| Special to The Detroit News
It is unknown what Michigan will have new running backs coach Mike Hart’s recruiting areas as, but Hart recruited the state of Michigan at Indiana and the high school coaches in the state have reacted positively to the news.
Tyrone Spencer, head coach at Detroit King, one of the state’s prominent programs, has had Hart recruit his school for several years. The Hoosiers signed his wide receiver Rashawn Williams in the 2019 class.
“Mike’s a great guy,” Spencer said. “We have a good relationship. He’s just been very transparent when it comes to recruiting. He’s somebody that I trust and so as far as Michigan hiring him, I think it’s definitely something that helps them because a lot of people respect Mike and what he brings — not only from the recruiting part, but he’s a good position coach also.”
Hart came into Clinton Township Chippewa Valley to recruit multi-talented athlete David Ellis. Ellis signed with Indiana in the 2018 class, played immediately as a true freshman and continued his role as a player who could play in the backfield but also catch passes.
According to Big Reds head coach Scott Merchant, Hart was a primary reason Ellis chose the Hoosiers and stuck with that commitment even as schools like Michigan State came in later on him.
“I love Mike Hart,” Merchant said. “I think he’s one of the best recruiters out there. When I heard the news last night, I was disappointed for David because that’s his position coach, he recruited him and was a major reason why he went to Indiana.
“On one hand, I feel badly about that and for Coach (Tom) Allen, a coach I have tremendous respect for. Mike is a major reason Indiana is trending upward the way they are trending upward. On that side, I’m sorry to hear that, but for Coach (Jim) Harbaugh and UM, I think it’s great move by them. Mike’s one of the best recruiters around. He is a really good guy, cares deeply for his players and definitely will be great addition to the UM staff.”
Ellis trained at Rising Stars with Reggie Wynns, as did Auburn Hills Avondale running back David Holloman, who signed with Indiana during the early signing period.
“Mike is probably one of the best recruiters in the country,” Wynns said. “He’s going to bring some life back to Michigan. He’s going to change Michigan from the last few years. He can give Michigan top draft picks at running backs because he’s that good of a coach and recruiter to bring that type of quality player to university. Mike can change the whole complexity of a program. He relates to kids well, they respond to him. He’s a no-nonsense kind of guy, he doesn’t play and he’s straight-forward and honest and kids can respect that. He will do a very good job at Michigan.”
While Indiana did not sign any players from Muskegon, the Hoosiers made runs at La’Darius Jefferson, now at Western Michigan; Cameron Martinez, now at Ohio State; and other Big Red players. Head coach Shane Fairfield has spent plenty of time with Hart as a result.
“The dude’s awesome,” Fairfield said. “He’s one of my top guys that I love to have come in and recruit a kid. We’ve been to Indiana multiple times and he and (Indiana offensive coordinator) Nick Sheridan have been here multiple times. They do an outstanding job recruiting our guys. We’ve been there, the hospitality is great. They’re always a phone call away if anything is needed. It’s a great hire for Michigan.
“I’m sitting here feeling bad for Indiana. We were starting a tour when Nick and Mike first got there to Indiana and to see them grow that place and get better and better and see the stable of running backs get better and the program increase. I hope I don’t lose contact with Indiana because that’s a great place, a great university with a great campus, but I’m excited to have a good guy I have a good relationship with here in Michigan. He shows up to all the banquets and clinics up here; he’s a worker.”
Harper Woods head coach Rod Oden is a Michigan alum who has had Hart recruit his school back to when Hart was at Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan and Oden was at East English Village. Most recently, Hart was the primary recruiter for defensive back Lemuel Neely-Watley, who signed with Indiana in the 2019 class.
“First of all, I’m very excited for him,” Oden said. “I’m glad to see him come back home. As a recruiter, he is one of the most genuine, transparent guys that come into your building. Mike is a straight shooter who does great job taking care of our guys once they get on campus. He did everything he said he was going to do with guys he recruited from me. It’s a very comfortable relationship for me.
“Hopefully he is, given the Detroit area, which I believe Michigan is losing on right now. I don’t even believe they have a coach assigned to us. We look at Mike as one of us. He grew up here from his time at Michigan and spent a lot of time in the city during his stops at Syracuse, Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan. At those stops, he always checks in with us and keeps things honest. He’s a welcome addition. I think he will be a challenge for other Big Ten programs that have been eating off our plate and hopefully, we can keep some kids at home.”
Hart also has recruited Indianapolis and signed running backs from Northern Indiana, New Jersey, Illinois and Missouri from his time at Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan and Indiana.
Allen Trieu covers Midwest football recruiting for 247Sports. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at detroitnews.com.
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