Former star Mike Hart returns to Michigan as running backs coach

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Michigan all-time leading rusher Mike Hart is joining Jim Harbaugh’s staff as running backs coach.

The hiring was announced Wednesday. Hart has signed a two-year deal, with a one-year option. This is the first confirmed addition to Michigan’s staff since Harbaugh signed his extension last Friday to remain as head coach through 2025.

Mike Hart will be returning to Michigan, joining the staff as running backs coach.

He replaces Jay Harbaugh as running backs coach and it's expected Harbaugh will be reassigned a new spot on the offensive staff.

Most recently, Hart was running backs coach at Indiana the last four seasons and was made associate head coach in 2020.

“Michigan has always held a special place in my heart," Hart, 34, said in a release. "It is a place that always believed in me and a place that I have always have believed in. I am excited to join Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan staff, and can't wait to get to work with a talented running back group."

In his 10 seasons as a coach, Hart helped develop four 1,000-yard rushers. Hart has been instrumental in the development of Indiana's running game, with the program gaining 1,888 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns in 2018. IU followed up by producing 1,695 yards and 24 TDs in 2019. The Hoosiers gained 869 yards and scored 12 TDs during the shortened 2020 campaign.

"I am excited about the addition of Mike Hart to our offensive coaching staff,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. "Mike is a great coach and Michigan Man who has shown the ability to develop and elevate the performance of the running backs that he has mentored. We look forward to welcoming Mike, Monique and their children to the Michigan Football family."

Hart, a native of Syracuse, N.Y., attended Onondaga Central High School where he set the national high school career record with 204 rushing touchdowns and finished second with 11,045 rushing yards. Onondaga Central was 46-1 and won three state championships during Hart's career.

He arrived at Michigan in 2004 and was a four-year starter at running back. Hart set the school record with 5,040 yards on 1,015 carries and 41 rushing touchdowns. He holds the Michigan record with 28 career 100-yard rushing games and his 117.2 rushing yards per contest is tops in school history. As a receiver, Hart added 67 receptions for 566 yards and scored two touchdowns.

A two-time Doak Walker Award finalist, Hart finished fifth in the 2006 Heisman Trophy balloting. He was a three-time All-Big Ten first team selection and was named the 2004 Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Hart shared the Bo Schembechler Most Valuable Player Award in 2006 and received the honor again in 2007.

After graduating from Michigan in 2009, Hart was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL Draft.

Hart began his coaching career at Eastern Michigan, serving as an offensive quality control coach under Ron English during the 2011 season before being elevated to running backs coach for the 2012 and 2013 seasons. He coached two seasons at Western Michigan then spent a season at Syracuse in 2016 before moving to Indiana.

Twitter: @chengelis