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Sunday, February 24, 2013
What Montgomery's exit means for U-M

By Chantel Jennings and Tom VanHaaren

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- With defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery leaving the Michigan staff for a job at Oklahoma, the Wolverines will have some scrambling to do this offseason as they look for a replacement.

But on a staff that regarded itself as having three defensive line coaches in head coach Brady Hoke, defensive coordinator Greg Mattison and Montgomery, the loss the Wolverines suffer from a coaching perspective won’t be as significant as it would be at other positions. In fact, the Wolverines might not even hire a defensive line coach to replace Montgomery, instead addressing needs at coaching positions elsewhere.

Jerry Montgomery
Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery, who is leaving for Oklahoma, has already put an indelible stamp on U-M's 2014 recruiting class.
However, it’s on the recruiting front, rather, that Michigan might have some making up to do in whomever they hire to replace him.

Montgomery was largely considered one of the Wolverines’ top recruiters. He was a position coach who focused on the south, but laid the groundwork in several of the Wolverines’ top gets. He helped land No. 5 running back Derrick Green (Richmond, Va./Hermitage) and was in on a number of top signees in the class, as well.

In the 2014 class, which only has three commits, he was the main recruiter in each case.

Montgomery helped to get an early commitment from Watch List linebacker Michael Ferns (St. Clairsville, Ohio/St. Clairsville), pulling him out of Ohio territory before Urban Meyer got to him. He followed that up by helping to land the Wolverines’ a top 2014 quarterback in Wilton Speight (Richmond, Va./Collegiate School), and his third and final commitment in the class was big Watch List defensive tackle Bryan Mone (Salt Lake City/Highland), who chose Michigan over offers from schools like Oregon, Ole Miss and Stanford.

So as the 2014 class continues moving forward, the question must be posed as to whether Montgomery’s departure will have a negative impact as Michigan continues to recruit those players.

Watch List wide receiver Corey Holmes (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas), who has been a Michigan fan most of his life, hadn’t been called by any of the Michigan coaches to be informed of the news. He was surprised but said that Montgomery’s exit wouldn’t change how he felt about Michigan. Holmes said that he has formed tight relationships with wide receiver coach Jeff Hecklinski, as well as offensive coordinator Al Borges and Hoke, so one coach leaving wouldn’t change much.

Fellow Watch List wide receiver Artavis Scott (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake), who also hadn’t heard, held similar sentiments to Holmes. Scott said that his feelings for Michigan won’t change based on Montgomery not being on the staff. Scott did say, however, that his best relationship on the coaching staff was with Montgomery, though Hecklinski has also formed a solid foundation with the top receiver.

“I’m surprised to hear about that,” Scott said. “I didn’t think he was leaving anytime soon. ... It’s pretty crazy to me. I talked to him all the time, and you wouldn’t think that.”

Watch List defensive end Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge), who has the Wolverines in his top five right now, was also surprised by his position coach’s departure.

"We did like Montgomery, but the fact that Mattison is going to coach the defensive ends that still leaves us where we were," Woodbridge assistant coach John Harris said. "Coach Mattison talked to me Friday, that's actually who told me. He'll be doing the recruiting for Da'Shawn, and they had tag-teamed him before, so we already know Mattison."

While it might not seem to affect too many recruits’ who’ve already established relationships with Michigan, down the road the Wolverines might miss having Montgomery on staff. The top recruiter had already reached out to Hand on Saturday on behalf of Oklahoma, and likely will do the same with other recruits.

So for now, the Wolverines will focus on a big recruiting weekend in Ann Arbor and hope to find someone to fill the shoes left on the recruiting trail by Montgomery.