For the second time in three years, Jim Harbaugh has gone to Iowa’s well of football recruits and stolen a player from the Hawkeyes.
Ben VanSumeren is a three-star linebacker/tight end out of Essexville, MI. He had originally committed to Iowa back in November. Now, it looks like he’s going to Michigan just a few days after Harbaugh extended an offer his way.
Harbaugh drove through the snow to visit VanSumeren’s high school, according to an article that honestly reads as though its from Michigan’s athletic website rather than a local newspaper.
The article says Michigan pegs VanSumeren as a tight end, while Iowa envisioned him as a linebacker, which could perhaps be a reason for the switch. It’s also worth noting Michigan missed out on a different tight end recruit this past week, which could be why they’re scrambling to fill that hole in their roster.
This isn’t the first time Jim Harbaugh has poached a player from Iowa. You’ll recall that back in 2015 he got running back Karan Higdon to flip his commitment from Iowa to Michigan on Signing Day.
Patrick Vint’s words from two years ago about the Higdon situation are as true today as they were then:
At the end of the day, it's awfully difficult for a staff 1,350 miles away from the player's high school to outwork a fanboy coach with an agenda embedded at the player's side. Make no mistake about it: That's the story here. Higdon had been completely committed to Iowa until five days ago, remained committed to Iowa despite everything his coach was telling these guys, then suddenly changed his mind in quite literally the final minutes with this guy in his ear.
This de-commit doesn’t hurt as much as Higdon, however. Iowa has another linebacker in this class — Dillon Doyle — and this recruiting cycle is certainly stronger on paper than the one from 2015, as Iowa has been picking up solid wins on the trail as of late.
Still, it hurts to lose a recruit to a snake oil salesman (that we beat on the field) for the second time late in the recruiting cycle. Kirk Ferentz has spoken before about how he doesn’t like the recruiting practices of Urban Meyer; I’m sure he has something to say about Harbaugh going below his nose for the second time.