There are a lot of good reasons for Chris Clark to choose Michigan over UCLA—roughly eight of them, actually, according to Wolverines tight end coach Jay Harbaugh.
Jay, the eldest son of Jim Harbaugh, Michigan’s shiny new coach, recently sent a pitch to Clark—the No. 2-ranked tight end of 2015—outlining exactly why the prospect should take his great hands and 6’6”, 247-pound frame to Ann Arbor.
Thanks to College Spun’s Matt Lombardi, we have a transcription of that message:
1. We have used, know how to use, and will use tight ends...a lot!
2. You can wear #8 here! & 104,909 – 74,340 = 30,569 more people will see it every week if you come to the Big House.
3. We are close to Chicago / Indianapolis / Cleveland / Detroit / Madison / Milwaukee / Green Bay / Buffalo.
4. We will have a QB...A good one!
5. The is the best public school in America –> You don’t survive Avon to go anywhere but the best.
6. We have the most wins…ever.
7. We have the biggest adidas contract in the nation! –> More gear.
8. This is a very special time @ a very special place...That’s how legacies are cemented. We are both going to be a part of that! I promise you we will win & grow together.
Jay Harbaugh brought up valid points.
Tight ends have been used with great success at Michigan—for decades, really. And if Clark so chooses, he could probably wear the No. 8—it’s up for grabs now that quarterback Russell Bellomy plans to transfer. Keith Heitzman, a tight end, also elects to play elsewhere next fall, according to The Detroit News’ Angelique S. Chengelis.
Plus Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press reports Jake Butt just had minor knee surgery.
So yeah, the Wolverines could use a guy like Clark right about now.
Without Clark in the mix, Butt would be the obvious No. 1 choice. The 6’6”, 250-pound junior-to-be has proven worthy of a starting position—he just needs to stay healthy, or as close to it as possible.
But either way, Clark would likely challenge for top reps regardless of Butt’s status—and having two prototypical Big Ten-bruisers is certainly better than having one.
At 6’6” and 260 pounds, A.J. Williams, a senior-to-be, serves as a great blocking tool. He’s not huge on the offensive end, but he’s effective enough to take a run at big reps in 2015.
Khalid Hill tore his ACL in October but should be ready to roll this fall. Despite having just four catches for 37 yards, the 6’2”, 252-pound sophomore-to-be could present a few options next season.
Ian Bunting redshirted as a freshman in 2014, so there’s nothing on which to base him. He entered college at 6’7” and 225 pounds. He’s from Illinois. He could stand to take a few more trips through the chow line.
That’s about it when it comes to Bunting, who raps and brings about a certain level of athleticism that could, maybe one day, prompt a move outside. That would likely be dependent upon weight gain and blocking ability.
Think Devin Funchess.
With the crystal-clear No. 1 in the midst of recovery, Clark would have yet another reason to pick the Wolverines over UCLA. The Bruins are a bit more established, having competed for Pac-12 South titles for three consecutive seasons under Jim Mora, but the Wolverines offer intrigue.
At this point, their offense is under construction, but it’s under good care.
Jay Harbaugh should have included “My dad, Jim Harbaugh (that’s my dad), is the coach here!!” just to emphasize the next point: Jim Harbaugh is, indeed, Michigan’s coach. If that doesn’t make a recruit interested, nothing will.
Of course, once Harbaugh—who directed the San Francisco 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII—signed with Michigan, Clark found it in his heart to give it another chance. He dumped the Wolverines after they lost to Ohio State. They were at “rock bottom,” he tweeted Nov. 22.
But that’s all water under the bridge. The Wolverines finished at 5-7, well below expectations, and Clark wasn’t the only one to think twice. However, it’s a new era, and Harbaugh has assembled a staff that rivals any collection in the country.
Tim Drevno left USC to become Harbaugh’s offensive coordinator. They have an 11-year track record together, as Drevno served as Harbaugh’s offensive line coach in San Francisco and tight end coach at Stanford.
Jedd Fisch, formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars, joined the conglomerate, too.
He’s a passing game specialist.
There could be one slight hitch, though.
Jay Harbaugh has never been a tight end coach. He’s performed film and weight room duties with the Baltimore Ravens, and he was a graduate assistant at Oregon State. He once interned with the Niners, too.
But again, there’s the influence of one Jim Harbaugh that may be too much to deny. Per MLive’s Nick Baumgardner, Clark was “blown away” by a visit from Harbaugh two weeks ago.
“It’s crazy, he’s really intense, and you really like that,” Clark said. “He grew on me a lot. I didn’t know what to think at first, I wasn’t sure what he’d be like. But once I left, he really, really grew on me.
“He’s the best coach I think I’ve sat down with. I just think he’s awesome.”
Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.
Recruiting info via 247Sports. Unless otherwise noted, quotes and references were obtained firsthand by the writer via press conference, press release or other media availability.