Positioning

Michigan football: JJ McCarthy (shoulder) on track for fall camp – Detroit Free Press

future-dyanmics

BIG RAPIDS — As a picturesque afternoon unfolded on the Ferris State campus, where the Bulldogs hosted a college showcase for hundreds of prospects from across the region, Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh mingled with athletes who doubled as businessmen.
The topics of conversation among three classes of high schoolers ranged from social media followings to the allure of official visits, from the importance of neatly produced highlight films to the distribution of business cards containing contact information, grade point averages and — in a distinct sign of the times — QR codes coaches can scan for direct access to a player’s recruiting profile.
As name, image and likeness (NIL) deals line the pockets of college football’s most marketable talents, the playbook for recruiting the next wave of potential stars is changing. Where traditional pitches focused mostly on the athletic and academic profiles of a given institution, the modern spiel almost certainly includes a financial component as prospects and their parents inquire about the generous sums being lobbed at teenagers by NIL collectives that are monetizing collegiate roster building.
RAINER SABIN: Ex-Michigan QB Shea Patterson won’t give up dream: ‘I believe I am an NFL quarterback’
“I mean, you hear a lot about it and there’s a lot of talk about it,” Harbaugh said at Thursday’s showcase when asked how often NIL is discussed while visiting families of prospective recruits. “I just don’t know how much is real, how much is accurate. Is it accurate or not? Or is it like fish tale stories? I hear a lot. I don’t know how much is real or accurate.”
Faced with questions about how NIL is influencing his approach to recruiting, Harbaugh clung to the middle ground. He was robust in his overall support for the movement allowing athletes to profit off jersey sales, autograph signings and their burgeoning fame in college towns across the country. But he downplayed the importance of NIL as a recruiting tool for his staff in particular.
“Right or wrong,” Harbaugh said, “our philosophy is that coming to the University of Michigan is still going to be a transformational experience rather than a transactional experience.”
The response invites additional questions for which the answers are unclear:
Does Michigan truly believe its academic reputation, sprawling campus and high-end facilities are enough to win recruiting battles against other elite programs pairing similar attributes with financial incentives?
Is Harbaugh making a tacit admission that the Wolverines are unlikely to keep pace with the freewheeling collectives at schools such as Alabama, Tennessee and Texas A&M?
Or is he merely an older soul still coming to grips with students receiving five-, six- or seven-figure sums before stepping foot on a field?
THE PLAN IN ANN ARBOR: Michigan athletics offers new online program to connect student-athletes to NIL deals
The story of Michigan’s summer — which will undoubtedly become the story of Michigan’s fall — is the health of quarterback J.J. McCarthy, who did not throw during spring practice while recovering from what the program described as lingering arm soreness.
McCarthy, expected to push incumbent Cade McNamara for the starting role in training camp, resumed throwing in mid-April and told reporters he feels good during a series of brief interviews at a camp he hosted in May.
Harbaugh echoed those sentiments Thursday afternoon.
“He’s feeling good about it,” Harbaugh said. “Beautiful thing about J.J. McCarthy is he’s like a kid in a candy store. That’s his mentality, that’s his attitude and that hasn’t changed one bit. So if that’s any indication, I would say that he’s probably right on schedule.”
McNamara will enter fall camp atop the depth chart after leading Michigan to its first Big Ten title in 17 years and a College Football Playoff berth. His hold on the starting position was likely strengthened — at least for now — by McCarthy’s inability to throw in spring ball.
But Harbaugh reaffirmed his openness to playing multiple quarterbacks in 2022 ashe did in 2021, when McCarthy was afforded a handful of snaps in nearly every game.
“Those are the options, you know?” Harbaugh said. “One guy full-time or a combination of two guys playing, and, evidenced by last year, we’ve done that. That’s possible. The possibilities will be the same for this year. Could be one starter, could be one starter and one backup, could be two guys that contribute and play as well. We’ll see. No crystal ball on what takes place, but I’m excited to throw the balls out there and let the guys compete.
“The cool thing about it, though, I mean, here’s the cool thing is J.J. and Cade, it’s competitive but it’s not combative. They’re two guys that play the same position, they’re on the same team and everything that I’ve noticed is they’ve got each other’s backs and they’ve got the team’s back.”
• Wide receiver Ronnie Bell, who tore his ACL in last year’s opener against Western Michigan, is nearing the end of his rehab and should be a full participant in camp.
“You can talk to Ronnie and find out exactly where he is, but from my eye this looks like Ronnie Bell before he injured the ACL,” Harbaugh said. “Just the way he’s moving, I see him run, I see him jump, I see him cut. Definitely on track and looks about the same as he did before, maybe even a little bit better. He’s got two more months to become even stronger, faster and ready for the season. But I think from my eye, he looks A-plus-plus.”
MICHAEL COHEN: Where Michigan football’s quarterback competition stands after spring practice
• Safety Rod Moore will compete with converted wide receiver Mike Sainristil for the starting nickel position once he returns to full health. Moore, who supplanted fellow safety R.J. Moten halfway through last season, missed the spring while recovering from offseason surgery.
Sainristil will begin camp as the No. 1 nickel back after spending the majority of his time on defense during the spring.
“He can play nickel, he can play corner and then the days when we brought him back to receiver, it didn’t look like he had missed any kind of beat there as well,” Harbaugh said of Sainristil. “Definitely on track to be a two-, three-way player. He’s going to play special teams as well. Super excited. Super exciting. He’s putting a lot of really good tools in his toolbox. The more tools, the more really good tools you have in the toolbox, the more valuable the toolbox is. It’s all A-plus-plus for Mike Sainristil right now.”
Contact Michael Cohen at mcohen@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Cohen13.

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future-dyanmics

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