Football tour notebook: Fun takes from Michigan fall practice

Football tour notebook: Fun takes from Michigan fall practice

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — It was a hot day in Ann Arbor on Friday for Michigan’s practice. And Jim Harbaugh was cranking his troops through drills with vim and vigor in his khakis, ball cap and bullhorn. Here are some fun takes.

[ MORE: Dienhart: 5 things I learned at Michigan practice | Maurice Hurst Facebook Live ]

Most impressive player: RB Chris Evans. The sophomore back from Indianapolis is built as well as any ball carrier in the Big Ten. And watch him explode from his stance. He can deliver a blow through the hole and run around end. He may be in-line to be Michigan’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Fitz Toussaint in 2014. Evans looked good today.

Top specimen: LB Mike McCray catches your eye. He is a well-put-together 6-4, 248 pounds. And he moves with frightening speed and efficiency. He is one of the few veteran hands on the defense and looks primed to be a star.

Loudest coach: Greg Mattison. Look, being a defensive line coach often requires a lot of energy and volume. You are trying to get max effort from big fellas who often need a lot of prodding and motivating. Mattison gets after it.

Impressive newcomer: WR Donovan People-Jones. I just as easily could have gone with Tarik Black. People-Jones is 6-2; Black is 6-4. And each is at or near 200 pounds. These guys are freaks who enrolled early and are ready to help a wideout unit that needs help. Both looked sharp on this day catching the ball.

On the rise: CB Keith Washington, S Tyree Kinnel and DE Chase Winovich are three guys who have made noise in camp so far. Kinnel has been a good leader in the back end, while Washington has made a move at a corner position that also features Lavert Hill, Brandon Watson and David Long. Former WR Drake Harris also is looking good at CB. Josh Metellus and Jordan Glasgow are running with the “Ones” at safety.

Nagging question: Who will be the QB? It’s between junior Wilton Speight, senior John O’Korn and redshirt freshman Brandon Peters. Speight has the experience, but Peters is more talented. What a conundrum.

Under the radar: LB Michael Wroblewski is a savvy vet who knows this defense inside out. His leadership—and skills—will go a long way in helping this rebuilt defense excel.



Michigan is working on a new weight room adjacent to the practice field.

This is our sixth stop on the tour. And this is the first place where no blaring music was played.

Michigan had 11 freshmen enroll early, a school record. And many of those guys could impact this fall, including WRs Donovan People-Jones and Tarik Black, OL Cesar Ruiz and DT Donovan Jeter.

The snacks today included Uncrustables, an assortment of power bars and fruit. All were noshed with fury during a couple practice breaks.

Prior to practice, Jim Harbaugh hung out with his wife and new born adjacent to the field. There were several Kodak moments, as kids splashed in pools meant to cool down players. Later, Harbaugh grabbed his bullhorn and got after it.

Written on a wall as players walk to practice is this: “TRY HARD AND YOU WILL STAY. Those who stay will be champions.”

Before I leave you, there was this, too.

Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer

About Tom Dienhart: senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.


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