January 11, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Sam Webb

Persistence, personality make Michigan's Doug Nussmeier a force in recruiting

Detroit News sportswriters discuss Nussmeier hire
Detroit News sportswriters discuss Nussmeier hire: Bob Wojonowski and Angelique Chengelis talk about new U-M offensive coordinator

On Brady Hoke’s checklist for desirable qualities in his new offensive coordinator, Doug Nussmeier clearly meets all the criteria -- and that includes his ability as a recruiter. While he’s more highly regarded for his skill as a groomer of quarterbacks, the newest Wolverine assistant has also built a reputation as a force on the recruiting trail.

“I'm a big fan of Doug Nussmeier as a coach, recruiter and person,” Scout.com National Recruiting analyst Greg Biggins said. “He's a high-energy, loud, fun-loving coach who has a magnetic personality. He relates very well to kids because of his youthful, outgoing personality. Just from a personality standpoint he's basically the opposite of Al Borges if you're looking for a comparison. He really loves to recruit. He's an aggressive coach with a strong work ethic and is a grinder. At Washington he was the lead recruiter on quarterback Cyler Miles (four-star, No. 13 QB nationally, and an Army All American in 2012) and Jeff Lindquist (four-star, No. 8 QB nationally, and Semper Fidelis All American in 2012). And then at Alabama, was the lead on quarterback Cooper Bateman (four-star, No. 5 QB nationally, and Under Armour All American in 2013) and David Cornwell (four-star, No. 7 QB nationally, and Under Armour All American) in this year's class.”

Nussmeier’s ability to step in at Alabama and be regarded as one of the Tide’s best recruiters is particularly impressive considering the esteemed company he was in down in Tuscaloosa.

“Nussmeier is a strong recruiter,” said Scout.com South Regional Manager Chad Simmons. “He was a little overshadowed by guys like Kirby Smart and Billy Napier at Alabama, but Nussmeier played a big role in multiple big 2014 commitments for the Tide. He recruited different parts of the country including Alabama, Florida, and the Midwest area during his tenure. He was a big part of Bo Scarbrough's recruitment (four-star, No. 7 RB nationally, and Under All American this year) in Florida, and Derek Kief (four-star No. 43 WR nationally) up in Ohio among others.

“He is known as a good communicator on the recruiting trail. I have had prospects and high school coaches tell me about his communication skills, how football smart he is, and how he gets his message across. He is someone recruits tend to speak highly of when they have face-to-face contact with him.”

Personality has a great deal to do with his propensity for forging those connections, but so too does his persistence. The consensus among Scout’s pundits is Nussmeier never loses a recruiting battle because he got outworked.

“The first word that recruits use with Nussmeier has been ‘energy,’” said Scout.com Alabama analyst John Garcia. “A lot of people talk about him as a person before they ever get into any sales pitch or anything like that. He is a fun guy, he is a cool guy. Those are things I’ve been hearing more and more the last few years he has been at the helm.

He locked down Ricky Town, the No. 1 quarterback in the class of 2015, very early -- to the point that Ricky Town has been recruiting prospects for Alabama longer than a lot of 2014 commitments. A lot of that stems from Nussmeier’s energy and building a great product offensively. When all of the USC rumors were popping up because Ricky is from California and (at the same time) there was talk of Nussmeier going back to Washington (to be the head coach) -- more of the worry (about the other leaving) came from Ricky Town. That’s how much Nussmeier has meant to his recruitment in particular.”

An obvious question from Michigan fans is: Will Nussmeier’s presence in Ann Arbor put the Wolverines in play for Town. That the Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure signal caller was on their target list prior to his commitment would seem to bolster the Maize and Blue’s odds of attracting his attention. For now, though, those lures alone aren’t enough.

“I’m very solid,” Town told Scout.com regarding his pledge to Alabama. “I think the way college football is going right now with so much movement, you always have to keep your options open. But as long as Nick Saban is there, I’ll be going there, as well. I’m still getting letters every day from schools all over the country, but I’m committed and I’m happy about my decision.”

He later added: "I feel very fortunate to have built such a strong relationship with Coach Nussmeier. Michigan is getting a great coach and an even better person. I'm looking forward to getting to know the new OC once Coach Saban makes that decision. It doesn't change things for me. I'm still a solid commitment."

Even if Town’s pledge remains firm there is no shortage of talented quarterback options for Michigan to pursue. Pending Nussmeier’s evaluation the Wolverines could decide to intensify their pursuit of already-offered prospects like Bellflower (Calif.) Don Bosco’s Josh Rosen (five-star, No. 2 QB nationally), Elkton (Md.) Christian Academy’s David Sills (three-star, USC commit), and Albuquerque (N.M.) Eldorado’s Zach Gentry (four-star, No. 23 QB nationally) -- or move on to other talented options like Birmingham Brother Rice triggerman Alex Malzone (four-star, No. 20 QB nationally). Either way, the newest Michigan assistant can’t wait to hit the recruiting trail again.

“I want to integrate into the staff and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help Michigan football be successful -- (whatever region of the country) that may be to recruit, I’m all for that,” Nussmeier stated. “We haven’t gotten to (breaking down regional recruiting responsibilities) yet. We did have a brief recruiting meeting (Friday) morning as a full staff, but wherever I’m needed, I’m willing to go.”

The combination of work ethic, resume, and personality is impressive to say the least. As a matter of fact, it’s so impressive that many have questioned why he chose to leave a program that’s already at the mountain top for one trying to get there. Nussmeier cited his respect for Hoke and the chance to be a part of the winningest program in college football as two of his reasons. After witnessing the coveted coordinator’s rise to the ranks of the elite, Biggins offered up another factor that may have been just as key.

“As an OC he has never really had the opportunity to be the primary play caller,” Biggins explained. “At Washington under Steve Sarkisian, Sark called the plays. Under Nick Saban at Bama, although Nussmeier had a big role in the offense, it was heavily influenced by Saban. He has built his reputation more as a quarterback coach than a play caller and is one of the best quarterback coaches around. At Washington he was huge in the development of QB Keith Price, who regressed badly the year after Nussmeier left for Bama.

“I really think this is a home run hire for Michigan, as Nussmeier brings so much to the table. He'll be great for the development of the quarterbacks, he has national connections as a recruiter from his time out West and in the South, and he has a very sharp mind. It's a great responsibility for him having total say of the offense, but I definitely think he's up for it and will do a great job.”

Sam Webb is managing editor of GoBlueWolverine.com and co-host of the "Michigan Insider" morning show weekdays on Sports Talk 1050 WTKA. His Michigan recruiting column appears every week at detroitnews.com. For more on U-M recruiting, visit michigan.scout.com.

Scout.com's Greg Biggins on Doug Nussmeier: 'He's a high-energy, loud, fun-loving coach who has a magnetic personality. He relates very well to kids because of his youthful, outgoing personality.' / Steve Perez / Detroit News
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