The Wolverine

June/July 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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JUNE/JULY 2017 THE WOLVERINE 59   FOOTBALL RECRUITING THE NFL DRAFT WAS A BIG WIN FOR U-M NOW AND IN THE FUTURE Alabama is a pro football factory. Ohio State has been producing NFL talent like no other program in his- tory over the past couple of seasons. Clemson continues to ascend into new heights of recruiting and develop- mental success, especially with wide receivers and, of course, quarterback Deshaun Watson. Despite all of this, none of those programs had as many players drafted this year as Michigan. Rivals.com national recruiting ana- lyst Mike Farrell broke down Michi- gan's record-setting weekend and talked about the Big Ten battle between U-M and OSU in terms of player devel- opment. "After several down years, Michi- gan set a school record with 11 players drafted in the seven rounds of the draft, leading every school in the country," Farrell said. "The previous record for Michigan was 10 in 1972 and 1974. "Michigan had more players picked than the Tide and, more importantly, the Buckeyes over draft weekend." He also gave his take on just how im- portant it is for Michigan to put players into the league and what it means on the recruiting trail. "While the Buckeyes had an amaz- ing 12 players selected last season and added three more first-rounders this year, the Wolverines added two first- rounders, and the number of picks brings them a bit closer to Ohio State when it comes to selling the NFL dream to potential recruits," Farrell noted. "What does this prove? It proves that Brady Hoke certainly recruited some talent at Michigan and Jim Harbaugh took that talent and turned it into not only a winning program and Big Ten contender, but also molded a bunch of NFL-ready prospects. Now imagine what he will do with the much-her- alded 2016 and 2017 recruiting classes in years to come. "Selling the NFL dream is crucial in recruiting and has been a massive ad- vantage for Ohio State over Michigan in recent years. And while the Buckeyes still have that edge, especially when it comes to big-time first rounders, this is a clear sign the gap is closing." GRAPHICS AND VIDEOS RAISE MICHIGAN RECRUITING TO ANOTHER LEVEL Aaron Bills is widely known by re- cruits as one of the best graphic de- signers in the world of college football recruiting, and he's one of Harbaugh's secret weapons. His official title is di- rector of football creative at the Univer- sity of Michigan, but he might as well just be called "The GOAT (Greatest Of All Time)." His custom-made graphics make an instant impact on recruits who receive them and immediately allow pros- pects to see themselves in the storied maize-and-blue uniform, giving them a look at what could be. Not only are recruits paying attention to Bills' daz- zling designs, but other staffs are taking note as well. A recruiting staffer from a big-time Power Five program has been more than impressed with what Bills is doing and wishes his program had someone doing similar work. "He's the best in the business," the staffer said. "It's almost like he's creat- ing movie posters for each individual kid. The level of detail he's putting into each piece is incredible. It's a very fast moving part of recruiting and Michi- gan is out in front of it all. "Alabama, Texas and some other programs are doing a really good job with it, too, but no one is doing it quite like Aaron and Michigan are." Michigan also hired Ty Rogers in late April to boost its video presence across social media platforms. The new multimedia coordinator was formerly employed by Duke basketball, but he is now creating video masterpieces of Michigan football and one of his first big projects was the trip to Italy. David Bradley, the director of basket- ball operations at Duke, spoke glow- ingly about what Rogers brings to the table creatively and also touched on the impact his pieces make on the recruit- ing trail. "It's pretty incredible what he's been able to develop into," Bradley said. "When we brought him in it was more about graphics. He hadn't done much with video, but you could tell that he was extremely passionate about social media and how important it all is to a program. He was definitely into creat- ing any kind of cool content he could. "He's a self-taught guy and he learned a lot. He was on YouTube tu- torials and connecting with other cre- atives, and it's incredible what he's become in two years. He's as good a video guy, if not the best, in college sports. He's a really, really, really driven and hard-working guy. "In this day and age, as far as coach- ing goes and branding your program goes, you want to be able to tell your story and teach your culture in a way that appeals to fans, players and re- cruits. It's a crucial area in the day-to- day [operations] for a program and in recruiting. No doubt about it." Brian McLawhorn, publisher of Dev- ilsIllustrated.com, echoed the senti- ments and definitely believes Michigan got a good one in Rogers. "I didn't have much personal in- teraction with Ty during his time at Duke, but like everyone else around the program, I was very aware of some of the great things he did for the Duke basketball brand," McLawhorn said. "From video to graphics, Ty was able to generate a lot of excitement from the fan base. He took some of the most mundane game components, such as each game's starting lineup for social media, and made it fresh and unique. "He really thinks outside of the box and isn't afraid to push the limits cre- atively." Rogers and Bills form a dynamic one-two punch in today's ever-evolv- ing social media spectrum that college football programs use on a minutely basis. ❏ A 2017 schedule graphic is one of many unique elements created to help with recruiting and the promotion of the football program by designer Aaron Bills. IMAGE BY AARON BILLS VIA TWITTER

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