Jim Harbaugh is one of the top quarterbacks in the history of University of Michigan football, and now he has been forced to bear the weight of expectations as a coach as well.
While Harbaugh famous guaranteed victory against the Ohio State Buckeyes and came through in the clutch, leading Michigan to a win afterward, he will have to contend with a Buckeyes team out for revenge in Columbus this season, after they pinned quarterback J.J. McCarthy’s quotes about beating Ohio State to the wall of their training facilities recently.
Harbaugh and the Wolverines have one thing going for them as they head into next season that should keep their faith in beating the Buckeyes solid, however: they are stacked with former Michigan players who know the importance of the rivalry.
The former San Francisco 49ers coach now has eight former Michigan players on his coaching staff in Ann Arbor, and they are as follows.
Denard Robinson, Assistant Director of Player Personnel
Robinson is a former quarterback and the program’s second all-time leading rusher behind Mike Hart, who is also on the current staff.
A former Jacksonville Jaguar, Robinson is beloved throughout Ann Arbor and pretty much everywhere he goes, and figures to excel at forging relationships with recruits.
An easy-going and highly respected player and person, Robinson has been viewed as a home run hire.
Doug Mallory, Defensive Analyst
A defensive back for Michigan in the 1980s and a co-captain in 1987, Mallory previously held the co-defensive coordinator job at LSU and worked with the Atlanta Falcons for five years.
He brings experience, stability, and another mind to an already sharp Wolverines defensive braintrust.
Grant Newsome, Tight Ends Coach
A left tackle with Michigan from 2015-2016, Newsome showed a ton of promise before a knee injury ended his career.
He was an athletic big man with quick feet during his playing days.
Newsome will now provide insight, analysis and coaching for a position that could use a little help in the blocking department, although holdovers Erick All and Luke Schoonmaker are solid in that department and quality two-way players already.
Ron Bellamy, Wide Receivers Coach
Bellamy appeared in 41 games as a receiver in 1999-2002. He was known for his prototypical size as a receiver and flashed potential of stardom, hauling in nine touchdowns and amassing 888 yards during his time in Ann Arbor.
This season will be his first in his new post.
Mike Elston, Defensive Line Coach
An outside linebacker from 1993-1996, Elston helped lead Michigan to success over the rival Buckeyes (they won three of four games during his playing career in Ann Arbor). Elston served as a student assistant, intern, and grad assistant from 1997-2000.
The 2022 season will be his first year back since spending 18 years with LSU and former Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly.
Mike Hart, Running Backs Coach
Hart, a Syracuse, New York native, led the Wolverines’ running back corps of Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins, and Donovan Edwards to stellar seasons in 2021 under offensive coordinator Josh Gattis.
Now, he will have to make due without Haskins, but still returns a ton of talent.
His fiery leadership and intensity are valued and appreciated by the current staff, and Michigan is better off for it.
Now, the challenge is to keep giving him talent, and to keep him from leaving for another job, if possible.
Chris Bryant, Director of Player Personnel
Bryant, a former left guard who was expected to win the position back in 2012, has since served in various roles before being listed by Harbaugh as the Director of Player Personnel this year.
Bryant is the founder and owner of Fresh Rootz Juice Bar in Detroit.
While Harbaugh’s teams haven’t performed up to expectations against rivals Ohio State and Michigan State, the head coach has brought the Wolverines to the precipice of big things over and over again, culminating in a playoff appearance and Big Ten Championship last
If the Wolverines are to take the the next step under Harbaugh and become a consistent top ten to top five program, they will need to stay hungry, and to continue to execute in all of the smaller, unheralded facets of the game while avoiding the big mistake.
Recruiting and developing superstars like Heisman finalist Aidan Hutchinson and projected fellow first round draft pick David Ojabo can only help, as well.
For now, enjoy some highlights of Harbaugh’s playing days in the National Football League with the Indianapolis Colts.