Jay Harbaugh's Recruiting Approach A Hit For 2022 RB Arlen Harris Jr.

Eric Rutter

For 2022 Saint Peters (Mo.) Lutheran of St. Charles County running back Arlen Harris Jr., the recruiting process is a bit easier to travel because his father went down the same road before many years earlier. Both running backs, the elder Arlen Harris was actually recruited by Michigan as a prep standout, and now his son is experiencing much of the same as he plans who to visit once the dead period ends.

“Some schools I'd like to visit would be definitely Michigan,” Harris Jr. told Wolverine Digest. “Michigan would be a huge one for me and my family. My dad always told me when he was being recruited, Michigan was one of his top schools and he always loved Michigan. I think it would be very cool to go over and see that. I'd say Stanford would be a nice one, Penn State and Florida.”

Harris Jr. picked up his Michigan offer back in April, and he has kept in close contact with U-M running backs coach Jay Harbaugh ever since. In fact, Coach Harbaugh was part of a father-son tandem that extended Harris a Michigan offer, and that entire experience stuck out as a positive to the four-star prospect.

“I feel like Coach Harbaugh is a very genuine coach,” Harris said. “The day of when they called me, one of the big things that stuck with me was they said when we offer you and tell you we want you at Michigan, we mean that. We're not going to be one of the schools that is in and out, texts you here and there and falls off with relationships. They said they're going to recruit me all the way through until I commit, and that's exactly what he's been doing. We communicate in all types of platforms-- text, Snapchat, through Twitter. Coach Harbaugh is a very genuine guy. I remember one of the FaceTimes we had, we didn't even have to talk football. We were just talking about family and different stuff we like, different hobbies. I was very impressed with Coach Harbaugh.”

The Michigan coaching staff has made an effort to show Harris that he is a priority in the 2022 cycle, and that extends over to the graphics department too. Harris received a customized jersey edit right after the contact period opened up earlier this month, and that's part of a consistent approach that he really appreciates.

“I was very surprised and very impressed with how they went about [the offer],” Harris said. “Some people just text you and let you know that you have an offer. The way they went about it was very professional, and I actually really liked it. It was crazy seeing him because I remember a little while back I watched a Michigan documentary. Me and my dad were really impressed, so seeing coach Jim on there was crazy to think a little bit later I was talking to him on the phone. It was very exciting.”

So far, Harris has picked up scholarship offers from over 20 programs and checks in as a highly coveted recruit, one that ranks as the No. 21 running back in the '22 class according to Rivals.com. Before the dead period was enacted, Harris had a chance to check out Missouri and Kentucky in person, but those are the only two schools that he's visited up to this point. Without having the usual in-person component to recruiting, Harris has had to rely a lot on digital communication to learn more about his the schools he's interested in. That said, Michigan, Iowa, Stanford, Penn State, Missouri and Minnesota all made it a point to reach out right after Sept. 1.

“I just feel like Michigan is such a top-tier school,” Harris said. “When you think of D1 college and those great programs, you think of Michigan. They have one of the most recognizable uniforms, symbols and mascots, so I definitely think that plays a huge part in it. Talking to coach Jay Harbaugh and getting to learn the culture of it. I always tell people academics and football are a big thing for me. I want to be balanced and I want to be challenged in both of them. Michigan definitely incorporates that into their program.”

Though Harris still has a long ways to go in the recruiting process, expect for Michigan to make the cut for his top schools when he releases that group sometime soon. Given U-M's recruiting effort so far and the bond that Harris has built with Coach Harbaugh, Michigan is in good position as other teams continue to enter the mix.

How many RB should Michigan aim to land in 2022? Would you feel comfortable only taking one ball carrier after landing Tavierre Dunlap and potentially Donovan Edwards this cycle? Let us know!

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