Early Signing Day Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on December 21st, 2017 at 10:39 AM



“Am I late?”

[light laughter]

“Should have come and got me. I was busy doing something. Sorry if I’m late.”

Tell us what you like best about the guys you got on the dotted line.

“Um…the thing I like best…I like a lot of things, but the thing I like best…football players, good students. I think the thing I like best is there’s guys that really wanted to be at Michigan and appreciate what Michigan has to offer. They can understand it both as a football powerhouse and an academic powerhouse. That it provides both of those things.

“Nobody in there that really thinks they’re doing us the favor. It’s equal. So I think that’s what I like the most.

“I like the production in football games. Guys that are record-setters. There’s state champions. Very productive, and they’re productive in the classroom. They’re coming here to get a degree. The parents expect that they will get a very good degree. They’re not going to college to major in eligibility. They understand that they’re going to major in a legitimate discipline. There’s going to be rigor here, and they welcome that. Multiple things I like about this class so far.”

You guys announced yesterday Shea Patterson. What are your thoughts about him coming in and what his role could be?

“To compete. To…like everybody in the program, he has the license and the ability to be a starter. As I told all three of the quarterbacks at the same time, the only thing that’s guaranteed here is an opportunity. If I was the mindset of Brandon Peters, I would say, ‘Brandon, this is how you should think.’ He’s the starting quarterback, he should take this job and run with it and nobody’s going to take that away from him.

“If I was Dylan McCaffrey I would have the mindset of being on the scout team, being the scout team player of the year, now he’s going to get stronger. Doesn’t matter how many quarterbacks are on the roster, nobody’s going to beat him out.

“And if I was Shea Patterson, I would have the mindset of ‘Wait till they get a load of me.’ So all three have the license and ability to be great.”

[After THE JUMP: an MGoFriend stonewalls a minor violation, Hurst’s bowl-game decision, and a bit on some of the incoming freshmen]

How good can Joe Milton be? What’s his ceiling and what do you see for him in his future?

“Well, believe it—just blessed by mom, dad, and God. He’s very physically talented. He’s got a real fire to be great. He’s always, every time you’re around him, every time I’m around him, he’s working on something. He walks down the hall at school and he’s working a move or a drop. Thinks about football all the time. He’s sending me, sending us videos of daily progress. He’s chomping at the bit to know the system, get the playbook, and he’ll be here in ten days, but there’s—he’s got an unbelievable drive about him to be really, really great. I love that about Joe.

“It’s funny, I’ll tell you a funny story. The first time or one of the times Joe was here and we were walking through Schembechler Hall, we were having a conversation. We stopped and we were looking at something on the wall and Nick Eubanks was walking by and I said, ‘Hey, Nick, come here and meet Joe Milton’ and Nick’s a big guy, 6’5, bordering on 6’6, 235, 238. Joe’s like 6’4.5, 6’5 and I could tell the way Nick walked over it’s like sizing him up. ‘Relax, Nick! He’s not a tight end! He’s a quarterback!’ Smiles broke out but I mean, Joe Milton is a—I’m not going to put any labels on him, but very impressive looking. He keeps improving. You ask him to do something and suggest something to him and next thing you know you’ve got a video a couple days later and he’s doing it. So yeah, really excited about Joe.”

Now that you’ve been through this early signing period once, what are your thoughts on doing all this [inaudible].

“Well, it’s been good. I was very excited last night; could hardly sleep. [It was] the way I am the night before the signing day in February. Experienced that, experienced the joy from the players, from their families of today. Now we have two of those days in the signing period, so I’m happy.”

Was it any more difficult with bowl practice and recruiting at the same time?

“Yeah, managed it well. Maybe. Maybe a little busier than would normally have been, but there’s so many hours in the day and would, yeah, doing things at once, so…you love doing it, so it doesn’t seem like working, doing either, coaching, recruiting. There’s a love and passion by our coaches for both.”

Back to Patterson just for a minute. Is it your expectation that he is going to be available to play in the fall?

“Don’t know that.”

Has Maurice Hurst decided whether he’s going to play in the bowl game?

“Uh, yes, he’s playing. Yeah, Mo, that’s what he’s told us. Believe that he wants to do what’s best for Mo Hurst. He also wants to do what’s best for the team. It’s that simple. That’s what he’s expressed.”

Given the early signing day and most of your class is here, do you guys still plan on doing a celebration extravaganza-type thing like you’ve done in February the past few years?

“My wife asked me that! Just yesterday. Been so caught up in doing the other things, haven’t planned it, but I’m sure we will. Well, we might. That’s what I told her: ‘Let me think about that.’ Haven’t decided yet.”

Got a couple of guys in the class that signed today that are relatively unheralded but have huge upsides. Like you mentioned, the record-setting of it all with Hassan Haskins, Luke Shoonmaker, and Julius Welschof. What have you seen out of those three players?

“Well, in particular, with Luke we saw a long, fluid athlete. Great length. Was a quarterback and great speed. Saw those things. He’s transitioning toward being a tight end. That’s where we see his future being. Just had all the good qualities that I’ve seen in other tight ends that I’ve coached and had great success playing football at that position. Football guy.

“Julius, very excited about Julius. He’s got, again, got the frame, the tools. Very excited about him. Who was the other one?”

Hassan Haskins.

“Hassan—the tape. You watch the tape, again, I mean, he’s just so productive playing the game of football. And compare to a lot of high school backs across the country and he acquits himself very well. Very excited about him.

“Didn’t mention Ronnie Bell.”

Did he sign today? He didn’t sign his letter of intent yet, right?

[/looks at SID, who shakes his head no.]


What’s Greg Frey brought to you in terms of recruitment? He’s from Florida. How helpful has he been in the Florida area for you?

“Yeah, just a great coach. Just a great communicator to the players and tremendous football knowledge. Been a great asset to our team.”

Going back to Julius again, he hasn’t played any organized football. Is it just the raw talent that impressed you, that you could mold this guy into something?


What did you see from him? I know he was a skier. Didn’t he play a little bit of basketball?

“Yeah, raw talent and motivated to be good. If you broke down football to me in the simplest form it would be guys that do what they’re coached to do as hard as they’re capable of doing it, and I think he’s gonna—I have a great vision for him. Believe that we’ll be able to mold him, coach him, into a tremendous football player.”

You mentioned at the start guys that don’t feel like they owe you a favor and are very happy to be at Michigan. Not asking you to compare to former classes, but did you take an approach this year of maybe more—a different approach to the guys you brought in, the developmental-type guys you ended up bringing in this year?

“Same approach: get guys that get the best grades, win the most awards, and that excel at sports.”

Everybody’s after a Rashan Gary type of guy. Have you ever had a guy that was far less hyped but turned out to be a really great player that’s stuck out in your mind that you just identified through seeing him?


Anybody you can mention that wasn’t as hyped in high school but turned out to be really, really good?

“Um…what do you mean ‘hyped’? Hyped by the shoe companies?”

Got all the media, had all the schools after him, somebody that didn’t have people beating down his door as a recruit but that you saw something in him and he just really panned out, took off.

“Yeah, yeah, all the time. NFL’s full of ‘em. College football players, they’re full of ‘em. Personal experience, of course. Usually they have a good track record of playing football. Yeah, but there’s lots. Every year at the Super Bowl they go through that, don’t they? Look at the two Super Bowl rosters and go through what their stars were coming out of high school, what schools they went to. Pretty well documented.”

Do you think Chase [Winovich] will return next year? Have you had that conversation?

“Yeah, we’ve had conversation. Again, I think that it’s a free-will decision and I support Chase in whatever he decides to do.”

So he hasn’t decided yet?

“I didn’t say that. Just didn’t tell you what he decided. Let him do that.”



December 21st, 2017 at 10:47 AM ^

answer does not bode well for a return, IMO.  If it would have been "haven't had that conversation, he should do what he wants, it is a free will decision" I would have said it was a non-answer.  This looks like an answer and probably not the one we hoped.


December 21st, 2017 at 1:48 PM ^

I think I understand what a concern troll is supposed to be based on the name, but if this is supposed to be an example, it's a dumb term.

He's expressing his opinion. That's what we do on message boards. So, it's negative, that doesn't make it trolling. Believe it or not people can express opinions that don't agree with yours, and not be trolling you.


December 21st, 2017 at 2:11 PM ^

and then get back to me.  His opinions just happen to be negative most of the time, and like this one, they mostly are based on complete speculation.  For reasons others have explained, Harbaugh's comments provide absolutely no evidence whatsoever about Winovich's decision.  It hardly counts as an "opinion" to look at Harbaugh's comments and then make a wild-ass -- and negative, gee what a surprise -- guess about what Winovich decided.


December 21st, 2017 at 1:39 PM ^

One, most don't go unless they're projected to be in the first two rounds.  I don't see him in that so conventional wisdom says he'll be back.  On the other hand, he seems to be holding off announcing he'll be coming back longer than I'd expect for someone that already knows he's coming back.  So, conventional wisdom says he's back, but the vibe I'm getting from him staying quiet is he's gone.  So, who knows?

Leaders and Best 21

December 21st, 2017 at 10:45 AM ^

He’s gone even tho he is not ready. A player doesn’t announce his intentions after the bowl game unless he’s leaving.

Donovan Warren 2.0 but maybe a 6th round pick instead of undrafted. Hope I’m wrong.


December 21st, 2017 at 10:49 AM ^

My intitial though was actually the other way, if he's made up a decision this early he is probably staying. If you're leaning towards going into the draft, I feel like you take until the very last day to make your decsion like Peppers did (supposedly).

Matte Kudasai

December 21st, 2017 at 11:04 AM ^

My guess at this point would be 3rd or 4th round - but no telling what another year would do.  Also, if he kills it at the combine he could move up.

His numbers were great as is, and I think he was the most held player on our DL.  He was constantly getting held and dragged down.


December 21st, 2017 at 11:56 AM ^

I would actually say Winovich should go to the NFL. I don't think he can increase his stock much more that he did this season.

8.5 sacks, 18 TFL. Unless he really thinks that the drop-off from Hurst to Mone/Solomon will benefit him a lot, I don't see his stats going up much if at all.

He does see like the type of kid that would want to stick around for another year of college.


December 21st, 2017 at 11:02 AM ^

It would not surprise me at all for him to be a 2nd round pick. His tape is fantastic, and I think he'll kill it at the combine. He might be able to be a top-15 pick if he stays, but I could easily see him being drafted high enough to make coming out worth it. 

I also wouldn't mind to see my Colts pick him up (assuming they don't go with an all-OL draft this time around). 


December 21st, 2017 at 12:13 PM ^

I'd wait to see NFL combine numbers before going there. 

I wouldn't doubt him being too far behind Gary in those other categories either. At 6'3" maybe he is more of a pass rush specialist or even a 3-4 OLB, but I doubt athletism is his problem. He was legitimately better than Gary this season, and his numbers in limited playing time in 2016 tell me that isn't a fluke. 


December 21st, 2017 at 2:22 PM ^

Why look at stats when Brian does UFR and PFF's numbers say the same thing I just said? Gary and Mo are great too, but Winovich is every bit of their level. And I was saying a 3-4 OLB, the one who plays more like a stand up end than a SAM. 

The 3–4 also has two types of OLBs. The Joker, Jack, Buck, or Elephant is usually the primary pass rusher. Depending on the scheme, the Joker can be on either side of the defensive formation. He must be an excellent pass rusher, and has to be able to beat both stronger right tackles and rangier left tackles off the edge of the formation.

From Wikipedia of all things, but we used a Buck LB (Mario Ojemudia) here under Durkin. He was essentially a LB/DE hyrbid. Seems plausible for Chase at the NFL level.


Mojo Hall

December 21st, 2017 at 11:11 AM ^

Yeah, seems a formality that he is gone and picking up Welschof late is another sign of that.  Can't fault him though - with the program four years, will graduate in May, and his dream has always been to play in the NFL  Probably a mid-round pick, can really make some money with a good showing at the combine.


December 21st, 2017 at 11:10 AM ^

So was this the minor violation? Can't talk about Bell until he signs???


“Didn’t mention Ronnie Bell.”

Did he sign today? He didn’t sign his letter of intent yet, right?

[/looks at SID, who shakes his head no.]



December 21st, 2017 at 12:22 PM ^

Does anyone remember the soundbyte from the OSU administrator back maybe 15 years ago or thereabouts when he boasted that "OSU leads the Big Ten in self reports."  Possibly the most OSU statement ever.  


December 21st, 2017 at 12:24 PM ^

I think the reporter asked about some other players and Harbaugh said, "I didn't mention Ronnie Bell," and then the reporter clarified that Bell hadn't signed yet and so JH checked the the SID.  So, it's probably a violation because JH brought up Bell himself. 


December 21st, 2017 at 11:24 AM ^

It's less about talent/production and more about age.  Chase is going to be 23 years old to start the 2018 season, which means he'd be 24 before going to the NFL.  The older you get, the less likely NFL teams are going to use a high pick.

Production likely to decrease next year with increased snaps for Paye and Vilain.  Probalby wants to come back to try to win the B1G, but understand if he wants to get to the league before his mid-20s.