Greg Frey, Wolverine . . . again

Tag: coaching changes


25Jan 2017
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Greg Frey, Wolverine . . . again

Greg Frey (image via Twitter)

Indiana co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Greg Frey is now Michigan run game coordinator/offensive tackles/tight ends coach Greg Frey. As has been rumored for several days, the former Michigan coach (2008-2010) is returning to Ann Arbor.

Frey is from Clearwater, FL and went on to play college football at Florida State under Bobby Bowden from 1992-1996. He then coached at South Florida, where Kenyatta Jones was the first offensive lineman drafted from the school. He coached at West Virginia with Rich Rodriguez before being brought to Michigan. Since his last stint in Ann Arbor, he was co-OC/OL coach at Indiana, where he developed offensive guard Dan Feeney into an All-American and helped Jason Spriggs become a 2nd round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2016.

Let me repeat: He developed a 2nd round pick and an All-American. At Indiana. And those are two separate people, not just one.

Additionally, he helped to develop David Molk into a Rimington Award winner (though technically that came one year after Frey left), and he helped to recruit and develop Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield. The 2008 season was rather forgettable, but Michigan improved significantly in 2009 and 2010 with little in the way of experienced talent. (Lewan and Schofield redshirted as freshmen in 2009.) With a good deal less talent, Michigan had some decent offensive lines in those days that helped Denard Robinson run for oodles of yards and allowed him time to complete almost 63% of his passes.

With the arrival of Frey, Tim Drevno has responsibilities for the centers and guards. Jim Harbaugh used this setup previously at Stanford when he had a C/OG coach and an OT/TE coach. Frey has limited experience coaching tight ends, but they do often work in concert with the tackles on combo blocks, and some of the pass sets are similar. This also potentially creates a line of succession if Drevno leaves for a head coaching or coordinator job after next season.

On top of the day-to-day work with the team, Frey has been a solid recruiter and has ties to the state of Florida. I think this is a positive move for the program overall, and the mediocre offensive line has been holding Michigan back for the past couple seasons. Getting another set of eyes on the offensive line and maybe some more one-on-one tutelage or different ideas on how to run the ball might get the Wolverines going in a more positive direction.

As a result of hiring Frey, Jay Harbaugh will now move over to coach the running backs after Tyrone Wheatley left for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Harbaugh has little to no experience with running backs, but the same could be said for his previous role with the tight ends. In his two years at Michigan, the units that he’s been responsible for have produced a Mackey Award winner (Jake Butt) and a bunch of blocked kicks. While it’s not a sure thing that he continues to have success with the running backs, there’s no evidence that he will be holding the team back with the way he coaches the running backs.

16Jan 2017
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Tyrone Wheatley, Sr., Ex-Wolverine

Tyrone Wheatley and Jim Harbaugh (image via Freep)

Running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley, Sr. has reportedly accepted a job with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where his former boss Doug Marrone has been hired as the head coach. Wheatley coached with Marrone at Syracuse from 2010-2012 and then with the Buffalo Bills in 2013-2014.

Wheatley was an All-American and a former 1st round pick from the University of Michigan, and he went to high school in Dearborn. After playing stints with the Giants and Raiders, he also coached in Dearborn before moving on to college. He was hired at Michigan in 2015 when Jim Harbaugh returned to Ann Arbor, and he did a solid job coaching the position. At the time of his departure, he ranks as the #6 recruiter in the country, according to 247 Sports. He was the primary recruiter in the Detroit area and had a big hand in landing Donovan Peoples-Jones and Ambry Thomas. He was also credited with mending some broken fences with Detroit (MI) Martin Luther King, which helped reel in Thomas and 2016 signee Lavert Hill.

Michigan is in somewhat of a bind at this point. With some early enrollees already on campus (including Peoples-Jones and Thomas), nothing can be affected there. However, Michigan continues to recruit running backs, including O’Maury Samuels and Kurt Taylor. The departure could affect their recruitments, and the Wolverines need a difference-maker at running back. With some potential targets already off the board (Eno Benjamin, Najee Harris, Cam Akers, etc.), this shortens the list of potential late additions or replacements.

Hit the jump for some thoughts on his departure.

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10Jan 2017
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Pep Hamilton, Wolverine

Pep Hamilton (right) with Andrew Luck (image via Zimbio)

Pep Hamilton has reportedly been hired as Michigan’s passing game coordinator and assistant head coach. He will be working with the quarterbacks (along with Jim Harbaugh) and the wide receivers. Hamilton replaces Jedd Fisch, who went to UCLA as the Bruins’ offensive coordinator. The assistant head coach title is likely a little extra benefit thrown in there to help convince him to leave the NFL.

Hamilton went to high school in Charlotte, NC, and then played quarterback at Howard. After he graduated he became the quarterbacks coach and then offensive coordinator at Howard. Since then he has spent time with the New York Jets (QB/WR), San Francisco 49ers (QB), Chicago Bears (QB), Stanford Cardinal (QB/WR/OC), Indianapolis Colts (OC), and Cleveland Browns (QB/AHC). He was Jim Harbaugh’s wide receivers coach at Stanford in 2010, and then he became David Shaw’s offensive coordinator after Harbaugh and Greg Roman went to the NFL.

STANFORD

  • 2011: #6 OFEI
  • 2012: #54 OFEI

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

  • 2013: #20 Weighted Offense
  • 2014: #22 Weighted Offense
  • 2015: #32 Weighted Offense

His 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015 seasons were all with Andrew Luck at quarterback. His 2012 year was with Josh Nunes and Kevin Hogan at QB, when Hogan seriously outplayed a limited Nunes. In his one year as wide receivers coach at Stanford, Doug Baldwin caught 58 passes for 857 yards (14.8 yards/catch) and 9 touchdowns.

I like this hire. Hamilton has NFL experience, and he’s been around Harbaugh in the past. He knows what to expect from the aspect of competition and energy. We also know that Harbaugh isn’t afraid to step outside of his coaching tree (Don Brown, Jedd Fisch, etc.) to make hires, so if Hamilton couldn’t hack it, Harbaugh wouldn’t have targeted him.

I know some people aren’t thrilled with Hamilton because he coached for the Browns and his success was mediocre at times, but highly successful college and NFL coaches aren’t looking for co-coordinator jobs. Jedd Fisch got fired from the Jacksonville Jaguars before he got hired and did some good things at Michigan. If you’re at a spot like Michigan, you’re looking for a pro-style up-and-comer from the lower ranks of football, or you’re looking for an FBS/NFL retread who has fallen on slightly harder times. Since that first category doesn’t really exist right now (everyone’s running a spread offense), Michigan was bound to get someone like Hamilton all along. I went through some options last week (Erik Campbell, T.J. Weist, etc.), and they all fall in that category or they’re graduate assistant types looking to move up in the world.

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3Jan 2017
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Jedd Fisch, Ex-Wolverine




Jedd Fisch

Michigan passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch, who had signed a 2-year extension for the 2016-2017 seasons, is headed to UCLA to be Jim Mora’s offensive coordinator. Fisch was hired by Jim Harbaugh after a two-year stint as the Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator. Fisch worked with the receivers and quarterbacks and was involved with the play calling during his time in Ann Arbor.

Options to replace Fisch are varied, especially because Harbaugh has hired from outside of his sphere several times. He had no previous connections to Fisch, he didn’t know Don Brown before bringing him on board, and he had no real connections to Tyrone Wheatley or Mike Zordich, either. I’ll go through a few of the obvious names, though, since it’s hard to comb through the entire sport of football for possible replacements:

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18Feb 2016
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Greg Jackson, Ex-Wolverine

Greg Jackson

In somewhat disappointing news for Michigan, it was announced yesterday that Michigan safeties coach Greg Jackson would become the new Dallas Cowboys safeties coach. Jackson spent just one year in Ann Arbor after coaching for the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2014.

Hit the jump for more on Jackson’s departure.

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14Jan 2016
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Chris Partridge named linebackers/special teams coach

Chris Partridge (with Jim Harbaugh, Jabrill Peppers, and Ron Johnson)

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Michigan recruiting coordinator Chris Partridge has been named Michigan’s linebacker/special teams coach. After filling in as linebacker coach for Michigan’s bowl preparation (former linebacker coach/defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin left for the Maryland head job), Partridge got the permanent job. He replaces John Baxter, the special teams coach who left for USC after one year in Ann Arbor. Partridge previously spent time coaching defensive line, secondary, and helping with special teams at both Lafayette and The Citadel before returning to the high school ranks.

Meanwhile, new defensive coordinator Don Brown spent the past three seasons coaching linebackers at Boston College. Prior to that, he was coaching cornerbacks. Something may have to give, as Michigan currently has the safeties covered (Greg Jackson), a cornerback coach (Mike Zordich), a linebacker coach (Partridge), and a defensive line coach (Greg Mattison). Perhaps Partridge and Brown will split linebacker duties, with one taking the outside guys and another taking the inside guys. It would be an odd step to replace a full-time special teams coach with a newbie who then has to coach linebackers and special teams. Another option would be to bring in a graduate assistant to help with the linebackers, much like Will Carr (defensive tackles) and Derron Montgomery (wide receivers) have helped Mattison and Jedd Fisch in the past.

This also opens up a spot for a recruiting coordinator. Matt Doherty has a similar role to Partridge’s old spot, and Erik Campbell has been helping out. There have been rumors that Devin Bush, Sr. – currently the coach at Pembroke Pines (FL) Flanagan and the father of early enrollee Devin Bush, Jr. – could come on board in some capacity. Also, Michigan hired Rick Finotti as a football operations guy out of northern Ohio, and he could also step in. However, Michigan has not focused much of its recruiting efforts in Ohio since Jim Harbaugh was hired, so Finotti’s connections may not pay off as well as Partridge’s have in New Jersey.

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