Recruiting Results All Jim Harbaugh Needs to Defend Satellite Camps

Ben AxelrodBig Ten Lead WriterJune 18, 2015

Apr 4, 2015; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh is seen during the Spring football game at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

With nearly two months to go until the start of the season, Jim Harbaugh still finds himself dominating college football's daily headlines.

But as opposed to the first five months of the new Michigan head coach's unprecedented reign as the sport's most talked-about persona, Harbaugh is now backing up his words with plenty of action.

Harbaugh's arrival in Ann Arbor late last December served as a lightning bolt to the college football landscape, his affinity for satellite camps receiving most of the attention from opposing coaches across the country.

Now that the former San Francisco 49ers head coach's "Summer Swarm Tour" is fully in effect, the noise has only amplified, with Mississippi State's Dan Mullen being the latest to take a swipe at Harbaugh's recruiting practices.

"I imagine Jim Harbaugh, if he's going to have a camp, would want to coach the kids in Michigan, the young kids in Michigan, maybe how to be better football players," Mullen told Super Talk Mississippi's Head To Head on Monday. "So why do they need one all over the place? The only purpose obviously is for recruiting, which I don't think is the right purpose for camps."

It wasn't the first time Harbaugh had been criticized by a coach from the SEC, which along with the ACC forbids its programs from attending camps further than 50 miles away from their respective campuses.

Ohio State's Urban Meyer and Penn State's James Franklin have also held satellite camps over the offseason, but neither has participated in as many as the Wolverines' staff, which has already taken part in 11 with a 12th looming in Youngstown, Ohio, at the end of the month.

"In my America, you're allowed to cross state borders," Harbaugh told USA Today's George Schroeder on Wednesday. "That's the America I know."

Harbaugh's defense wasn't necessary. Neither was his direct response to Mullen's comments, telling Schroeder that he's been merely "sharing a love for football" with his plethora of appearances at satellite camps.

The reality is that Harbaugh's allegiances lie with the school that's paying him—and nobody else.

To that end, it's hard to view the new Michigan headman's venture into satellite camps as anything but successful.

Tony Ding/Associated Press

Heading into the summer, the Wolverines' 2016 recruiting class was hardly impressive, with six commits making up a unit that saw its national ranking fluctuate between the mid-30s and 40s. But in the past week, Harbaugh's first full haul as his alma mater's head coach has skyrocketed to 247Sports' No. 9 ranking following the commitment of 4-star offensive tackle Ben Bredeson on Wednesday.

Unsurprisingly, there's a direct correlation one can draw between Harbaugh's foray into satellite camps and the rise of his 2016 class, which has gained nine of its 16 current members in the month of June.

Eight of those nine players attended one of the stops on the "Summer Swarm Tour," which included stops in Florida, California, Texas, Pennsylvania and Indiana.

Some of those players—like Indianapolis 4-star running back Chris Evans—were already highly coveted prospects, while others—like Florida 2-star safety Josh Metellus—earned offers at the camp they attended.

Either way, it's tough to argue with the results Harbaugh has manufactured on the recruiting trail with a little more than seven months to go until national signing day.

ANN ARBOR, MI - APRIL 04: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines talks with Alex Malzone #12 during the Michigan Football Spring Game on April 4, 2015 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

That's not to say that Harbaugh's work is done—far from it—especially with rivals Ohio State (No. 3) and Michigan State's (No. 6) respective 2016 classes still ranked ahead of the Wolverines'. 

This fall likely won't be a walk in the park for Harbaugh in his first season on the Michigan Stadium sidelines either, as he inherited a roster that's already at a perceived disadvantage when it comes to talent.

But when it comes to what he can control at this point in his Ann Arbor reign, Harbaugh has managed to already make a mark, and satellite camps are a big reason why.

From all indications, he doesn't seem to be planning on stopping anytime soon either, with the the Virginian-Pilot's Harry Minium reporting that Michigan is planning on taking part in a satellite camp at Old Dominion in Norfolk, Virginia, in 2016.

Whether Harbaugh's reputation as a recruiter will be strengthened or weakened by then remains to be seen. But after six months, The Offseason Of Harbaugh is only gaining steam, and Harbaugh won't be apologizing for it anytime soon.

Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com. Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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