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Loyalty kept top recruiter Partridge at Michigan when Alabama came calling

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ANN ARBOR — When Jim Harbaugh came back to the University of Michigan one of his most important and strategic hires was Chris Partridge.

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University of Michigan coach Chris Partridge

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The former head coach at Paramus Catholic High School won big at the New Jersey powerhouse, coached some of the nation’s top recruits, and was connected to many other high school players and coaches around the country.

Partridge has worn many hats since coming to Michigan — director of player personnel, linebackers coach, special teams coordinator, safeties coach. And he’s solidified his reputation as one of the best recruiters in all of college football.

Which is precisely why Nick Saban offered Partridge a job at Alabama in January.

“It’s awesome,” Partridge said. “I mean, you’re talking about a team that just won a national championship. So, obviously, it’s a shock at first.”

His responsibilities would have been coaching inside linebackers and scouring the nation for the best high school players. Instead, while flattered, Partridge chose to stay in Ann Arbor.

“I walked into Jim’s office, ‘Coach, do you want me to stay?’” Partridge said.

“Absolutely” was Harbaugh’s reply.

“‘Well, OK, I’m going to be loyal to you,’” Partridge said.

Decision made. Partridge was given a $150,000 raise — his annual salary is now $500,000 — and he’ll coach special teams and safeties.

“I guess the biggest thing is this is the place I wanted to be,” Partridge said. “I came back for the players, I came back because, to me, we can do everything we want to do here. We can win a national championship. I love the school.”

Partridge admitted he could have easily gone to Alabama, worked under a great coach, and added some gloss to his growing resume. But he didn’t want to turn it into a rat race and jump just to jump.


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“I see that all over the place in college football, and I just wanted to be different,” Partridge said. “It was easy for me to decide to stay. It would have been harder to leave, no matter what the job was.

“[Harbaugh] gave me a shot. Not a lot of people would have given a high school coach a shot.”

Contact Kyle Rowland at krowland@theblade.com, 419-724-6110 or on Twitter @KyleRowland.

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