College football recruiting is big business, and the Michigan Wolverines are major players when it comes to securing commitments from the top prep athletes in the country.
Wolverines coach Brady Hoke has strung together three stellar classes since 2012, and his 2014 group of incoming talent could end up being his best because of the heavyweights he has scouring the land for elite talent.
It takes a deeper look into the inner workings of the recruiting world to fully understand just how Hoke’s staff has become so successful. Of course, the SEC claims the best of the best most of the time, but Michigan has coaches and coordinators who work round the clock to make sure the Maize and Blue isn’t too far behind the pack.
Offensive coordinator Al Borges is known for his way with prep stars. The same is true for running backs coach Fred Jackson Sr. and tight end coach/special teams coordinator Dan Ferrigno.
Nowadays, everything is ranked: top programs, best mascots, stadiums and, yes, even top recruiters.
A list comprised by 247Sports.com (2014), a leading recruiting source, shows just how competitive the landscape of college-talent finders really is.
Let’s dive in and see who’s putting in the most work to keep Michigan running toward championship seasons.
The Past Two Years Have Been Great for UM
In 2013, offensive line coach Darrel Funk was among the top campus salesman; he was ranked as the No. 12 recruiter by 247Sports due to his strong work ethic and top-notch skill when it comes to convincing high schoolers to say yes to Michigan.
Funk reeled in five players with a 4-star rating or better—not too shabby. As defensive coordinator Greg Mattison’s colleague, it’s Funk’s job to fill voids in the secondary, too. On April 30, he visited Jordan Whitehead, a standout cornerback of the 2015 class that hails from Central Valley High in Monaca, Penn.
It’s a job that’s never done—recruiting wars are won and lost in the offseason. Funk, apparently, loves his job and is bound and determined to strengthen the Wolverines program any way possible.
Jackson, at No. 26 overall, wasn’t too far behind Funk a year ago. The seasoned Wolverines running backs coach secured the ultra-talented Derrick Green—which obviously helped his stock—along with six other players with a 3-star rating or better, according to 247Sports’ standards.
Mattison, another particularly effective ambassador of Michigan football, was ranked No. 28 on the list. He landed six 4-star recruits—a job well done. Mattison earns nothing short of a king’s ransom for his role within the program, raking in an astonishing and gaudy six-figure income of $758,900, according to 247Sports.
Funk and Jackson’s salaries weren’t reported by 247, but they most certainly enjoy the fruits of a six-figure yearly paycheck—just about every top recruiter in the country does, matter of fact.
It’s still a bit early to really get a feel of just how impressive Michigan’s 2014 class will be. So far, the likes of 4-star receiver Drake Harris, 4-star linebacker Michael Ferns and 4-star offensive tackle Juwann Bushell-Beatty already pledged to the Wolverines’ 2014 crop of youth.
Where Michigan Stands vs. Other Big Ten Recruiters (2014)
The Wolverines are collecting 2014 recruits, it seems, just about every week or so. The festivities have just begun, as the Michigan coaching staff is out on the prowl for the next big thing—guys like Jabrill Peppers and Malik McDowell are of high priority.
The addition of that pair would skyrocket the Wolverines’ upcoming class, which is ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten and No. 7 nationally by 247Sports.
At this stage of the game, Iowa’s Reese Morgan is tops in the Big Ten; he’s ranked No. 13, five spots ahead of Ohio State’s former-coach-turned-coordinator and coach Luke Fickell, who sits at No. 19.
Penn State’s Ron Vanderlin is perched at No. 29, up 28 notches since 247Sports’ latest update.
Ohio State’s Kerry Coombs is down six spots at No. 31. Michigan State’s Mark Staten is the only other B1G recruiter mentioned in the top 50 of the rankings; he’s No. 40.
It’s not until going further down the list until a Michigan Man is found—Borges is ranked at No. 65. He’s paid over $650,000 annually by Michigan. Expect him to hop to it soon—he certainly has more work to accomplish.
Ferrigno, Wolverines tight end coach, is No. 92 and has added one 4-star player to Michigan’s 2014 class thus far.
Other Michigan associates like Curt Mallory and Jeff Hecklinski also appear on 247Sports’ star-studded talent-luring list. Mallory is No. 138 overall, while Hecklinski is three spots behind at No. 141.
What Does All of This Mean?
In the grand scheme of things, recruiter rankings mean nothing if the prospects fail to pan out and contribute to the program.
Funk, Jackson, Mallory and the rest could snag 5-star stud after 5-star stud, but it wouldn’t make a bit of difference if the Wolverines fall flat. On the other hand, Wolverines staff members who don’t carry a high ranking for their work could actually be more effective than the upper-level recruiters like Texas A&M’s David Beaty, who sits in the top spot as 2014’s No. 1 recruiter.
Beaty could discover the next Johnny Football while Mallory finds Johnny Nobody Wants. Depending on the success of that player, Beaty could catch egg on his face wile Mallory pats himself on the back for digging up a hidden gem—that’s just how these things work.
Of course, the purpose of rankings, for the most part, is to entertain those looking for something to do while they count the days until their favorite college team takes the field. At this point, it doesn’t really make much of a difference where the Wolverines staff ranks at the national level—Michigan is, without a doubt, entering a new era of proud football under Hoke.
But the rankings are certainly worth a look, just for the sake of soaking in all things pertaining to the Wolverines gridiron.
Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81