Trieu: Harbaugh hauling in high-level recruits for UM visits

By Allen Trieu, Special to The Detroit News
D.J. Durkin's relationship with Roquan Smith could help Michigan.

This weekend will be the first that Jim Harbaugh and the staff he has assembled at Michigan will be able to host official visitors on campus. The Wolverines will take advantage of that, as there are several major expected attendees.

Tight end Chris Clark, a five-star prospect on Scout, was once committed to the Wolverines, then decommitted, but since then has put Michigan in his final two along with UCLA. A large part of the Connecticut native's renewed interest is Harbaugh's history of success with the tight end position.

"My first conversation with Coach Harbaugh was great," he told Scout's Bill Greene. "He thinks Michigan is going to turn into 'Tight End U' and I'm the guy he wants. He said he's going to incorporate them into the offense, and he did that at Stanford.

"He also used Vernon Davis at San Francisco, so he said I could be the first big commit and be the face and leader of the class. He wants me to jump on board now and thinks we could do great things together."

National top 100 linebacker Roquan Smith had not had Michigan on his radar at all through much of the recruiting process. A fast, athletic 6-foot-1, 209-pound senior from Montezuma, Ga., Smith had narrowed his choices to a number of SEC schools and USC. However, Michigan's coaching changes, notably the one at defensive coordinator, has put the Wolverines into the thick of his recruitment.

"The Wolverines are now a contender because of new defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin," Scout's southeast analyst Chad Simmons says. "Smith and Durkin have been close for over a year and while Durkin was at Florida, the Gators were viewed as the biggest threat to Georgia (his presumed leader)."

Last week, Harbaugh, Durkin and company also extended a scholarship offer to Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas cornerback Damon Arnette, who, despite a commitment to South Carolina, quickly set up a visit to Ann Arbor.

"(Coach Harbaugh) has a lot of experience being in the league," he said. "He knows what he's doing and I'm sure he's going to bring in a great staff to coach underneath him that also knows what they're doing."

Arnette visits the Gamecocks and then Ohio State in the weekends following his trip to Michigan. He admits distance could factor in, but is giving the Wolverines a chance to impress him. They've already impressed upon him how much he is needed.

"They just explained to me how they rebuilding this program and they need corners," he said. "They're not signing too many this class and they think having a corner like me, it would give them an advantage with many receivers. They think they can just put me out on an island and man me up."

On Monday, the Wolverines will host Long Beach (Calif.) Poly five-star cornerback Iman Marshall for his official visit,as well.

Wolverines offer Texas commit

Michigan offered senior defensive end Charles Omenihu last week. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Rowlett (Texas) native says former defensive coordinator and current defensive line coach Greg Mattison extended the offer, which he called "unexpected." Omenihu, who is committed to Texas, later posted on his Twitter account that he would not be taking an official visit to Ann Arbor, but did tell Go Blue Wolverine that he had a good conversation with Coach Harbaugh.

Nebraska commit offered

Lake Gibson (Fla.) defensive end Reuben Jones reported a Michigan offer on Monday night. Jones, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound senior, finished this season with 71 tackles and 10 sacks. Jones, a Nebraska commit, told Scout's Corey Bender that he is "unsure" if he will visit Michigan, but says if he does, it would be next weekend.

More information

Chris Clark profile

Roquan Smith profile

Damon Arnette profile

Allen Trieu began covering the state of Michigan for Scout.com in 2005 and began managing the entire Midwest in 2009. 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.