Jim McElwain wants to stick with in-state recruiting 'lifeblood'
For the Central Michigan football program, in-state recruits make up a majority of the teams roster.
Newly acquired head coach Jim McElwain doesn’t plan to change that.
“It’s the lifeblood of what we do, we are Central Michigan,” McElwain said. “We are about two hours from everybody. It’s our footprint and we need to push it and get out and see those (in-state) players.”
While former head coach John Bonamego was in Mount Pleasant, the roster was made up of roughly 70 percent Michigan natives. It is a tradition that McElwain wants to continue.
McElwain nabbed his first head coaching job for Colorado State from 2012-14. This came after he was an assistant for Eastern Washington, Montana State, Louisville, Michigan State, Fresno State and Alabama. At the end of the 2014 campaign, McElwain became the head coach at Florida. That lasted until 2017 before he was forced out of the Gators program and landed a wide receiver coaching job with Michigan on Feb. 20, 2018.
With ties to both the Spartans and Wolverines, McElwain believes his recruitment ties within the state are already strong.
“We’ve got great friendships at both places,” McElwain said. “Coach (Mark) Dantonio is someone I consider a friend and obviously coach (Jim) Harbaugh and that organization, both do a great job.
“We have the resources that could help us with uncovering some of these jewels.”
Many of the Chippewas current in-state commits for the 2019 class have already commented on how positive they believe the hire is for CMU football, including Detroit King wide receiver Darrell Wyatt.
"It’s a great start to the amazing season we are about to have,” Wyatt said. “We will make history, I promise that.”
Of course with McElwain’s ties to other schools around the country he believes he can pull many recruits outside of the state which will help the program.
“The key word is evaluation and knowing what we are looking for,” McElwain said. “We have to make sure we develop, alright. We have to foresee the future. Maybe we aren’t getting the ready-made players who are going to the Big Ten or SEC, whatever that is. With that being said, there is a lot of great players and for us it’ll be the evaluation, fit and upside we will be looking for.”
2019 wide receiver commit Javon Gantt of Jacksonville (FL) Westside said he is “all on board” with the hiring of McElwain.
“I know he has expectations for us, and we have expectations for him,” Gantt said.
McElwain wants to hire a staff that understands the commitment to the players and puts the community of Mount Pleasant first. He is currently in the process of meeting with everybody in the organization and is not in a rush to hire a staff.
“Sometimes if you move to fast you don’t get the right fit,” McElwain said.
McElwain plans to bring in some guys over the next few weekends who are already committed and layout the vision for the program with him at the helm.
“We’re going to look to get some guys signed early,” McElwain said. “We want to hold on to the guys who have been committed to this university for a reason. I told our team yesterday I am not here to tell players ‘you’re someone else's guys’, that’s not it.
“We’re all in this together and I look forward to helping them achieve the goals they have.”