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Two Cardinals look back at Jim Harbaugh's recruiting style

12/31/2014

TEMPE, Ariz. -- When Arizona Cardinals defensive end Josh Mauro took his official visit to Stanford University during his senior year of high school, Jim Harbaugh made him stand with his back against the door frame of his office.

Harbaugh, who was named Michigan’s head coach Tuesday, wanted to see exactly how tall Mauro was, so he could get a true assessment of his height, not trusting the scouting services’ statistics. But Harbaugh wasn’t just concerned with Mauro’s height.

He evaluated his body, grabbing his arms to see how strong the Texas product was.

“He’d actually physically feel if you had muscle or if you had fat,” Mauro said. “He’d see what kind of athlete you were. First and only coach to do that.”

Mauro and running back Stepfan Taylor were recruited by Harbaugh and played under him at Stanford. Both said he has his eccentricities, but both said he was a great talent evaluator.

And he could motivate – especially on the recruiting trail.

Harbaugh returns to college coaching after four years with the San Francisco 49ers, where he went to three straight NFC title games before this year’s 8-8 season left the Niners watching the playoffs from home. From how Mauro and Taylor described Harbaugh at Stanford, the transition back to college will be mostly seamless.

After Harbaugh came to Taylor’s home outside Dallas and Fort Worth, the 5-foot-10 running back was ready to strap on his pads.

“He’ll get you fired up,” Taylor said. “I remember when he recruited me, I was ready to play.”

Taylor continued: “Whatever was on his head, he’s going to say. He wasn’t trying to sugarcoat anything. He’s going in there, very energetic, getting everybody in there.

“He’s going to get players riled up, ready to go. If players, if they get riled up, they’re going to be out there.”

Mauro said Harbaugh would get a look in his eyes on game day and it’d spark his players.

“I mean, you’d go to war for him,” Mauro said. “That look in his eye and the way he would get you prepared all week, and on game day you just had the utmost confidence that you’d get the job done.”