How Tom Brady Recruited Michigan as Much as Michigan Recruited Him

His father and coach sent a grainy tape of his high school junior year to Ann Arbor.

tom brady
Quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots laughs with head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines after they played catch before a game against the Colorado Buffaloes. (Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

In the olden days of college football recruiting, moms, dads and coaches hunched over VCRs and created tapes that they would then mail to college football offices with the hopes that someone would watch. There was no YouTube highlight reel and no way for coaches to pay along full game videos with the click of a button. In 1994, Michigan defensive backs coach Bill Harris received a VCR recruiting tape. It was of a senior quarterback from Junipero Serra High in San Mateo, California. It started like this:

That’s right. What was on the tape were highlights of Tom Brady making every throw a college coach might want to see. The 6’4″, 210-pound Brady had garnered interest from some west coast schools, but his dad and high school coach decided to send out the recruiting tapes the summer before Brady’s senior year to get more interest. Brady looked good enough for Harris to pass along to quarterbacks coach Kit Cartwright and head coach Gary Moeller. They agree Harris should do more digging, and Harris booked a trip to California following the 1994 season to investigate further.
Harris asked to see Brady at his worst — which was still quite good. Brady also played baseball, and Harris found out that he excelled behind the plate. Harris hit it off with Brady and Brady’s father, and sent Cartwright and Moeller to meet Brady. Then came the official visit. According to ESPN, at this point, Cal, UCLA and USC and Illinois were Michigan’s main competition. Ultimately, USC and UCLA passed over Brady and Michigan won. But the coaches who brought Brady over were gone by the time Brady came. From here on out, Brady was in for a fight.

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