Add riding in a go-kart to climbing a tree and having a sleepover to the list of Jim Harbaugh in-home recruiting visit activities.
The Michigan head coach had an in-home visit with five-star Leesburg (Ga.) defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon on Monday. In addition to defensive coordinator Don Brown and linebackers coach Chris Partridge -- who has recruited Lee County High School, where Solomon attends -- Harbaugh also brought along his daughter Addy.
They, along with Solomon and his family, went bowling, raced go-karts and attended a celebration at Lee County Preschool.
“Their visit to see Aubrey is something I have never seen on a recruiting trip,” The Michigan Insider’s Sam Webb said. “He took his daughter with him, which is a two-fold thing. Aubrey has a little sister around the same age as Harbaugh’s daughter so that is an opportunity for another family member there to be engaged and demonstrated to Aubrey and his mom how much of a family guy Harbaugh is.
“The second part of that is, it allows Jim to spend more time with his daughter. She had the day off school and they could have time together, and that’s one less kid in the house for Mom to have to look after with a newborn in the house, as well.”
Webb spoke with Solomon’s mother, Sabrina Caldwell, at the end of the day and she relayed that it was “the best visit ever.”
Alabama and Georgia were reportedly climbing in this recruitment and for a brief period, public perception was that Michigan had fallen behind, but that is no longer the case.
“Aubrey’s mom was really impressed that he brought his daughter along,” Webb said. “The visit hit all the marks. Anyone doubting Michigan’s strong standing in the race just isn’t paying attention.”
It was only a few short weeks ago that Solomon, then in San Antonio participating in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, was caught on camera using an expletive to describe Michigan. That caused many to believe Michigan was completely out of the race, but instead, Solomon handled the situation with grace and the Wolverines made it known that it did not affect his standing with them in the least.
“It’s definitely in the rear view mirror,” says Webb. “Michigan made a pretty visible error in his recruitment a couple months after the commitment, thanking him and his mom for attending the BBQ at the Big House when they hadn’t, and misspelling his name. He took issue with that. With that video, he made a very visible mistake and it was a shoe on the other foot moment. He called Michigan and they moved past it swiftly, told him it wasn’t a big deal and he was still a major guy and a major target.
“It was a totally out-of-character thing for him. He is a very mature kid. He mentors other athletes on a weekly basis. He’s a kid that hardly says a cross word. He’s the son of a military parent and that comes through with the way he carries himself. He got caught up like kids do and he realized that. Rather than calling his mom and having her handle it, he asked her for the number and called the coaches and handled it himself before she even knew what happened.”
The importance of Solomon to this class for Michigan was certainly highlighted with how his in-home visit was conducted.
“Jim goes the extra mile to try to establish a connection, to establish comfort,” Webb said. “I think while some of those things last year might be written off as quirky, I think it was him climbing a tree is breaking the ice, it’s having fun. I think spending the night is him trying to take extra time, as much time as possible, to get to know a kid, a willingness to put in that time and go above what others are willing to do. He scaled things back a bit this year but is still being very unique.”
The tree climbing was in David Long’s yard, the sleepover at Quinn Nordin’s house. Both ended up signing with Michigan. Will the go-kart race end with Michigan ahead of the pack for Aubrey Solomon? Time will tell, but there is little doubt the Wolverines have re-emerged in his recruitment.
Pep Hamilton on the road
One of the first stops for new assistant head coach Pep Hamilton on the recruiting trail was to see Iowa City West wide receiver Oliver Martin. Martin, a four-star prospect, was offered by Michigan in the summer, but recently questions arose as to where both sides stood. Hamilton’s visit and a likely visit to Ann Arbor this weekend is an indication that his recruitment with the Wolverines is still alive and well.
Martin took an official visit to Michigan State last weekend. He is also slated to visit BYU at the end of the month. Notre Dame, Florida, Auburn, UCLA and Iowa remain as other schools who are in the race and have offered. Ohio State has also recently shown interest.
Wolverines stop at Divine Child
Harbaugh and defensive line coach Greg Mattison were at Dearborn Divine Child on Tuesday. The Wolverines have offered junior defensive end Aidan Hutchinson there. Hutchinson’s father, Chris, played for Michigan. Also of note there is junior quarterback Theo Day and junior tight end Quinn Blair. Neither have been offered, but both are on the college radar with Day holding four FBS scholarship offers.
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.