Ever since Jim Harbaugh's arrival, Paramus Catholic High School in Paramus, N.J., has basically become Michigan football's own feeder school. Paramus supplied 2015's top recruit in do-it-all athlete Jabrill Peppers and 2016's top recruit in defensive lineman Rashan Gary. They'll play in Michigan Stadium this September the night before the Wolverines open their season against Hawaii. They hosted the maize and blue at a satellite camp on Wednesday. And, on Thursday, they invited Harbaugh to supply their commencement address.
With a voice sounding slightly horse from a week-plus of satellite camping, Harbaugh began his address to the graduates by listing five "magnificent" things about each of them. "You matter, you make a difference, you make mistakes, you make memories, you make choices.
No. 1, you matter. You know there are other people out there, some great ones, but there's only one you.
No. 2, you make a difference. What you do impacts others. Your attitude, your actions, your decisions, your responses, they have a ripple effect. That's powerful. You can encourage or discourage with a look, a word or even the things you don't say or do say.
No. 3, you make mistakes. We all do, yet we're not the sum of our mistakes. We are what we have learned from those mistakes.
You make memories. Memories are mostly about how we do things and who we do them with. Memories, after all, are what are in our hearts and minds.
I love the lyrics to "Be the Hero" from the Broadway musical "Big Fish." I'll read some of them to you: What if I told you I could change the world with just one thought? What if I told you you could be a king? Anything you desire, anything on a plate, all within your power to create. Be the hero of your story if you can. Be the champion of the fight, not just a man... Slay the dragon, storm the castle, save the damsel in distress. Be the hero.
Five, make choices. You have the power to choose. You choose every day." Harbaugh then displayed, on a white sheet of paper in front of a basketball arena crowd, a menu of five faces, ranging from happy to angry, we choose every day.
Other topics Coach Khakis touched on:
On choosing the right attitude: "I always think of it this way: if I was figuring out somebody to hire or if I was an employee for somebody, I think of the TV show 'SpongeBob SquarePants.' Who would you want to work for, SpongeBob or Squidward?"
On respect: "Start everything you do with respect. If you want to be respected, you must respect. Treat everybody as if they are the most important person to your future success because in that moment, they are. Everything begins and ends with respect and gratitude."
On Harbaugh's favorite topic, competition: "This is real talk: you've got to compete, and you have to produce. No one can compete for you. The competition lies ahead, and it is coming. The competition is coming. There's somebody that wants what you want. In fact, there's a lot of people. Also a fact, and the sad truth of it is, no one owes you a career. You must compete for yourself; no one can compete for you. And then you have to produce.
A Bible verse that sticks with me: Matthew chapter 7, verses 15 through 20 reads, 'Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing but underneath are ravaged wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Just so every good tree bears good fruit, every tree that bears bad fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire, so by their fruit you will know them.' What it means to me is: you have to produce. And by your talent, by your effort, you will know."
On dreaming big: "Dream so big that you make people make fun of you. If people aren't making fun of you for the dreams you have, then you aren't dreaming big enough."