The Five Most Interesting Things Jim Harbaugh Said
Jim Harbaugh met with the Michigan media via Zoom call yesterday for about 40 minutes and he spoke about the pandemic, his players returning to campus, the quarterback battle, replacing offensive line starters and more during the video conference.
During the back and forth, Harbaugh had some very interesting things to say. Some of his words were twisted, resulting in some misguided and negative attention on Twitter, but a lot of what Harbaugh said was pretty straightforward.
1. "Jalen Mayfield looks phenomenal as a tackle; as a football player. He’s another example of somebody who’s really done a great job this entire offseason."
Expectations are very high for the redshirt sophomore this fall. After stepping into a starting role at right tackle last year, Mayfield performed extremely well, most notably against Ohio State's Chase Young, and really started to get a lot of attention. Throughout the offseason, he's been popping up on 2021 NFL Mock Draft boards as a potential first-round pick.
At 6-5, 319 pounds, Mayfield is no longer undersized but still has elite athleticism. He's also the only returning starter, making him the grizzled veteran despite his youth. It's clear that Harbaugh and offensive line coach Ed Warinner are going to lean on Mayfield this fall.
"Every time I watch the film of practice, I like watching 73. I like the way he plays. I like watching him play football," Harbaugh said.
When you have the head coach's attention like that, it's always a good thing. Harbaugh has watched hundreds of offensive linemen play, so he obviously sees something special in his starting right tackle.
2. "RJ Moten had a workout where he was riding with a trainer — a 52- or 53-mile bike ride; 3,100 some odd calories that he burned, and he was doing it a couple of times a week."
With players scattered across the country during the pandemic, coaches everywhere had to be worried about what their guys were doing. With Moten, it's clear there was nothing to worry about.
Moten did a little bit of everything in high school. He played cornerback and safety, wide receiver and running back and even took some direct snaps turning him into a dual-threat quarterback. Because of his skill set, he was listed as an athlete by recruiting services. When he signed with Michigan, he was labeled as a 6-0, 200-pound defensive back, which likely means he'll end up playing safety. He's also going to play baseball at Michigan, which will be a lot of work. Based on his workout regimen, he won't struggle with the load at all.
3. "Donovan Jeter probably played last year at 290-295 pounds and he’s up to 320-325 this year."
This could end up being one of the bigger developments heading into the fall.
Michigan is extremely thin at defensive tackle behind sophomore Chris Hinton and fifth-year senior Carlo Kemp. However, if Jeter is healthy and truly playing faster while being 35 pounds heavier, that could add to the depth in a big way.
If Michigan can get regular and solid contributions from Jeter and rising sophomore Mazi Smith, defensive line coach Shaun Nua suddenly has four guys that he can count on.
4. "North of 530 that have been tested and two that came in tested positive."
We've been seeing COVID-19 testing numbers from multiple programs around the country and Michigan's have been among the most impressive.
Indiana initially tested 187 student athletes and staff beginning on June 9 and had zero positive results. Notre Dame began testing its student athletes and staff June 18, with just one positive case out of 252 tests. Harbaugh said that he most recently heard that more than 530 tests had been administered at U-M with only two positive results.
It's obviously not a competition, but I'm sure certain schools are taking pride in doing things the right way, while other schools like Clemson and Alabama are reporting very high numbers, especially among its football players.
Everyone wants football this fall, so maybe schools around the country should see what the Hoosiers, Irish and Wolverines did to keep their numbers so low.
5. "In February [my contract extension] was being discussed. Then the pandemic hit and it’s been not as high on the priority list.”
This has been an ongoing discussion since the end of last football season. Jim Harbaugh is under contract for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, but that's it. That's obviously not a problem right now, but it starts to be when you think about Harbaugh and his coaches recruiting prospects in the 2021 and 2022 classes. It's hard for Harbaugh to sell the future when his is uncertain.
At the end of the 2021 season, Harbaugh will have seven years in the books. Will he be 0-7 against Ohio State? Will he have taken his team to Indianapolis for a shot at a Big Ten title? We don't know yet, but he's obviously not off to a great start in those two areas.
Is a contract extension really coming? Only Harbaugh and athletic director Warde Manuel know the answer to that question. We'll probably know soon enough, but the discussions leading up to that decision could be hard to have.