Jack Harbaugh: Camps like UM's ideal for unknown prospects

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Jim Harbaugh

Jack Harbaugh, a former Michigan assistant under Bo Schembechler, believes the Michigan football camp is a place where under-the-radar "gems" can be discovered.

He appeared Wednesday on Ann Arbor's WTKA "Michigan Insiders" show.

His son, Jim Harbaugh, in his first season coaching the Wolverines, took the upcoming three-day summer camp a step further last Friday when he issued an invitation via Twitter inviting two coaches from every program in the country to attend the camp dubbed "Exposure U." Jim Harbaugh has not been available to comment on the invitation.

The timing of the invitation capped a week of Southeastern Conference coaches and administrators expressing considerable displeasure with coaches like Harbaugh and his staff taking to the road this summer for their "Swarm Tour" of one-day high school camps. Coaches from the SEC are not permitted to work camps outside of a 50-mile radius of their schools.

Jack Harbaugh said Jim Harbaugh's invitation to college coaches across the country wasn't an attempt to poke at anyone.

"This camp, it might have some of the things of stepping on somebody's toes and upsetting someone, and that's fine if that's the case," Jack Harbaugh told WTKA. "But I think the real purpose of this is to see if there can't be some gems or some players you can uncover out there who can be a factor in your program."

He told a story about the early days of the Michigan camp in the 1970s. Michigan, he said, discovered local defensive back Mike Jolly (1976-79) at the camp, offered him a scholarship, adding a vital contributor to the team they might never have heard of otherwise.

The same holds true for the "Swarm Tour," he said.

"A youngster can't come to the University of Michigan camp, he can't fly up or drive up and be involved with the expenses, so you take your camp to Alabama, you take your camp to California, you take your camp to Florida looking for a Mike Jolly, looking for a youngster that might have fallen through the cracks, looking for a youngster who gets a chance to meet Jim Harbaugh or a Tim Drevno or Greg Mattison and develop a bond and a rapport with him," Jack Harbaugh said.

Jack Harbaugh said he was told within 24 hours of Jim Harbaugh's invitation that 50 schools responded to reserve spots at the camp. Three Ivy League schools also called to participate.

"These youngsters that come, they're going to be exposed through Exposure U to Ivy League schools, they're going to be exposed to Mid-American schools, they're going to be exposed to Big Ten schools if they choose to come. They're going to be exposed to all kinds of levels. If a youngster has a dream of playing college football at some level where he can be competitive and get a good college education he's going to be exposed to every level known to mankind."