Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh glad to let elite athletes play two sports in college

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh fielded questions during some down time at the Michigan elite camp on June 23, 2017, in Ann Arbor. Video by Mark Snyder/DFP

U-M football could have a baseball player, a swimmer and a wrestler in the freshman class


As the rest of Michigan football’s freshman class begins academic orientation on Saturday, they’ll consider their football futures.

Some will also consider playing other sports.

U-M coach Jim Harbaugh said today he’s glad to let them play multiple sports, if they’re good enough.

The topic arose because of U-M linebacker Jordan Anthony, who would like to play football in the fall and baseball in the winter and spring.

High school players run drills with Wolverines coaches and players assisting at the Michigan elite camp June 23, 2017 at Michigan Stadium. Mark Snyder, Detroit Free Press

“Very much would embrace it,” Harbaugh said following today’s Michigan’s elite camp. “He’s an elite football player, an elite baseball player. When they’re elite at two sports, right when football’s over, their freshman year, we’ll let them go to another sport. Starting in January, he could go play baseball if he chooses to.”

His requirement is they need to be “elite-elite in two sports.”

More: Get to know 5 incoming freshmen from Michigan’s 2017 recruiting class

Harbaugh noted that incoming receiver Oliver Martin has that freedom to join the Michigan swimming team and another unnamed player may choose to wrestle.

But it’s only if they’re proven with high-level talent in other sports.

“If they’re going to just spit seeds in the outfield then no, come establish yourself in spring practice,” Harbaugh said. “A track runner, if they’re elite-elite in track or field in throws, as soon as football’s over we’ll let them go participate in the second sport. Now if they’re just going to be put in a race to finish 10th and pick up a point, we’d rather have them in winter conditioning until they establish themselves as a football player.”

More: Aubrey Solomon not sorry he left South, glad to be under Rashan Gary’s tutelage

Familiar face: Harbaugh confirmed that his former NFL running back Alfonso Smith has joined the U-M program as an intern, learning to be a coach. Smith was a running back for Harbaugh with the San Francisco 49ers in the 2014 season.

“Just a great, great guy,” Harbaugh said. “First class individual all the way. He is very serious about football, always was. When we were coaching him in San Francisco, I remember the day, I went up to him and said, you should coach when you’re done. Play football as long as you can but then coach. Fortunately when he decided he was hanging them up, he called and we just jumped at the opportunity to get him over here.”

Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh opens the elite skills camp on June 23, 2017 at Michigan Stadium. Mark Snyder, Detroit Free Press

Smith will assist with the running backs but all of his duties must take place off the field.

Notes: Michigan is no longer in the graduate transfer market after pursuing at least two known players in the past few months. Both offensive lineman Sunny Odogwu (UCLA) and safety Korrin Wiggins (East Carolina) chose other schools. “I think we’re settled,” Harbaugh said.


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