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Jim Harbaugh hopes to name Ben McDaniels as permanent WR coach

Michigan doesn’t plan to look very far to fill its vacant wide receiver coach role.

According to U-M head coach Jim Harbaugh, who spoke with reporters on Monday as the program kicks off preparations for the Peach Bowl against Florida, he is hoping to elevate Ben McDaniels from an interim role to a full-time one.

“Ben McDaniels is the receiver coach now,” Harbaugh told reporters. “We’d like to make that permanent. He’s really done a nice job.” 

Originally, the plan for McDaniels was to coach the receivers for the bowl game as the position was vacated by former wide receiver coach Jim McElwain, who departed the program after taking the head coach position with Central Michigan. After helping the program close out the 2019 recruiting class, it appears that McDaniels has impressed Harbaugh and the rest of the wide receivers to make that move permanent.

McDaniels will be coaching a talented receiving core that features break-out players Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins. The group also includes the likes of Tarik Black, who has been battling injuries during his first two seasons, Oliver Martin and Ronnie Bell. The Wolverines also added Cornelius Johnson, Giles Jackson and Quintel Kent who are signees from the 2019 recruiting class.

In fact, McDaniels, who spent the majority of the 2018 season as an offensive analyst for the Wolverines, made his presence felt despite not being able to coach the position this season. According to sophomore receiver Peoples-Jones, who led all receivers with 7 receiving touchdowns, McDaniels had a major impact on him and the rest of the receivers this season.

“I like Coach McDaniels a lot,” Peoples-Jones told reporters in early December. “He played a huge part this year. I don’t think too many people knew that. He played a really huge role. Very familiar with him. I’m very familiar with what he has to bring to the table, and I’m excited to keep moving forward with him.”

McDaniels, 38, has coaching experience on both the professional and collegiate levels. Spending the 2009-2010 seasons with the Denver Broncos, he was promoted from offensive analyst to quarterbacks coach to start the 2010 season. After one season as Columbia’s quarterback’s coach and offensive coordinator in 2012, he was back in the NFL ranks for one season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an offensive analyst.

McDaniels was hired by Rutgers in 2014 to be its wide receiver coach under former head coach Kyle Flood. The next season he was promoted to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, where he helped the Scarlet Knights defeat the Wolverines 26-24 to win its first Big Ten game in program history under then head coach Brady Hoke. He would go on to spend two seasons with the Chicago Bears as an offensive analyst before finding himself in Ann Arbor this season.

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