At first glance, Jerry Montgomery’s impending move from the University of Michigan’s football program to Oklahoma could appear to be a blip on the national radar.
But when it comes to analyzing such a move, the Wolverines may have lost not only a defensive line coach, but one of their key catalysts when it comes to recruiting.
The Oklahoman and Scout.com reported Saturday that Montgomery has accepted a job on Bob Stoops’ staff at Oklahoma, though neither Michigan nor Oklahoma have announced or commented on Montgomery’s move. While Montgomery is expected to work with the Sooners’ defensive line, he’s also likely to play a role in Oklahoma’s recruiting plans.
Montgomery is expected to bring a regional tilt to Stoops’ staff, recruiting-wise — namely his reach in prospect-rich regions of Florida and his ties to Ohio. Oklahoma draws the bulk of its 2013 recruiting class from Texas, Oklahoma, and California.
Working under Wolverines recruiting coordinator Jeff Hecklinski, Montgomery played a key role in Michigan landing commitments from defensive end Taco Charlton of Pickerington and defensive tackle Henry Poggi of Baltimore. Before he left, Montgomery established a working relationship with defensive end Da’Shawn Hand of Woodbridge, Va., considered one of the nation’s top 2014 recruits.
“Jerry Montgomery is a guy who prospects and recruits talked about a lot,” said J.C. Shurburtt, national recruiting director for the recruiting Web site 247Sports.com. “He’s a person who has a way to relate and build relationships with recruits. The fact that Michigan lost him, it’s going to require some circling of the wagons or an adjustment period. But if it’s this early in the process, it doesn’t hurt [Michigan] as much. It’s not necessarily a situation where they might lose a couple recruits, where, at other schools, maybe sometimes something like this is.”
But another thing that works in Montgomery’s favor, regardless of his employer? His ability to establish some sort of common ground in working with and wooing high school students as potential college football players. Montgomery is 32 years old and a former four-year starter at defensive tackle at Iowa who enters his seventh year as a college football assistant following stints at Northern Iowa, Wyoming, and Michigan.
“A lot of young kids feel that if a guy’s not that old, or not too old, they’ll be able to relate to him,” Shurburtt said. “If you’ve got someone who you look at and think you can relate to, there’s a certain comfort level.
“There’s programs with tradition, programs that consistently win, programs that have great fans and great facilities. But when you’re talking about recruiting at the level of a school like Michigan or Ohio State, for a lot of recruits, it comes down to the relationships and the comfort level they have with top coaches and recruiters.”
ESPN.com reported Sunday that Montgomery has already reached out to 2014 recruits on behalf of Oklahoma, including Hand, but one of Hand’s coaches told ESPN.com that Michigan defense coordinator Greg Mattison will remain the point person in recruiting Hand, who said last month that Michigan is one of his top college choices.
“Short-term, there’s plenty of time to re-establish relationships and a comfort level,” Shurburtt said. “But long-term, this could be a big move for Oklahoma.
“Michigan is a fast-starting team when it comes to recruiting, because they’ll get 18-20 commitments early and then fill out their needs. I don’t think, given recent history, it will slow certain things. But it will have a minimal impact, long-term, at Michigan.”
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.