Jim Harbaugh invades SEC country with satellite camp in Mississippi

Jim Harbaugh's satellite camp in Mississippi made an impression on some players. Said ESPN 300 recruit Cam Akers: "A lot of coaches wouldn't do it. Getting a chance to meet him, see him face-to-face and introduce myself personally, it was a big deal." Greg Ostendorf

PEARL, Miss. -- Bob Hobbs and Mark Pipper arrived at Pearl High School about 7 a.m. Wednesday morning for Jim Harbaugh’s latest satellite camp. Both were decked out in Michigan gear, and both took off work just to see the former Wolverines quarterback and current coach.

Hobbs traveled 90 miles from Laurel, Mississippi, but he said he would have driven up from Florida if he had to.

"I love it," Hobbs said. "My very first game at Michigan Stadium was way back in 1975 when we beat Colorado. I’m a born-and-raised Wolverine. My dad loved Michigan. I love Michigan. I’ve traveled across the United States watching them play in different venues and will continue doing that.

"I think what Jimmy is doing is pissing a lot of people off, but hey, go blue. We all have to have play on equal playing fields, and I think this is getting as equal as you can being from the north."

Harbaugh has certainly ruffled some feathers among SEC coaches with Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen the latest to take a shot. Mullen, along with a handful of his assistants, was among the various college coaches in attendance at Wednesday’s camp. At least a dozen schools were present, but Michigan had by far the most coaches there.

And though it might have been "enemy territory," Harbaugh embraced his stop in Mississippi. He wore a New Orleans Saints jersey with Archie Manning’s name on the back, honoring the former Ole Miss quarterback.

"I’ve always been impressed with Mississippi," Harbaugh said. "Very hospitable. Great storytellers here. People can tell a story. Mississippi has very rich, genuine, down-to-earth, good people. It’s been a great pleasure, and the hospitality has been wonderful.

"It’s healthy, productive, fair competition going on all levels of everything that’s happening out here. I can’t see anything wrong with that."

The camp itself had an impressive turnout with nearly 400 high school kids on hand, including a handful of ESPN 300 prospects from Mississippi. And Harbaugh’s presence was not lost on them either.

ESPN 300 running back Cam Akers said he attended the camp just to see the Michigan coach.

"I think it’s a big deal," Akers said. "A lot of coaches wouldn’t do it. Getting a chance to meet him, see him face-to-face and introduce myself personally, it was a big deal. They made my top 10, so I’ll be taking a closer look at them."

"It just shows how much he cares about players down here in the South," added ESPN 300 linebacker Willie Gay. "It just shows that he’s not just trying to recruit players in his area. He’s going all around the country to try and find players, and we appreciate that."

Afterward, Gay named Michigan as one of his top five schools.

Harbaugh left the camp about an hour early so he could make it to another satellite camp in New Jersey on Wednesday, but his stop in Mississippi made quite an impression on everyone from a local Michigan fan to the state's top-rated recruit.

"It’s connecting to the football world, and the football world is a pretty big place," Harbaugh said. "It’s just not in the state of Michigan."