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Jim Harbaugh as recruiter ‘making waves, staying relevant’

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Jim Harbaugh, with swim cap and goggles, poses for a photo with Oliver Martin, left, and two of Martin's teammates last week in Iowa City.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has taken recruiting to a different level with sleepovers and tree climbing and go-karting among the highlights.

Among head coaches, certainly his style is unique.

Harbaugh visited four-star receiver target Oliver Martin last Wednesday in Iowa City and dropped by his swim practice. After practice, a couple of Martin’s teammates wanted a photo with Harbaugh, and he agreed but only if he could wear the team swim cap and goggles.

“There’s nobody else like him, but I can tell you it’s not false enthusiasm,” Tom Luginbill, ESPN’s national recruiting director, said Monday on a conference call in advance of Wednesday’s National Signing Day. “It’s authentic. He is who he is. He does not care what people think of him. He’s going to be his own man. Everything he does I think is very calculated. It’s about brand expansion, it’s about staying on the ticker, it’s about staying in the headlines.

Four-star receiver Oliver Martin commits to UM

“I mean, for crying out loud, you’re going to go to Italy. You’ve got a better chance of finding a player in an Olive Garden parking lot than you do going to Italy. But what does that mean? That means I’m in the headlines, we’re in the headlines. We’re making waves, we’re staying relevant. It’s all about recruiting and brand expansion and he’s kind of a perfect guy to lead that charge because he has no reservations or hiccups about who he is or what he is, and I think that’s authentic with players.”

Michigan’s 2017 recruiting class currently has 26 commitments or early-enrollees and is ranked third nationally behind No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Georgia.

Meet Michigan's 2017 football commitments

Meet the 2017 Detroit News Blue Chip recruits