not be overlooked.

Some coaches tell top recruits everything they want to hear. That doesn’t seem to be the case with these two. They back it up, too.

“The thing is (Meyer) started recruiting me back in January when I got offered,” Martell said. “I was the first quarterback he offered since they had Danny (Clark) committed. It was a special thing to me seeing he wanted me to come even though he had another guy. That was cool with me.”

For Kelly-Powell, that genuineness from Harbaugh played a big factor in his choice.

“What stands out most about coach Harbaugh is that he’s just being himself,” Kelly-Powell said.

“You can’t ask anything more. Some coaches are going to lie to you and try to front just to get you. I like a person who wants to be himself no matter what. He’s a good guy. He really wanted the best for me.”

Ohio State was in the College Football Playoff this season. Michigan was pretty close. Sure, there are other major players in the Big Ten but the Buckeyes and the Wolverines are developing talent quickly.

And it has a lot to do with Meyer and Harbaugh, with different backgrounds and styles, convincing players that all their dreams could come true at their respective school.

“Next year it will be better and it’s just going to keep getting better and better,” Martell said.

Scary thought.