- Chantel Jennings, ESPN Staff Writer
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Erik Bakich joked on Thursday at the news conference introducing him as Michigan's new baseball coach that he had already secured his first verbal commitment for the class of 2027 -- his 3-year-old son Colt.
Jokes aside, Bakich's recruiting prowess is a large reason Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon brought him in.
And Bakich wasted no time in declaring that Michigan is now the Wolverines' biggest recruiting territory.
"It starts with your own state," Bakich said. "The teams that have been the most successful at Michigan have had the best players from Michigan. And we are going to make sure from now on that the University of Michigan gets the best players in Michigan. That's going to be our battle cry."
Coaches at northern schools typically struggle to get top players to commit because of the weather. The Wolverines' season starts in February, but Michigan must play in the south until late March just to avoid the snow. And even once March hits, blue skies are never guaranteed.
Brandon said that even with that deterrent he believes Bakich will bring in the best.
"There are probably some kids who will rule out coming north if they’re really into the weather as a primary objective," Brandon said. "But we've proven in the past that we can build a program here that will be nationally competitive."
Bakich said his experience coaching at Maryland (2010-12) will help him recruit elite players to a colder climate and that he believes that it's just about getting recruits to see the benefits of playing for a school like Michigan.
The Midwest will also be a focus of Bakich, and he said he definitely wouldn’t ignore talented players from the West or South.
With Bakich’s recruiting plan, the makeup of the team probably won’t change too much. Currently, 21 of the players on Michigan's roster hail from Michigan. Six others are from either Ohio or Illinois. That means just seven players on Michigan's roster are from outside the Midwest.
"We are going to win championships here with residents of the state of Michigan," Bakich said. "Those guys are going to represent that standard of excellence, academically and athletically."
17hJosh Moyer and Tom VanHaaren