For years, Ray Lewis was credited with being the great recruiter in Baltimore. He has friends everywhere around the league and is a highly respected voice. When Lewis calls, you answer.
But with Lewis in Florida or an ESPN studio these days, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh is the name that recruits are mentioning.
Maybe it's a throwback to his college coaching days, but Harbaugh is showing his recruiting prowess. This offseason, he's already nabbed Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak and wide receivers Jacoby Jones and Steve Smith, Sr.
It started this offseason with Kubiak. Harbaugh hosted Kubiak in his home for dinner and chatting the day before Kubiak agreed to take over play-calling duties. The two talked for "numerous hours."
"First, I have great respect for the organization – obviously, playing them many times," Kubiak said in his introductory press conference. "But, it gets down to John. … I believe in John and how he does things, how he runs his football team, his coaching staff, what he stands for. I have great respect for him."
Harbaugh was brought up by Jones during his press conference after re-signing as well. Jones was in New York the day before, seemingly on the cusp of signing with the Giants, when he remembered something Harbaugh told him two years prior.
"When I came here and sat down with Coach John [Harbaugh], he was like, 'We want you to be you, no matter what. Be yourself; play the game.' And I was like, 'I appreciate that.' He lets you be a man, and it matured me," Jones said.
Jones also appreciated the fact that Harbaugh was straight up with him after the 2013 season ended.
"I must say Coach Harbaugh, he is a man of his word," Jones said. "We had a talk on the plane after the [final] game, and he said, 'We're going to make this work, because I want you to stay here.' I said, 'Yeah, I want to retire here.' So, I came here."
Harbaugh was also a convincing host when Smith visited Baltimore last week. Smith flew in hours after being released by the Panthers and ended up brushing off a scheduled Monday meeting with New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick.
Harbaugh and the Ravens hosted Smith Thursday night then again all day Friday. Smith, who had previously said he wanted to visit several teams, was so convinced that he didn't need another trip.
"I love the coach," Smith said minutes after inking his deal.
"Coach Harbaugh was excellent. We talked about a lot of things, and the one thing that they said that was consistent was, 'We want you to be yourself.' That was good, that was very encouraging. I enjoyed that."
Letting players be themselves is definitely paying off for Harbaugh. He allowed Jones to go on "Dancing With The Stars," and players with strong personalities are allowed to show it, even on the practice fields. There is often joking and shouting as the team works.
Jones explained how Harbaugh is able to accomplish letting players be themselves while still running a disciplined football team.
"We're laid back here. We enjoy ourselves, we have fun, we joke around," Jones said. "But when it's time to get to business, we know how to turn that light switch on."