The progress of the Michigan Wolverines defense has been noteworthy, to say the least.
And now, thanks to a three-year agreement with defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, that progress is on its way to shifting into another gear.
Mattison will be paired with coach Brady Hoke until at least 2016, a time period in which the Wolverines defense has the potential to become one of the fiercest units in all of college football. Not only is a he a respectable recruiter, but he's also a great developer of young talent.
His presence alone gives the Wolverines an elite feel. There's no doubting that Mattison, who previously coordinated the Baltimore Ravens defense, is one of the best in the business. Having him in Ann Arbor bodes well for Michigan, which posted an 8-5 record in 2012.
He's already pieced together a worthy secondary and has Michigan getting back to power football via the 4-3 defense. Restoring glory at Michigan is one thing—one thing Mattison will be a part of—but having a coordinator the caliber of Mattison will do wonders for the program in general.
Having a role with a tradition-filled football team carries significant meaning for Mattison, who said the following through a statement released by Michigan (via MLive.com's Kyle Meinke).
Michigan is such a special place, and it's exciting to know I'll have the opportunity to coach at the greatest program in college football for the next four years, and hopefully long after.
Part of the reason I came back here is because I wanted to work with Brady (Hoke) again, and every day I'm thankful I made that decision. There's not a better coach or man to work for.
If actions speak louder than words, then Mattison needs not to say a thing. Prior to his arrival to Ann Arbor, the Wolverines had a laughable defense that surrendered 65 points to Illinois—yes, Illinois—in 2010 (Michigan won 67-65). That defense allowed a program-worst 458 points that season.
Mattison entered in 2011; his defense allowed 454 points—in two years.
That speaks volumes in itself. Mattison is truly a mastermind. Now, Michigan followers can comfortably sit back and watch him work with the high-end recruits that want nothing more to play for one of the NCAA's up-and-coming defenses (ranked No. 13 overall in 2012).
Grade Michigan's decision to extend Mattison's contract
Because of his pedigree, Mattison attracts the best of the best. Taco Charlton, a four-star recruit, will be a freshman this fall. Before he signed his letter of intent, he told ESPN that he believes Mattison is a key bridge to a future in the NFL.
"I want to play professionally," Charlton told WolverineNation in a recent interview. "That's why I chose Michigan, because I thought it'd give me the best chance to get me to the NFL, especially with Greg Mattison."
Da'Shawn Hand, the No. 1-ranked 2014 recruit, visited Michigan this past weekend. Maybe he was good luck, because that was around the same time Mattison inked his new deal with the Wolverines.
Hand is a five-star defensive end that has Florida and Virginia Tech, among others, waiting for a commitment. The Woodbridge High (Va.) phenom can essentially pick anywhere to play. However, given Mattison's record, Michigan is among Hand's top destinations.
Mattison's youthful exuberance rubbed Hand the right way.
Da'Shawn Hand says Greg Mattison is 21 at heart, talks about what made him want to start class on the spot: es.pn/YnlVOp
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) March 19, 2013
At age 63, Mattison is old enough to be a grandfather to the existing and incoming players at Michigan. However, he's probably more like an older brother or uncle. Not many programs have a man with such passion for his craft, and that's precisely why Michigan's defense will flourish while Mattison is in control.
Mattison hasn't only drawn praise from those around him. No, he's crossed paths with many in college football, leaving an indelible mark of influence on those from his past.
Former Notre Dame coach Bob Davie couldn't praise Mattison enough during an interview with WolverineNation.com in 2011 (via ESPN).
It's invaluable to have a Greg Mattison on your staff for what he does as far as staff camaraderie and staff spirit. Those same attributes are why he's such a great recruiter. When he is in that house, the family is going to like him automatically.
Then he's a relentless worker. He works as hard as anyone I've been around. Has great energy.
Michigan scored big when it landed Mattison's services. He'll undoubtedly leave a legacy of gold once he decides to retire from the Maize and Blue.
Coaches like Mattison may not be fully appreciated until they're long gone. That won't be the case for Mattison, who seems to be in the prime of his career and on top of his game—and he has plenty of gas left in that 63-year-old tank of his, too.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81