The college world was shocked by the inevitable on Wednesday, as Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh left the program for the NFL, joining the Los Angeles Chargers on a five-year deal, the team announced.
Harbaugh, the head coach at Michigan since 2015, has long flirted with a return to the NFL, and finally chose to do so during an eventful 2023 coaching cycle in both the NFL and collegiate world.
With his departure, where do the Wolverines stand and what could the implications be?
Well, with Harbaugh leaving, a 30-day window opens for Michigan players to enter the transfer portal, which could lead to some major changes.
The Wolverines have several top underclassmen who could go early in the 2025 NFL Draft, such as cornerback Will Johnson, tight end Colston Loveland, and defensive linemen Kenneth Grant and Mason Graham.
But, there are other recruits that could be important, especially to Wisconsin, who battled alongside Michigan for a few of their 2024 commits.
Let’s take a look at some of those players.
DE Dominic Nichols
The Badgers were arguably the runner-up in the race for three-star defensive lineman Dominic Nichols, as they were one of three teams to receive an official visit, including Michigan and Kentucky.
While the official visit to Wisconsin went well, Michigan won out in the race for the three-star, who ultimately committed there after his official visit.
One of the issues is that Nichols is an early enrollee at Michigan, meaning he’d have to burn one of his transfer options should he move on from the Wolverines.
RB Jordan Marshall
Four-star running back Jordan Marshall was one of head coach Luke Fickell’s staff’s earliest targets in the 2024 class, dating back to when the group was at Cincinnati.
A top target of the staff, it was tough to beat out Michigan for the Ohio native, as he committed in March, although the running back still took an official visit to Wisconsin in June.
Now, the Badgers have three running backs in their 2024 class already, with Gideon Ituka being an early enrollee, while four-stars Dilin Jones and Darrion Dupree are expected to be big parts of Wisconsin’s future.
But, the connection to Marshall was there, and it stuck through the summer, even when Michigan landed the four-star.
WR I’Marion Stewart
One of Wisconsin’s top targets at the receiver position in the 2024 class, Stewart ultimately chose the Wolverines over the Badgers, which were the two teams he took official visits to this summer.
One of the more heralded recruits in the 2024 class at receiver, the Illinois native was primarily recruited by former receivers coach Mike Brown, and was looked at to pair with fellow Illinois native Kyan Berry-Johnson, who will likely suit up in the slot.
Now, the biggest factor with all of these recruits, among others at Michigan, is how they address their new vacancy at head coach.
Offensive Coordinator Sherrone Moore is seen as the likely favorite, according to several reports, which could alleviate concerns. Additionally, Michigan would have to release players from their National Letters of Intent if they’re from the 2024 class and haven’t enrolled yet.
But, the situation will certainly be one to monitor in the coming days as Michigan looks to change directions without their leader of the past eight years.