Michigan football's Jim Harbaugh updates contract status: Here's what he said

Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press
·4 min read

Here's what we learned from Jim Harbaugh's weekly news conference Monday afternoon, as Michigan football readies to play its season opener at Minnesota on Saturday night (7:30 p.m. ABC):

Milton practicing with first-team offense

Harbaugh was hesitant to name a starter at any position considering the nature of the season (he mentioned how players will need to continually test negative to be able to practice, travel and play), but said quarterback Joe Milton has worked with the first-team offense.

“He’s shown a lot of great things," Harbaugh said. "Joe’s been running with the 1s. He’s made a lot of strides. Getting a lot of reps. As well as Cade McNamara, who has closed all gaps as well, he’s playing extremely well. Really good. Really good command of the offense. Shown a real savviness and also a lot of talent. Been really good between the receivers and Joe and Cade. It’s fun watching them. They’re excited to play with each other, and the tight ends as well."

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh on a Zoom call with reporters, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh on a Zoom call with reporters, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020.

Milton, a redshirt sophomore, is the presumed favorite to take over for Shea Patterson. He has earned consistent praise during the offseason from coaches and players.

"As I said before, naming any starter at this point, it’s a daily thing right up into game time," Harbaugh said. "Tough for me to say that definitely anybody is going to be starting when they have to test on Friday before we leave to be able to make the trip, and they have to be able to test negative on game day to be able to play.”

MEET JOE MILTON: Joe Milton primed to start. Here's how he improved in offseason

A VISION: How Joe Milton could be Michigan football's version of Cam Newton

Cornerback competition

Vincent Gray is projected to start at one cornerback position, but the Wolverines are in search of a replacement for Ambry Thomas, who opted out of the season.

“Yeah, Gemon Green’s doing a very good job," Harbaugh said. "Sammy Faustin’s moved from safety to corner and he’s gotten up to speed really fast. Very smart player. Also Jalen Perry, D.J. Turner are also in competition for that spot as well.”

Green, a redshirt sophomore, was previously mentioned by defensive coordinator Don Brown as the "leader in the clubhouse" for the No. 2 cornerback position.

More Michigan football coverage:

Michigan football's 2020 depth chart: Our final projection

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Michigan football 2020 schedule predictions: Picking every game

No update on extension

Harbaugh, who has one year left on his contract, was asked if there was any update on a potential extension. In July, he said he believed news could be coming, but that it wasn't a priority as Michigan navigated the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think there’s bigger fish to fry — for our athletic director, for our administration, for me as a coach," Harbaugh said July 8. "It hasn’t been on the top of the priority list. I would expect something, [that] there will be an announcement sometime.”

Harbaugh's response Monday was similar.

"No, no update since then," Harbaugh said. "Just been other fish, bigger fish to fry.”

He was later asked if he had any comment to other programs who may be negatively recruiting against Michigan by citing Harbaugh's short contract length.

His response: "Go blue."

[ Jim Harbaugh and the uncomfortable truth of his Michigan football tenure ]

Nico Collins not with team

Star receiver Nico Collins was not listed on the team's official roster Monday, and Harbaugh confirmed Collins is currently not a member of the program.

"Nico is not participating in football right now," Harbaugh said. "I don’t have a crystal ball as to if his mind would change or not. I know he’s not currently on the team.”

Collins reportedly signed with agent Drew Rosenhaus. He would be the second player to opt out, along with Thomas.

Offensive line taking shape

Michigan must replace four starters along the offensive line, and Harbaugh provided an update on where things stand.

[ Ranking Big Ten offensive lines: Why Michigan football, MSU both fall short ]

“Feel very good," Harbaugh said. "Big, lot of length and really good athleticism. The two tackles are both experienced guys. Ryan Hayes and Jalen Mayfield. Karsen Barnhart, also consider him a starter as well. Inside, Chuck Filiaga has really made a lot of strides. Playing really well. He’ll be in there for us at guard along with Andrew stubbier who had an ACL last year in camp but did a great job rehabbing, he’s back healthy and been very good and consistent.

"Andrew Vastardis is the starting center. We’re excited with our offensive line. Them gelling, coming together has been a good process. Excited to see them let it rip, too.”

Contact Orion Sang at osang@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @orion_sang. Read more on the Michigan Wolverines and sign up for our Wolverines newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Jim Harbaugh's Michigan football news conference: What we learned